"You should ride the Cyclops first," said the Hershey Park public-relations person. "Then we'll move on to the Pirat [sic ], and afterwards those who feel like it are invited to have a snack."
"What's the point of taking them in that order?" asked one of the victims invited to preview the theme park's two new rides.
"Ask me afterwards," the PR person said. He didn't have to ask, or perhaps could not, since his white hand was clamped over the lower part of his green face. And although newspaper and TV people are notorious freeloaders, there was a plenty of beer and pretzels left over when the last of us staggered out of the park.
The Cyclops is a spin ride that starts out like a high-velocity merry-go-round and goes on to simulate a runaway ferris wheel. Twenty gondolas swinging at the ends of 26-foot spokes of a horizontal wheel rotate 90* as the wheel begins to spin.Once centrifugal force has squashed the riders flat as bugs on a windshield, the operator raises the wheel to the vertical. What happens then is described as follows by builders Wilhelm Huss & Co. of West Germany:
"From the rotation, the passengers experience a head-over-heel sort of looping movement. During this phase the extremely large travel diameter [65 feet] is particularly pleasing."
"Pleasing" was not among the words that occurred to one rider as he sat recuperating on a bench. On the other hand, the seven-year-old who had accompanied him on the inaugural ride went merrily on with his sisters to take three more turns in a row. Later, stuffed with free pretzels, peanuts and Coke, they did several more turns, and would be riding still if the PR person hadn't finally run them off.
The Pirat, cutesy spelling aside, appears much less stomach-churning, which is outrageously deceptive. It is basically a big swing, in the shape of an 86-foot boat that weighs 28 tons and travels in an arc that rises to 66 feet. At the peak of each swing comes a weightless sensation, as though one's bottom's falling out, especially if the hands are held over the head.
Passengers at the ends of the boat face each other; this, a park spokesman said, "adds to the interplay between riders," which means that looking at one another's sickly expression makes everybody feel sicker. Should such interplay reach the logical outcome, the operators are equipped with water hoses and towels.
Among the adults present, only one photographer was observed to ride the Pirat more than once, and he was further observed, moments later, bending over getting rid of his lunch. Even the young ride-testers came away green around the gills.
The Pirat was also made by the Huss Co. and is equally cunningly calculated: the rider is glad to have got on and even more glad to get off, which should keep the crowds wobbling along nicely.