It was a huge milestone for me, cementing my passion for thrill rides that grew out of a deathly fear of them that plagued me for most of my life. It was only a few years earlier when I fully conquered that fear, but hitting the triple digits with my track record (read: the list of different roller coasters I’ve ridden) was pretty awesome in its own right.
With that in mind, I decided to use the incredible flight benefits SWA provides us and repeat what took me 19 years in a scant 12 months. I decided to set a goal of riding 100 different roller coasters by the time the ball drops to bring in 2013.
So how have I done so far? I am sitting at a whopping–get this–19. Yep. The year is halfway over, and I’m sitting at the big one-nine. It’s … uh … been kind of a slow start.
I started off at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure back in January, having darted off to LAX after my first week of Leadership Southwest Style. I got to experience Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, two classic rides that help define Disneyland and serve as definitive Disney attractions. On top of that, though, I got to ride California Screamin’ and Goofy’s Sky School at Disney California Adventure, adding four new rides to my track record and experiencing the place where the Disney magic began.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad coming out of the tunnel
As my commemorative T-shirt states, “I took the leap and didn’t sleep.” My cousin, her husband, and I wound up hitting all four parks in Disney World within those 24 hours—my cousin and I even made it through without an ounce of sleep. I rode four of Walt Disney World’s roller coasters during that visit, grabbing rides on the Orlando versions of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, but also taking a spin on Expedition: Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and one of my all-time favorite roller coasters anywhere, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Aerosmith blasting in my ears while riding an epic roller coaster is one of life’s simple joys).
Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
SkyRush whipping through an overbanked turn
I confess, however, that I did not really go for the gold in terms of riding everything. I only had a limited amount of time, and the park’s signature coaster, Bizarro, was just too amazing for me to pry myself off of it and go ride other things. I rode the Gotham City Gauntlet: Escape from Arkham Asylum (as it was a new ride for me, taking my overall count to 237 different coasters) and Batman-The Ride as I’d discovered that hitting 100 coasters might be more difficult than I thought without getting a few extras, but Bizarro was the main reason I’d picked the park, and it was just too good.
Bizarro screaming into its second tunnel