Need for Speed

I really do love thrill rides – and have always got such a kick out of the adrenalin-pumping sensations of roller coasters. I remember as a kid being awestruck by the introduction of the new metal coasters, and then the wow of ones that actually looped 360 degrees. Now those seem like child’s play, as every year the theme parks and ride engineers find new ways to go faster and bigger with more inversions and innovations.

This week I got to take a fun side-trip to Six Flags New England, known as the coaster capitol of New England with its 11 amazing coasters – all varied in their style and types of thrills. As you know, I’m still in the midst of the renovation of Green Isle, the O’Kane family’s historic Westport home that is at the center of my TV show, Life on Mar’s: The Home Makeover Show. I figured the construction had done so much to turn that family’s life upside down that I thought I take them with me and do it a little more! Yvonne and Teddy were available to join me, as well as my production team and aMARzing director, Chris, since we decided to film our adventures.

It was a great opportunity to turn the day into my very own “sumMAR camp”, so we also brought along my assistant Lauren’s son, Sam, and Chris’ daughter Jolie and her best friend Julia. What terrific kids. It was fantastic, because there really are rides for every age and taste. (And it was a great reason to have fun t-shirts made – check out Teddy’s shirt in the photo!) #sumMARcamp

Our VIP experience began when we arrived, as we were escorted to the Press section of the Preferred Parking Lot. At the front gates we were met by Brianna, our host for the day. She is a member of the park’s PR team, and was she ever great. We had arranged the day through Jennifer McGrath, the park’s Communication Director. Given that we had only a half day to film, Brianna and Jennifer arranged for us to get through the park and lines with ease. A big shout out to Lauren for arranging it all so flawlessly.

No surprise that I like the latest trends in design and fashion, but I didn’t realize there were trends in coasters, too. Did you? I was determined that we would all experience the newest style: the hybrid, a mix of classic wooden structures with steel tracks. At Six Flags New England it’s called Wicked Cyclone and wow did it live up to its name! (Yvonne is pretty fearless, but as she got off the ride she laughingly said, “I thought this trip was supposed to be a stress-reliever!”) We absolutely loved it – and some of us rode it twice! (Can’t wait for our footage? Search the hashtag #wickedcyclone and see what others have been posting.)

After a white-water style rafting ride, some arcade games and some old-timey photos it was over to Bizarro, the tallest coaster at the park, which has been named the best in the country several years running by a USA Today poll. It starts with a 220-foot drop and gets up to over 75 mph; how’s that for excitement?!

The photo is of us on that coaster, and shows you a fun behind-the-scenes glimpse of the day. It’s me and Teddy, and behind us is Chris. Can you tell we’re loving it? If you’ve ever wondered how shows get all that exhilarating POV footage, look closely and you’ll see the secret: I’m wearing a Go-Pro video camera strapped to my chest to capture it for you. Incredible how the technology allows the camera to be so small. (PS: This is not something you can do without permission. The park’s security helpfully checked to make sure the camera was properly secured to me, and of course because we used a professional harness we got a thumbs up.) We did this on many rides and you won’t want to miss that view in the show!

We ended our time with a great lunch, and were totally surprised mid-meal by Bugs Bunny himself and some Six Flags staffers. Turns out Bugs heard the O’Kanes were in the park and stopped by to present them with a special surprise. (Tune in to see what!) Another wow! I truly don’t think our experience there could have been any better; big thanks again to all who made it so memorable. We all can’t wait to go back.

So yes, I love a good thrill ride, and yes, it was supposed to be a “day off”. But when it comes to fun, I firmly believe that just because you take a break doesn’t mean you have to slow down!