Many of our fellow coaster buffs have asked about ways
to get coaster virgins to ride. So we have assembled some
preliminary thoughts and then typical newbie reasons and
excuses not to ride, of which each is answered in turn.
THE FOLLOWING MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED
WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR ©
The main thing is to take your new-to-coasters friends on a low-height, fairly tame coaster. The more apprehensive the riders, the tamer the coaster should be. Don't try to scare them as a joke, because after such a trick, it's unlikely any of them will become your riding partners in the near future. Make their first coasters small, steel, non-looping ones, and choose an indoor ride if possible. (People seem to feel safer inside as opposed to being out in the open.)
Here in Atlantic Canada, until recently there was a junior coaster at Crystal Palace in Dieppe, New Brunswick called The "Bullet". It was steel, non-looping, only about five meters high and was also indoors. With one exception, the curves were gentle and bank angles low. This alleviated some of the fears expressed below like "It's too high", "It's too rickety" (pertaining to wooden coasters). "It's too windy today" (pertaining to outdoor coasters), and "I can't go upside down" (pertaining to looping coasters). When they see kids and their parents on one of these things, that tends to alleviate much anxiety.
From small steelies, graduate slowly to bigger coasters, and eventually to loopers and stunt coasters. I have found that most coaster virgins, once having become coaster novices, seem to graduate easiest to suspended coasters where the cars are free to swing out. My personal favourite is "The Vortex" at Canada's Wonderland. This is an excellent suspended coaster with lots of quick turns and a very low pass over a lake. (It almost feels as though you could reach out and touch the water!)
Never load your anyone up with food before a ride. Give him/her 1 to 2 hours after a meal before riding. I suggest following the meal and beverage guide under Motion Sickness Prevention.
Don't trick someone into going onto a coaster he is not ready for. He will be angry and you will lose his trust in you. Trust is the one thing you need to earn if you wish to have future riding partners.
Above all, never force a person on if he does't want to go, and don't keep bugging him. Once he sees how much you and his other friends are enjoying it (while he waits on a bench), he'll usually come around.
"Gee, it looks so rickety."
This one we hear often, obviously referring to wooden coasters. Tell them: "All that wood strengthens the ride which makes it very safe". As well, it's bolted together, not screwed; then show them the size of the hardware used. Explain too, that some coaster manufacturers articulate their cars (meaning the sides and floor are hinged) to reduce structural stresses. That's why the train may feel as though it's coming apart when ridden; but this is deliberate and contributes to the service life of the trains.
"Oh, there's not enough to it."
This refers to steel coasters with their skeletal frameworks. Explain that steel is very strong and that this skeleton is similar in purpose to that of an office tower's construction before the brickwork and glass are installed. In other words it's this frame work that supports everything so it has to be strong.
"Won't the train come off the tracks?"
Explain that all modern roller coaster have wheels on top of the track, beside the track, and under the track. It cannot come off.
"I might get sick."
This seems to be the worry of most non-riders. Explain that coasters are not generally sickness-causing rides. It's undulating rides like The "Trabant", or sustained G-force rides like The "Gravitron", which tend to cause nausea. Again, see our recommendations which involve meal planning and anti-motion-sickness drugs as explained under -Motion Sickness Prevention.
"We're worried there might be an accident."
Tell them the amusement park industry has one of the very highest safety records of any on the planet. One is more likely to be injured on the way to the park than on any ride in the park. Point out the anti-rollback dogs that prevent the train from rolling backward into the station in case the lift mechanism breaks. Tell them of the computer-monitored brake sections, and of the proximity switches that let the computer (and operator) know where trains are at all times.
"We might fall out."
Show the safety bars and seat belts. Explain how they lock in place and can only be released in the station. Later when your new riding partner graduates to loopers, tell them about the shoulder restraints, and the waist and shoulder restraints on stand-up coasters. Mention that although some people ride with their hands in the air, that there is nothing wrong with holding on. Holding on gives your new riders an extra sense of security.
"We're afraid of heights."
This is the toughest objection to overcome. Take these persons to the lowest-height coaster you can, to start off. I usually relate the story of one CEC member who went on one of our "Scare-Me" tours in the early 1990's. He was deathly afraid of heights, but loved roller coasters! His method was to stare at the floor of the car while going up the lift hill. After that, he could look out to where the train was heading because he was absorbed so much by the ride that he didn't notice how high up he was. (He even rode "The Magnum" at Cedar Point, which was the tallest coaster on that tour - 62 meters high!)
One final word:
If you really can't get your friends to ride, then
work on some of their acquaintanses. These people
may be less apprehensive. Eventually, you'll be
able to work your way back to the first people
you tried, one person at a time.
Good Luck and Happy Riding!