As you previously read (or maybe not), I was not a fan of roller coasters, amusement parks, or rides. I realize this is a stupid thing to say after declaring my love for Walt Disney World, but it is true. I would have been content to enjoy “It’s A Small World” for the rest of my life.
That dream was shattered one day in November 2018.
It begins with my sister, Amy.
Before we begin, you must know a few things about my sister and me:
We are two years and two days apart in age, and she is older.
We shared a bedroom for most of our childhood.
We grew up as best friends and are still best friends.
She lives 2,000 miles away from me.
We do not agree on everything, but she is one of the few people on earth who could tell me I was wrong and I would listen (after I was done being mad).
I have a more boisterous personality, but she is infinitely stronger and more grounded than me.
She knows my deepest, darkest secrets and still talks to me.
She has my six and I have hers.
Okay, there is more to the list, but I think you get the idea.
Amy joined me in Orlando for Wine and Dine Weekend. There were three races that weekend (5K, 10K, and half marathon) I signed up to complete. Once I ran, I returned to Coronado Springs, cleaned up, and we hit the parks.
Now, I had not been to the parks in a long time before 2018. Magic Kingdom was the only park that was open. Amy had been more recently, so she knew more about the newer parks.
On our last day, we headed to Animal Kingdom to explore, as I had only seen it at 6:00 am when the runners trucked through an empty park (that was cool, by the way). It was beautiful, and really fun to see the monkeys climbing and napping, the performers, and the exhibits.
It rained on and off during the day, so we ducked into Tusker House restaurant to decide what to do next. When the rain stopped (as it is Florida, so wait five minutes if you do not like the weather), we started walking again.
We came upon Expedition Everest, and the conversation went something like this:
Amy: Dude, let’s ride Everest!
Me: Um, is it a water ride?
Me: Good, I do not want wet pants.
Amy: Duh, me neither. Let’s go! The line is super short!
Me: Is it fast or scary?
Amy: Not at all! It is a peaceful ride through nature.
Yup, you read that correctly – a peaceful ride through nature.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not ridden Expedition Everest and you want to be surprised, stop reading.
So, we jumped in line without a Fastpass and were almost to the start of the ride. I kept asking my sister if this was a thrill ride, and she kept diverting the conversation. When we got to the front of the queue, I realized Amy was lying to me.
As soon as we were in the line to get on the coaster, I looked at my sister, who was laughing at this moment. The two young ladies who were to sit behind us looked a bit skeptical when Amy pulled out a plastic bag from her parka and said, “Don’t worry! I have a dog poop bag in my pocket, so if you barf, you can use this!”
I will admit, my sister said we could get out of line and skip the ride. In the next sentence, she also said I would be fine.
I waffled at this point. After four decades, I wanted to be tough. I wanted to ride the big kid rides. Hell, I could not even ride the carousel or tea cups without having to lay down or turning green.
So, I swallowed my fear (and my stomach), and got on the ride.
As it began, I was ready. Amy said it did not invert, so I knew I could endure it. We rode the first half of the ride, and I was actually having a bit of fun.
Then, the ride stopped in the middle, where the track “ends” because the Yeti destroyed it.
I quickly realized that we were not exiting the ride and walking back down the “mountain.” We were going to descend the mountain, but we were going to do it backwards.
After some choice words that I cannot write here, the ride began again, catapulting us into the rest of the expedition backwards, in the dark, and with some disco lights and a Yeti sighting.
I screamed the entire time. Part of my scream was pure fear, and part of my scream was adrenaline.
As the cars pulled into the depot so we could get off the ride, I sat there for a moment. Amy asked if I was okay. I was, but I was also shocked.
I survived a roller coaster without vomiting, passing out, or turning green.
And, it was fun. Really, really fun.
Since November, I have ridden Everest several times, and absolutely love it.
So, if you have time to take a “peaceful ride through nature,” you should do it!