What a fun day! When my planned first cancelled out, the day opened up as did the possibilities. Greg and I headed to Branson, MO to visit the beautiful Silver Dollar City theme park and discover what firsts awaited there. It had been at least 10 years since I last visited this fun and interesting park. Nestled on 55 acres in the Ozark Mountains, the park is a journey back in time to the 1880’s. Trees, water, flowers and plants abound as they created Silver Dollar City around preserving the natural landscape. The buildings, restaurants, rides and workers’ costumes all continue the 1880’s theme. It was wonderful to explore the City again, seeing the changes and yet noting familiar sections of the park also.
During lunch I scanned a map of the park and saw an entirely new section called Wilson’s Farm. We decided to stroll through that section we had never seen and check out a new ride that opened last year. Outlaw Run Roller Coaster is Silver Dollar City’s newest attraction. It is a wooden coaster built onto a tree covered hillside, which allows the trees to block most of the coaster from view. For my first, I decided to ride Outlaw Run.
The park was not overly crowded today. A worker shared with us that while yesterday there were 21,000 people in the park, today those numbers were more in the 6,000 range. Which meant, we did not have to wait in line to ride. We simply walked in and watched as the people in front of us climbed into the train, which holds 24. As the guests prepared to depart, I noted the steep incline of track just beyond the arrival/departure area. I said out loud, “I don’t think this coaster goes upside down.”
As we took our seats in the next train, there were two clues that this was about to be a very wild ride. First clue: The restraint system was extensive! We were required to buckle a seat belt and then pull down a bar that encased the legs and lower body. The seats held the upper body tightly. Second clue: The ride attendant asked for my purse and put it in a cubicle. “You can’t have that purse or paper with you,” he cautioned. Greg and I exchanged looks as we were given a thumbs up and rolled out of the large wooden structure.
I enjoy roller coasters. Because of a neck and back injury years ago, I’m a little cautious these days to not get too jostled around. With a BIG upcoming trip, I especially didn’t want to get hurt. We were so securely held in our seats that I decided to relax and go with it. Up, up, up the incline we went, 107 feet. There is always a butterflies in the stomach feeling of anticipation as I am climbing up, knowing that what goes up must go down. As we reached the top of the incline there was a slight downward dip, and then a swing up and over the precipice. We dropped down 162 feet, being on the other side of a hill, at an 81 degree angle….almost straight down, in other words….reaching a speed of 68 MPH. I immediately understood the restraint system and was grateful for it as it felt like a free fall.
There was no time to breathe a sigh of relief as we reached the bottom. The next 87 seconds were exciting, to say the least! Outlaw Run is called the world’s most daring wooden roller coaster. It has the steepest drop in the world, for a wooden coaster, and is the only wood coaster to turn upside down. Yes, it did. Three times, which is a record-breaker. One of those inversions was a 720 degree double barrel roll. It also had a 153 degree outside banked turn. That one made me feel like the train would surely fall off the track. Except that we zipped through it so fast that by the time I had the thought, I was past the turn. There were a total of nine airtime locations, where I felt like I was floating in air.
I laughed and whooped during the entire ride. As we climbed out of the train and caught our breath, Greg and I compared thoughts. I shared that as we hit the bottom after the first free fall and I caught a glimpse ahead, I thought, “Yep, we are going upside down!” He remembered thinking during that banked turn, “This doesn’t seem safe!” What a great first! Such a wild and unpredictable ride, and being our first experience on it, we had no idea what was coming next.
Walking around the park, we would burst into laughter as we remembered Outlaw Run. I recalled that our grandson had ridden the coaster last year and told us a bit about it, but at the time we climbed on board the train, I didn’t remember that this was the same wooden coaster he had shared about. I’m glad I didn’t remember the details. It made the ride all the more thrilling, not knowing what was going to happen next.
And that made me think about how like life that brief, yet exciting ride was. I don’t know what’s around the next curve either, as I journey. There will be amazing peaks reached and sometimes, unexpected drops, turns and dizzying upside down spins. Through it all, I am secure, and I will reorient myself. I am safe as I journey, just as I was held tightly during those crazy 87 seconds. And life’s ride continues on, never leaving me stalled or stuck, as long as I stay on board, until I arrive at my final destination, out of breath, laughing with delight, exhilarated with the thrill of it all. There, someone will let me know it is time to disembark from this ride….and the adventure will continue on, elsewhere. For now, I am tightening up my seatbelt, eager for what’s coming next. What a ride!