What’s so Thrilling About Thrill Rides?

A roller coaster

The Travel Intern

A roller coaster

Roller coasters, drop rides, and pendulum rides are what come to mind when you hear “thrill ride.” These provide the stomach-dropping, eye-watering, and screaming sensations that many people love. Somehow, these rides tend to get the most attention in amusement parks and fairs. Why do so many people enjoy thrill rides? 

The idea of the roller coaster originated from sledding. People in Russia began to ride down specially constructed hills of snow and ice, giving them a thrill. Sledding became extremely popular, so architects decided to take it to the next level. The first real roller coaster was the Promenades Aériennes, located in Paris, France, which opened in 1817. It provided excitement and pleasure for the wealthy – the only people who could afford to ride. The first few roller coasters were unsafe, basically only being a cart on a track, but people nevertheless loved riding them. Why would they take such a risk for a few minutes, maybe seconds, of amusement?    

Some people ride thrill rides to conquer their fears. They enjoy feeling like they accomplished something. If they are afraid of heights or speed, they see roller coasters and drop rides as great ways to rid themselves of that fear. They can scream at the top of their lungs or hold on to the restraint for dear life, but it’s worth it as long as they can get through it. It’s therapeutic in its way. Others ride thrillers for similar reasons, like fearing for your life and then being reassured that you are okay.  

When you ride a roller coaster or thrill ride, your body experiences a rush of adrenaline. Your heart rate speeds up, you become more alert and aware of your surroundings, and sometimes it becomes hard to breathe. The fight-or-flight response is triggered, and the riders feel anxious and fidgety. When it’s over, they know they are safe and sometimes laugh because they were afraid of something so harmless, even fun. Many thrill-seekers enjoy adrenaline rushes, which is one of the reasons they love to go on these kinds of rides, even when it comes with some consequences.

Though most thrill rides are completely safe, they can affect your body in rather unpleasant ways. Because they depend on gravity for their drops, these rides force your blood down to your lower body, which causes your heart to pump to get blood to your brain, resulting in your lightheadedness. Motion sickness and dizziness could also occur by riding thrill rides. The eye and ear detect motion and balance and then send signals to the brain. On roller coasters, the constant jerky movement and quick, sharp dips can cause them to send different signals than the other, confusing you for a while. For some, this sensation is exciting, but for others, it causes vertigo and nausea.          

Thrill rides definitely have their ups and downs, but whether you want to take the risk is your choice. Besides, life’s like a roller coaster- it could be smooth for a while, then plummet downhill, or maybe it’s just a little bumpy, but everything’s alright in the end. Sometimes.