We strapped a GoPro onto the head of a state fair carnival rider
If you get motion sickness easily, it might be prudent to stay away from the Kansas State Fair’s midway.
The rides, while thrill-inducing for the most part, have a tendency to leave fairgoers feeling a little queasy afterward.
Always frugal, I went to the fairgrounds on Dillons Dollar Night to review the midway rides and rate each based on how likely they are to leave you tossing cookies.
Disclaimer: I didn’t ride the fair’s $25-per-person ride that slingshots you into the air – seated – while tethered on bungee cables, though I think it’s safe to assume that’s a pretty high-thrill attraction. Approach with caution.
▪ Storm: This ride is essentially a Tilt-a-Whirl on steroids. It consistently spins you to one side, and very quickly. G-force is pretty intense, as I could tell from the pale face of the youngster seated across from me on the ride. It’ll churn the funnel cake right out of your stomach if you recently ate, and leave you feeling quite dizzy afterward – the dizziest I’ve been after a carnival ride in some time. Vomit factor: 9/10
▪ Orbiter: My girlfriend got pretty queasy after riding this one, so be cautious. The Orbiter takes you up and down in a constant spinning motion. It’s like your stomach is being spun in circles on each go-round. If you happen to face the ride’s strobe lights when they go off, the effect is only magnified. Vomit factor: 8.5/10
▪ Starship 3000: Don’t let the name of this ride – which reminds me of the 1970s band Jefferson Starship – fool you. The ride operator sits in the middle of this entirely enclosed saucer, like a DJ, while colored lights flash and pop music plays. The saucer spins while you lie on the wall of the attraction. The pads you lie on sometimes shift up and down. I don’t know if it was because of the enclosed structure, but this ride left my girlfriend and I in physical pain. We felt a lot of pressure on the sides of our heads and necks during the ride, though the headache afterward was fairly short-lived. Vomit factor: 7/10
▪ Pharaoh’s Fury: This is your standard swinging pendulum ride, where the people seated face each other as the ride swings back and forth. It’s likely not going to make you puke, unless you get vertigo from looking straight down at the ground when you’re swinging high up in the air. Vomit factor: 6/10
▪ Freak Out: As one of the midway’s main attractions, you’ll nearly always have to queue up for quite a while to get onto Freak Out. It’s a pendulum ride that also spins riders sideways for full effect. It reminded me of the maXair ride at Cedar Point, the Ohio-based roller coaster capital of the world, but it didn’t give me near the thrills. I’d recommend going on other rides with shorter lines before spending beaucoup time waiting for this 4-coupon attraction. Vomit factor: 6/10
▪ Ring of Fire: This ride, which may or may not be named after the classic Johnny Cash song (I’m still trying to figure that out exactly), is worth the three coupons it costs to ride it. Even though it does spin you upside down in a loop-de-loop of sorts, I didn’t feel any nausea associated with it. The biggest thrill for me came when we were suspended upside down – when the necklace I usually wear dangled in front of my face, in danger of sliding off and plummeting to the ground below. Word to the wise: Don’t have any loose objects on you when riding this. Vomit factor: 5/10
▪ Thunderbolt: While my girlfriend enjoyed the pure speed of the Thunderbolt, it didn’t really do much for me. You sit in a car and move backward, then forward at high speeds. There’s no spinning involved, which is the typical culprit behind queasiness. It’s akin to sitting in a fast car that’s taking laps around a race track. Thrilling, but it’s not going to make you sick. Vomit factor: 4/10
▪ White Water Flume: I didn’t necessarily remember the State Fair midway having a water ride before, so I was curious to try this one out. If you’re going to do it, make sure it’s the last ride on your midway adventure. The thrills on this ride came from anticipating getting soaked at the end of the water slide. After you get drenched in water, those thrills die down quite a bit. Vomit factor: 2/10
▪ Amor Express: This somewhat low-speed ride takes you around in circles, and that’s about it. The overall impression I got from riding it was mixed – it bills itself as the “Amor Express,” though the music it was playing did not fit that theme. It certainly won’t give you motion sickness, though all the purple/pink lights that flash are kind of trippy after so many passes. Vomit factor: 2/10
▪ Giant Ferris wheel: The only thrills you’ll get on this ride will come from the person you’re sitting next to, as this ride does provide a pretty scenic overlook of the midway and the fairgrounds – make sure to snap a picture from the top of wheel, though don’t be like one rider Monday night who dropped a phone from the wheel. Instant fair-ruiner there. Vomit factor: 1/10
Get unlimited rides at the Kansas State Fair midway by purchasing a $25 wristband on these days:
▪ noon to 10 p.m. Wednesday
▪ 3 to 10 p.m. Thursday
▪ noon to 11 p.m. Friday
▪ noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
Admission to the state fair in Hutchinson is $10 for adults; $6 for seniors 60 and older, and $6 for children ages 6-12. Children 5 and younger are admitted free.