Roller coasters are designed to be scary. If youre remotely afraid of them, you are part of the majority. Theme park rides have been designed to induce fear, which raises our heart rates, leads to faster breathing, and ultimately releases adrenaline. Its the adrenaline, a hormone linked to the fight-or-flight response, that gives us a natural high. People ride roller coasters for the same reasons they go rock climbing or skydiving – the thrill.
For some, thrill seeking is a second nature where fear only adds to the experience. For others, perhaps yourself, the fear of riding roller coasters stops you from enjoying the ride, or perhaps even experiencing it altogether. Theres no one size fits all solution to overcoming, or reducing someone’s fear of roller coasters. Each fear may stem from a different aspect of rides. So, before we begin to walk through methods to help overcome a fear of roller coasters it’s worth exploring why someone might be afraid in the first place.
If one, or several of these apply to you hopefully we can help to put your mind at rest. Afterwards, well discuss two approaches to overcoming the fear, along with a whole host of tips to consider if you do want to. And thats it, it’s a choice. You shouldnt feel forced to overcome a fear of roller coasters, nor should you feel guilty for having that fear – roller coasters are designed to be scary! Why are people scared of roller coasters?
People can be scared of roller coasters for a large number of reasons. In many of these cases some reassurance, or even knowledge, can help to reduce how anxious someone might feel. Other times, simply riding roller coasters will ease the fear over time. Safety One of the most common and broad fears can be encompassed by a simple question: are roller coasters safe? Roller coasters are designed to be scary, but theyre also designed to be extremely safe.
In fact, going to a theme park is one of the safest forms of recreational activities out there.
Why? Because roller coasters employ a huge collection of features to keep riders safe. Firstly, they use an extensive amount of sensors to track aspects of the ride in real time. Most importantly, these sensors can tell ride operators the locations and speeds of the train at various points around the track.
If even one sensor detects something that doesnt seem right, the ride will safely shut down – allowing operators to check the fault.
When a ride breaks down most of the time it’s because of an overly active sensor and its designed that way on purpose. On top of this, roller coasters undergo regular and extensive checks. Theme parks inspect the track and trains, test the systems, and send several cars around the circuit. Only after the entire inspection has been completed can guests begin to board the ride.
Weve already created a whole video explaining the safety systems employed by roller coasters. If youd like to learn more about this topic, click the video pop-up, or check the description. Intensity Some people find themselves disorientated and overwhelmed by the intense forces you feel on a roller coaster. Its not surprising that this is the case for some people. Roller coasters provide sensations that cant normally be experienced.
In our everyday lives there is no common or regular reason why someone might experience multiple Gs of force like you do on a ride. So, getting on a roller coaster can be a lot to take in at first. However, roller coasters are not all made equal. Some rides are more intense and intimidating, while others are smaller and more family friendly.
Look for roller coasters with lower height restrictions as these are designed for younger riders; or ask friends, or even park staff, about the rides that arent as fast or thrilling.
Riding smaller roller coasters multiple times can help to acclimatise someone to the sensations of a roller coaster. Its also worth trying to keep your eyes open. When youre on a ride you naturally prepare yourself for whats to come. If you cant see where youre going the roller coaster experience is likely to be more uncomfortable and less enjoyable. Going upside down For some people, its the fear of going upside down.
Many thrilling roller coasters around the world feature inversions, elements of track that place riders upside down for a brief period of time. If youve never experienced an inversion before, they can seem scary – you might think youll feel the sensation of falling out.
In reality, they dont feel very different from the rest of the ride. Nine times out of ten, you wont feel like you’re upside down, and you might not even notice it. Many inversions, like the classic loop, push you down into your seat, so you never feel like you’re about to fall out.
On top of this, most inversions place you upside down for less than a second – blink and youll miss it.
Falling Out/Restraints Another common fear surrounding roller coasters involves their restraints, the part of the train that holds you in during the ride. Some people get worried that theyll fall out, or that the restraint will open during the ride. If the members of staff operating the roller coaster are happy for someone to ride, that person will not fall out. Restraints have been designed and tested to securely hold everyone in who meets the rides requirements.
All modern roller coaster restraints also feature sensors. This tells the ride operators whether that restraint has been closed correctly. After the restraints have been checked by staff, the roller coaster’s computer system confirms all of the restraints are locked before that train can be sent around the rides circuit.
If a sensor shows a restraint isnt correctly locked the ride wont be able to start. Restraints can also only be opened while the train is in the station.
The mechanisms in place do not allow the restraints to be undone during the ride. Each modern restraint features multiple redundant mechanisms too, often in the form of duplicate restraint systems. Meaning in the extremely unlikely event one mechanism breaks, the restraint would still be held in place by another. We go into even more detail about how roller coaster restraints work in another video – click the video pop up, or head to the description, to learn more. Not being in control / fear of the unknown Many of us fear not being in control, or even simply the unknown.
Normally, we have control of our lives – we drive our own cars and decide where we want to go. On roller coasters however, we have no control over what happens, and we are unable to guess what it might feel like. Although, a roller coaster is always the same – it can only move along the track. This means that any given ride will be virtually identical to the last. So, we may not be able to control the ride, but we can know what its going to do.
To gain control, and begin to remove the unknown, learn what the roller coaster does during the ride. Stand off to the side watching and following the trains as they go around the track.
Or, go on YouTube and watch a POV, a virtual front row seat on the train, to learn all of the times it goes up, down, left or right. By doing this youll have a better idea what to expect. You can mentally follow or anticipate what the ride is going to do, therefore seemingly having more control over the situation.
A bad experience All, or even just one of the fears weve discussed so far can lead to you having a bad experience on a roller coaster. For many people, a previous bad experience of a ride or roller coaster could cause us to build a fear, or hatred of them. A particularly uncomfortable ride, one which is simply too much, can lead to us thinking that every roller coaster must be just as bad. However, as mentioned previously, not all roller coasters are built the same. Some are more comfortable than others, slower than others, less intimidating than others.
If you have had a previously bad experience with a roller coaster, nows the time to give them a second chance. Ask your friends, family, or a member of staff at your local theme park to suggest a comfortable roller coaster, one thats good for new riders in particular.
You might quickly discover that some rides are more enjoyable than others! Always had a fear Some people have been scared of roller coasters for as long as they can remember, but where did that come from? One explanation might be because fear itself is contagious.
If youve been to theme parks with people who are afraid of roller coasters, such as your friends or parents, fearing rides might be all you know. Having a fear of roller coasters also makes you less likely to visit theme parks, which reinforces the fear as you often dont have the chance to overcome it. The opposite is also true. Going to theme parks with people who enjoy roller coasters can help give you the motivation and support to overcome your fear and enjoy them too. These are just a few of the many reasons you might be afraid of roller coasters.
Hopefully by applying some of the tips and techniques discussed you can start to feel more comfortable about the idea of riding them. The big question still remains, how can you actually overcome the fear? Overcoming a fear of roller coasters There are perhaps a multitude of ways to overcome a fear of roller coasters. Through conversations with people who have done just that, weve produced two methods or approaches to beat the fear.
One approach might suit you more than the other, or perhaps a combination of the two might work best.
Weve named them: Desensitisation and flooding Desensitisation Desensitisation is perhaps the best method for people who are a bit more hesitant about riding roller coasters. It builds upon many of the tips and techniques already discussed, including acclimatisation. The goal is to gradually become comfortable with riding roller coasters, by firstly riding smaller ones, eventually gaining the confidence to try larger and more intense rides over time. This approach could take time for some people, perhaps even multiple theme park trips. However, once you become confident with riding roller coasters, the fear is less likely to come back.
To begin, youll need to find a roller coaster that doesnt seem too scary to you personally. Youre looking for one that is family friendly, comfortable and generally made for people of all ages. These usually dont have steep drops or any sudden surprises. Ask friends or family about their experiences of the different rides at the park youre visiting – or perhaps talk to a member of staff to figure out which ride might be the most appropriate.
If youre nervous about riding this first roller coaster learn as much about it online as you can, via YouTube or the parks website.
That way, when you face it in person, youll know all the ins-and-outs. When it comes to controlling your nerves, long queues are your enemy. To make the experience easier, try to visit your chosen theme park on a quieter day. This means you arent standing around watching the roller coaster fly above you, which might make you feel more nervous. The longer you wait for the ride, the more you begin to think about your fear, which may make you less likely to ride it.
Quiet days should allow you to board the ride before being given the chance to overthink things. The real key to overcoming your fear lies in your mental state. You fear roller coasters because you associate them with a negative outcome – you expect something to go wrong, to feel uncomfortable, to feel out of control. Have an open mind, try to relax, and simply be present during the experience.
By removing your expectations, you help to disassociate the negativity of your fear with ride and roller coasters.
At this point, lets say youve now boarded – you’re strapped in and it’s time to go. For many it almost feels natural to close your eyes during the experience, but this often makes the ride more uncomfortable and less enjoyable. If you can see the track ahead you can anticipate the turns, hills and drops, which gives your body time to process whats happening. Screaming or shouting whilst on the ride can even help to release your nerves – it obviously works for some people. If that doesnt work, its worth remembering roller coasters last only for a few minutes – after a short amount of time, the entire experience will be finished.
Now breath, the ride is over and youve just taken a massive step towards overcoming your fear. At this point you might be filled with adrenaline – thinking you’re invincible and wanting more. If thats you, it could be worth considering the flooding approach. Most probably won’t be feeling that way, so, whats next? Well, youll need to ride the same roller coaster again – which is definitely the last thing youll want to hear at that point.
Each time you ride a roller coaster you become more familiar with the sensations, and hopefully, a tiny bit less scared. After several rides you should get to the point where you are able to ride that specific roller coaster comfortably. If not, consider finding a smaller roller coaster to ride – perhaps you started with one which was just a bit too much. If you are comfortable, youll want to move on to a roller coaster which is a little bit bigger.
Again, its worth talking to friends, family, or even staff members at the park to figure out which ride most be most suitable.
Desensitisation is entirely built around the process of becoming comfortable with one roller coaster, before moving up the chain to one which is slightly larger. Because of this, youll become familiar with a wide range of roller coasters over time.
The ultimate goal here is to, either, ride the scariest roller coaster in the park, or ride the roller coaster that youve always wanted to ride but havent been able to. It may be unreasonable to assume youll be able to go from the bottom to the top of the chain of rides in a single theme park visit. It could take multiple trips to become familiar – but in the end your fear will have naturally faded away.
Flooding Flooding is, well, faster than desensitisation. If you have a fear of roller coasters, but havent actually ridden many, this may be the one for you. With flooding, the aim is to overcome your fear quickly by riding what you consider to be the scariest roller coaster you can find.
If youve ridden the worst, all of the other rides wont seem as bad anymore! To begin, find the roller coaster you think looks the most scary and intimidating at your theme park of choice.
Naturally, this might make you quite nervous. The best way to overcome this is not to give yourself too much time to think about it. Similar to the other method, long queues are your enemy. A quiet day, and short line, minimise the chance of overthinking things. Once youve boarded, remind yourself that normally, roller coaster rides arent as bad as they look – otherwise millions of people around the world wouldnt ride them.
As the ride begins, remember to consider your mental state. Aim to remove expectations of what the ride might be like, and instead try to absorb the experience. Have an open mind, and more importantly, keep your eyes open. A minute or two later and the ride will be over. If that was too much for you – perhaps its worth trying the desensitisation approach.
If you loved the experience – thats fantastic news! Now youve mastered the biggest roller coaster, you can rest easy knowing youll be able to master others too.
Hopefully you feel energised and ready to try out all of the other roller coasters at your local theme park. I think its important to note that not everyone likes roller coasters. Its impossible for us to like everything.
At least by trying a roller coaster, or even attempting one of the two approaches, youll learn once and for all that roller coasters simply arent for you – and thats okay. If you dont like roller coasters hopefully this video will give you the inspiration and confidence you need to try to overcome your fear. If youve already overcome your fear, leave a comment describing the things that helped you conquer roller coasters.