02 September 2005

Ride the spider

    We love you spider
    Get rid of
    Must stop
    He is our hero
      They Might Be Giants

I spent a week down the shore in Seaside Park two weeks ago. I'm only just getting to blogging it now. We spent one day at the Funtown Amusement Pier. We rode many rides, including ferris wheel, bumper cars, Mighty Mouse, and the Tower of Fear, a ride that rockets you to 225' the air, then drops you. None of these rides, not even the Tower, tested my stamina like the Spider.

My youngest needed an adult to accomany her, so I went on. The ride went on forever. We were on it so long, my daughter annouced that she was bored. I wish. When we were done, I felt as if it literally sucked the life of me, like Count Rugen's machine in The Princess Bride.

The Spider is one of several amusement park rides designed by Lee Eyerly. Eyerly was initially building flight training devices, but found a better market for them as amusement park rides. The Spider is one of his later inventions. The key to the Spider's evil is that the ride operator has full control of the ride's movement. Instead of the push-and-go green start button we are see on newer rides, the spider has two levers that control the speed and tilt of the ride. It's like a demented video game for the ride operator's own twisted enjoyment.

Not a stunning endorsement of the Spider, eh? Well, that was only the second time I've ridden an an Eyerly Spider in my life. The first time I was eight or so. I remember the unpredictable twisting motion had me sliding up the back of the chair. I thought I was going to be flung out at any moment. That ride went on forever too.

Wherever Lee Eyerly is now, I hope he's happy.


Rob said...

They used to have one of these at Great Adventure believe it or not. It is where the teacups are now, in between the ice cream palace and one of the arcades. We used to ride it all the time, but I think that GA probably had it converted with a computer controlled program. I can't see them letting a ride op control length of the ride - they're too conscious of how many people they can get on and off a ride each day.

I will say that when I worked as a ride op at GA I longed for the ability to actually control the ride. The job is otherwise incredibly boring - embark, check safety retsraints, push and hold green button, watch ride go, disembark, repeat - and yet you have to also keep alert for any possible malfunctions (from the ride or from the passengers).


Rob S. said...

In general, I love the unpredictability you mention. Having been on the same ride as you, however: BLEARRGGH!