‘Escape’ from Amusement Park Hell

escape-from-tomorrowMy last amusement park ride left me both scared and exhilarated. A few minutes later, I emptied my stomach out behind some shrubs.

That was roughly 32 years ago.

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, and the promise of a fireworks display forced me and my brood to Elitch Gardens in Denver. Normally, Mommylibrium takes the boys to the local amusement park. I couldn’t escape this trip. Wouldn’t be American of me.

So I told my boys I wouldn’t be joining them on the rides … and promised each a slurp of soda to stifle any protests.

I didn’t help that earlier in the day I streamed “Escape from Tomorrow,” the story of a dad whose trip to Disneyland turned into a nightmare. I could relate. ”Escape from Tomorrow” is a parental fever dream spiked with a killer back story. The crew surreptitiously shot footage at Disney theme parks and crafted a story around it.

The film’s horrors didn’t seem so far-fetched to me. I’d rather be anywhere else than at an amusement park. It’s more than just a stomach issue. I’m afraid of those whirling machines, the gargantuan Ferris Wheels and the roar of the roller coaster.

Fear Factor: The Home Edition

Fear. It’s ugly but inescapable.

I know I shouldn’t succumb to that fear. Modeling brave behavior is good for my kids. Heck, this column is supposed to end with me describing my first amusement park ride experience in three decades.


I have zero interest in giving those rides a second chance. Call me old, or stubborn. I’d rather focus my parenting skills in other, more important areas when it comes to fear. First days of school. A high and tight Little League fastball. Approaching a group of strangers at the playground and saying hello. Some risks are worth taking.

I’ll still do my fair share of modeling on the subject. A personal project looms in the not too distant future. It’s the scariest thing I’ve attempted in my 44 14/16th years.

That’s a Fear Factor challenge I plan on winning. Maybe then I’ll give those bumper cars a try. Baby steps.

Ben at the Amusement Park


  1. Maureen Toto says

    Its a throwback to when you and your brother rode the rides at a carnival near home and you both walked off very sick. He feels as you do. Doesn’t like rides or amusement parks. I, on the other hand, went on everything as a child and then grew to not like them as an adult. Oh well. Are we missing something?

  2. says

    I quite enjoyed the weirdness of “Escape from Tomorrow” and I like amusement parks, except for the stomach-churning rides which I do really poorly on… by coincidence, my 10yo and I were at Disneyland today too. Well, at Downtown Disney, which is technically part of Disneyland, just minus … you guessed it … the rides. :-)

    • Christian says

      Weird hardly describes ‘Escape from Tomorrow’ – I liked the concept and the chutzpah behind the movie better than the movie itself. I just hope I never cough up a furball!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>