American Dream is a lot of things to a lot of people. The mall on steroids that took far too many years to open is a shopping Mecca, a ski resort, a "paradox," a water park, an aquarium and much more.

It’s also an amusement park. One New Jersey family says a visit to American Dream became a nightmare for them when they went to Nickelodeon Universe.

Nickelodeon Universe at American Dream NJ indoor amusement park
(American Dream)

They’ve filed a lawsuit over an injury they say happened to their daughter on the Slime Streak. It’s described as a 5-car roller coaster that goes no faster than 35 mph. But the family says that was enough when the “cars suddenly and unexpectedly jerked with great force. (The child) was violently thrown forward, striking her face on the hard plastic of the car in which she was riding,” meaning the back of the seat in front of her, according to the lawsuit.

The family claims in court records the girl’s top front teeth were broken off in the mishap and there were injuries to her bottom teeth, gums, and lips. The girl was treated by emergency personnel at the scene, placed in a neck brace and transported by ambulance to a hospital according to the lawsuit.

If this all went down as stated in the filing it’s a shame. But the odds of anything going wrong on a roller coaster are statistically practically nil.

According to data compiled by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions your chances of being injured on a coaster are 1 in 15.5 million. The odds of being killed on a roller coaster? 1 in 170 million.

So why are some of us terrified of them?

Rollercoaster at amusement park

I have admitted this on our radio show and now I’m admitting it here. I have what I would call a full-on phobia of roller coasters. Which is crazy compared to other things I’ve done.

I’ve gone skydiving. And loved it. Odds of dying in a skydiving accident? 1 in 500,000 in a tandem jump (340 times greater odds of dying skydiving than on a roller coaster) yet I did it and loved it. Odds of dying in a solo jump even worse. 1 in 220,000.

I have even flown ride-along fashion in an F/A - 18 Hornet with the Navy flying team the Blue Angels. Defying g-forces, acrobatic flying maneuvers, barrel rolls, all the white-knuckled stuff you’d see in their air shows. It was amazing. Odds of a Blue Angels pilot dying on the job? A shocking 1 in 10 in the course of their time with the flying team.

Yet I did those things. So what the heck is wrong with me that the thought of getting on a roller coaster terrifies me? No clue.

Roller coaster vienna prater detail

It certainly isn’t the height. I jumped from a plane at 16,500, higher than the norm for a tandem. The speed? Hardly. A Blue Angels fighter jet flies around 1,400 miles per hour just under Mach 2 and can climb 30,000 feet in 60 seconds. The world’s faster coaster goes 149 miles per hour. I once drove a car at 147.

So I don’t get it. I only know it’s true. And frankly, it’s embarrassing. But if I knew on a given Saturday morning I had to be on Great Adventure’s Kingda Ka, by Tuesday it’s all I’d be worrying about. I would be obsessed. The panic would last all week.

I suppose I’m lucky my only phobia is something so easy to avoid. I can’t imagine feeling the same about elevators or bugs or, God forbid, public speaking. Which in my case would lead to another thing to fear.


LOOK: Oldest Disneyland Rides From 1955 to Today

Stacker, set out to compile a definitive list of every Disneyland attraction you can enjoy today and ranked them by their age. Using real-time data from Touring Plans, Disney archives, and historical news releases and reviews, our list starts with exciting recent park additions and stretches back to the oldest opening-day classics. This list focuses on the original Disneyland Park, so you will not see any rides from its neighboring California Adventure located just across the promenade. Read on to discover the oldest Disneyland rides you can still ride today.

LOOK: The best minigolf in every state

Using 2022 data from Tripadvisor, Stacker compiled a list of the highest-rated minigolf courses in all 50 states including Washington D.C.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On Demand! Hear New Jersey’s favorite afternoon radio show any day of the week. Download the Deminski & Doyle show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen right now.

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM