Amusement Park Roller Coaster

When you are five years old and 43 inches tall, there are only four rides in all of Hershey Park. According to the good folks at Hershey, there are over 60 rides and attractions, but according to our daughter there are only four: The Comet, Superdooperlooper, Trailblazer and Roller Soaker.

If you guessed that these four rides are roller coasters, you probably also guessed that we have a five year old thrill seeker in the family. I am sorry, make that a 43 inch tall five year old. We must keep the facts straight. After all, she did not make me check her height twice a week all winter for nothing. This child has been measured more than a Weight Watchers convention!

I guess it all started last year when she rode the Jack Rabbit at Kennywood for the first time, and then again, and again; six times in all that day if memory serves. And mind you, we did not just ride, we waited extra time to sit in front and then extra time to sit in back and I even got a lecture on how to properly raise my hands above my head. White knuckled adults were shaking their heads in amazement, but she just could not get enough.

She talked about it so much over the winter that to tide her over until summer arrived, I even created a screen saver collection called Roller Coaster Mania — try it and see what you think: ; I put this on my computer and all winter as we ticked off her progress on the growth chart, she grilled me about which one of the coasters in these gorgeous photos she would be able to ride. By the first signs of spring, I have to admit, I was pretty eager to get on the rides too!

So when considering our vacation destination for the summer of 2006, the primary objective was to find a park that had roller coasters that met the height requirement and a good selection of kiddie rides for our younger daughter who thinks her sister is nuts, regardless of how tall she is.

Since most parks put a 48 inch minimum on what our daughter calls real roller coasters, I had to do a little searching on the Internet before finally deciding upon Hershey Park in Pennsylvania which fit the bill. Of their 10 coasters, four are set at the 42 inch minimum with the greatest excitement of it all being the fact that one even does a loop dee loop, as she calls them.

We nestled in to a cozy cabin at a nearby campground, saw some other sites in Amish Country, visited the Crayola Factory, attended a beautiful festival in Kutztown, and then it was off to the park for the day. Of course, to our five year old, the park was the whole purpose for the trip, not just one of the many family activities we had planned. Our youngest was just in it for the chocolate and also delighted in boinking the Hershey Bar character on the nose. So we all have our vices I guess.

At dawn on the big day, I found myself being tapped on the shoulder several hours before I had planned to be out of bed. Can you measure me one more time, just to make sure, she said, as she waived a measuring tape over my head. Even before my first cup of coffee, this was one of those moments you will never forget.

Not only did she sneak a measuring tape into the suitcases, she also brought along her high healed sandals just for good measure. I could not quite explain that after passing the 42 inch mark, it did not matter how tall she was until she reached the next 48 inch plateau. She insisted on the added insurance that the sandals provided, so they were the footwear of choice; at least until after the first hour or so when I pulled out the backup pair.

I absolutely love riding roller coasters but let me go on record as saying that for a mother, it is a little unsettling to see your baby being strapped into a seat beside you; she just looked so tiny sitting there! So I did what any quick thinking mom would do and when the ride started, I proceeded to reach over with my arm and pin her against the back of the seat, brace her head from moving, and make sure she didn’t fall out. After all, the ride operator DID say to secure, my belongings.

Out of the gate, around a corner and down an incline we were thrust into a loop and a milestone was reached. She had experienced her first loop dee loop laughing and wide eyed every step of the way. This was her shining moment. When the ride was over, we hugged, jumped up a down a few times and then ran down to Daddy and her sister. More hugs, more excitement and then of course, Can we go again?!

But Daddy, this time can you tell mommy to let go of me? I did some sheepish explaining and then we repeated our ride. In fact, we repeated the scenario 16 times (yes, she counted) in all that day spread amongst her four coasters. And as the day went on, I did manage to let go, and that made it much easier for her to thrust her hands in the air on every one we rode.

While we proceeded to have a coaster marathon, Daddy and younger sister reported that there were actually a great deal of other fun things to do in the park too. There must have been, because I saw the tell tale signs of chocolate, but no one was admitting to anything. Maybe next time, I will figure it out! Then again, it is very likely that this winter we will reach that 48 inch mark on the wall, so I may never ride anything but a roller coaster again. Oh well, we all make sacrifices for our children now, do we not?