When traveling to Southern California for two days of meetings in a windowless conference room, it’s pretty fantastic to spend the evening in between at Disneyland.
My colleagues had scored some half-price two-park passes through Craigslist, so we set off on our whirlwind visit of the happiest place on earth. Having visited the parks before, we knew which rides we wanted to hit. Top of my list? My favorite roller coaster of all time: California Screamin’.
If you had asked me as a child what my favorite roller coaster was, my answer would have been: NONE! I was terrified of the sky-high rails and fast-moving cars. Surely no amount of harnessing would keep me alive if I dared to go for a ride. So I watched from afar, silently criticizing the screaming fools who had seemingly not noticed how rickety the structure appeared.
And then I went to Disneyland. See, the problem before had been that my only exposure to roller coasters was at local fairs run by carnies, or at the nearby (very dilapidated) adventure park. But at Disneyland, you don’t notice the rails, and the cars present themselves as vehicles to another world. You’re mesmerized by the music and the characters and the incredible attention to every detail, before suddenly plummeting down a deep drop or picking up speed for a quick turn. And even if you are scared for a moment, it’s the experience that compels you to return for more.
Disneyland initiated me into the world of roller coasters, so I had no fear when California Adventure opened and offered me this massive, high-speed ride. Well, that’s a lie I guess. I was a little nervous the first time I rode on California Screamin’, since there was no character theme to distract me from the fact that I’d be going upside down. Still, the crescendo of the music blasting into my ears as the rocket launched created such a rush of adrenalin that I’ve been a loyal devotee to the ride ever since.
And I’m not the only one who is a fan. This website ranks it as the #1 ride in the park, and describes it this way:
A unique roller coaster to California Adventure, California Screamin’ is the centerpiece of the park. A 0 – 60, nearly instant start leads to a great, smooth roller coaster with a loop and great turns. Disney’s best pure roller coaster, anywhere.
Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but I’d feel a twinge of sadness if I were there an unable to cross the pavement over to California Adventure to visit my roller coaster. For me, that rush is grown-up happiness.