I’m not a big fan of rollercoasters; I will ride one if I have to—but only under dire circumstances—such as when the amusement park is burning down and it’s the only way to get out alive.
Recently, I went to Universal Studios in Hollywood California with my brother’s family. My brother was out of town on business, so our group consisted of me, my sister-in-law, her 70-year-old mother and my 3-year-old nephew. There were also two teenage girls—my niece and her friend—but as soon as we passed through the gates, they magically disappeared.
Anyway, my sister-in-law, Evelyn, who had been to Universal a few years earlier, kept telling me I was really going to freak out on the Mummy Ride. “Wait ‘til you see the bugs,” she kept telling me. “You are gonna’ freak!”
She repeated this enough times that I finally had to say, “Stop with the bugs!” and insist that we go on the stupid Mummy Ride so we can get on with our lives!
However, there was a problem. See, the last time Evelyn was at Universal Studios they didn’t have a Mummy Ride. What she was remembering was a portion of the Studio Tour dressed-up Egyptian Style to promote the newly released movie, The Mummy.
In the Egyptian part of the tour, the tram—which, by the way, tops-out at a blazing three-miles-per-hour—goes into a tunnel where, eventually, scarab beetles, obviously created by a film projector, crawl all over the walls. Hardly something I would “freak out” about.
But, Evelyn kept seeing these Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride signs throughout the park, which, as it turns out, is not the snail-like tram she remembered, but a high-speed indoor rollercoaster designed to leave you twitching for the rest of your life from permanent nerve damage.
So, we finally get to the entrance to The Mummy Ride and the attendant points to my 3-year-old nephew and says to Evelyn, “You can’t take him on this ride…”
“Why not?” asks Evelyn.
“He’s too small.”
An argument breaks out (remember, she thinks this is the slow-paced tram ride) and other ride attendants gather to help out their comrade. In the mean time, Evelyn pauses long enough to say to me and her mother, “You two go ahead and go on the ride…I don’t want you to miss it…”
Now, here’s the situation: unbeknownst to me, I am about to board a skull-thrashing, spine-twisting, bowel-releasing high-speed rollercoaster with, as a riding companion, a soft-spoken, flower-sniffing, easy-chair-nap-enjoying, 70-year-old grandmother.
As the line wound-down into the building, there were all kinds of creepy Egyptian scenes including a great big scarier-than-reality-mummy-dude with extremely poor dental hygiene spouting several violent statements along-the-lines of, “I am going to rip off your face and use it to wax my car!”—or, something like that—I don’t remember his exact words.
I began to wonder why Evelyn was so adamant about taking a three-year-old on such an obviously too-spooky-for-children ride. What was she thinking? I was glad they wouldn’t let him on.
Finally, we get to the point where they load you into the car and they put me and Grandma in the very front. A padded neck-brace ratchets down over each of our bodies to hold us down and I’m thinking, OK, this CAN’T be a good sign…
It begins to dawn on me that this is going to be a rollercoaster type ride, but it’s too late now, so I just keep quiet. My only hope is that it is not too extreme for Grandma.
She looks at me and smiles.
BANG! The thing instantly goes from 0 to 500 miles-per-hour and Grandma’s face melts into a rictus skull of terror. She grabs hold of my shirt and begins tearing it off me as she screams a type of squealing horror that you just can’t duplicate outside of a torture prison.
“I’M SO SCARED” She screams.
I am shitting my pants.
The ride blasts into high g-force turns, shoots through twisting holes, flies out over hills, drops into zero-gravity darkness, then finally, just before impacting a hard-rock wall, slams to a halt.
We’re just sitting there. We begin to relax.
But, wait!—the fun isn’t over yet! Through a tiny hole in the wall, a series of scarab beetles begin spilling out by the thousands. Not the stupid, projector-style bugs I would later see on the tram ride; these are clickety-clackety realistic looking bugs that…
OH MY GOD! IT’S THE BUGS!
Evelyn warned me about these things! What in the HELL are they going to do to me? I am seriously worried now because she didn’t even mention the psycho rollercoaster part of the ride, so this must really…
BANG! We instantly shoot full-blast through the whole ride again, but this time, we do it all BACKWARDS! You’ve got to be kidding me! All the screaming, all the shirt-ripping—it all happens again and with extra intensity because we are facing-away and have no clue where we’re going—only that we are racing through the tunnels at breakneck speed.
Finally the ride ends and as we exit Evelyn is waiting outside—still unaware that it was a high-speed rollercoaster that she had just sent her 70-year-old mother to ride. She asks, “How’d you like it, mom?”
Grandma, without a hint of what she’d just been through, simply said, “I didn’t like it too much.”
Me? I looked like I had just lost a fight with a Grizzly bear and was forced to buy a new Revenge of the Mummy T-shirt.