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How to Overcome Your Fear of Roller Coasters

Updated on November 25, 2012
Six Flags Roller Coasters - Mr. Freeze Reverse
Six Flags Roller Coasters - Mr. Freeze Reverse | Source

So, your friends and family are going to an amusement park, and they've asked you to come along. It sounds like fun! It sounds like a real adventure! It sounds like a bonding experience!

It sounds terrifying.

A lot of people love the sensation of controlled danger, of free falling and crazy turns in zero G... but not everybody. I personally thought my roller coaster riding days were behind me after some bad experiences in recent years. I once hurt my neck on a roller coaster with a loop in it and decided I would never try again.

Well, never is a long, long time. This past October, my husband bought our entire family season passes to Six Flags Over Texas, and I found myself in charge of two teenage girls who were very intent on enjoying the scariest rides in the park. Since I was not willing to let them wait in very long lines without adult supervision, I had to go with them, and I had to ride those rides.

I survived. In fact, I even enjoyed myself more than I expected to. I might even look forward to using those season tickets again. Here are some tips that worked for me.

Six Flags Roller Coasters - The Texas Giant
Six Flags Roller Coasters - The Texas Giant | Source

Start Small

See that picture above? It's a picture of the Titan, the tallest roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas. You don't have to start with the Titan. If you want to overcome your fear of roller coasters, you can start with something a little more manageable, like the Runaway Mine Train or the Vibora. Experiment with different kinds of smaller wooden and steel roller coasters to see which you prefer.

Do Some Research

For all that roller coasters seem to be very dangerous and frightening, they are actually much safer than cars. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the chances of dying in a roller coaster crash are 1 in 1.5 billion. Yes, it does happen, but the chances of dying in a car wreck is 15 in 10,000 according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. You are actually in more danger during the car ride to the park than you are on the roller coaster.

Sometimes it can be helpful to understand how roller coasters are made. There are many websites that explain safety features of roller coasters in detail. Remember that before they open the doors of the amusement park, these rides have been safety tested repeatedly. Programmable logic controllers keep the ride from getting out of control.

I personally found it helpful to "ride" some of the bigger roller coasters on youtube videos before I had to get on them for real. I liked knowing for sure what I was getting into.

Sometimes a preview is helpful.

Ride Earlier in the Day

So you are standing in line for over an hour, and you have a nice, long time to look at that ride as people get on it over and over again. You might have a nice long time to psyche yourself out. Try arriving at the park at the very beginning of the day, before the lines are too long. You may be on the ride before you have time to scare yourself.

Choose Your Seat Carefully

This is an important point, and it created some very lively debates between myself and the girls when we rode the Shock Wave at Six Flags. I was willing to get on that... thing... but I knew better than to ride in the back. People who are still getting used to the idea of riding the biggest roller coasters should choose the middle cars if possible. The ride experience is less intense in the front and middle than at the end.

Of course, the girls knew this, too. That's why they wanted to sit in the back. Ah, parenthood.


Wait 30 Minutes After Meals

If you are afraid of having a bad experience on a roller coaster, make sure you don't try to ride it on a completely full stomach. Give yourself some time to digest your meal before you hit the next big ride. Your stomach will thank you for it, and you will enjoy yourself more.

Follow the Rules

If you are preparing to ride roller coasters, it is very important to follow all the safety precautions that are generally posted in very visible places around the rides. These rides generally have firm health recommendations for certain categories of riders. If you obey the rules, you are more likely to be one of the millions of people who ride in safety rather than one of the few who get hurt. Do not ride roller coasters if:

  • You have a history of heart trouble.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You are injured
  • You have limited mobility.

Other considerations:

  • Keep your hands and arms inside the car at all times.
  • Take off your jewelry,
  • Obey height, weight and age rules.
  • Never ride roller coasters under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Stay inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop.

Ride With Somebody You Trust

When preparing to ride a roller coaster that scares you, choose a supportive companion who will be positive and encouraging as you take this big leap of faith.

Close Your Eyes

I personally found this immensely helpful when I went on the big rides that had me the most terrified. I discovered that I was far less frightened when I was not dreading the next big dip or the next loop de loop. Others have suggested staring at the seat when upside down on a loop de loop; it helps control equilibrium. Make sure your head is very firmly against the seat back at all times.

Go Ahead and Scream

Are you scared? Let it out! Scream as loud as you can when you are on the ride. It makes the whole experience a lot more fun.

I wrote a set of reviews for the roller coasters the day I decided to face my demons and ride all the big ones.


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    • Amanda108 profile image

      Amanda 3 years ago from Michigan, United States

      I'm scared of big roller coasters! The thing is, I'm not scared of getting hurt or crashing and dying. I'm just afraid of the experience itself. I don't like the drop in my stomach that accompanies the physical drop or the nerves that make my stomach squirm as we climb the hill!

      I totally agree though that a good, loud scream will release some of the tension and let the fear out.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Yeah... no! I'm still scared. Well, sort of. I guess if I HAD to ride a roller coaster I would, but I would prefer not to. By the way, your tips are great. If I ever find myself tied down to a roller coaster, I will remember them. Thanks.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      The back is the best seat! Great hub and fun too. I'm ready for next summer.