The Rebel Yell

I’ve been thinking about it lately. That’s Rebel Yell as in the roller coaster, not the Confederate battle cry (conflated though they are at Kings Dominion amusement park in Virginia.) It’s partly my summer longing yes, but more the sudden increased volume on positive voices in Africa—Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya—that has me reminiscing. 

Driving with my friends out to Kings Dominion was always a bit farther than I wanted it to be. Doswell is right there. But it felt like hours. Every delay, to pack more potato salad or to make one more stop at the loo, meant another potential hour in line under a merciless sun before we got a ride on the Rebel Yell, and bragging rights for the school year. 

The Rebel Yell was built for the 1975 opening of Kings Dominion. We rode it through the 1980s, several years, apparently, after it headlined in the film Rollercoaster featuring Henry Fonda and Sensurround a special effect that vibrated theater seats during “thrill scenes” on the rides (we missed this?). 

The Rebel Yell is a racing roller coaster, which means there are two parallel tracks, two trains—red and blue, and two sets of shrieking, competing thrill-seekers. The Rebel Yell is also a classic roller coaster which means (as defined very well and more formally by the American Coaster Enthusiasts):  

  • AIR TIME! Yes, this is #1. You must experience negative Gs.
  • FRIENDSHIP! Yes, you must be able to sit side-by-side with your buddy. No barriers between riders so that the thrills can be passed from one body to the next.
  • VISIONS OF DANGER! Yes, you must be able to see the peril that lies ahead. None of this strapped down & be open to the mystery stuff. 
  • FREEDOM OF CHOICE! You must be free to choose where you want to sit. No reservations. No pre-assigned seating.

Careening 81 feet down and around the Rebel Yell’s wooden tracks always felt longer than the actual 2m15sec. As you slowed to a stop (I had to be reminded of this part) you’d go through a sound tunnel, an odd, synthesized chorus of the ride’s namesake battle cry. The thrills and challenges of starting this new venture have many 2m15sec bursts of exhilaration. 

To air time, friendship, risk (with eyes wide open) and freedom, Cheers. 

Photo by husayno/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by husayno/iStock / Getty Images