Like the majority of jaded Americans looking to waste half their life savings in one summer outing, I went to an amusement park this past August. At this point I would like to put to rest anybody's fear that I might be tempted to make sexual innuendoes concerning the name of the amusement park I went to -- Busch Gardens. I will actively avoid such obscene references, and any that are found are merely the result of the readers' sick minds.
I began the day by getting quite excited about entering Busch Gardens. Once inside I was eager, but a bit overwhelmed at the same time. I was, however, impressed by my stamina inside Busch Gardens and pleased at how well I knew my way around even though it was my first time. Afterwards I was quite exhausted, yet couldn't wait for my next escapade inside those incredible gardens.
After parking my car I had to walk approximately 34 miles to the park entrance. The park is as spaced out as possible in order to cause dehydration and force tourists to buy 22 gallons of lemonade at $3 a cup.
Once at the gate, I had to purchase a ticket which goes up in price $3 every five minutes. In general, if you were at the park last summer and the tickets cost $24 each, then when you return this summer, each ticket will cost $25,000.
Once inside, the first thing I noticed about Busch Gardens was that I could think of nothing more painful than being an employee there. As an employee, you would, of course, deal with stupid, tired and sometimes pissed-off customers who would likely walk up to you and, despite the fact you are standing in front of a sign that lists every beverage available, would ask which drinks you have to offer. They would then request the only thing you did not list.
Employee: "We have Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr Pepper, and Lemonade."
Customer: "I'll have a diet pina colada with a pink ... no, wait ... blue umbrella in it."
On top of that, the employees at Busch Gardens are forced to wear the stereotypical, far-from-politically-correct clothing of the "nation" in which they work. My idea of a good job is just about any job in which I don't have to wear traditional German lederhosen.
These employees also have to listen to a non-stop recording of Swedish polka music which is only interrupted on the half-hour by the Big Band of Dutch Clog Dancers 10 Minute Extravaganza. Let's just say if I worked at Ye Olde Waffle Cone Ice Cream Shoppe for more than half an hour, I would stick my head in ye olde waffle iron.
Of course the basic point of an amusement park is to go stand in incredibly long lines to ride a roller coaster that lasts 30 seconds. I enjoy nothing more than paying $40 to stand in a tent with 300 people who all think the line will go faster if they press up against my back so close that they start to complain that my hair tastes funny. Here are a few tricks I've learned that often get the people around you to give you a little room.
1) Suddenly double over and yell, "German sausage is coming back up!"
2) Turn to a friend and say, "It turns out that rash I have on my back is highly contagious after all."
3) Say to your friend, "You know, sometimes don't you feel like you could just crush the skull of the next person that bumps into you."
4) Rub back up against the person behind you and mutter, "Oh yeah." (warning: this can work well or completely backfire.)
Just before I got on the ride, an announcement said all passengers wearing sandals needed to sit on them during the ride. For those of you who haven't gone through this, there is nothing more exciting than experiencing unnatural gravitational forces with a pair of Birkenstock's lodged so far up your. Well, I shouldn't go there.
Let's just say I felt bad for the poor women who wore sandals with heels that day.
Once I finally got my chance on the ride, I couldn't help but wonder about the safety of some of these coasters. I realize employees check every shoulder restraint when you get in the ride, but for some reason I didn't want to put my life in the hands of a 16-year-old wearing socks pulled up over his pants and shoes with buckles. The tattoo of the bloody skull on his neck didn't help either. I guess the park owners expect us to think, "Well, if lederhosen-clad Billy lightly tugged on my restraints, then of course I'm ready to be flipped upside down at 70 miles an hour. Seriously, if that teenager with the hangover getting paid minimum wage says it's safe, then let's go!"
The truth is, if I saw a man in lederhosen walk up to me on the street, I would probably yell, "Not this time, creep!" and spray him with mace. But maybe that's just me.
After the ride, my friends and I ate lunch and realized that Busch Gardens is under the impression that their authentic European food was actually imported from Europe, despite the fact it was made in a plant in Minnesota for three cents a pound. We parkgoers end up selling our closest of kin just to be able to afford a hamburger, and we have to throw in a new car if we want cheese on that.
Anyway, as I staggered out of the park that afternoon $80 lighter and slightly disoriented, there was a smile on my face. It was not because I had necessarily enjoyed myself, but simply because an employee had run up to me and yelled, "Thanks for coming," and I sprayed him with mace.