We spent much of our daughters’ spring break last week either working on the house or traveling to North Carolina to look at a house. But we did have one day devoted to nothing but fun. The four of us spent Good Friday at Kings Dominion. Virginia is very lucky in that we have two great amusement parks relatively close to one another. Our family has tended to go to the other one, Busch Gardens, but were eager to try Kings Dominion this year.
In past springs and summers, Emerald has developed a love of the big thrill rides, especially roller coasters, but Sapphire has been too little for them, so we have spent a good portion of our park time split into two groups of two. One of us takes Emerald on the roller coasters, while the other takes Sapphire on kindler, gentler rides. Then we meet again for things like the log flume, swinging boat, and the Scrambler.
Last summer, after watching her sister go off and leave her to ride the coasters, Sapphire expressed an interest in riding them, too, but she was still too little to meet the height requirement. Last Thanksgiving weekend at Christmastown at Busch Gardens, she just barely squeaked over the next height mark (48″), with a little instruction from the park’s measurer to stand as tall as she could, which meant she could ride everything BUT the big roller coasters.
While we were planning our trip to Kings Dominion a couple of weeks ago, we noticed that the park had three old wooden coasters (which are Jim’s, Emerald’s, and my favorite kind of coaster). We also noticed that the height requirement for these is 48″. So with a little luck and a little help from her shoes, Sapphire might just make the requirement and we might all be able to ride together.
Then there was the question of whether she’d be scared to death and hate them (maybe for life) or if, like the rest of us, love them (again, maybe for life). Jim and I do not believe in forcing our girls to ride any ride, so it was up to her whether she wanted to give them a try.
Kings Dominion’s literature touts The Hurler as a great “first big roller coaster”, so we figured that was a good bet to introduce them to her, if she wanted to ride one.
Upon entering the park, we had Sapphire measured, and [drum roll, please] she was just over the 48″ mark. One hurdle down. She and Emerald kept talking about wanting to ride the roller coasters, but we weren’t sure Sapphire understood how big they were, so we decided to start with a coaster in Kidsville as a warm-up (she’d ridden kids’ roller coasters before). Emerald and Sapphire waited in line for 45 minutes for the kiddie coaster, had a blast, and off we headed to the big boys.
We showed Sapphire The Hurler and asked her if she wanted to try it. She did, but while we were in line, she expressed concern over the big “hill” and asked if you went very fast down it. That scared her, but she was still game to try, as long as she could cling to one of us for the ride. Of course, that was fine with us.
She decided she would ride in the roller coaster car with Daddy, and Emerald would ride with me. Emerald and I were just behind Sapphire and Jim. But I couldn’t see her or hear her for the entire ride, so I had an anxious first ride, hoping and praying she wasn’t screaming in terror.
When the ride stopped, I got a glimpse of her face, and wouldn’t ya know it, that girl had a smile on her face a mile wide. Jim said she held his arm the entire time, but she also giggled throughout the ride. Whew! What a relief!
She then wanted to try The Ricochet, which is not a wooden coaster, but rather a more modern ride with many twists and turns, all experienced from a small car that holds four people. Emerald had ridden a similar ride, called the Cat and Mouse at Hershey Park last summer, which is why Sapphire was so keen to try it. This time, Sapphire and Jim rode behind Emerald and me. And this time, we could hear everything.
I’ll tell ya, this coaster scared me senseless. I spent the entire ride being afraid we would fall off the edge of each turn. Emerald wasn’t a fan either, but our little Sapphire giggled through the entire ride and wanted to go again immediately. That’s not at all what Emerald and I wanted to do, so we suggested trying another wooden coaster, The Rebel Yell, which is actually a racer, with two parallel tracks and cars on each at the same time. But this day, they were only running on one track, so no “race”. Sapphire was all over trying this one, too.
For this ride, she rode with me, and Emerald rode with Jim just behind us. Sapphire clung to my arm the entire time (I learned later this was because you rise a bit off your seat on the hills, but you are strapped in so you don’t go anywhere, and she wanted to “anchor” herself a little better). She loved this one, too, perhaps even best of all.
There is one more wooden roller coaster at Kings Dominion, called The Grizzly, but it has a straight-down drop just after you get started. Since the drops are what worried Sapphire the most from the beginning, Jim and I decided not to take her on it this time. We were worried that she may get scared enough that it would counter her enjoyment of the other coasters to the point that she would be afraid to ride any of them again. So, while Jim and Emerald rode The Grizzly, Sapphire and I headed back to The Hurler.
After that, it was a ride on the carousel, a spin on the swings, and getting tossed around on the Scrambler, before we picked up a souvenir stuffed animal for each kid (just what we need, more stuffed animals in this house :)), and headed for home, exhausted but happy.
I’m sure there are many more roller coasters in all of our futures. It’s so awesome that we can all enjoy them together now.
What about you, are you a fan of roller coasters and do you prefer the super thrilling modern ones, or the tamer old wooden ones?