Conquer your fear and experience the fun of adrenaline-pumping thrill rides at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Let the Fear Be Part of the Fun!
When it comes to roller coasters, the fear is part of the fun—unless it keeps you from taking the ride. Many people want to join the thrill ride—or at least not just stand and watch their friends at the park—but can’t overcome that fear, so Harvard Medical School professor Brian Newmark and clinical psychologist Michael Otto developed the Coasterphobia Stress Management Program nearly 20 years ago.
Coasterphobia is not a medical diagnosis— reluctance to ride won’t cripple your life like other fears— but it often bears traces of other recognized fears such as acrophobia (heights), illygnophobia (vertigo), claustrophobia (tight spaces), social phobia (embarrassment), mysophobia (contact with germs), emetophobia (vomiting). Sometimes the fear results from a childhood experience. The fear, anxiety, panic, and/or dread can lead to shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, sweating, and nausea.
One of the 15 members of the first Coasterphobia Stress Management Program class, Erik Minton, wrote about his experience for Psychology Today. Participants were encouraged to trust the engineers who had designed the rides, then were put through some preparatory routines: “We tensed and untensed muscles to learn to relax. We did breathing exercises. We circled our heads to induce dizziness. We rocked back and forth in our chairs to simulate a coaster’s motion. Then we circled our heads while rocking. We screamed, which Otto pointed out not only forces you to breathe on the coaster but is part of the ride’s fun. We watched a passenger perspective video of The Incredible Hulk, rocking as we did so.” For graduation, the group rode The Incredible Hulk at Universal Orlando Resort— and each one went on at least twice.
Free advice online will suggest taking baby steps or starting with the biggest coaster you fear, closing your eyes or opening them, staying in control of whether your ride or telling your friends to carry you on if necessary. Here are Otto’s professional tips:
- Make sure you are not being pressured or pushed into riding the roller coaster; this will only add to the feeling of not being in control.
- While waiting in line, try relaxation exercises. Practice tensing and slowly releasing your muscles as you breathe in for four counts and out for eight.
- It is important that you picture yourself enjoying the strange sensations involved in riding roller coasters. Anticipating fear and anxiety will only make it happen faster and stronger.
- Outsmart the “scare factor.” Remember that the loops and sudden drops are part of the roller coaster and are perfectly safe.
- During the ride, scream. Screaming stops you from holding your breath and helps relieve tension.
- Keep your eyes open. Being able to see what is happening actually helps terminate fear and nausea.
Let the fear become part of the fun at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park!