austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Lunch is such a lonely time of day

So here's what's behind our emergency trip to Cedar Point: remember when I talked about the incredibly overcrowded day last October with 45-minute waits for closed rides and how even lonely, neglected, forgotten Disaster Transport had lines? Cedar Point announced, while we were on honeymoon, that Disaster Transport was going to close, with its last run on the 29th, and that was that. Also the Space Spiral, a rotating observation-tower-type ride next to Disaster Transport, was to close later this year. bunny_hugger was shocked; Cedar Point never takes out roller coasters. Then she found they'd taken out one, Wildcat, which had been there since 1978 (replacing a duplicate that'd been there from 1970). After some uncertainty about whether to do this all in one day or stay overnight we planned on the trip, to see Disaster Transport off, and to maybe ride the Space Spiral if bunny_hugger felt up to its heights.

The forecasts were for rain, and we passed some heavy storms on the way in which could be trouble as Disaster Transport --- despite being an indoor ride --- can't operate when it's been raining. Water gets into the track and it doesn't drain well on the bobsled coaster track. But the crowds were light, the skies sunny, and Disaster Transport running as well as it ever does these days. The crowd was taking photographs, of course, enough that the entry path was flickering with flashs; we thought that a part of the props, an overhead conveyor belt, had stopped at last, but no, it was just running somehow even slower than before. And we re-rode it right away. I thought for certain we'd go back later in the day, if we could; as bunny_hugger noted, riding something for the last time when you know it's the last time has an unbearable sadness to it. We did stop at the Disaster Transports food stands next to it to get Cheese On A Stick, which is what it says on the box, and after I finished wondering if that plaza was going to get a new name realized the plaza, a charmingly old-school collection of vended food shops with no particular modern branding or theme, was almost certainly doomed too.

bunny_hugger did work up her courage to try the Space Spiral, which Cedar Point's had almost a half-century now and which she hadn't been able to face before because it goes up a very long way and turns around slowly, and she's not so fond of heights. But it turned out we could sit the whole ride, making it less anxious; and the windows were cloudy enough --- smeared, I supposed, or just plastic degraded by a half-century of use, or covered in residual fingerprint goo from generations of kids pointing at stuff --- that it was hard to make out things precisely. The ride was comfortable, I thought, and not long enough; I think we had only two full rotations while at the peak. But we got to one of the signature rides before it'll be removed.

Since that was the first hour we had plenty of time to do other things, and the big new attraction was the Dinosaurs Live animatronics walkthrough: a little path with several dozen, maybe more, figures of dinosaurs which occasionally spring to life and move, albeit in place, and sometimes growl. The displays came with labels, some of them quite detailed and reasonably informative; I didn't expect them to work so hard to at least act informative. Of course, one of the first displays was of a carnivorous dinosaur leapt on a hapless victim, and the sign pointed out how this sort of thing would probably not have happened, and even if it did happen it wouldn't happen like this, so bunny_hugger speculated that they built the scenes first and then hired someone reasonably informed to caption things.

I could not resist admiring the spiders who built webs over the dinosaurs' mouths.

The captions did their best to explain why the scientific community hasn't given in and called it ``brontosaurus'' again, although I think everyone knows the logical system isn't going to win this one. The winner of the most gruesome display must be one depicting a scene, apparently actually dug out of the ground, in which some juvenile allosaurs (or the like) attacked the herbivorous dinosaurs, but got trapped in the mud; and their wailings, it appears, attracted grown allosaurs who came in, and ate the original prey, and also the juvenile allosaurs, before being trapped in the mud themselves and killed. The depiction is pretty much a fairy tale ending nearly twelve percent more gruesome than average.

Less gruesome was the ice skating show, ``Happiness Is ... Snoopy!'', which we got the chance to see because we were finally at the park the right time of year for it, and which we weren't blocked off from by the fast-moving and severe squall which sent people running for the exits and closed all the rides (including the Cedar Downs derby racer, which had just started up; who ever sees an aborted carousel-style ride?) As the name implies it's a Peanuts-themed one, with Lucy, Charlie Brown, and Snoopy in costume, with maybe a dozen and a half other people skating and under no circumstances colliding with the mascotted skaters. On the sides animation showed various Tom Everhart painting of the Peanuts gang, and Snoopy at his typewriter doing various ``Happiness Is ... '' quotes, which would be followed by musical bits more or less fitting the topic (eg, ``Happiness Is ... three friends in a sandbox and no fights'', with a backdrop of a sandbox, and the skaters bringing out pieces to make a sandcastle).

The preshow was a music video from Bert Susanka and the Astronaut Love Triangle called ``I Am Aware Of My Tongue'', and as the title implies, it did its best to mention every Peanuts punch line ever. I appreciated it although more as a method of packing in references than a song on its own. The mascotted Charlie Brown and Lucy giving the ``technical information'' talk about how in the event of an emergency the doors on the right would be available as exits and so on was ... well, weird. Maybe they have to follow a government-given template for emergency information but I'd have thought it could be phrased in a way that sounded more in-character for either of them, even in their performing mascot forms. The show writers were able to touch that elusive Peanuts voice: at one point Snoopy was taken onto stage and announced as that new singing heartthrob, Justin Beagle, and yeah, that's just what Schulz would have had him be.

Afterwards, and after wondering whether the skating mascot performers are the same ones who do the ordinary singing and walkabouts outside, we got back to Disaster Transport. I proposed as a way around the possible sadness that, after we rode this, we'd flip a coin to see if we rode again --- so we couldn't know whether it was our last ride until after it was done. Agreed. But the ride was closed.

Given how close it was to the end of the park day, and the rain earlier, we expected it was done for the day. But, no; someone else asked how long it was going to be down and the guy outside the gate said probably about ten minutes or so. Then the phone rang, and it was open now. So we got in, somehow behind another train full of people even though we were right there as the doors opened again. It was even darker this time around, but there were no fewer photographers, including one guy taking a shot of the unloading part of the platform even though that's against the rules. (It wasn't me.)

bunny_hugger said she felt something special, magical about that ride, and I agreed; the way it opened up for us, particularly, but also how we overheard other people talking about how this was their last ride and they knew it.

So we accepted this as the closing, and after saying our farewells to Disaster Transport, and getting a last ride on the carousel (100 years old this season), we set out back for home.

Trivia: The Netherlands Olympic Committee withdrew from the 1956 games in Melbourne, and sent a gift of 100,000 guilders --- saved by not competing in the games --- to victims of the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: Flat Earth: The History Of An Infamous Idea, Christine Garwood.


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