Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Ride of my Life ~ X2

Montezooma's Revenge
Ever since I was a teenager, I've enjoyed amusement park rides. I'll admit, I never tried any of the extreme thrill rides until I was older. My family visited California for my 30th Birthday in 2000, when my children were just four and (just shy of) two years old. We were at Knott's Berry Farm on the day I turned 30, and I decided to go on a coaster (which looked terrifying to me) called "Montezooma's Revenge," just to prove to myself that I could do it. I left the kids with Rob and waited on (the not-so-long) line. Did I enjoy going from 0 to 55 in 3 seconds, flying through a loop, then up a steep incline only to be dropped backwards to fly through the loop going the opposite direction? Not so much...but I did it. I was pretty proud of myself. Rated as a "5" or "Aggressive Thrill" on the Knott's Berry Farm website, it was the most terrifying ride I had ever been on.

Little did I know that a decade later, my son would grow into a roller coaster junkie. He loved to ride roller coasters, design them, research them, you name it. He had a need for speed. Because of him, this momma has braved some pretty wild rides. Some of them, like Busch Gardens' Montu and Sea World's Manta, I actually enjoy. After much protest, Chase finally convinced me to go on SheiKra at Busch Gardens. Although it is terrifying to hang suspended for a few seconds before being plummeted 200 feet down at 90 degrees, I enjoyed it enough to do it again...several times. Although Chase was devastated that 45-stories-tall Kingda Ka was closed the day we visited Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, I would have flat-out refused to go on the world's tallest and the nation's fastest max thrill ride. I was spared the wrath of Kingda Ka, but Chase did get me on Nitro, which was far more terrifying than SheiKra to me. Diving 22 stories down at nearly 80 mph is not my idea of a good time. But again, I did it (once).


This year, our family vacation took us back to California. I told Chase that we could visit one theme park while we were out there. We had already been to Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland, and Disney's California Adventure several times (all before the roller coaster bug set in). Chase didn't hesitate when he announced that he wanted to go to Six Flags Magic Mountain, dubbed "The Thrill Capital of the World" as well as the "Coaster Capital of the World," boasting 18 roller coasters - more than any other theme park on Earth. Since Chase's only real interests on this trip were skateboarding (which costs virtually nothing) and visiting Magic Mountain, we gladly agreed. I told Chase to research the park and what rides he wanted to hit while we were there. 

We arrived at the park when it opened at 10:30. Chase wanted to start with Tatsu, which, after hearing that it is similar to Montu, I was fully willing to ride. On the way to Tatsu, Chase spotted the entrance for X2. The line didn't seem very long, so he suggested that we ride it before the park got too crowded, as it was one of the most popular rides at Magic Mountain. It was early in the day and we were all game. I had no idea what the ride was like. I asked Chase what it was like and he kind of skated around my question. (That should have been my first clue to RUN.) The track is (surprisingly) well-hidden from the line. All you can see is the coaster as it is hauled slowly up to the top of the drop. No big deal - I've ridden SheiKra - I can handle a drop. After waiting for about 30 minutes, we discovered that you couldn't carry any loose items on the ride. Since I had my purse, I offered to bow out, but the ride attendant told me that they had lockers as you get onto the ride. So, I stayed. Another 15 minutes of waiting and it was our turn to board. Now, I always have a few seconds of intense anxiety when boarding a roller coaster - is the restraint fastened snugly and completely? Am I going to fall out? But the attendant came by and made sure we were all strapped in. We were ready to launch.

The initial ascent was a little eerie (as you can see and hear on the on-ride video). Retro music, followed by a little Jack Nicholson, followed by Metallica's "Enter Sandman," which is pretty darn creepy in itself, then Stephen Tyler singing "Going doooooowwwn..." as we plummeted off the precipice. I remember very little after that first drop (aside from screaming my head off, closing my eyes (only to peek from time-to-time to see if it was almost over) and praying to God that I survived. Toward the very end of the ride, I remember the coaster jerking HARD three times and I felt my neck kind of "snap" then my head bounced off the back of the seat a few times. OUCH!

By the time X2 came to a complete stop, this momma was DONE. My hair was all in my face, my head and neck were killing me, and I felt a little nauseous. I turned and looked at Chase, who saw the expression on my face and said, "You didn't LIKE it?!" To which I responded, "Not at ALL!" Both of my kids loved the ride. I stumbled off the coaster thinking, "It's official, I am OLD." I told the kids to ride whatever they wanted, but I was done for the day. I was more than happy to sit in the shade and people-watch. During this time, I had plenty of time to peruse the park map (and sing along to "Hey Soul Sister" with the Mexican woman sitting next to us, much to her daughter's horror). I noticed (THEN) that X2 had a little extra something next to it's name - Max Thrill Ride. Funny, the description for the other 17 coasters don't mention that.
X2 - The Aftermath

After posting the lovely photo of me taken after riding X2, my cousin Julie commented that I was her hero, after reading about X2 on Wikipedia. Here's how they describe the ride:

"X2's lift-hill climbs 175 feet (53 m) into the sky with the ride's tallest point above ground at 190 feet (58 m). The first drop is 215 feet (65.5 m) and is sloped at 88.8 degrees, causing the train to reach a maximum speed of 76 mph (122 km/h) (faster than X, at about 70 mph). The 3,610-foot (1100 m) long layout features two inversions including a skydive, two "raven turns", one back flip, and a twisting front flip."

Yeah, yeah, yeah...all that physics and technical jargon baffles me too. To get a better feel for X2, check out this on-ride video from TheCoasterViews (granted, it's not the same as actually riding it, but at least you can see what it's like.) I didn't realize until watching the video that the car rotates around the track. Yeesh!:

X2 has been ranked among Travel+Leisure's "10 Scariest Thrill Rides on the Planet". I have to agree. It is, by far, the scariest ride I've ever been on. After learning more about X2, I don't feel so old after all. Mind you, I'm never planning on riding it EVER again. Four days later, my neck still feels the effects of X2. I'm hoping I won't need to seek chiropractic therapy. Alana asked if I would ride X2 again for a million dollars. My initial response was, "NO!" After thinking about it for a few seconds, though, I reconsidered. I'd ride X2 again for a million dollars...if they strapped my head to the seat. ;) Maybe I'm still a cool momma after all...for now.

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy

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