Around and around the sick people go

Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans

In a way, the spinning teacups at Walt Disney World are kind of like the perfect torture device.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Disney stockholder so I make money — OK, it’s really a pittance — from people getting on the spinning kitchenware of death.

However, if you really think about it, those things are designed to be rough on the human body.

You’re spinning around in circles that are within a bigger circle at a moderately fast rate of speed.

And while all of that is going on, they are pumping “It’s a small world after all” through the sound system.

For a kid, it’s all “Woo-Hoo! This is fun!”

For an adult, it’s probably more like “Save me now!”

There’s only so much an adult — or at least a grown man — can endure for the kiddies.

If you’re not walking like you’re in a V-8 commercial or leaving your lunch all over Mickey Mouse after you get off the spinning teacups, then you must have some extraordinary immunity to pain.

Theme parks are places that offer something for everyone on a vacation.

There are people in costumes to entertain the little kids, rides for the bigger kids and adults, a plethora of food vendors and some nice shops where you can get surprisingly good souvenirs.

But some of them tend to build their reputations upon the concept of pushing the human body to a point probably somewhere beyond where it should be pushed. They do that by trying to build the biggest, fastest and most death-defying rides.

The big roller coasters are basically built on the concept of “how fast can we go and how many times can we turn people upside down?”

It isn’t enough to simply go up a hill just to tumble over a steep cliff anymore. Now you have to fling people around in loops and turns at high rates of speed and then send them back through it all backwards.

Now the powers that be at Six Flags have unveiled their SkyScreamers at many of their parks. They’re giant swing rides. You spin around in circles in a seat attached by a chain or cable to a rising and falling, spinning gondola.

Six Flags Over Georgia’s is 242-feet tall, which sounds like a lot but pales in comparison to the 400-foot tall Texas SkyScreamer at Six Flags Over Texas. They opened a day apart in May and the ride has been deemed by Guinness World Records to be the world’s tallest swing carousel ride.

In layman’s terms, the Texas SkyScreamer is the world’s tallest vomit inducer, but if that’s how you prefer to ride, then that’s OK.

Swing rides are fun and all, but they are usually a little closer to the ground. There is a promotional video for the Texas SkyScreamer that ends with a guy freaking out while riding it because the piece attaching his seat to the gondola kept twisting in the wind. All of the comments on this video ran along the lines of, “Oh my, that’s crazy scary. What if the chain breaks?”

For a lesson on how dangerous such rides can be, we have to look no further then a “rocket ride” that went awry at a theme park in St. Petersburg, Russia, three years ago. The “rocket” was held by two cables to a large streetlight-shaped arm that spun it around in circles.

The cable holding the back end of the “rocket” snapped. No one was apparently injured but the arm went from spinning people in a nice, controlled circle to flinging them around like a rag doll being flung around in a garbage bag.

In the words of a commenter who saw video of it on YouTube — “Oooooh snap!” Imagine if the cable attached to the front end of the “rocket” had snapped as well.

Some of us would probably never want to ride anything ever again after experiencing that, but the truth is that’s why we like theme parks. We want thrills and they are more than willing to give them to us. If the adrenaline isn’t pumping after we get off the ride, then it wasn’t worth getting on in the first place.

I mean who wants to go to a park just to say they saw a mouse?