How to Overcome A Fear of Roller Coasters

Pete Trabucco has a new book out called: America’s Top Roller Coasters & Amusement Parks: A Guide for Those Who Ride Them & Tips for Those Who Fear Them. I’ve seen a ton theme park and roller coaster books in my time, but I can’t recall one that had tips for people who were feared roller coasters. Believe it or not, I was scared of roller coasters until I was a teenager, so I can sympathize with those who don’t have the stomach for the thrill machines. Over the years that I’ve been blogging, numerous people have contacted me with questions on how they could overcome their fear.

Pete Trabucco has offered up some great tips in his chapter called: “Fighting the Fear of Roller Coasters”. Let’s have a look:

Never Coerce People or be Coerced
His first tip isn’t so much of a tip; it’s more of a rule. If someone’s not quite ready to tackle the towering thrill ride at your local park, don’t pressure them. It typically turns out bad. I feel that some gentle nudging and encouragement can’t hurt as I’ve converted three of my good friends this way over the years, but I’d stop there.

Start with Smaller Roller Coasters
Ant Farm Express at Wild Adventures - Family Roller Coaster
To me, this is a pretty obvious tip, but I’ve been shocked by how many people have intense roller coasters as their very first ride. I just met a girl at SeaWorld whose first roller coaster was a flying roller coaster at another park. Try a smaller, slower roller coaster for your first time out or even if you’re rusty and haven’t ridden in a while. The recently mentioned mine train roller coasters are great for gearing up for the bigger rides. They have short drops and relatively short heights. These junior roller coasters are maybe just a bit taller than your house.

Learn the Layout of the Roller Coaster
How many times have you been in the queue and heard someone asking, “Does this ride go upside-down?” As a novices you may feel more comfortable and mentally prepared if you can get someone to explain to you in detail what to expect. Even better, if you can see the ride’s entire layout and study it, it might make you feel more up to the task. This was always a problem with terrain roller coasters like Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens Europe. I could never get my brother to ride because he couldn’t see the layout.

Brace Yourself
Roller coaster enthusiasts loathe being stapled into a coaster by lap bars and over-the-shoulder restraints. We want to be free to feel that sought-after airtime and floating sensation. Newbies probably aren’t ready for this and will likely want to feel as safe and secure as possible. So lower that lap bar as low as possible (while still being comfortable). You’re not going to fall out of the roller coaster regardless, but a tighter lap bar may help convince your worried mind.

Breathe & Scream!
Breathing and screaming can keep the blood flow in your upper body. This can decrease the chances of blacking out. Maybe I should’ve tried this on Magic Mountain’s Goliath. Pete Trabucco is a seasoned pilot, his recommendation is one that pilots use to as they experience heavy g-forces just as we coaster riders do. So yes, screaming is not only fun, but it’s recommended.

For more on Pete Trabucco’s “…Tips for Those Who Fear Them”, and some great, in-depth roller coaster reviews of the America’s best roller coasters, pick up a copy of his book today. I hope to interview Pete and have a complete review of his book up soon.

Roller Coasters Are Safer than “Fill in the Blank” 
For me, knowing that I’m not going to die and that roller coasters are much safer than driving a car is enough. It’s the perceived danger that makes riding roller coasters fun. But remember that the danger is only perceived. In a car chances of death are 1 in 18,000 and in a plane chances of death are 1 in 350,000. You even have a better chance of dying from parts falling off an airplane than on a roller coaster (1 in 10,000,000). In comparison, you have a 1 in 1.5 billion chance of being fatally injured on a coaster. Those kids in Final Destination 3 really had some bad luck, huh? I understand that fears aren’t always rational, but these numbers might put you at ease.

What’s Your Take?
Do you have a fear of roller coasters? Have you tried to overcome them? What do you think of Pete’s tips? What tips have helped you? Leave a comment below.