Tuesday, March 29, 2011

That unforgettable Space Mountain experience or admitting fears to kids

I never knew anything about Space Mountain. To me, it was just about another “story-telling-while-on-a-ride” thing; but boy, was I wrong. Much less would I realize that it could teach a lesson.

“Rocket at warp speed to synchronized music and sound effects on this one-of-a-kind indoor roller-coaster. Launch into the inky blackness of the nether reaches of space. Known for its exhilarating hairpin turns, quick dips, high tech sound and special effects, this state-of-the-art space journey takes you past shooting stars, careening comets and into the future! Join the space race today.” So declared Hong Kong Disneyland Resort’s official website about its attraction, Space Mountain, as I learned much later.

Our recent trip to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Disney. Although we have been there a couple of years ago, our two boys who are a bit older now (ages are 6 & 7), have become adventurous and daring.

My gung-ho second-born son initiated the bold move of joining the relatively short queue at the Space Mountain booth, dragging me, his mom and his kuya (big brother) along. Unsuspectingly, unwittingly, we came into the dark port, faintly lighted by different colored neon lights. Before entering the docking area, there was a warning about backing out for the final time -- that either titillated or scared the wits out of the thrill-seekers.

While my eldest showed signs of trepidation, the younger one appeared vent on taking the challenge. The eldest and I were seated at the front, while the missus and the youngest were at the back of the two-row coach. There was a brief pre-departure instruction and the lowering of the lap-bars.

Slowly climbing at first, we came face to face with a nebula and thousands of seemingly reachable stars and asteroids. A pleasant ethereal music played, and then we hit the void at frightening speed. All hell broke lose.

My son sitting beside me started to cry. I comforted and held him tight. My concern was our safety (i.e., the lap bar might loosen), as we hurtled into dark space. I heard screams behind me, that of a boy and a woman. I was stoic.

At the end of the longest 2.5 minute-ride of my life, my mouth was dry. We got off. As we exited, I saw our picture on a screen – I looked serious, my seatmate’s eyes were wet, the boy behind us appeared daze, and I only saw the hair of the lady beside him. Suffice it to say that I did not have the desire to buy it.

The eldest blamed me and said he didn’t like it. The younger one, who started it all, complained that it was too much for him and began to sob. I let them drink water first. I praised them for being brave and surviving such scary ride.

Then I told them that I got scared, too. That it was ok to feel that way. I said that while my face probably didn’t show it, inside me, I had the heebie jeevies. I started making faces and noises, first that of a cool, suave guy, unafraid of anything (outside); then that of a face-contorting, eyes-bulging scared-y cat (inside). The boys exploded with laughter. They got the picture.

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