Monday, June 22, 2009

Facing My Fears . . . or maybe not.

Speaking at the SCBWI-Florida summer conference in Disneyworld meant that I had one morning to go a park before my flight home. I picked the Magic Kingdom, because . . . well, come on, isn't that the one you have to choose? I had been to Disney as a kid, but the last was when I was fourteen, so it's been a while.

I walked around a lot, went on the rides I remember loving (despite the occasional odd look when, yes, it was just me, with no kid or companion). And I was going to conquer an old fear: Space Mountain.

In my mind, every time the phrase "Space Mountain" is said, I hear that ominous "dum dum dum" music of peril. Because when I was seven, I went into Space Mountain and honestly thought I might never come out. At seven, I was quite small--technically not quite tall enough to ride alone, but my mom had my younger brother, and the guy running the ride wanted to be nice. So I climb on in, all excited, but the seatbelt doesn't quite fit. No problem: there are little handlebars on either side of the car to hang onto. The ride starts.

It was the most terrifying experience I've ever had. I was convinced I was going to fall out of the car, and very distinctly remember thinking, "If I fall out, will I fall forever, like in space?" My mom also must have thought I was going to fall out, because she reached back from her seat in front of me and held onto the top of my foot. (Because, you know, that totally would have kept me from danger.) By the time the ride ended, and I tried to stand up, I was shaking so much, I couldn't. One of the poor workers (I think the same one who let me on in the first place) had to carry me out to where my dad was waiting for us with my younger sister.

I walked over to Space Mountain yesterday morning, fully intending to face the terror again. But it's closed for renovation. I guess I'll have to conquer this particular fear another time. . . .


  1. It was nice to meet you, Martha. Thanks for coming down to Florida. I am terrified of roller coasters but love Space Mountain because it's in the dark . . . the worst part is seeing the steep incline in front of me and knowing what's coming!

  2. I wanted to ride it too last weekend because I never even had the nerve to set foot into the line of Space Mountain when I was a kid and went there- I think I was 12! So Martha, you were even braver than me back then :)

    And I'll second Amanda- it was nice to meet you at the conference. Thanks for sharing your expertise with the writing community!

    p.s. *waves to Amanda* (who I also met at the conference). It's a small world after all... :)

  3. Oh yes, having a mother holding onto your foot as you fall into space actually might save you from grave peril.

    We went to Disneyland in April, and my tall-for-his-age eight-year-old decided he was brave enough to give it a try. He was shaking as we went in, and cheering when we came out. Apparently, being just a bit taller makes it a whole lot easier.

    And though I was always afraid of that ride as a kid, as an adult, I LOVED it! Space Mountain is my new favorite. I hope you get to ride it someday.

  4. I understand your fear! As a young child my dad talked me into riding a wooden roller coaster at World's of Fun in MO. I sat beside my mother but the seat belt and lap bar weren't tight enough for my size and I slid to the bottom of the car at the first hill and screamed the whole way, my mother desperately trying to pull me up. The only thing that kept me in was my arms hooked over the lap bar above my head! It was years before I conquered that!

  5. Don't do it! Roller coasters are so scary.

  6. I LOVE rollercoasters, and had never been frightened by one before Space Mountain.

    I even take an annual death-defying ride on the Cyclone in Coney Island, which is for most people way more scary than Space Mountain.

    It was nice to meet all of you Florida folk, too, and I'm glad you had a good time at the conference!

  7. Maybe it's good you got to keep it as an unconquered mountain. As an adult, the ride is... not too scary. Now you still have this mental Everest & can still believe that it WAS the scariest ride in the universe!