Arachnid Wonder World: Cocoon Twister

Domina was moving at light speed through Arachnid Wonder World. After making ten running-steps upon exiting The Bouncy Web, I stopped dead in my tracks as Domina continued madly sprinting for the transformation shack. I realized that there was no actual point to chasing Domina down, and I couldn’t keep up with her hyped-up speed anyways. It was better to let the momentum of the moment naturally die down, there was no need to expend my energy further.   She would find out for herself that I tricked her, so I casually sauntered towards the transformation shack, enjoying the sight of children playing with balloons, along with some playful spiders. I’m quite happy with the state of the world in this regard; we’ve made lots of progress in interspecies relations as a society. Sure, our movies still don’t feature a particularly diverse cast of insects yet, they’re still heavily biased towards humans, but one step at a time! 

            At 11:00 AM, I arrived at the transformation shack. There seemed to be little to no activity going on. I waited and waited, wondering where Domina scurried off to, and wondering which attraction to ride next. Just as I began to worry for my friend, she manifested not twenty feet away from me, having exited the women’s wash room. She looked like she just woke from the world’s most unpleasant hangover. As we made eye contact, she didn’t move. I cautiously began to make my way towards her…Very cautiously indeed, as she seemed about ready to punch me to the moon, dear reader. Keeping punching-distance away from Domina, I waited for her to break the ice. When she didn’t, I simply said “Simon Didn’t Say” dryly, with little sarcasm in my voice. This seemed to really blow her fuse. “YOU LIED TO ME YOU MOTHER******, I NEARLY HAD A HEART ATTACK. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW TERRIFIED I WAS, I CAN’T BELIEVE-.“ Blah, blah, blah. You get the gist, dear reader. I let her vent for what at the time seemed like the next several years, before she finally stopped to catch her breath. I then merely asked if she wanted to continue with our trip in AWW, or if she wanted to go home. “Perhaps all the spiders are too much for you to handle, Domina? That’s strange, ‘cause only half-an-hour ago you seemed hell bent to mate with one.” This statement of mine seemed to put a stopper to her moment of angry catharsis. For a while she said nothing, but from her countenance I could tell she understood why I did what I did. It was in her best interest, to “scare her straight”, so to speak. “Domina?” We seemed to be idly standing there for almost ten minutes. Her wheels seemed to be turning, like she was preparing a well thought out response. But she simply said. “Let’s continue on.” Her sudden calm made me feel a bit uneasy, but upon reflection, self-awareness can turn a person 180 degrees in this world.

            We wandered in silence around AWW proper for quite some time, me pondering which attraction to choose next. I was relieved to find that Domina did not enter some kind of third bizarre phase that distracted her from her true emotions regarding the park, and namely the spiders. I was anticipating some kind of new freakish show of hers, but instead, her expressions were that of her genuine self. In this instance, expressions of fear and anxiety. She subconsciously glued herself to me, rapidly eyeballing every arachnid she could find, as if expecting them to pounce. And In AWW, there are no shortages of spiders to find. In fact, it would be an immense challenge to go three steps without spotting one. Now that Domina seemed more willing to directly confront her fear, I figured it would be best to select a very modest attraction, with limited thrills and arachnids, like some kind of merry-go-round. To my surprise, it was Domina that ended up selecting the next attraction. This attraction she selected…Let’s just say that it most certainly did not fit the criteria I was searching for.

 

 

Queue

I realize that I haven’t even described the actual attraction yet, but here’s the thing; there was literally nothing to even describe! At least relative to the queue area. Allow me to explain; Domina, seemingly out of the blue, pointed towards a large empty space and decided that we should go and ride that attraction. This left me confused…Perhaps she really had merely entered a third stage of insanity. “You want us to ride…Nothing?” But as we walked towards the space, I realized that not everything was as it appeared. It was a peculiar sight; a long line of people, zigzagging along rope barriers, surrounded the empty space in an oval. As you may have guessed, the logo wrote ‘Cocoon Twister’. I noted that the guests at the front of the line, following the supposed completion of a ride cycle, seemed to simply vanish into thin air as they walked into the vast central space. Was this the queue to the afterlife? If the visuals weren’t weird enough, then the sounds were especially disconcerting. The empty space essentially emitted a cacophony of screams, the kind of clichéd screams you would hear on any thrilling roller coaster, with seemingly no pattern. On top of that, there was a booming, pervasive laugh that accompanied the screams, of all things. It was a kind of maniacal laughter, something the Joker would only be capable of whilst on crack (give or take a few octaves.). The laughs seemed to shift in tone. All of this, combined with the ominous name, ‘Cocoon Twister’, really put me on edge. The long line surprised me. I suppose an empty space claiming to be an attraction would spike most people’s curiosity, but for me, I would have been all too happy to pretend I never saw this space and move along.

            I tried to share my reservations with Domina, that we would be better off choosing a lighter, perhaps more traditional attraction.  One that wasn’t invisible and that didn’t contain inexplicable, maniacal laughter. But she simply smirked at me and said, “Don’t be a baby!” This took me aback, and in a good way, too.  Domina was visibly fearful, and clearly held as much apprehension for the attraction as I had, if not more. Her bravery in the face of her arachnophobia was admirable, so I followed along.

            The line itself was nothing special, no fancy acrobats to be found here. The wait was long, and it would have been a drag if not for our nerves. It was the not-knowing what the attraction even was that really kept the butterflies fluttering. The screaming and laughing also kept both of us distinctly sharp; we may have waited twenty to thirty minutes, but it felt like twenty to thirty seconds. I think this is a positive? I can’t really call that a negative. A healthy dose of fear beats the blandness of boredom. During the wait, I considered asking a nearby tarantula, performing janitorial duties, what this attraction was all about, but had decided against it. Domina remained silent during the duration of the queue, but not out of shock like last time. From the fear and concentration on her face, I could tell that she was doing everything in her power to summon courage within herself. Huge progress!  

            All in all, I can’t help but admire this queue despite its relative simplicity. In fact, I admire it for its surreal simplicity. The sounds and aesthetics (and lack thereof) unify to create an effectively uneasy and tension-building wait experience. However, there was really nothing more to the queue other than what I have already described. For a twenty minute plus wait, I must fault it for that. Also, having actually ridden this attraction at the time of writing, I could confidently say that the main positive of the queue also proves to be to its detriment, if not in a direct manner. The ride itself was truly thrilling, insanely so, in fact. It was to the point that I almost view the decision to hide it from us as unethical. Almost. 

 

Score: 4 arachnids out of 5

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Main Thrill

It was finally our turn to walk into the mysterious, screaming space, along with thirty other riders. The attraction turned out to be gargantuan, but surprisingly, it wasn’t the first thing I noticed. No, the first thing I noticed was a garden, dear reader. A garden filled with vomit. It was a sight I would never forget.  Loads of people were all staggering around like zombies among a psychedelic-looking garden, fit with large sun flowers and mushrooms emitting some kind of light blue gas. This gas seemed to cause the former riders to vomit almost in poetic unison, like some kind of grotesque rehearsal. They were practically dancing, though in a clearly involuntary manner, as though hypnotized. I stared in sheer awe, tuning out the laughing, not noticing that the screaming had ceased (I came to realize later that the screaming was merely the screams of the riders.). Even for AWW, this was utterly bizarre. What on Earth was I to make of it? Domina and I didn’t have a chance to think before being promptly pushed along by a rather rude rainbow spider, definitely not reflective of the friendly vibe established by the park; he clearly just wanted to get his shift over with so he could go home to his widow. Perhaps it was for the best he pushed us along, because if he hadn’t, we may have chosen not to ride the attraction, despite the time wasted. Do you have coulrophobia, dear reader? That’s the fear of clowns. If so, than I apologize in advance. If you’re also arachnophobic, than I doubly apologize (though you got this far.). Past the garden of vomiters, where we were being led, stood three of the largest spiders I have ever seen. Real world and fictional. These towering beasts made King Kong look like an action figure, and were a solid match for Godzilla. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, all three of the spiders were donned in over-the-top clown make-up. Colorful and crazy hair, tomato noses, the full works. Each one had a distinct appearance, and actually spoke directly to the riders during the duration of the attraction, but I won’t be focusing on them in this section of the review, as I will be covering them in greater depth in the next section. But they were impossible to ignore, as these spiders, fundamentally, were the attraction. The web-cocoon ride vehicles (you read right.) for all individual passengers were connected, by web strand, to each spider’s spinneret on their respective posteriors. Two spiders had ten strands each, or ten ride vehicles, while the central spider had eleven.

Are you still with me, dear reader? No? Well, I’m afraid the show must go on. As Domina and I were essentially forced towards one of the first arachnid’s posterior, I stole a quick glance towards Domina. She was visibly shaking. I tried holding her hand to comfort her, but to no avail. She was too clammed up. Hell, so was I, but I wasn’t the one with extreme arachnophobia. During that particular moment, I genuinely regretted bringing Domina to AWW, perhaps the “in-too-the-deep-end” logic wasn’t so logical after all. Granted, it was a moment of high-tension and emotions, it was too difficult to grasp the bigger picture. But still, the entire presentation of this attraction was frankly terrible. Park guests should be able to trust their theme park hosts not to pull stunts like this; to the wrong person, the shocking sight of these arachnids would be enough to cause psychological trauma. Domina and I weren’t one of those people, thankfully. I’m totally on board with the concept of the attraction, but the choice to hide the experience from park guests, though interesting, proved to be a horrible decision considering what was being hidden.

We entered our ride vehicles, or “cocoons”. They were open wide, like bed sheets, ready to take on a new passenger (“Get in the cocoon, my lovely, lovely prey”, said one of the humongous arachnids.). So, I laid down upon the web, and allowed the silk to tightly wrap around my body…And I do mean tightly, dear reader. The only part of my body that I was still able to move was my head. Suffice it to say, I would have preferred a more traditional ride vehicle, but it is remarkable how quickly humans can adapt to new realities. Before walking off into the distance, the surly rainbow spider said, with an almost negative amount of enthusiasm, “Enjoy the ride.” These were not comforting words.

The ride seemed to commence just as quickly as it ended. I almost feel unqualified to properly review this attraction, as up to this point I could still barely fathom what even happened. Thanks to the invisibility technology utilized by AWW, there was also no way for me to gauge the full picture as a distant non-rider. Do you remember when you were a kid, and you forced yourself to become dizzy by spinning yourself silly? Kind of like a precursor to actual drugs? Well, imagine that, and then multiply it by a trillion to the power of Graham’s number, and throw in three Godzilla-sized arachnids dressed in clown getups for good measure. If you could imagine that, then you’re about halfway there. I honestly don’t even know what to write. Every single person who rode this attraction essentially becomes the cocooned yoyos of three psychotic and terrifying, yet oddly charming, clown-spiders. Oh, I wish it was just an up-and-down motion dear reader, but we had the works. Once the ride started, I believe the arachnids began to directly grab the web strands that the riders were attached to, that’s the only way to explain all the motion. At erratic speeds and intervals, these spiders literally juggled us, swung us side to side, twirled us around at neck-breaking speeds, unraveled and re-raveled our cocoons (toying with the notion of dropping us.), spinning us at an impossible rotation speed, and then some. The disorientation I experienced was unlike anything I had ever experienced prior. Time ceased to exist. Before I knew it, like waking up from a coma, I was standing upright in the garden of vomit I described earlier; Domina and I had apparently gone through that bizarre dance routine we had witnessed earlier. It seemed the light blue gas had the effect of “purging our bodies” from the side of effects of that insane experience. So, object lesson of the day; when a scientist tells you that the human body cannot withstand over 50gs, he’s lying. At least where AWW’s concerned.

Wow, this must have come across as really negative! Well frankly, yes, my experience with this attraction was a relatively poor one. I consider the rating I’m giving Cocoon Twister to be a kindness, but a few things are stopping me from bringing it any lower; for starters, the ride actually abruptly stopped and started several times  (on an individual cocoon basis, never the ride as a whole.). This may not sound like a good thing, but it in fact these segments were the absolute highlight of the attraction, and almost brought sanity to the whole thing. These “stop” moments basically involved watching the three titanic arachnids put on their scary-clown show, and this was exceptionally entertaining. But as I’ve said, I’ll be covering that in the next section, so it’s not much of a factor. Secondly, despite my complaints, the ride was pretty fun, and in the right state of mind I could see myself genuinely loving the experience. But I would have to be in an extremely niche state of mind. This is really not the sort of attraction a popular theme park should have. It’s like in sex; some people have really unorthodox fantasies and desires, some people are turned on by toilets, for instance…But most people aren’t! That’s not to say toilet-erotica is inherently bad, but I wouldn’t enjoy it, and it probably shouldn’t be proudly on sale at Barnes and Noble. That, and I simply could not ignore the bafflingly poor marketing of this attraction. If I had known what the attraction was all about prior to boarding, I could’ve of mentally prepared myself during the wait, but because I wasn’t given that opportunity, I found myself praying for the ride to end. The fun I had on the attraction was almost on out-of-body kind of thrill, in which I wasn’t actually having fun, but recognized that if I had been more prepared for the ride, it could have been a blast.

My best guess is that this was one of the newest attractions at the park, created in the service of some kind of experiment. If that’s true, then I suppose that can be seen as admirable, but in the end, this was my worst experience at AWW. No doubt about it.

             

Score: 2 arachnids out of 5

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The Psychotic Clown-Arachnids

                  I am happy to say the main saving grace of this attraction was so exceptional and unique (or else exceptionally unique) that it warranted a section of its own. The psychotic clown-arachnids, for lack of better term, do not deserve to be lumped together with the rest of this disaster of an attraction! It may seem to be a strange decision to you, dear reader, considering that these three towering arachnids are directly responsible for all the motion of the attraction. Shouldn’t they get the majority of the blame? Well, no. They shouldn’t. They were just doing what they were trained to do. You don’t blame the spatulas or the oven; you blame the chef, the chef in this case being the creators of AWW. I won’t be focusing on their motions anyway, as I frankly can’t even recall them. I will instead be focusing on their appearance and showmanship-personalities, both of which were stellar. I shall focus on each spider on an individual basis.

We’ll start with the central the spider that held my cocoon vehicle. She was the tallest of the three spiders, by a small margin. From Fang to Spider-Leg (or Tarsus for you sophisticated readers.), this spider was covered in rainbow paint. She wore an absurdly puffy and curly purple afro wig, a “tomato nose” (as did all three of the arachnids), and garish pink mascara around all eight of her giddy-looking eyes. Her demeanor and behavior was that of “excessive cuteness”, never ceasing to smile in an overly coy kind of way. Harley Quinn in a gigantic arachnid form. We’ll call her “Bubblegum.”

Next up we have the shortest of the spiders. All eight of this dude’s legs were covered in alternating, horizontal stripes of red and orange. His torso was a solid yellow, and he wore a garish pink tie with purple smiley faces patterned throughout it. He donned an orange “sideburn hair” wig, the kind that jutted outwards at a ridiculous length, and sported that traditional, red and white clown lipstick. He also wore those classic Groucho, “nose and mustache” glasses, albeit with eight lenses, and by extension eight faux-noses and mustaches. This spider never ceased to smile in the most over the top of ways, and seemed to find everything a bit too funny. We’ll call him “Goofball.”

Finally we have what seemed to be the “evil” spider, or at least that’s how he presented himself. The entirety of his limbs and his torso/face were covered in red and black paint, with impossible-to-miss bleeding heart designs, and I’m not talking about the flower. This spider also had wicked looking horns on his head. If that wasn’t cliché enough, the design of deep crimson mascara was that of mini-tridents, the dark shade accentuating his angry, blood red eyes. Throw in his devilishly toothy smile and his doubly devilish laughter, and you have yourself a literal spider from hell. Cerberus is whimpering in the corner, the poor thing. And of course, he had a matching personality to boot, taking apparent delight in “torturing” the riders, taunting them and such. Keep in mind, dear reader, that this was all done in (relatively) good taste, all in the service of aesthetics and theming. Let’s call this one “Santa.”`

The fact that I’m able to recount these spiders at all speaks volumes about their effectiveness, considering the disorienting nature of the ride itself. I truly wish that Cocoon Twister was only a show, and not an attraction. The head-spinning twists and turns of the ride served only as an inconvenient and nauseating distraction from these Godzilla-Arachnids. It was a shameful waste of their talents. Honestly, it’s almost as if the ride itself was designed for…Well, for spiders, and not for humans, quite unlike the rest of the solid lineup that we experienced at AWW. Anyways, I’ve already ran your ear off about that, dear reader. Please enjoy reading some of the memorable quotes that I recall from these three, terrifically tall spiders, during those breaks in the ride I’ve discussed. They’re paraphrased by necessity, but I did my best to recount the statements accurately.

Bubblegum:                 

“Aww! All you guys are soooo cute! I’d like to keep you in particular, handsome…  ”   -

 She winked, and she may or may not have been looking at me.

“I keep forgetting, are we playing with dolls or real people?”        

Goofball:                

“HAHAHAHA! I heard somebody fart! Seriously, I did. I say we get him to poop before this is over, HA! ”

“What has eight legs and eight eyes? I can tell you the answer isn’t a spider. Would anyone like to venture a guess?”

He allowed the disoriented riders some time to guess.

All wrong! The real answer…? Spider! HAHAHAHA.

Santa:     

“Just so you know, precious humans, that you will not survive this attraction. Quite right, we’ll swing you humans around until all your puny heads fall off. It’ll be amusing”

The rider nearest me was shaking like a vibrator, the poor chap.

“How I wonder the subtle differences in taste between a female human and a male human…O can’t wait to find out!”

Because of the context that these spiders were presented in, I am not comfortable giving them a perfect score. Presentation matters! No matter how masterful a painting is, it should be hung in the right environment with the right lighting. Stick it in some filthy, dark attic with no attempt at conservation, and it becomes just another object that nobody will notice.

Score: 4 arachnids out of 5

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I’m relieved to say that no other attraction that we experienced on our trip to AWW held anything close to a candle to the sheer, unbridled and uncalled for intensity that Cocoon Twister provided. Make no mistake, dear reader; there is plenty of intensity yet to unfold in this trip that I’m sharing with you. However, it is the reasonable and relatively expected form of intensity to look forward to. Not the Intensity in the form of the Cocoon Twister, which marks the same difference between a raw Jalapeno and Habanero Pepper. By themselves they’re both quite spicy, but I don’t need to tell you which one is more preferable to the tongue.

You may or may not be wondering about our dearest Domina! What became of her? How did this poor arachnophobe react to this nightmare of an attraction? Surely with a few heart attacks and a half? Well, dear reader, you’ll just have to wait to find out. Stay tuned for our exciting lunch break in the next post, where I shall be reviewing a show of sorts.

Final score for Cocoon Twister: 3 arachnids out of 5

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