Funny Stories About Amusement Park Ferris Wheels

Funny Stories About Amusement Park Ferris Wheels

Funny Stories About Amusement Park Ferris Wheels

Funny stories about amusement park Ferris wheels is yet another chapter in my unusually comedic-prone life.

I didn’t start out as a person who was height impaired. As a matter of fact, I was famous for my monkey-like prowess in trees and on roof tops.

I was also especially gifted for my ability to shinny up the TV antenna pole at any given moment (even in a dress) and spent many a day reading books atop the roof.

So how was I to know that after an unfortunate accident, I would become completely and utterly height impaired? I should have guessed it would happen to me as I seem to have a knack for getting into scrapes of one sort or another and suffering the consequences down the road. Sit back and let me tell you how it all started……

See all 3 photos
Source: Flickr

I Blame The Accordion

Of course I blame the accordion! If it hadn’t been for that blasted instrument, probably none of my fears would have emerged. (Of course that seems ridiculous to blame on my fear of snakes but hey, I need some reason for these fears!)

It was a typical San Diego autumn day and after school, I insisted on doing what I did best which was playing outside away from the long arm of my schizophrenic grandmother. Please don’t think I’m complaining here or speaking badly of her. She did what she could and she was a real live personality in the making at all times.  However, my capriciousness drove her to insanity and I was an easy mark most days because I don’t think I ever had a day where I didn’t get into trouble of some sort.

On this particular day, I was swinging away in the branches of a high twisty tree to keep off the radar which unfortunately went awry when she called me into the house because it was time to practice the accordion. I hated the accordion with a passion I cannot begin to convey. I was scrawny and had spaghetti arms. The accordion engulfed me and besides, who needed this kind of punishment? I could have been a weightlifter with all the times I lugged that thing around and did the bellow shakes. But I digress…..

To put it short and sweet, she called and I ignored. I figured she’d think I had gone temporarily deaf. Or maybe she wouldn’t notice me in the tree swinging like a monkey. Too bad for me. She may have been schizophrenic but she was far from stupid. With all 200 pounds of solid Danish heritage behind her, she stomped into the front yard, turned on the hose and came at the tree. Thinking I’d get the added benefit of a southern California soaking on an Indian Summer day, I chuckled. I wasn’t chuckling for long!

The hose came at me like a fire hose trained on a burning building. I’m not sure if she had a special nozzle or if that was a custom issue from the local hardware but I gotta tell you I wasn’t laughing for long! I was blasted with mega-force water and before I could say ‘okay I’ll practice’ or even scream out a word, I was losing my grip some 40 feet or so up and I was falling. The limbs had become too slippery for me to maintain my purchase and I was tumbling backwards at an alarming rate.

I heard snap and pop – no crackle – although it might have been a crack and there I was lying face up on the ground with my left arm pulled back and up behind me. No doubt about it, Sherlock, your arm isn’t what it used to be. Definitely broken and I definitely got out of playing the accordion for a while. But was it worth it I asked myself?

See all 3 photos
Source: Audrey Kirchner

Moving on to Height Impaired

So that little escapade taught me a few things. First off, don’t mess with a woman with a hose, especially one who is schizophrenic. Secondly, rethink that height thing because guess what folks – it’s not too cool when you fall from a distance. You really don’t bounce all that well.

I thought I had a pretty good handle on it though and I continued to shinny up the pole and sometimes hung out on the roof after that. It did take a little bit off the shine though and I began to realize that I was developing a ‘bit’ of a fear about heights.

Enter the amusement park episode. My mom decided one weekend that we would go for a visit to see my aunt who lived in Long Beach. I was so excited I could barely contain myself because I knew that just blocks from her house was the famous Long Beach Pier with all its rides and the wonderful amusement park! I was beside myself as my mom, my grandmother and my sister piled into the car and drove up for the weekend. Oh I was gonna have some fun! My arm had been healed for a few months and I was beginning to feel my oats again.

I hasten to add one little valuable point here before I tell the tale of my first Ferris wheel blooper. We were going to see my aunt because she had just been released from a mental institution. This becomes a very salient point later in the story so keep this in mind. It wasn’t that she was a loony tune or anything. She had suffered from severe depression over some childhood events and had decided that the best way to cope was to kill herself. She almost succeeded but thanks to the ‘miracles’ of electroshock therapy, she was finally released many years later. Not understanding all the complexities of mental illness at 9 years old, I was just pleased as punch that she was back out and really, really pleased that seeing her would bring me a little fun!

We did lots of things at the amusement park and had a pretty great day overall. As it got on towards late afternoon, my aunt Anne suddenly burst out with ‘Hey – I’ll bet Audie (the name’s Audrey, but oh well) would love to go up the Ferris wheel. How about it?’

Well, everyone said no thanks of course and I was left standing there disappointed thinking I’d not get to go because no one else wanted to go. Fortunately for me, my aunt kept on and finally got the okay from my mom and off we went. However, what I hadn’t bargained on was that it was a double Ferris wheel and as my luck would have it that it would not go as planned.

When I realized that it was a double Ferris wheel, I figured it couldn’t be all that bad and especially since my aunt was game to go on it, it must be pretty tame. In most circumstances, probably so. Unfortunately, almost every time ‘most circumstances’ seems never to apply to me. I was a trusting child though and climbed happily into the bucket with my aunt and off we went.

Even though I was a little queasy at first being so high up, I quickly began to embrace the fun of it all and was actually starting to enjoy it. It was really weird being on a double Ferris wheel though as while you were spinning around on your Ferris wheel, there’s another Ferris wheel going as well attached to yours and all the while, you’re being lifted into the air higher and higher. Eventually, at its highest point, there’s one Ferris wheel on the ground and one Ferris wheel on top of that Ferris wheel way high up in the air. I mean WAY high up in the air!

We had gone around a couple of times and I wasn’t scared a bit – or at least just a wee bit. I was holding onto the bar with a death grip but hopefully my aunt hadn’t noticed. All of a sudden as we neared the very tippy top of the second and highest Ferris wheel, we ground to a stop. We just lurched and that was it. There we were at the highest point on the double Ferris wheel that you could get and we were motionless. Well, except for the swaying, which was becoming increasingly frightening by the second.

My aunt calmly said something like ‘Oh probably just letting people off. It’ll start right up in a minute.’ I looked nervously down from our height of about 5 million feet. I could see my mom, my sister and my grandmother where we had left them but they looked like little ANTS. I started to panic. ‘Oh-my-GOD’ was what I was thinking even in my child’s brain. I looked over at my aunt Anne and she was smiling away at me. I tried to tell myself it was just my imagination but she seemed like she was smiling ‘too much’. Is that possible?

Even as a child, I knew the value of staying calm in bad situations. I thought to myself ‘Don’t worry, everything is going to be just fine’ or something along those lines, followed by a huge internal scream. Minutes stretched by and I was becoming more and more nervous. Now I was so petrified that I was afraid to look down for fear of our car snapping off the Ferris wheel and plummeting down to the Long Beach Amusement Park where my mother could find my body in a million pieces!

Sensing my discomfort, my aunt started to needle me. ‘You’re not scared are you? Why be afraid? Nothing is going to happen. We’re safe and sound up here in this little buggy, see?’

And with those famous words, she began swinging the ‘buggy’ back and forth, back and forth. Oh-My-GOD!!!!! I was seriously torn between barfing on the spot or just starting to scream for all I was worth. I think the word that came to mind most was ‘MOMMY’ screamed in no uncertain terms that would carry to the heavens. I was mentally praying ‘Please stop rocking the cart, please stop rocking the cart’. If it was possible, my death grip had increased twofold on the bar and my knuckles were white by this time. My teeth were chattering and my knees were knocking. I did not see a happy ending here.

About this time, someone climbed halfway up the first Ferris wheel and yelled up to us ‘Hey, how’s it goin’ up there?’ (I hate to swear in my kid’s reenactment here but really, honestly? How the hell did he think we were doing up there 5 million miles in the air?)

My aunt Anne yells out ‘Hey, we’re fine up here. Is there a problem?’ No there’s no problem!! Ferris wheels stop all the time for 10 minutes and don’t move, especially when I’m the one in the top buggy! Are you kidding me?

The fellow yells up that yep, there’s a ‘minor problem’ but it’ll be fixed ‘before we know it’. I ask you then why wasn’t it fixed already because I sure as heck knew about it!

What ensued was a full hour more of us sitting ‘on top of the world’ swinging away while my aunt cavorted in the buggy and I’m dead sure tried to flip us over all the way so that we’d be hanging upside down. I began to wonder if this was her sequel to taking the pills and maybe she wanted to try flying before she died. It just made no sense. Why not sit still and just chat? Or maybe sing show tunes? Okay so I bagged on the accordion, but I could be flexible!

I have no clue how I did not pass out, upchuck, go insane or all of the above in the hour that stretched from the time the fellow acknowledged that ‘Houston, we have a problem’ to the time that the Ferris wheel started back up again. All I know is that when it started with another lurch, I was positively sure we were dead. I screamed so loud I think someone in Kansas heard me. I was hyperventilating by the time we got down to halfway and couldn’t wait to leap from the Ferris wheel.

Of course, my aunt in all her ‘merriment’ yells out to the fellow at the controls ‘How about we go around a couple of more times because of the stoppage up there?’

Lucky for me, the operator must have noticed that I was white as a sheet and stopped the Ferris wheel whereupon I bolted from the ‘buggy’ and ran like the hounds of hell were chasing me to find my mother. I think I was incoherently babbling for half an hour promising to play the accordion until I was 99 years old and never, ever to do anything bad again as long as I lived. Unfortunately, those were short-lived promises and when it came down to it, nothing much changed after that day except that I became a blithering idiot when heights were involved!

See all 3 photos
Double Ferris wheel
Source: Flickr

Fast Forward to High School

Despite my crazy life and my penchant for getting into trouble, I did survive. I was not put into an orphanage or an institution for the criminally insane. I went on through grade school though I did remain height impaired after that Long Beach episode.

I also gave up the accordion eventually (like I had a choice). I moved on to my next least favorite instrument to play, the clarinet. I didn’t want to play it but that’s how things were done back then. Also along with the clarinet came marching band, which I also had no particular interest in since I wanted to be in the hand corps, wear short skirts and prance around in boots. Too bad – Band it was.

As it turned out, it wasn’t all bad. I had a great 4 years and made friends who I still have to this day. We had some great band trips and I actually ended up having some of the times of my life. However, just to keep me humble, on one such band trip in my sophomore year, my height impaired affliction reared its ugly head yet again and even better, in front of all my friends.

As my luck would have it, the trip was to none other than Long Beach.  After a grueling day of marching a huge parade and then going through the judging part of the contest, we were turned free on the pier and there I stood, face to face with my memories. The blasted double Ferris wheel was still there only somehow it looked even more ominous against the darkened sky with its bright lights mocking me. My friends were all gathered around me and asking me what was wrong because I looked like I’d seen a ghost. Of course I had – mine!

Not wanting to be a dork or have them think I was some screwed up teenager (even though I totally was), I feigned indigestion. ‘Must have been something I ate’. When my best friend at the time yelled out ‘Who’s up for the Ferris wheel?’ I almost seriously did become physically sick. Please God NO – not the Ferris wheel. The DOUBLE Ferris wheel!!

As my luck would have it, yep, that’s the one. We’re all going to go on it as the Helix Marching Band who came to town and placed first in their division.  We’re going to scream like banshees to let the world know how great we are! Yipeeee….did I mention I’m SO excited?

As we all know, I could have opted out here. I could have told the truth about being trapped on the blasted thing and just sat there like a toad on the bench. They wouldn’t have teased me THAT much or made fun of me THAT much. But of course I couldn’t do it because I was too proud. I was convinced that with a little gumption, I could handle anything. So we bought our tickets and got on the ride of death.

I was thinking it wasn’t too bad at first because it was dark out this time. We had gone around a few times forward and except for a few panic moments which caused my friend Janet to look over at me like ‘What gives?’ I was doing ‘pretty good’. I had a death grip on the bar again but I was kinda used to that with this Ferris wheel.

About the time I thought I’d actually conquered my fears though, the operator turned it in reverse and we started to go through the exchange of the 2 Ferris wheels, up and down, and all the spinning, all the while going higher and higher to the very tip top of the structure backwards.

I hate to say it but that snapped it. I let out a scream that I’m sure was heard to New York City this time! My friend Janet almost jumped out of the cart because it was so loud. She looked at me as if I had gone insane, which unfortunately I had!

As we began the descent, I screamed at the operator with all I had ‘STOP this thing NOW – I want OFF’. Much to my dismay, he laughed! Something about a frightened kid gets them but a frightened TEENAGER is funny I guess. He just laughed and I swear on my life he cranked it up a notch and gave us a longer ride. And I just kept screaming!  On a Ferris wheel!

I was jelly by the time we got done with the ride or was that Jello? I could barely crawl out of the bucket though I could hardly wait to get my feet on solid ground again. My friends were all looking at me like I was insane of course and my friend Janet had stalked off muttering something about being deaf in her right ear. I wanted to yell after her ‘It’s not my fault’ but I was pretty much hoarse from the screaming I’d done.

Much, much later on the bus, I finally confessed what that was ‘all about’ but not sure anyone truly believed me. Teens can be your worst enemies when you happen to be one yourself!


One might think that I had conquered my fear of heights. Unfortunately, I haven’t done it. Much as I have not conquered my fear of snakes or my fear of flying. However, I figure with only 3 fears, I’m just going to count myself lucky so to speak and move on.

If you’ve ever been to the Space Needle in Seattle, let me hear from you! I’ve been there but unfortunately the ride up in the elevator almost killed me as I imagined there would be an earthquake and we would all fall over with the needle and crash into the ground and die. When the doors finally opened and we were actually atop the Space Needle, I didn’t see much as it’s pretty hard to see something when you’re plastered against the side of the building structure with your back to the wall as if that would help. I have to admit I get a lot of looks!

I also tried the Renaissance Center in Detroit. The elevator up the side of the building was again quite spectacular. So spectacular that when the elevator doors opened, I staggered out and fell on top of a concrete post in the middle of the walkway and crashed to the ground. It alarmed some people because I was about 8 months pregnant – go figure!

I have learned these days to just say no if there is an elevator going up the outside of a building and there is a view involved.  It somehow makes the other passengers go a little crazy when I start to scream. 

Likewise, if there is a view of anything that I have to reach that is extremely high in the air, I just say I need to go locate a book or work on a report on my computer in the car.

I maintain there is nothing wrong with knowing your fears and NOT facing them. Further, do not expect me to be in line for the double Ferris wheel at any amusement park any time in this lifetime. I leave this ride to those who are not height impaired!


Again Yahoo!

The Merry Go Round is Looking Pretty Good

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