Dive Devil brings death one step closer to reality
An attraction that incorporates skydiving, hang-gliding, and bungee jumping!
December 17, 2015
We were hooked up and being lifted 15 stories off the ground with nothing besides sky around us. “The only thing I could think of was that the rope, the only thing keeping us in the air, was going to snap and we were going to fall and die,” said senior Reni Sahakian.
The trip up was the only part where I regretted going on this Six Flags attraction: Dive Devil. Then they made the announcement and we dropped; head first, fast and terrifying. After the first drop and swing, the rest was an exhilarating breeze. It felt like we were flying in the air like a bird.
People are weird. We fear death, yet we love the feeling of near-death experiences. We crave long, healthy lives, yet we throw ourselves onto experiences that we know very well could end it all right there and then if one small step backfires. The worst part of all of this: we’re willing to pay money– $40 a person! — for the chance at death.
Six Flags Magic Mountain is filled with intense roller coasters and rides that guarantee to thrill any adrenaline junkie. They use their thrills to lure people in, and it works. Even after knowing that people have died at the same park, on the same ride, in the past, people are still more than willing to still go on it. The reason: We like the feeling that we could die at any moment of the ride, but we don’t actually die.
One of the riskier and more death-defying attractions at Six Flags Magic Mountain is one you are actually required to pay additional for: Dive Devil.
Dive Devil is an experience that delivers the fun of skydiving, hang-gliding, and bungee jumping all in one. You, or you and a friend or two, snap onto a harness and are lifted over 150 feet in the air where you are dropped with nothing but a couple ropes keeping you from death.
The Six Flags website even advertises the ride as one where “you’ll have to get to the top of a 152-foot tower before taking a flying leap from the top with nothing but sky to catch your fall!” They know that the best way to get people to buy passes for this attraction is to prove how scary and dangerous it really is; people like it more when their life could really be in danger.
Six Flags’ website goes on to define the ride by saying, “There’s no turning back now — the only way to get down is to fall. In a split second you are released and plummeting back towards the earth in a state of total free fall.”
Physics teacher Gerald Gruss has never actually been on this ride but has been on one similar to it at Disney’s California Adventure. Gruss explained the attraction by saying that it gives the rider an extraordinary experience by having an arch built around it that is so lightweight yet so strong that it keeps the riders secure the entire time. “As soon as the rope reaches equilibrium, it exerts another force against it that slows and controls the rope down a little, which ultimately keeps the rider safe,” Gruss said.
Gruss said these types of rides are very safe. The creators spend a lot of time designing it for safety, Gruss said. Usually for rides like this, the designers ensure that it is not 100% safe but 200-300% safe. “The ride has to have each safety factor secured not just for one possible incident to go wrong but make sure the ride is safe from two or three possible ride failures after each other,” Gruss said. The ropes are secured with other ropes and other safety measures so if one snaps, there are others that will save the rider from death or injury.
Despite having safety concerns in my mind and questioning why people like being given the opportunity of near-death experiences, all I knew during my last visit to the theme park was that I had to do it. I felt the need of the thrill of being taken 15 stories up and dropped, allowing you to swing at up to 60 miles per hour.
Senior Reni Sahakian and I paid $40 and strapped in for this incredibly amusing yet terrifying attraction. “The time it takes for you to be lifted 150 feet up is enough time to make you rethink all of life and question why you agreed to do this,” Sahakian said. “Then you just drop. You feel the one thing holding you up let go and you just drop.”
The first couple seconds are the scariest because you completely lose contact with anything keeping you up straight and your body just flops around in the air as its hurling downward. “Those couple seconds were the ones where you really regretted going on because it feels like the end has come and you’re about to die.”
After you get past the first free fall and swing, the rest is the most enjoyable time ever. Imagine being on a swing that slides you hundreds of feet side to side. It was so fun, Sahakian and I went on once more right after.
The beginning really does give you a sense of actual free fall. It felt like nothing was going to catch you and you were just going to go crashing into the floor at 60 miles an hour. The ropes catch you moments before impact and swing you until you slow down a lot and come to a complete stop. But that was the fun of it. If the entire ride was just a swing and had no action and thrill in it, hardly anyone would pay extra because there would be no point to it anymore.
There to capture your entire experience is a videographer sitting on a chair, recording your journey from the point where you are lifted up to the end where you hold on for dear life to be brought back in. Of course, we had to buy the video to watch it over and over again and laugh at our reactions.
After showing the video to some friends, all of them wanted to try it whether they were scared of it or not. “It seems like something that would be very scary but insanely fun,” said senior Preny Riganian. “I’ve never really done anything like that before but would love to try it one day just to enjoy that experience and be able to say I have done it.”
Riding Dive Devil truly was a great experience and gave us the feeling of soaring through the air like a bird or a plane. It’s something that requires danger in order for it to actually be fun, much like most other rides at this park and at others.
“Me being a person who loves to try new challenges loved the attraction and would definitely recommend it for all those thrill seeking people out there,” Sahakian said. “It was very exciting and memorable to try something so fascinating yet terrifying, and without a doubt, I would do it again!”