The strange phenomenon of line cuddling at amusement parks

Something happens as we wait in line for totally rad but ultimately vomit inducing ride at the amusement park. We move closer as we weave through the bars and rails, guiding us to our thrilling destiny. It’s as if we become like magnets, drawn to the sweaty refrigerator of our significant other until we cannot resist being completely connected until boarding the ride forces us apart and into temporary despair.
We’ve all seen it and I’m sure most of us have done it.

This is a phenomenon I first began to notice as a young teenager visiting Kennywood on a band trip. Maybe I noticed because as puberty began, the hormones raged and suddenly I too wanted to romantically canoodle as I waited for the Phantom’s Revenge. Perhaps it’s simply I was old enough to notice every couple around me interlocked as if their lives depended on being connected. Who’s to know.

What is it about standing in line for long periods of time that makes us want to embrace each other? Now older people, don’t try to blame this strictly on young couples. I would argue there is an equal distribution of couples across the age spectrum hanging on each other in line. 

Is it the odd smell that clings to us after a water ride, releasing chemicals that make us want to be near each other? Is it the inevitable sweat aroma and the thought that together, you can become even sweatier? Or is it the drama of the situation, realizing the ride could malfunction and this may be our last chance to hold each other?

Honestly, I think it’s that last one.

(not honestly)

In this example I am cuddling for both safety and warmth, two acceptable reasons


While I’ve personally never canoodled (outside of huddling for warmth in colder months but that’s necessity), I’ve definitely wanted to. Obviously, it’s because I desired to be closer to the person I was with, but that doesn’t really answer why in that setting. Typically, it’s very hot and you most likely have that “been at an amusement park all day” stench about you. In a normal situation, the last thing you want is to be all over someone else, but not when the amusement park love magic washes all over you. 

 It’s like a spell is cast as soon as you walk under the ride sign at the beginning of the line. No longer are you crowded with hundreds of other people trying to experience the latest rollercoaster. Instead, you’re in your own couple world where all you can do is stay wrapped up in each other, oblivious to everything else. 

And I mean oblivious. Have you ever seen the poor, single friends of couples? They just stand there awkwardly, alone in a sea of cuddling couples. What did these people do before smart phones? I don’t want to think about such a tragic experience. 

It could be a fever of some sort, you know? It’s likely we’ve all picked up something from the dirty line rails we all touch and the water ride water that looks like some of the rivers in Rio. Maybe there’s some sort of bug that lives in the bacteria of the park and once you’re infected, you must cuddle to save your life. 

I think I feel most blessed to be single when it’s 59794 degrees at the amusement park and I’m literally a puddle of sweat because there isn’t any pressure to be scooped up and insulated by my boyfriend. I can illegally sit on the rails in peace, looking at all the other sweaty people entwined. 

The only other reason I can think of for line cuddling is the excitement of the day mixing with the exhaustion of theme park life. If you’re having a really good day, you want to experience and enjoy every second. When you combine that with how tired you become after walking and standing in the hot sun, maybe it’s natural to simply fall into the arms of your lover for comfort and support.

But that doesn’t explain those who sprint in right as the gates open and are cuddling in the first line they enter. Having never been a couple at an amusement park, I suppose I can’t really understand the why. Perhaps it’s simply what you do because everyone else does it and you like to be close to each other. Most likely I’ll just keep playing Yahtzee on my phone as I wait (with or without a boyfriend tbh). 

In my expert opinion, I would argue line cuddling is an epidemic that needs to be shut down for the sake of every other human, including children, also trying to enjoy their day at the park. To help you and your partner avoid this canoodling fever in the future, I’ve listed a few action steps to keep you safe. 

1.Think long and hard about how gross and dirty your partner is before you embrace them

I don’t think I can make this point enough. No amount of love you feel for someone can erase the grime building up in their pores and crevices. 

2. Look at the couples around you and recognize how you don’t like what you see and realize by canoodling, you become them 

Sometimes it’s easy to forget what you look like, but a line offers the perfect opportunity to notice it isn’t really cute to be all over each other in front of people, especially when there are children present and it’s a park so there are always children watching you, very confused.

3. If you feel like you must touch in some way (maybe to ensure one of you isn’t lost in the crowd), try simply holding hands or playing that game where you try and slap the other person’s hands before they move them

We all get bored, I get it. And maybe cuddling helps pass the time, but there are other games you can play. I’ve seen people bring cards to amusement parks before. Ever play Heads Up with your group? So much fun! Also the slap hand game I mentioned. That’s always a win. 

4. Remember you came with other people and they might like to be engaged in conversation as well 

I know the fever may cause a delusion into thinking you’re alone, but you aren’t, and those friends you made come with you even though they knew they’d be ignored might like some attention. Phone batteries rarely last more than 2 hours these days.

5. If you will die without touching each other, keep the PDA to a minimum 

Listen, if you absolutely have to, keep it clean, ok? No prolonged kissing or repeated kisses. Try a nice, chaste expression of love and then go back to talking to each other and enjoying each other’s presence without sucking face. 

Together, we can end the outbreak of line cuddling. It starts with you and me.

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