Let me start out by saying that if you were in row 5 of Tower of Terror yesterday at 1:30 in Disney's California Adventure and have bruise on your left thigh, it's not entirely my fault.
We are on vacation with my two brothers and their wives and yesterday was the Disneyland portion of the trip. My wife had been talking up Tower of Terror for a week in anticipation. She was trying to overcome the inertia my family usually has towards amusement parks, but as we approached the ride yesterday it wasn't working. I was her only taker even though the ride had an unheard of 15 minute wait.
I was doing it for her. I'm OK with rides but eventually the engineer in me comes out.
Maybe it's a difference in philosophy about rides in general. My wife thinks that rides are a thrilling adventure about speed and G forces, meant to excite you and make your heart thump for a brief 2 minutes and 25 seconds. I'm thinking "holy crap, what can go wrong?" and imagining a roomful of guys that are good at math and have more things strapped to their belts then Jim Kirk on a away mission saying "Oh, here it is, the frabistat disconnected from the whojisabar sending the whole car right out the top of the ride". It happens.
And so I found myself standing on a bronze square marked "5" with my wife and two heavyset women. We were among 21 getting on the ride together. I didn't really notice how heavyset they were while we were waiting in line together. My mind was on other things. Like flying out of the top of the ride or crashing to the bottom because some knuckle head used a uninitialized pointer in the code for the ride control.
The "Elevator Operator" called row 5 and off we went. The heavyset woman on my immediate right approached her seat and pulled her seat belt fully out before getting her seat saying something about "otherwise I can't reach it". It was about then that I noticed that "heavyset" actually meant "Ass as big as all of Wisconsin" or "A lifetime around cheese"
I sat down in my seat and pulled my seat belt on. It looked like something from a '65 Impala since it was single lap belt without the shoulder straps that any Smart Car has. These antiquated belts were also my wife's sole reasoning as to why the ride "isn't so bad". She said if it were a bad ride, they would restrain you in with a heavy metal bar. Yes, I thought, that's true OR it could be that the guys with all the pencils sticking out of their breast pocket of their short sleeved, button down shirt UNDERSIZED IT. I want a restraining bar. A big metal restraining bar.
Looking to my right only reinforced the whole "undersized" concept.
After buckling up, I got familiar with my environment. We were in metal theater type seating with our Don Draper era seat belt secured across our laps and each seat had a metal handle on each side. I'm sure those handles had reassured many a white knuckle that "everything is going to be OK".
At least that was true on my left. I could look down and see the handle between my wife and I.
It was a different story on my right. I'm sure that the pencil necked geeks put two handles for every seat, but since the woman next to me was pouring out of her seat and into mine, that right handle was buried somewhere under her fleshy thigh.
I looked down and to my horror, saw her thigh actually completely covered the handle. I reached down, hoping the my eyes had misunderstood only to feel blubber.
I elected to only grab my left handle out of politeness.
After a brief last minute safety check which consisted of us tugging on our own lap belt to make sure it was buckled, we started the ride.
At first it wasn't so bad. The ride went backwards to move into position and then went upwards at normal "elevator" type acceleration. Then the doors opened to a hallway right out of "Haunted Mansion" where there were spooky ghosts and a narrator that continued with the back story. I find that when faced with ghosts or stomach emptying acceleration, I'm much more frightened by the acceleration.
The doors then closed and some guys in the back row that apparently had spent the day on this ride started counting down.
The next thing I knew, I was hurtling towards my death and the roof at breakneck speeds.
Clearly, the time for politeness was over.
I reached around my new best friend's thigh and grabbed that handle as fast as I could. My grip moved her thigh out of the way and tightened around the brass handle before you could say "Twilight zone".
The ride went up and down like that for what seemed to me to be an hour and half. Each drop and rise getting faster and straining the clearly undersized belt. I was out of my seat a couple of times and could only imagine what was happening in the seat to my right. I hung on to my handles for my life.
I could only image because I had closed my eyes after the ride opened up it's doors at the top over looking the park at an altitude normally reserved for airliner cruising.
And then, that fast, the ride was over and we were getting out. The lady next to me and I did not make eye contact.
On the way out we bought a souvenir photo - a 5 x7 for $96.50.
In the photo, you can not see my right hand.