austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Do you remember when things were really humming

I have to interrupt my detailed discussion of going to amusement parks for a spot of amusement park news. It's shocking and pretty horrible, really. Great Adventure has decided to tear out Rolling Thunder. This is its oldest wooden roller coaster, its only racing roller coaster, and while it's not one of the park's original rides, it was their first marquee ride, the park's fastest ride by far, something people might sensibly travel from distant lands to ride.

In my childhood it loomed as a monster, the sort of impossibly big, impossibly scary ride that my father might coax us into trying out, just this once, but that we'd spend so much time shying away from. Now, Li'l Thunder, a cute little kiddie ride that went around in a little oval track and dropping maybe several feet from top to bottom, that an eight-year-old could ride without being scared; but this?

I'm not sure when I first rode it; the ride just goes that far back in the park's history, to me. It predates such iconic rides as the Sarajevo Bobsled, the Freefall, Roaring Rapids, the Joust-a-bout, and the Looping Starship. It stood there before the Haunted House fire, and back when there were dolphin shows, and when they held water skiing programs on the big lake. And now --- in barely a week --- it's going to be closed forever.

Apparently they're using the space to build a queue --- a queue, for crying out loud --- for a new drop ride. That ride looks appealing enough by itself --- it'll fit snugly just under the giant rise and drop of Kingda Ka and give people the chance to fall from about 410 feet up --- but to destroy the first Great Adventure attraction for a queue is more insulting than just tearing it out for nothing.

The ride's been shabbily treated in recent years. One of the tracks hasn't been used in long enough that nobody seems to know just when it did go out of service. I'm sure I have ridden both sides, but I couldn't say under oath just when I did ride the other half. It hasn't raced, obviously, in ages. When bunny_hugger and I had been on it together we got battered pretty heavily, a sign of deferred maintenance on the tracks and cars; when the ride was not operating at all this year I harbored dark thoughts that it might be doomed.

But this! For shame, Great Adventure, for shame.

Trivia: The word ``sad'' in Old English and early Middle English meant ``full, satiated, satisfied'', changing over the 14th century to ``solid, heavy'' and ``settled, firm, steadfast'' on the way to ``grave, serious''. Source: Semantic Antics: How and Why Words Change Meaning, Sol Steinmetz.

Currently Reading: War With The Newts, Karel Čapek. Translated by Ewald Osers.

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