Rides of My Life

Our visit to Universal Studios

By Kara Richardson Whitely

I’ve been afraid of amusement parks ever since I started putting on weight.  If we went to fairs or even Disney, I found myself with an excuse to sit out any roller coaster or Ferris wheel.

The reason: I would often think that I was too fat to go on any rides, that I would break the ride or put my offspring and me in peril. But I thought this time I would go for it. I would be an example for my kids.

This year, my oldest daughter (Anna) had a request for her birthday: Universal Studios Orlando. She is an avid reader but she is most passionate about her dear Harry Potter, and Universal Studios Orlando is home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

She wanted to go there more than anywhere in the world and begged for my husband and I to take her. This year, it worked out. And since I’ve been working out and dropping pounds, I thought this would be the year to try rides again. We left our little guy home with grandparents and our au pair, and made this a trip for Anna, my 4-year-old Emily, my husband, and me.

As I stood in line for the Flight of the Hippogriff (https://www.universalorlando.com/Rides/Islands-of.../Flight-of-the-Hippo...), my hands shook. This was dubbed a “family-friendly” roller coaster. Both Anna and Emily bounced with anticipation. It was a ride that swept around on what looked like a basket carriage. I could hear people shrieking with excitement, fear, and all those things I hadn’t let myself feel.

As the ride crawled up the hill and then around the first bend, I wanted to hold on, brace myself for the next turn. But somewhere, while I was screaming my head off, I decided to let go and just enjoy the ride.

Once I did that, it was the ride of my life. And it opened the door for all sorts of other rides. Instead of sitting things out, I happily came along, screamed my head off, and wondered what the next one would be.

And while I didn’t make my way to the Hulk, especially after hearing my husband was freaked out by it, I felt like I’ve opened a new chapter of trying new thrills and adventures.

We returned to our hotel, the Cabana Bay, and kept up the action by taking on the waterslide, something I never thought I’d do or try. This trip was the first of many new thrills and adventures!

Follow Kara on Connect @gorgegirl15

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