“That’s what the signs said,” the old man told me, “‘Guaranteed screams.’ You probably think folks scared easier back then.”
“No,” I said, “but isn’t it an urban legend?”
“Legend?” he scowled. “Heard it firsthand. My friend and his girlfriend were first into the park that day.
They skipped the funnel cakes and trinket shops and dashed to the newest ride, The Abandoned Mine.
It had two queues outside, both empty, so they ran up and the pimply-faced attendant waved them through the entrance. The girl jumped into the front mine cart, the boy took the second.
“It was exciting, plunging through tunnels, their carts ducking and dodging animated props with booming sound effects.
But despite the guarantee, they weren’t screaming until the big finale, when showers of sparks flew from the rails as their brakes ‘failed,’ sending them straight at a boarded-over tunnel.
Just in time, the tracks dipped downwards as the boards lifted like a garage door, whooshing overhead.
“The ride ended, but my friend kept screaming behind his restraining bar. The pimply-faced kid could only stare, alongside his supervisor.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because the *real* prank, and why they used two queues, was so you wouldn’t think much about it when you entered and saw someone already sitting in a cart.
Staggered lines, see? But the attendant was new, and his boss showed up late, carrying the dummy they used in the front cart.”
“But the girlfriend was in… Oh no.”
“Oh yes,” he nodded. “The dummy’s neck was hinged, and the big finale was timed so his head never quite made it under the rising boards. Guaranteed screams.”