This may come as a surprise, but roller coasters and tattoos have a lot in common. They both serve as a sort of rite of passage—for roller coasters, it’s when you’re tall enough to finally ride the “big kid rides,” and getting a tattoo to mark one’s 18th birthday is time-honored tradition. Getting a tattoo and riding a roller coaster both require a bit of courage, whether it’s overcoming the pain or fighting the urge to vomit. Another similarity is that both tattoos and roller coasters ignite passion within people. Tattoo passion is the entire reason we even exist, so you know plenty about that, but roller coaster passion is real. My coworker spends hours watching POV videos of roller coasters on YouTube. Hell, he even watches people playing Roller Coaster Tycoon, which is about three steps removed from actually riding a roller coaster, so if that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.
When it comes to roller coasters and tattoos, you never forget your first one. Of course, that is a lot easier with a tattoo since it’s permanently on your skin, but roller coasters find a way of etching themselves into your soul. I rode my very first roller coaster when I was six. It was the second day of my vacation at Disneyland. The first day I rode all of the rides obviously designed for kids—the Jungle Cruise, Dumbo, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, etc.—so I was ready for a challenge on day two. My parents were trying to gently coax me to go in the Haunted Mansion for a couple of reasons. I think they thought it would help purge the scaredy cat tendencies I had, but looking back on it now, I just think my mom really wanted to go herself, so she wasn’t going to let me hold her back. I was terrified. I cried in the lobby. But I went through, loved it, and figured that I was now a grown-ass man and ready to take on the world.
It was time for me to take down a roller coaster, so I made a beeline to Big Thunder Mountain. In the world of coasters, Big Thunder Mountain is pretty tame. It doesn’t go upside down, it doesn’t go excessively high or extremely fast. It’s just a nice, simple coaster. But to a 6-year-old who was too scared for the Haunted Mansion only 45 minutes prior it was going to be quite a test. A test that I failed spectacularly, dear reader. I hated every single second of the four minutes I was on it. I had barely even gotten out of the car before I yelled at my dad, “I’m never going on another roller coaster until I’m 40, and by then I’ll be too old and they won’t let me.”
Many decades later, I can’t help but be offended at how infirm and worthless I imagined 40-year-olds to be. I also can’t help but laugh at how this decree rang true for about one more year before I started getting really into roller coasters. With another year under my belt and a little more confidence, I went to Six Flags with some friends and loved every second of it. And I don’t think that love is going to go away any time soon.
Down below you’ll find people who have such a strong affinity for roller coasters they’ve gotten tattoos celebrating the thrilling amusements. Have fun with this gallery, and don’t forget to scream.