Arts & Culture News

A Little Less Crazy Next Time, OK, Mouse?

The Crazy Mouse, a popular and relatively tame roller coaster at the State Fair of Texas, received some unwelcome attention this week when a wheel came off the ride, striking one of its operators in the legs and landing her at Baylor Hospital. She was released the same day and her injuries were described as “non life-threatening,” but that’s probably not the encouragement anyone needed to hop in line this weekend, the last of the 2015 Fair.

When it comes to the State Fair midway, we tend to steer clear of rides that make us lose our corny dog, which leaves precious few options. The Ferris Wheel and Top o’ Texas Tower meet the criteria, of course, and both offer spectacular views of the city lights by night. The Crazy Mouse is the only other ride we never skip; we don’t feel we’ve seen the Fair without it. And if the sheer number of Facebook comments and photos to the effect of “BEST RIDE EVER” that crop up each fall are any indication, we’re not the only ones sentimentally attached to the ride.

The Crazy Mouse isn’t unique to the State Fair of Texas. It’s a style of roller coaster that originated in Germany in the ’50s and resurged in popularity in the ’90s because it’s compact and inexpensive — perfect for mini-amusement parks that need to be assembled quickly. Each car holds four people and is designed to be wider than the track, which adds to the thrill. When you’re in the outside seat of one, you hang over the edge and feel as though you might fall out. The track is characterized by a series of jerky, tight turns, which the cars take at a slowish pace but at the very last minute, lending the impression you're going to continue straight and off.

You can’t tell much of this by looking at it, though, which is partly why the ride is so fun. It's tame, sure — your corny dog will continue to digest more or less in peace — but way less so than you prepare for. Newbies often laugh it off as a child’s ride. And it can be. That’s another beautiful thing about the Crazy Mouse: You can ride it with your 4-year-old niece or your grandfather. No, it’s not a coaster you might see at Six Flags. No one wants to ride a Titan that was assembled in a couple day’s time. (Although clearly even these much more modest rides are not immune to their own safety issues.) But after taking a turn, everyone walks away surprised and giddy. It's well worth the 12 coupon ($6) cost to ride.

In D Magazine last year, Chris Mosley wrote, “There is something about that ride’s rickety and archaic charm that perfectly sums up everything great about the State Fair.” We agree and that's why we hope next year it comes back better than ever. Fair officials are still investigating the accident, but in the meantime, we have a suggestion. How about swinging by the Creative Arts Building, swiping some off the back of the butter sculpture and using it to grease the track?