By Megan Wirts
I used to love roller coasters.What am I saying, I still do, I just can’t enjoy them like I used to.
There are many things I have had to give up since being diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder. A great career, driving, some of my independence, cable television, shopping for fun…to name a few. Riding rollercoasters is also one of them. I miss it. The thrill of hearing the click, click, click as it ascends to the top of the first big hill, your heart racing, and the rush of adrenaline that you feel as it releases and you are suddenly flying towards the ground. AHHHHH!!!
It appears that I have passed on the rollercoaster love gene to my children and I refuse to let dystonia rule our lives completely, so we took the kids to Michigan’s Adventure last week.
If you are unfamiliar with it, Michigan’s Adventure is an amusement park located in Muskegon, MI. It has 250 acres of thrill rides and water slides. When I was a little girl it was called Deer Park Fun Land (yes, I’m showing my age here) and has since evolved into the largest amusement park in Michigan. As a kid, my family and I would spend at least one day there each year. My goal would be to ride every single ride at least once before the day was through, back then it was possible since there weren’t nearly as many attractions. If it wasn’t a busy day at the park I could ride all the rides over and over again until it felt like I was either going to pass out or puke.
Ahh those were the days.
Our foursome of a family along with our favorite neighbor friends made our way to the park on a cooler than normal August afternoon. We kept saying if it had just been 5 degrees warmer it would have been a perfect weather day. Instead, while splashing around in the water park, our lips turned purple and the kids were shivering all while insisting that they really weren’t cold. Ha. I’m not an idiot, I know a cold kid when I see one. It didn’t stop us though; those kids rode all the waterslides they could until hunger won out and we ventured out of the park for our parking lot picnic.
Pro tip: Pack a cooler and a blanket and eat in the parking lot. It will save you tons of money. The only food we purchased in the park was Dippin’ Dots ice cream, which cost us 10 times what they were actually worth, which to me is nothing. I’m not a fan. If I’m going to eat ice cream, I want the real thing. So, if you aren’t looking to spend hundreds of dollars on food, bring your own. Just don’t attempt to smuggle it into the park, they check your bags. Lesson learned.
Then it was time to ride the coasters. This was the first year that everyone was tall enough to ride all the rides. It was an exciting milestone for the smallest two small people and let me tell you they were fearless. The first roller coaster they decided to ride was the Thunderhawk, one of the main attractions in the park. It’s one of those rollercoasters where your feet dangle and flips upside down while going a ridiculously high speed. While I have a great love of roller coasters, it doesn’t mean I don’t get a lot of anxiety seeing my babies fly around without me. As they ran off to get in line, I yelled, “Make sure your buckles are tight and PLEASE DON’T DIE!!!”
Then I sat and I watched and I could hear them screaming and laughing. Nobody was dying. Phew.
When the ride was over and they ran out of the exit, they immediately got right back in line. Apparently, they liked it and the day went on like that until the park closed. Ride after ride, again and again. When your kids love something you loved as a kid, it makes you feel that excitement, joy and love all over again. Even though I can’t ride them, I love seeing my kids ride them even if it does make me fear for their death.
One of our favorite parts of the day was getting one of those old timey dress up photos. The first year that my husband and I went with our kids they were ages 3 and 7, and we thought it would be hilarious to have our daughter dress up like a saloon girl and our son as a little cowboy. I did draw the line when the photographer gave my 7-year-old a bottle of whiskey to hold, I mean I don’t want too many judgey judgersons after me.
After that, every year we return we take another. One year we dressed up like mobster bank robbers with tommy guns and all. This year we went back to the western style and included our friends in the photo. We tried not to think about how many other sweaty bodies might have worn those costumes before us and took one of the most epic family photos ever. Let me tell you our kids know how to give a fierce look. It was totally worth the money and the germs.
I might have not been able to ride all the rides and just watching the kids spin around in the Tilt-A-Whirl made me want to tilt and hurl…..
But it was a fantastic day.
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