Buzzed from the sugar rush of an ice cream cone, the Bean agreed to go on the roller coaster. He had spent most the day refusing to go on some rides, including the car ride—a decision from the car-obsessed kid that frankly left me perplexed. But I saw him eying the roller coaster, a move that despite his timid exterior betrayed the thrill ride enthusiast beneath. I was sure if I could get him on the coaster, he would like it. At least I was kind of sure. He had liked the small, tame kids roller coaster at Disneyland. But he flat out rejected the more frenetic Star Tours ride.
I really wanted him to like roller coasters. When it comes to the things that I love, in my family I’m a man without allies. My enthusiasm for thrill rides is yet another passion in a long list that my wife does not share. I really needed a partner in crime to ride this stuff with me. But I realized that I was walking a fine line between gently nudging the Bean towards a fun new experience and totally freaking his head off.
As the Bean was licking the remaining remnants of ice cream off of his fingers, I leaned over to him. “There’s a ride I’d really like to take you on.” I nodded in the direction of the Dragon, a medium-small roller coaster nestled in the woods in the back of the park.
He said “yes” and a few minutes later, I was in the front seat of a roller coaster with my son.
“When you’re on a roller coaster,” I told him, “It’s okay to scream as loud as you want.”
“Oh, I won’t do that,” he said matter of factly.
We descended the first hill and he began to scream. Then he laughed. Then he screamed again, sounds of pure joy escaping from him as we sped along the track.
When we pulled into the station he said breathlessly, “Let’s do that again!”
The Bean had successfully rode his first real thrill ride, but my mission was not yet accomplished. His appetite had been whet, but it was time to cement his love. I needed to take him on one more ride.
Test Track was a bigger and faster coaster than the Dragon. I had slipped away earlier in the day to ride it by myself. At this point, I was confident that the Bean could handle it. WonderWife™ was not so sure. She looked at the five story drop and the cars speeding along at 28 mph and shook her head. The Bean was amped from the adrenaline rush of the coaster. I knew this because he couldn’t keep still, was constantly ramming his head into my stomach and he couldn't stop yelling.
There was no hesitation from the Bean when I showed him the second coaster. We ended up riding it four times.
It looks like I’ve got my coaster buddy.