Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wheely high up

When we exit from Toy Story Midway Mania, we look around for my parents and Brandon. They’re not in the Toy Story line, hmm.

We’re thinking of going to ride the Sun Wheel – or is it called Mickey’s Fun Wheel now? Either way, it’s the big Ferris wheel. We figure the other three and us will get together sometime.

On the way to the Ferris wheel, I check my phone and see that I have a new voice mail. It’s my dad, from just a minute or two ago, saying that they finished riding California Screamin’ and are heading to... the Ferris wheel. Well, that’ll work.

I give him a call, and it turns out that they haven’t ridden yet, they’re at the boarding area. The wheel boards from an area lower than the Paradise Pier boardwalk, and there is no wait to board – no line at all. We look down as we approach and see my mom, dad, and Brandon, waiting for us. Cool!

We start down the ramp to the loading zone. There is a choice of cars on this ride: swinging or non-swinging. This poses a serious dilemma for me. I’m marginally afraid of heights – “marginally” because I’ll still do things that put me up high, but the feeling creeps me out – and the worst is when I’m up high and feel unstable for whatever reason.

The non-swinging cars are the traditional ones on the exterior rim of the Ferris wheel. Yes, they can swing back and forth, but not too extremely unless you intentionally rock them. The swinging cars, though, are on a loop track so that, when they get up to a certain height, they slide down to the hub of the Ferris wheel (and rock back and forth when they get there), and then on the way down they slide back out to the outside (rocking again).

The non-swinging cars, because they are fixed on the outside edge of the wheel, actually go much higher than the others, so that’s a factor. But because it scares me the most to feel unstable at altitude, I really hate swinging on a Ferris wheel. One of my older brothers used to rock the car intentionally on Ferris wheels growing up, and it terrified me. It doesn’t petrify me like it used to, but I’d still rather avoid it.

So non-swinging it is.

Interestingly, both our sets of parents want a swinging car, so they ride together. Becky and I feel the same, Benjamin could go with either one, and Brandon – who has inherited my identical fear of heights – is not entirely certain he wants to ride at all. We persuade him to join us, as I promise we won’t be doing anything extra to rock the car!

So the four of my immediate family are together. We load into the car and start the journey up.

I do love the view and the breeze blowing as we rise. The wheel is still in its loading phase, so we stop a few times on the way up. Brandon is getting more nervous the higher he goes, and I understand. I get tense until we’ve passed the top and know how it feels to be at the highest point.

Just before the top we continue around, making two full circles before the wheel begins unloading. Lots of fun. We get a great view of the drained lagoon, as well as our hotel, California Screamin’, the Orange Stinger and all the other attractions around us. It is a really nice view.

Brandon and I both settle down and end up enjoying the ride, like I figured we would. Benjamin loved every moment of it from the start.

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