My 10 Favourite Coaster Memories

I don't know what it is about these dreary February nights, but they've got me feeling all gooey and nostalgic. I think the closed season cabin fever must finally be setting in as lately I've often found myself drifting off into daydreams of riding coasters. I've got tons and tons of really special memories of mine that are coaster related - moments that even a fluttering thought of which can take me back to that exact moment and feeling in time so vividly. I guess that's what happens when you make memories in theme parks and places that thrive on the concept of escape and imagination. So instead of impatiently continuing to check my watch to see if it's time to go get drunk with a bunch of rowdy coaster enthusiasts in Blackpool yet, I thought I'd channel that energy into sharing some of my favourite coaster memories with you guys instead!

Every now and then there will come a moment in your live where you're overwhelmed by a wave of sheer bliss. Where you take a deep breath in, exhale and just think to yourself, yes, life is good and I could definitely do this until my dying days. One such moment in my life like that for me was a visit to Port Aventura back in 2012 (I know, I know, a cherished memory associated with that DUMP!) It was a brisk winter evening and we were taking advantage of what was then an excellent three train operation of Shambhala despite it being very, very off peak. As I positioned myself front row, shuffled my bum forward to allow the ride op to let me get away with one-click of the clamshell and began to ascend the terrifying 250ft lift hill I caught a glimpse of the bright, white moon and was overcome with a deep sense of calm and contentedness. Pure, unadulterated happiness - almost like an eerie calm to precede the intense, joyous airtime to follow. Glorious.

Taking it back a gear now to 15 year old me and probably one of my earliest proper coaster geek moments. I'd followed the construction of Stealth, the new Intamin launch coaster coming to my beloved Thorpe Park, intently on this new forum I'd stumbled across called CoasterForce. I'd been bursting with excitement at every dirt-filled update, every detail, every bolt screwed into place. I'd watched the CoasterForce 'documentary' from the opening weekend of the coaster, distraught that I wasn't able to make it to the event myself. But now my time had come - I'd somehow managed to organise my group of semi-interested friends into coming along with me to Thorpe Park to finally ride this beast, and oh god did it live up to my expectations. I still remember feeling the blood pumping in my forehead as I sat back, held on tight and braced myself for what would become the first of many, many instances of being sent hurtling down that slender navy blue track and dear god. The intensity! The gut-punch! The airtime! I didn't get a chance to catch my breath and I remember standing on the platform jumping up and down after our ride as to how fucking great it was. And it still packs a punch to this day!

Sometimes there are moments in your life you look back on and wonder if you were mad in the head to have been doing what you were doing at the time, and my ride on Ukko at Linnamaki in Finland was definitely one of those. We'd been out the night before, you see, and I had gotten quite drunk with a bunch of German guys. So drunk in fact that it lead to what is still to this day the worst hangover I have ever had the displeasure to endure. But fuck the whining and get your act together - there are creds to get! It's been said that sometimes I take the cred thing a little too seriously, but let's be honest with ourselves, when the hell was I going to be back in Finland for the chance to ride this thing again? No time soon, that's for sure. So I did what any self-respecting cred-whore would do and just got the fuck on with it. But urgh, that grotesque swirling in my head as we ascended the beyond-backwards-vertical lift-hill of the Maurer SkyLoop is a feeling I'd happily erase from my memory altogether. What was I thinking. Got all the creds that day though and only threw up once, so who's the real winner here?

I won't bang on and on and on (alright well maybe a little bit...) about how much I love Taron, because let's face it if you're a reader here you're probably well aware of the OBSESSION but this list wouldn't be complete with a mention of the fateful day where that obsession was born. Strangely, my first ride on Taron left me feeling kind of unsatisfied if I'm honest. This was another coaster I'd obsessively followed the construction for and was so overwhelmingly gagged to ride, and we made the mistake of getting on the thing as early as possible during the day. This, as any true Taron fan knows, is a rookie error as she needs a few hours to properly warm up. But we came back later that night for a cheeky ERT session and I fell in love. I didn't get off the thing for a solid hour, continually running round for more and more like some king of airtime drunk coaster junkie. Ever ride just lead my cravings to intensify and no ride was enough to satisfy them. The only reason I got off the damn thing was because the park had to close - if that hadn't been the case I'm pretty sure I'd still be there now.

This is a coaster memory that actually has my stomach muscles hurting from laughing whenever I think about it, and when I try to write this I'm pretty sure it's going to turn out to be one of those 'you had to be there' kind of moments but whatever, it's going on the list. 2017 was the year I finally got to Walibi Holland to experience their Fright Nights Halloween event, but also happened to be the opening year of the new Mack Big Dipper coaster Lost Gravity. We'd ridden it earlier in the day and all been very pleasantly surprised, so decided it was only right to pop back after dark to check out how she fared at night. In between this time, in true European theme park spirit, we'd had a few beers and were very much in that state of 'silly drunk' where you can't stop giggling and everything is hilarious. Riding with my friend Jake (who's the kind of person that's so effortlessly funny it makes you sick), he spent the entire ride pointing out the various moments of obscene airtime and making loud VOM noises at them before we got to them, and you'll just have to believe me when I say it was fucking hilarious. Tears were streaming from my eyes by the time we returned to the station and I was creased in half from laughing. So much fun!

I'll be honest here, I'm not sure if 2008 is exactly the right year but there are definitely some horrendous pictures of me from this year at that park so it adds up. Not sure if many of you remember this old Mack Wild Mouse coaster that used to reside at the lovely LEGOLAND Windsor, but you'll just have to take my word for it that it was a thing that existed. One thing you need to know about this coaster (and for this story to make any sense) is that due to local complaints about scream noise caused by the attraction, the park had installed scream guards that meant the whole train was enclosed. This makes sense in theory, but it does lead to a very weird sound-proofed bubble effect as you make your way around the track, it's quite bizarre. Anyway, on this date we visited I jumped in a car with my boyfriend at the time as well as my friend Joey plus another person who I can't quite place. We secured our seatbelts, the screamguard came down and locked into place and we dispatched. And that's when we realised we were not alone. We had, in fact, been trapped in this death bubble with a fucking wasp. Cue 2 minutes of us screaming and scrambling as well as we could around the damn car trying to avoid the evil buzzing bastard as the layout of the coaster sent it flying across our heads in all directions. Never has a coaster ride been so chaotic.

Ah yes, the 'what the fuck am I doing with my life' coaster memory! I'm a pretty unashamed cred whore, and it's quite hard to embarrass me, but this moment was one of those that made me pause, if only for a fraction of a second, and sit back and think if this was really what I wanted to do with my life. Obviously I immediately snapped out of it and never looked back and let the obsession continue to manifest itself into was is now a totally out of control habit that I use humour on a blog to try and distract from, but that's by the by. I speak, of course, of what is easily the most shame inducing cred in the whole of UK. Not only is this coaster (if you can even call the damn thing that) smaller that your standard shame-inducing Big Apple or Wacky Worm fare, but it's located in Hemsby Fun Park in bloody Norfolk - easily the most depressing of the sad-and-grey British seaside resorts. The worst part was I'd already gotten the cred, I was just riding it for the fun. There I was, sat on a children's coaster with ten other adults, shame already pulsating through our veins and the ride op loudly asks "where are your kids?", to which another op gently places his hand on his arm and explains 'they're ENTHUSIASTS'. I wanted. To die.

You often hear people describing significant moments in their life as going in slow motion. Everything around them slow right down and the world seems to stop turning for that split moment of utter perfection where everything seems right in the world. One such moment like this for me, aside from the day I got my dream job or marrying my husband, was during the zero-g stall inversion on Wildfire at Kolmarden. This was the first RMC to finally rock up on our European shores and boy was it a beast. Having ridden a few before, my expectations for this thing were sky high and I was praying to all of the coaster gods that Wildfire would deliver. And fuck did it, and then some. The location and views are stunning, the pacing and speed are breathtaking, and the moment you invert and realise you're completely surrounded on all sides but nothing but sweet, sweet wood, is mesmerising.

I'm no psychiatrist, but I'm pretty sure this memory is the root cause for my utter love and admiration of launch coasters. Ever the excited ten year old, I'd been gearing up for what would be our third family trip to Walt Disney World for probably just over a year. Pawing over any newspaper article that featured the insane and exciting rides and rollercoasters they had over the pond and positively obsessing over any travel channel special that featured this insane new coaster at MGM Studios. When I think back, ten is pretty young but I'm pretty sure it was about this age that I'd started to become more self-aware of who I was and my personality, and fancied myself as a bit of a rock chick, so anything with a giant Fender Stratocaster as its facade was alright by my books. It's funny to ride the coaster now, because I remember being absolutely blown away by the launch of it - proof that all those flashing lights and Steven Tyler screaming in your ear really does help amplify the sense of speed - it only goes 57mph! But who cares - it blew my socks off and was yet another key milestone in shaping me as a future full-blown coaster enthusiast. 

Again, anybody reading this who knows the proper date because I feel like this one is wildly inaccurate - my terrible memory was one of the main reasons I wanted to start blogging! But picture this - it's 2011 (probably?), it's Scarefest, it's night time and the air is crisp and has that tinge of wonderful autumn magic - of course you're heading over for a night ride on Nemesis, duh! So off I wandered, holding hands with a guy I liked at the time and making my way down to Forbidden Valley for our final ride of the season on the old girl. We couldn't help but to laugh when we got to the station to find it packed wall to wall with fellow enthusiasts - some we knew, some we didn't but we easily identifiable due to their various pieces of theme park branded clothing, all with the same goal of seeing the season out with one final blast of awesomeness from Alton's most infamous beast. Anybody who finds themselves doubting if they're really even into coasters that much anymore need only to ride Nemesis in the dark on a crisp autumn night to reinvigorate that passion - it's definitely good for the soul!

For me, the best thing about memories isn't just reminiscing over the ones you already have but the knowledge that there's always potential to make new ones too! And during the month of February as we teeter on the precipice of a shiny new theme park season, the world is our oyster - we have no idea what weird and wonderful things are going to happen on the trips we have planned for the year that will cement them in our memory forever, and we can't wait to find out either.

Talk later xoxo,

CONVERSATION

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