When I was little, I was afraid of roller coasters.
This left me riding lame-o rides when we went to Worlds of Fun like the Bounce-a-Roos and the Octopus.
One of the summers around my fifth grade year, my family took a trip to Worlds of Fun and I decided I was ready for a roller coaster. My mom and I climbed aboard the Zambezi Zinger.
We started off and waved at my brother and dad, who would be boarding a few trains behind us.
I screamed my head off during the whole ride. It drove my mom nuts, but I thought that's what you were supposed to do.
I loved every drop, curve and tunnel of that ride. I even loved the anticipation as we slowly corkscrewed up to the first drop.
We got off and went to the observation area where you can see the trains emerging from the tunnel. We heard tales of some kid crying and I thought "How could anyone not like this?"
We heard a train zooming through the tunnel and out popped a train full of smiling people and one wailing boy: my brother.
I didn't go back to WoF until a few years later, with a bunch of friends in junior high.
Somehow, my friend Nathan talked me into going on The Orient Express, the most intimidating coaster in the park.
Big and red, you walked right by it as you entered the park. You heard the rails shaking and grumbling while the riders screamed.
"I can't believe I'm doing this!" I whined as we buckled into our seats.
Nathan was really sweet about my weenie ways. "Don't worry. You'll like it!"
I squirmed and envisioned my impending death while the sweaty dude behind the control panel mumbled something about staying buckled. Then the coaster started moving. And for some reason, I was suddenly fine.
Not scared anymore, I waved to the people below as we climbed higher and higher.
"What are you doing? Hang on!" Nathan cried. He seemed more nervous than I was at this point.
"This is awesome!"
At the top of the peak, we started going down, and I was disappointed. The first crest was just some tiny hill to psyche us out. We rounded a curve and down we weeeeent!!!
That first plunge on the Orient is still the scariest I've ever been on--not to say I've been on tons of coasters or anything. It just seems to go down into the ground. It was crazy.
Then there's the loops! There's something that just doesn't feel right about being that far above the ground and seeing the trees upside-down.
Even with the addition of new rides to Worlds of Fun, the Orient has always been my favorite.
Today, I was talking to a customer about his upcoming weekend trip to Kansas City.
"We're going to Worlds of Fun, too."
"I LOVE Worlds of Fun! I want to ride The Patriot!"
"Yeah it looks pretty cool. It just sucks that they had to tear down the Orient Express for it."
What??? I had no idea! I couldn't believe what he was telling me!
Apparently, it's been gone for three seasons and no one told me.
It's sad because every time I rode the Orient, I thought of all the people I had ridden it with. All the pictures I bought so we could see our faces as we sailed down the first drop.
And mostly, it's sad because I'll never get my pansy brother on the best coaster.
Later, one of my favorite customers arrived. "How are you?" he asked.
Poor guy thought my house had blown up or something.
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