- Old friends are best. John Selden
Ride a Roller Coaster
Scary (but safe) rides make us feel alive
It's no surprise to anyone who's ever dropped to their near death on Disney World's Tower of Terror or screamed their way through a ride on Coney Island's rickety Cyclone (seriously, that thing feels like it could break at any second): Terrifying experiences can make us feel pretty euphoric once we're back on solid ground. And we enjoy those experiences even more, experts say, when we're within a "protective frame" that assures us that deep down, we're still safe.
Love is in the air
Amusement parks are a great place to take a date, and not just because you can grab his hand on the aforementioned scary rides (although that's certainly a plus) Anthropologist Helen Fisher says that people tend to become attracted to each other when they're in "novel and exciting" situations, like on vacation or while walking around a (quite literal) fantasy world. Use this to your advantage, ladies, but make sure your amusement-park-induced romance holds up in real-life situations too.
It's no coincidence that you "almost" won that giant teddy bear
Classic carnival games are designed to capitalize on what scientists call the "near-miss effect:" It's easy to get very close to your target or to progressively improve, so you keep spending money, thinking that you'll get it the next time. Spoiler alert: They're a lot harder than they appear. By all means have fun, but don't fall victim to this common mind trick.
Long lines make us appreciate the rides more
They're arguably the worst part of amusement parks on hot summer days, but research suggests that waiting in line makes us appreciate the outcome more than we would if we'd simply walked right on. And it doesn't have to be miserable: Focus on the number of people in line behind you (rather than the number in front of you), suggests a 2010 study, to keep your excitement from diminishing.
Big crowds encourage us to pig out
It's not just the amazing smell wafting from the cotton candy cart that makes us so likely to splurge on less-than-healthy theme-park fare. Research suggests that being surrounded by strangers (e.g. giant park crowds) makes us feel anonymous, less accountable for our actions, and more likely to indulge in behaviors we wouldn't otherwise. We're not saying you shouldn't enjoy some fried dough now and then, but maybe keeping this tidbit in mind can help you from getting swept up in a full-on binge. After all, summer isn't just amusement park season—it's bikini season as well.