At ‘Fun Cen­ter,’ a New Rule: Keep Your Glee to Your­self

The Washington Post Sunday - - National News - By Aaron C. Davis

SACRA­MENTO — No scream­ing on the Screamer!

A sub­ur­ban amuse­ment park has got­ten so many com­plaints from neigh­bors about blood­cur­dling screams that it has in­sti­tuted a no- shriek­ing rule for its scary new thrill ride, the Scan­dia Screamer, a gi­gan­tic, wind­mill- like con­trap­tion that sends peo­ple plung­ing 16 sto­ries to Earth at nearly 60 mph.

Rid­ers who let out a screech, or just about any other noise, are pulled off and sent to the back of the line.

“ Af­ter the first com­plaint, our rule was no pro­fan­ity,” said Steve Bad­dley, gen­eral man­ager at the Scan­dia Fam­ily Fun Cen­ter. “ Then neigh­bors said it wasn’t just that — it was the crazy, ex­ces­sive scream­ing. Then they said it was re­ally all of it, the loud laugh­ing, ev­ery­thing. Even­tu­ally, we said, ‘ Bag it, that’s it — no noise.’ ”

The rule was im­posed March 29, nearly three weeks af­ter the ride opened.

As pas­sen­gers are strapped into the two metal bas­kets, the op­er­a­tor re­cites this warn­ing: “ We are re­quired to re­move you from this ride if you make any noise. If you feel you might make a noise, please cover your mouth tightly with you hand, like this.” The op­er­a­tor then cov­ers her mouth with her hand. “ If we hear any noise through your hand, we will re­move you from the ride. So please re­main silent and en­joy the Screamer.”

Those who dared the ride this week said keep­ing quiet is harder than it sounds.

“ I think we were just talk­ing loudly. I wouldn’t say it was scream­ing,” said Anna Mat­soyan, 15, af­ter she and her lit­tle sis­ter were pulled off the ride for what sounded more like a whim­per. “ It’s kind of a bum­mer. It makes you want to scream.”

The ban can also be con­fus­ing for the ride’s op­er­a­tors. Last week­end, park em­ploy­ees stopped the Screamer, only to re­al­ize the noise was com­ing not from a rider but from a cus­tomer on the park’s minia­ture golf course who howled af­ter hit­ting a hole- in- one.

Most of the com­plaints have come from res­i­dents in a pocket of neatly land­scaped homes that are sep­a­rated from the 30- year- old amuse­ment park by a 12- lane free­way.

Tom Gard­ner and other neigh­bors ac­knowl­edge that liv­ing next to In­ter­state 80 is noisy, but they say the Screamer has be­come an en­tirely new kind of nui­sance. It is loud, lights up at night and gives rid­ers a peek into back­yard swim­ming pools, they say.

The 165- foot ride is so tall that the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion forced the amuse­ment park to in­stall warn­ing lights on its ro­tat­ing arms.

Gard­ner has moved his ci­gar smok­ing to his garage be­cause the Screamer has marred the view from his back pa­tio.

“ I’m sure it’s af­fected our prop­erty value,” he said.

Given the new pol­icy, will the Scan­dia Screamer be re­named?

“ No, we can’t af­ford a new sign,” Bad­dley said. “ Be­sides, it’s kind of our niche now. Those who have com­plained have cre­ated a ton more busi­ness for the very thing they com­plained about.”

BY RICH PE­DRON­CELLI — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The tow­er­ing thrill ride in Sacra­mento is called the Screamer, but rid­ers such as Nick Mo­dar, 11, left, and Liam Olson-Kenny, 12, are for­bid­den to shout out.

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