Arts & Culture News

10 State Fair Rides You Have to Take Before You Die

Good food, good rides - it's the State Fair of Texas.
Good food, good rides - it's the State Fair of Texas. Kathy Tran
When the Texas State Fair is preparing to open its gates to the public, it always seems nothing is being talked about but the food. We get it. Fletcher's Corny Dogs are amazing. It's a rare opportunity to stuff yourself with funnel cake. And who doesn't love daring their friends to eat bizarre, deep-fried concoctions that increase their risk of diabetes with every bite?

But there's more to the State Fair than food. Namely, an abundance of carnival rides that line the fair's iconic midway. Before you fill up on deep fried dares, go all in on one of these thrilling experiences.

1. The Texas Star Ferris Wheel (16 coupons)
It's the most noticeable feature of the Texas State Fair, if you don't count Big Tex, and it's the best way to introduce a newcomer to the fair. This 212-foot tall amusement behemoth may look scary if you're not a fan of heights but it offers a very smooth ride and a majestic view of Fair Park and the Dallas skyline. It's so iconic that every visitor should be required to ride if they want to enter the fair. 

2. The AirMax (10 coupons)

If you're scared of being tossed around in the sky and risking life and limb for a cheap thrill, then the Texas State Fair shouldn't be on your bucket list. It's like going to a Jerry Bruckheimer film and complaining that there were too many explosions. The offers a unique take on the traditional guest twirler and it's good for thrill seekers looking to start slow and work their way up. It may look menacing but it's actually a little bit slower compared to some of the other sky rides. You can still score some serious airtime but without as many scary G-forces. 

3. The Flipper (10 coupons) 
This ride may look like a kiddie ride when it's not in motion but a flip of the switch turns it into a spinning Lazy Susan from hell. The Flipper sends passengers spinning at high speeds before the lower platform lifts up off the ground. The carriages start to spin around as they defy and fall victim to the whims of gravity.

4. Fast Trax Slide (10 coupons)
When you become an adult, you get fewer and fewer chances to slide. They don't make slides for adults except for those inflatable ones that planes use when they have to make an emergency landing in an Iowa cornfield. So take advantage of this massive plastic creation that lets kids and adults race. No matter your size you'll be whipped straight to the bottom. This ride seems to ignore the laws of friction and inertia.

5. Techno Power (10 coupons) 

This music-inspired thrill ride takes the simple concept of the "Scrambler" and turns it on its head by ... turning riders on their heads. It starts as a simple twirling ride but the arms lift up and send passengers twisting in the air as they grip the handlebars with all the strength their joints can muster. The ride doesn't last long but the disorienting and thrilling feeling you get from the minute and a half you spend spinning in the air is more than worth one less corny dog. 

6. Wave Swing (10 coupons) 
Even though little kids can get on this ride, that doesn't mean it's a "kiddie ride." It's also one of the most classic riding experiences you can have at the fair. Riders are strapped into seats dangling from cables and the ride whips them around in a circle so it feels like they're flying on some kind of rocket-powered wheelchair. It's the closest you'll get to experiencing your childhood dream of being able to fly — until Apple releases its iJetpack in 2080, that is. 

7. The Crazy Mouse (12 coupons)
Here's another carnival staple that sounds like an innocent children's ride. It's actually a thrilling, twirling experience that will have you picturing your funeral at least a few times. It starts slow with a creeping, crawling lift hill that sends you down a track that seems to be almost parallel to the Earth. It's actually just a slowly paced incline that builds up speed the closer you get to the end. The carriage also spins around so you're not sure which way you're facing after you get through the steep drops and hills.

8. Rock It (14 coupons)

Here's the scenario: You've filled up on fried margaritas and pocket tacos and forgotten that you have to be weighed on Monday for your amateur Greco-Roman wrestling team. You're not going to make weight with all those carbs in your stomach, so you've got to get them out before they turn into bulbous, gelatinous fat. What do you do? Take those remaining tickets you were going to use to buy a turkey leg dipped in Cheez Whiz and go for a ride on this overhead swing that makes it feel like your digestive system is going to fall out of your mouth and dangle from your throat like a wet sock tied to a flagpole in a heavy wind storm. 

9. Magnum (10 coupons)

If you've ever wanted to know what it feels like to be in a rolling car accident that lasts for a full two minutes, then this is the ride for you. This scrambler has carriages with hinges on either side so as the entire apparatus spins, the carriages also spin on a horizontal axis. You can experience the feeling of blood rushing to your brain as your inner ear gives you a strong case of vertigo. 

10. The Texas Skyway (12 coupons each way)
So you've ridden all the rides so many times that your adrenaline gland has gone on strike and you're ready to go home. Why walk all the way back to the entrance when you can take a leisurely glide back and knock one more ride off your amusement park bucket list? These flying gondolas are easily the best way to get across the Midway if you're not keen on dodging pushy carnies and crowds of people who can't see past the giant bales of cotton candy stuck to their faces. It also offers another beautiful view of the park.
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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