Facing Your Fears: Kingda Ka


Maryn Zenkert, Staff Writer

It was a summer-like day, 90 degrees on April 14. Never has Jackson seen such a nice day before May. Why is this date important? This day marks the occasion of my first trip to Six Flags Great Adventure, and my first time on a roller coaster.

On the trek to Jackson, and 45-minute drive from my house, my nerves began to set in. I was definitely nervous that I would chicken out and be the designated purse and phone holder or have a repeat of what happened the last time I attempted to ride a roller coaster.

Two years ago for my cousin’s Sweet 16, my whole family went to Disney World; it was a big to-do. I was excited because I had never been, despite living in Florida for most of my childhood. I already had conjured up a fear of roller coasters from my Uncle Robbie, and was aware that I despised them. (Uncle Robbie owns the world’s largest traveling carnival, Amusements of America, and used to tell us some horror stories about rides that ended in a not so happy carnival way.) My cousin wanted us all to ride on the Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster. Thanks, but no thanks. My mom made me anyway. The second that metal bar goes over my body, restricting my safety exit, I broke down crying. I, a 16-year-old, basically a fully grown woman, all almost six feet of me in hysterics. Pure embarrassment that I will never live down.

My adrenaline junkie friends, Alex and Sarah, were coming with me to make sure this time was different. As we walked to the ticket booth at the amusement park, and entered, I noticed that Six Flags was surprisingly clean. I had always heard it was the dirtiest part of the Jerz, but I was pleasantly surprised. My germaphobe nerves were soothed a wee bit.

We came for one thing and one thing only, to ride KingDa Ka. Alex led the way to where she thought the beast was, but we ended up just getting all turned around until we found a map to guide us. Throughout the whole journey around the park and back to the same entrance line that Alex led us past 15 minutes prior, my nerves were at an all-time high. You see, I am a Googler, I Google things. I knew KingDa Ka was built in 2005, a little old for my liking. If I had thought I had arthritis at age 12, just imagine how steel bars that hold my life in them felt. I knew it went 128 mph, that’s 5 G-forces. I knew it was 456 feet tall. Finally, I knew the ride lasted 50 seconds. That’s it for just 50 seconds, not even a minute. But it lasts an eternity if your roller coaster car goes too fast and never stops to the point where you die, intruded into my thoughts.

Once we made our way to the metal barriers that controlled the longer-than-my-patience line for the ride, it moved surprisingly quick, quick enough that I haven’t backed out yet. Alex, Sarah and I made our way to the front of the cart because I figured that if someone threw up it couldn’t get me. Sarah sat directly behind me and promised to catch me if I fell back, that did not reassure me one bit because I knew she couldn’t hold my weight, let alone going “5 G’s.”

I gazed at the rusted looking green monster before me. The harness slowly clicked over my head, and I closed my eyes. 50 seconds. 50 seconds. Just 50 seconds… The cart started moving, I screamed. Everyone laughed. We were going about  4 miles an hour. I opened my eyes. We were stopped. It can’t be over, I thought. Then, we went about a million miles an hour. I closed my eyes as the “f word” escaped my mouth at rapid speed. Again we slowed. Wow that was fast but at least it’s over.  Not over. We then traveled what seemed like 50 times faster on the way down the mountain where my f bomb process repeated and I squeezed Alex’s hand to the point where my nails left marks on her for the rest of the day. One final, smaller, but definitely still-too-big-for-my-liking hill, and it was over.

I lived to see another day, but I won’t tempt fate again.