When the Mamas & the Papas recorded California Dreamin’ in 1963, I’m sure they never envisioned a heart-stopping roller coaster ride inspired by their song. Sure enough, the engineers at Walt Disney Imagineering drew inspiration from that Sixties classic when they built California Screamin’ at Disneyland, the 5th longest roller coaster ride in the world.
Talk about built for speed, this baby launches guests into hyperspace from zero to 55 miles per hour in just four seconds. Packed with hard turns and big drops, it’s one of the most popular rides for thrill seekers around the world. Did I mention the inversion which flips the rider upside-down as it twists and loops around a giant silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s head?
Last weekend I stood in the shadow of this amazing roller coaster at Disney’s California Adventure theme park with Jean and the boys. When I asked Trent if he’d like to give it a spin, he gazed up at the steel structure and, after a moment of reflection, said, “Dad, I’ve made up my mind. I don’t want to do this. Absolutely not.” I didn’t bug him. We moved on to a couple of other rides, occasionally stopping to stock up on churros–a fried cinnamon and sugar treat that’s become a family tradition.
I’m not sure what changed in him, but later that morning he faced his fears and got the courage to take the plunge.
Out of the blue Trent announced, “Okay, Dad, let’s go do that ride. I’m ready!” That surprised me. I wasn’t pressuring him. Just to make sure he didn’t feel obligated to ride, I told him, “Trent, once you get into line you might get scared and change your mind. That’s okay.”
“No, Dad, I’m ready.” Having made the height requirement by two inches, he and I strapped ourselves in at the back of the car and prepared for blast-off. For the next two-and-a-half minutes we flew through the air in an adrenaline-pumping rush of speed. We screamed at the top of our lungs and hung on for dear life. As we coasted to a stop, I was sure Trent would wobble to a park bench to recover.
Boy, was I wrong. Trent was smiling so hard the corners of his mouth almost collided with his ears. He begged me to do it again . . . and again. The next time out we rode in the middle of the car. By the third trek we were ready to sit in the front seats.
Six trips later, I was the one starting to get queasy!
Not Trent. When he asked to give it “one last ride” I knew I’d reached my limit. Turning to Jean, I asked her to take him. Not a big fan of roller coasters, Jean said, “I don’t know if I can handle this.” Trent had the solution: “Mom, let’s pray you don’t throw up!”
The things we parents do for love!