Alright, last Thursday I went to Lagoon with some friends. For those unfamiliar, Lagoon is Utah's largest amusement park. It's about a half an hour away from Salt Lake City. While it's no Six Flags, Lagoon is the home to many attractions at varying levels of intensity. Most hard-core coaster lovers would find satisfaction in rides like Wicked and Colossus the Fire Dragon. Others who aren't so keen on going upside down might like the classic Roller Coaster or the Wild Mouse. And, of course there are plenty of rides designed for young children. Lagoon's a good park. It's got something for everyone.
I like intense coasters. I like going upside down, I like steep drops, and I like high speeds. I'll go on anything. Wicked, Samurai, the Rocket (although for full disclosure, I will admit that I do still get a little tense when I go on the Re-Entry part, but I will still ride it and have a good time!)... anything! I'm pretty fearless, and I don't get sick. I'm used to crazy rides.
I say all this about myself because I don't want anyone to think that what I am about to say next is due to an aversion to more high-intensity attractions. I am NOT afraid of Wicked, I am NOT afraid of the Cliff Hanger. Heck, if I had the funds, I'd even try some of those bungee-jumping free-fall things they have on the north side of the park.
BUT, that being said, there is a ride at Lagoon that deserves a heck of a lot more credit than it gets. It's not a coaster, you don't go upside down, and it doesn't even go up that high. Some might even say it's meant for little kids... But don't let any of this deceive you! The truth is THIS RIDE IS AWESOME:
Here's why it's awesome.
First, let's talk about location. Squeezed nicely between the Bat and the Jumping Dragon, two fairly safe and unmemorable rides, the Odysea is located in part of Lagoon that you probably won't come across until midway through your day, after you've gotten through all of the "staples" like Wicked and the Rocket. At this point of the day, you're probably feeling a little tired and listless. "Just give me a ride," you're thinking. "I don't care how intense it is; I'm just hot and tired of walking and waiting in a long line! I'm too lazy for that."
Then, before your eyes, you see it! A giant purple sea monster with one eye, its arms outstretched, rising and falling in unpredictable patterns, clutching what looks like various fish and submarines with riders sitting within them. If you weren't in such a lethargic mood, you might have missed it! But now, seeing as it's a hundred degrees and your feet are tired of walking, you figure that it's worth a shot. Even if the majority of those waiting in line are young children accompanied by parents, you don't care. You get in the short line, lined by a pleasant blue fence adorned with bubble motifs.
Already, even as you are waiting in line, you'll notice the pleasant mist rising from the water surrounding the mechanism. This leaves you already feeling good about your choice. On a hot Utah day, you want a ride that keeps you cool. And while you COULD pick a more popular water ride like the Cliff Hanger or the Rattlesnake Rapids, with long lines and the potential to get absolutely DRENCHED, this ride seems like a safer, more pleasant alternative with a MUCH shorter line. Even as you stand and wait, you catch the mist on a breeze and it feels FANTASTIC. What other ride provides a pleasant misty experience for those simply waiting in line? I say unto you: NONE.
It's your turn to pick a seat. You notice that each pair of seats is nestled within either a fish (perhaps a shark?) or a submarine. You and your best friend take a seat in a submarine, and you notice that it is labeled with its own unique name. Mine was a ship called the Octopus. How pleasant! My ship has a name! I suddenly became the captain of the Octopus. And my friend Kelly sitting next to me was my first mate. And my two friends sitting in front of me, riding a giant shark (named "Sharkie," of course), were my fellow comrades on an epic deep-sea voyage! How exhilarating!
It's at about this point when you discover that the Odysea is an interactive ride. You and your ride partner wield a joystick that allows you to move your vessel up and down. You have the power. You have the choice. Isn't that nice? A ride that provides you to use your own agency for how high you go? If you feel like it, you can take your ship up to its highest height and look at the world below you from a cozy distance. Or you can jerk your joystick back and forth and zigzag up and down, up and down... It's up to you! And that is awesome! What other rides have given you this kind of mobile autonomy??? I say unto you NONE!
But, of course, with great power comes a great responsibility. Since you have the ability to choose your trajectory, you also must face the consequences for making a poor choice in your flight pattern.
You may not notice them at first, but surrounding this great sea monster are several friendly aquatic beasts, their lips pursed, with a stream of water coming out of their mouths. If you managed to notice the happy whale and his spout of water, you may have thought, "Oh how nice! A little spray!"
A LITTLE spray? I think not. Guys, trust me on this, but what may look like a tiny stream of water is actually a massive JET of water that PELTS YOU IN THE FREAKING FACE! And it's not just this whale you've got to worry about. They're EVERYWHERE. There's the whale, the shark, and the dolphins, all shooting water at you! And it's your job to move the joystick and avoid their spray.
This is no easy task. The animals have the power to change their spray trajectory, so one pass might leave you able to rise above the stream, but the next time, perhaps not! Perhaps the next time, you'll make the bold attempt to repeat the motion, but this time, you get HIT IN THE FREAKING FACE by a boatload of water! That whale, he was the worst. His spray path would change on the dime.
Kelly had control of the joystick. I, being Captain, was of course responsible for issuing the commands. But it seemed like with every assumption I made, I was met with the exact opposite result!
"Kelly! WHALE! Go under it!"
"Wait... NO! Nevermind! He's spraying low! Kelly! WHALE! Go up! Go up! HIGHER!"
"WE'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!"
And then those dolphins. THOSE DOLPHINS. You see a dolphin, and you take note of the path of its spray. It's pretty low, so you obviously raise your vessel to go over it.... Safe, right?
WRONG. What you DON'T see is the other dolphin, sitting directly above the first one, hiding in the tree. It's a trap. There's NO ESCAPE. You hear a cacophony of screams from both Captain and First Mate... then...
And just as you're trying to recover from the dolphin attack, then...
The first go-around, and one or both of you is already drenched. It's only after you have been soaked by multiple attacks from these creatures that you realize that there are light-up arrows just below the name plaque of your ship... These give you hints about where you could go to avoid the spray. The key to success was in front of you THE WHOLE TIME!
Kelly and I did our best to work together. But there is another tactic. If you have control of the joystick, you could always stage a mutiny against your partner and do your best to get HIM/HER wet. My friend Jeremy, sitting on the inside seat of "Sharkie," tried exactly this. Whenever they approached a spray, he would ignore the arrow's directions and position his vessel so that it would hit his buddy Caylor, who sat nearer to the spray. How diabolical!
But what Jeremy quickly realized was that this game is SO well designed, it doesn't matter whether you're on the inside or the outside: YOU ARE NEVER SAFE. More often than not, the arc of the spray would go just over Caylor's head and hit Jeremy square in the face.
What you hear, in this process, is something like, "HAVE A DRINK, CAYLO--BLLBBPH!"
Take THAT, you traitor!
What other ride at Lagoon is this deceptively complicated? I say unto you: NONE!
By the end of the ride, you are soaked, disoriented, and dying of laughter. The four of us, grown adults, ended up spending a good ten minutes just standing there outside the exit, laughing. Laughing at each other, about how ridiculous we looked, and how we couldn't outsmart four inanimate fish!
On top of that, I felt like we became better friends in this experience! After the Odysea, I felt a lot more comfortable with these people than I was before. It was as if we had conquered something together. Like we had all overcome an important and life-changing challenge. And we had all grown from it. During the short three minutes of this ride, we seemed to learn several important life lessons: We learned about teamwork, we learned about cooperation, we learned about empathy, we learned how to follow directions, how to appreciate the simple things in life, how to laugh at ourselves. What seems like a simple kiddie ride is actually an intense BATTLE BETWEEN MAN AND WATER-SPRAYING BEAST, and, in a way, it also metaphorically manifests the BATTLE BETWEEN A MAN AND HIS OWN CONSCIENCE!
What other ride at Lagoon brings friends and family together and uplifts you in this way?
I SAY UNTO YOU: NONE!!!!
It was the highlight of our day. And with the right people, this may very well be the highlight of yours, as well.