Picture this: You’re strapped into your favorite coaster, slowly approaching the summit of the first huge hill. Then you’re at the top, where you feel a blood-curdling cry start to rise in your chest. But just as gravity pulls the car down the steep drop, you bite your lips, because, actually, screaming is not permitted. And not just on this first drop — you’re not allowed to yell at all.
If you have the desire to subject yourself to this test of mental strength — and if you happen to live in Japan — you may soon get your chance. According to CNN, as Japan lifts its state of emergency this week, the country’s major theme-park operators have released a list of proposed guidelines to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus in reopened parks. Most of the safety protocols, issued by East and West Japan Theme Park Associations, are predictable: Increased sanitizing measures and the continued use of face masks, to name a few. But hiding amid the typical guidelines is ban on shouting and screaming, which many — myself included — consider an integral part of the coaster-riding experience.
I understand the reasoning: When you scream, you expel a flood of respiratory droplets, which could be carrying coronavirus. And I don’t mean to mock the amusement parks; these are weird, trying times, and we’re all just doing our best. But if you can’t shriek your lungs out, what is the point of riding a rollercoaster? And if you’re focusing all your mental power on suppressing the primal urge to scream, would you really be able to focus on enjoying the ride, too?
I do not live in Japan, and I have no upcoming plans to visit a theme park, so I don’t anticipate I’ll be finding myself in this situation anytime soon. And that’s okay with me. I quite like my new quarantine hobby of periodically stress-screaming at my laptop. Also, I can now look at lockdown in a new, positive light: At least I can freely wail whenever I want.