As the picture indicates, I did fit but let me give you the background.
Yesterday, I went to Alton Towers for the first time in years, for their annual Scarefest. There were obvious Covid19 reminders everywhere – mandatory masks on rides and indoor spaces, hand sanitiser, social distancing etc but for the first time in a long time, it just felt like a normal day. Hugely refreshing and much needed.
For most people, when you’re planning on going to a theme park, you’re usually excited and can’t wait to have a fun day. I was *mostly* that but there was a nagging fear in my head from the day before…
What if I can’t fit into any rollercoaster seats?
That might sound crazy but it actually happened to me at Alton Towers or Thorpe Park on a trip with cousins about 10 or 15 years ago. I can’t remember when the trip was. I can’t even find any photos on my social media. I think my mind has done everything it can to block out the experience.
It probably sounds a bit mad but it was quite a traumatic event from me: getting to the front of the queue, getting in the seat and finding it won’t clip, having to get off the ride (leaving my cousins looking confused) and walking out. I disappeared for an hour – I was just so upset. It probably put a dampener on the day for my cousins too (sorry, cousins!)
This was, by far, one of the most humilitating, embarrassing and demoralising events in my life.
Another reminder of how my self harm was affecting my daily life. Why couldn’t I just live life like everybody else?
As I said earlier, I don’t really remember much about that day and you now probably understand why.
However, this was also a turning point.
What I DO remember about that day is thinking I would never be put in that position again. I HAD to do something about my size, my health and my fitness. I took up the gym again and started to work on it.
Since that trip, there was a trip to Thorpe Park with the same group and another visit to Alton Towers with another group of cousins. I still hadn’t quite trimmed down and on both occasions, I researched every single ride’s size restrictions. They have some of that information on their website. I made a list of the rides I couldn’t find information for and CALLED the theme park up ahead of the trip to find out. This meant I was mentally prepared when I got there, to politely decline going on something. On that Alton Towers trip, I knew I couldn’t get on Air (as it was then).
This week, I had a quick look on Alton Towers’ website to check restrictions. I didn’t look up every ride but just had a quick look at this list. At my biggest, my chest size was 52-54” and I KNOW that’s reduced now so I thought “just go for it, Nim!”
And I did. I fit in every single seat, on every single ride. I didn’t have to ask for the seat that some rides have specifically for bigger people. I didn’t have the need for a belt extender (I’m not even sure that’s a thing?)
I was particularly nervous about Galactica (formerly known as Air!) I’m fairly certain this was the ride I couldn’t get on (although I genuinely can’t remember).
There’s now a tester seat before you queue. As I prepared to get on it, my friends were quite surprised. I hadn’t told them until that point about my previous experience.
I sat in the seat, my stomach turning, my heart racing. The bars came down comfortably and clipped in. I let out a massive, happy yelp (worth it to see the poor, confused ride attendant’s face – well, his eyes anyway but I could tell!)
As we got onto Galactica itself, strapped in and ready to go, I just couldn’t help but smile (underneath that bloomin’ mask!) My eyes welled up as the coaster began to rotate our seats 90 degrees in preparation to take off.
After completing all of the coasters I wanted to (Nemesis, The Wicker Man, Galactica, The Smiler and Thirteenth), we finished the day with one of the Scarefest mazes, called The Attic. I will proudly admit I’m a total wuss and was freaking out the whole time but it’s part of the fun.
It was always going to be a good day, switching off from life and just spending time with my good friends. I left the park last night feeling it was a flipping GREAT day!
Steady progress – and there’s more of that to come!