To My Fellow Future Thrill Riders,
Hi! I’m Jenna, and I never thought I would be able to conquer a roller coaster. After almost 8 years of being a Universal Orlando Annual Passholder (UOAP), I didn’t think any convincing would get me on one. But, I eventually did, and It. Was. Awesome. I’m here to share my story and try to ease any nerves you may be having before tackling a roller coaster at Universal Orlando Resort.
For as long as I can remember, I was terrified of the big coasters. I was always the designated bag holder when my friends would tackle the intense gamma rays of The Incredible Hulk Coaster in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Even looking up at the intimidating 0-40 mph launch immediately turning into a zero-g inversion was enough to make the butterflies in my stomach feel like they also were fluttering at 40 mph.
I truly never thought I would be brave enough to get on one of the mammoth coasters offered at our theme parks.
The “best” I could do was The Revenge of the Mummy in Universal Studios Florida, which I definitely count as a roller coaster, but my friends tend to disagree, saying that I still hadn’t gotten the full coaster experience.
Truly no amount of external convincing could persuade my stubborn self to get on a coaster. The only person who would be able to was, well, me. I’m not sure what clicked inside my head, but it eventually did — and I finally told myself for the first time ever that I was going to conquer The Incredible Hulk Coaster.
Once I mentally committed, there was no going back and I instantly started my research. I spent hours scouring forums and the UOAP Facebook Group, trying to find accurate comparisons to what I have experienced with my own thrill ride resume. I had never gone upside down on a ride, and was desperate for some kind of specific explanation on what the sensation felt like. I would stay up all night watching videos of The Incredible Hulk Coaster over and over, trying to memorize each twist and turn to hopefully relieve some of the anxiety of the unknown.
Then, the big day finally came. I felt fine all morning… and pulling up to the parking lot… and going through security… and walking through Universal CityWalk…
But when I made that left turn into Islands of Adventure and got a glimpse at the big green roller coaster I’ve looked at a million times before, my stomach dropped.
I had doubts. So many. I really didn’t think I could do it.
But I did, and here is my advice on how to handle the terrifying moments before the big event:
- Before the big day, try out a smaller coaster. This will help prepare you mentally for the basic movements of a coaster. It’s all about baby steps here, and be proud of yourself for every ride that you accomplish, no matter how big or small. My go-to was Flight of the Hippogriff to help warm me up!
- Make it the first ride of your trip. If you don’t, it is almost certain you won’t do it. You’ll either be so nervous the entire day, or find a way to convince yourself, “Eh, maybe next time.” That way, when it’s over, it’ll make the rest of your day even more special!
- DON’T THINK. I know it’s easier said than done, but this was the best thing that could have happened to me. Once I calmed down a bit after the initial panic (with the patient support of a loved one), and had the smallest voice in my head tell me I was OK, and everything was going to be OK, I instantly acted without thinking.
- Try to get on when there’s a short wait time. This goes hand-in-hand with don’t think, since there’s no time to even let the doubt or fear creep in if you keep on moving. Luckily for me, it was only a five-minute wait, so I walked through the queue and strapped myself in before I could even process what was going on.
- Ask for the front row. Yes, I know it can be scary to have nothing else in front of you, but typically the front row is the tamest with the forces of the ride. Not only that, but once you do start to enjoy yourself, you get the best view!
- Close your eyes. For my first time, I closed my eyes for a majority of the ride. Personally, it helped me get used to these new sensations (and those butterflies were non-existent!)
Then the big moment came, and I was past the point of no return. From the moment we launched, I wasn’t just screaming in fear. I was screaming “OH MY GOSH I DID IT, I’M ON THE INCREDIBLE HULK COASTER!!!!” It was nothing like the fearsome experience I created in my anxiety-ridden mind. It was SUPER FUN. I promise you, it isn’t as bad as what you think it may be in your head.
When the breaks finally struck and I had my first moment of tranquility, the only thing flooding my thoughts was pride. I finally did it. Something I truly thought I’d never do. And I loved it.
Now, I can proudly say that I have ALSO conquered Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and The Jurassic World VelociCoaster and boy were they incredible! They’re now easily at the top of my favorite rides list. Basically, I’m making up for a lot of lost time with my thrill seeking adventures and I’m loving every moment of it!
Well, I hope sharing my story helps inspire some of you to take that leap, when you’re ready. I promise, it’s worth it. And truly, if I can do it, so can you!
Sending you all the love and encouragement,
P.S. For all you folks who are trying to figure out what it feels like to go upside down, here is the best comparison I could think of: it’s just like doing a somersault. You’re welcome!