(Not) Amusement Parks

amusement parks

So, I know that this will come as a shock to many of the people reading this but here goes: we have three kids; ages 8, 6 and 3, and…we have NEVER TAKEN THEM TO ANY AMUSEMENT PARKS.

Sorry, I didn’t mean for that to be quite as dramatic as it sounded but I know that taking your kids to amusement parks is a part of life. It’s just not one I look forward to. I mean, I look forward to taking my kids to Disney someday (you know, when I can take a second mortgage on my house to be able to afford it), but smaller amusement parks, or even Six Flags? Not really my thing.

If it sounds like I’m anti-amusement park, I’m not (I sort of am). It’s not that I dread the traffic and crowds (I do), don’t want to spend tons of money for the kids to play games at which they stand no chance of winning and if they do win SOMETHING, it’ll be a tiny piece of crap that will just be something I need to clean up off the floor of the playroom for months (I definitely don’t), or that I don’t like most of the rides (kicking and screaming). I know trips to an amusement park can be really special for kids and I look forward to doing that for them, it just hasn’t happened yet.

I’ll come out and say it: I don’t like roller coasters and they kind of (really) scare (terrify) me. I remember back in 9th or 10th grade our high school band took its annual competition trip to Florida and we went to Disney one of the days. I spent the day walking around with my friend Rudi and these two girls we liked. Rudi and one of the girls wanted to go on Space Mountain, but the other girl was too scared to go on, so she and I waited for them at the end. Since she was scared, I said I’d wait with her and I ended up looking like a gentleman and not a wussy because I didn’t have to say that I was too scared to go on the ride. However, near the end of the day, she decided that she wanted to try it. After making Rudi swear that the roller coaster did not go upside down, I agreed to go on it with her. Thankfully, Space Mountain is completely dark inside, so I couldn’t see the dips and drops, which really helped.

I loved it, and she and I cut the line a few times so we could ride it a bunch before we had to leave. That said, I was a dumb kid back then and never truly thought about the potential horrors of the roller coaster. That was also before the Internet, so it wasn’t as easy to read stories of roller coaster mishaps. I mean, every summer, you read stories about a roller coaster that stops midway through a ride with people trapped UPSIDE DOWN for an hour. If you don’t believe me, Google it. You could not pay me to go on roller coasters that twist and flip. Or (maybe?) worse are the rickety wooden old-fashioned roller coasters that seem a stiff wind away from collapsing. If you want to risk it, be my guest, but I’ll be watching from the safety of good old terra firma.

I also know the day is coming when my kids might want to go on a roller coaster and they’ll want me to go with them. I’m Daddy, and I know I’ll have to be brave and do it. And I’m going to need to somehow let THEM know not to be scared while portraying courage and calm (I’ll probably be trying to not poop myself).

And the games. I like trying to get a minuscule ring to loop a soda bottle, or to knock over the small pyramid of milk bottles as much as anyone, and from time to time I get seduced by the possibility of trying to win the ENORMOUS teddy bear so I can be the conquering hero, but it just…never…happens. As YOU all know, the games are basically rigged so you can’t win. It’s Vegas for kids and stupid adults. But the KIDS don’t know it, and if your kids are anything like mine, you can tell them it’s impossible to win until you’re blue in the face, but they won’t believe you that they won’t win the XBOX 360 until you’ve spent a ton of money and they’ve been reduced to a whiny puddle of tears and have nothing to show for it except red eyes, a runny nose and annoyed parents.

Oh, the lines. Does it make sense, at any other time or anywhere else in life, to spend 20-30 minutes waiting for 1-2 minutes of fun (you know, except sex)? NO! So why do it at an amusement park? You stand there, baking in the sun, standing on hot asphalt, sweating and waiting. I know how impatient I get waiting in line, so I can only imagine how much more fun that experience would be with two boys, 8 and 6, who whine and end up fighting with each other at the drop of a hat and for no reason under the best of circumstances: “Daddy, I’m hot. Daddy, I’m tired. Daddy, I’m hungry. Daddy, I’m thirsty.”

Or worse, “Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Can you hold it?”


Great, so then we’ll have to give up our spot in line for him to go to the bathroom (hopefully, it would only be number one and not the dreaded number two in an amusement park bathroom…though my younger son, who still needs some help wiping, has recently pooped in a Port-a-Potty on an 85 degree day, so I can’t imagine it being much worse than that) and then start the whole process over again.

I know I should focus on the positives and enjoy these experiences, and who knows, maybe when we finally take our kids to an amusement park this summer, I will. There’s a local amusement park with a water park (i.e., public, communal toilet with chlorine) that we’ve promised them we’ll visit this summer and I’m sure (not so sure) it will be fun for them (possibly us too).

Stay tuned.


The Beginning
About goodtimesdad

I'm a former sports-writer, current attorney and full-time dad to Axl, Slash, and The Rocket Queen. I'm also an unapologetic fan of the Yankees, Giants, Knicks, Islanders, 80's hair metal and stupid comedies. Come check me out at goodtimesdad.com.

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  1. Brad the Dad says:

    I think I might fear the Tilt-A-Whirls at the local gigs more so than the roller coasters at the legit parks, but I get what you are saying. But you can have your Internet and news stories, me, I’ve been forever tainted by the roller coaster scene in one of those Final Destination movies. That is why I make it a point to never cheat death on the way to theme parks anymore. Just not worth it.

This is what I think...