CNE Rides, Games, and Attractions for Overly Anxious People
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CNE Rides, Games, and Attractions for Overly Anxious People

Or, how to avoid dreaded teenagers.

Relief Line is your not-so-serious glance at the city we love.
Most Torontonians will be flocking to the Canadian National Exhibition over the next couple of weeks to enjoy all the rides, games, attractions on display. Unfortunately, if you’re anything like me, you get nervous around the huge crowds, see the rides as clattering death-machines and suspect all that fun is just some lead-up to some inevitable catastrophe.

But that doesn’t mean you stay away from the Ex! In an effort to put my fellow sufferers of mild-to-moderate anxiety at ease, I have come up a helpful list of everything you can do at the Ex what won’t cause an immediate panic attack. Enjoy!

Avoiding Teenagers

Naturally you would want to avoid all humans, but this is not really possible in a carnival situation. Instead the best thing to do is to identify your biggest triggers—in my case roving packs of teenagers laughing, screaming, and generally setting off my flight response—and make a game of avoiding them all day. I find the safest place is usually near the kind, elderly hippies selling aroma-therapeutic candles in the Arts and Crafts Pavilion.

Riding the Ferris Wheel

Most rides at the Ex are obviously non-starters for you and me, but one safe option is the Ferris Wheel. Good, ole dependable Ferris Wheel. No high speeds, no violent turns, no loop-de-loops. Just going up and down, calmly and slowly. It does go up a little high though. Higher than I remember actually. Oh no, the vertigo is kicking in. Oh God. Mr. Operator, sir, can you please stop the ride. Mr. Operator! This was a mistake!

Eating a Sugary, Fried Thing

Okay, so maybe the Ferris Wheel experiment was premature, but nothing calms the nerves like some comfort food and the Ex has plenty options. I hear they are deep-frying entire wedding cakes this year!

Not Vomiting

After the excitement of the Ferris Wheel and those two cronuts you had to wash down that wedding cake, this might be the most challenging game you play all afternoon.

The Duck Shooting Game

It’s time to get back on track. A great way to do this is focus your mind and regulate your breathing and that’s exactly what’s required with the Duck Shooting Game. Firing away at those helpless mallards is basically the closest you will get to meditation at the Ex. Plus, if you win a giant plush toy you will have an impromptu anxiety-squeeze doll on hand every time someone sets off an air horn for no reason.

Riding the Merry-Go-Round Accompanied By My Therapist

If you’re feeling a little more at peace it might be a good time to try another ride. Your big mistake with the Ferris Wheel was going on it alone, so I recommend riding the Merry-Go-Round accompanied by my therapist, Dr. Cynthia Meyers-Stillman. Luckily for you Dr. Meyers-Stillman is a real pro so she’ll be able to talk you through the entire 5 minute ride without incident (But remember, she’ll be charging you for the full hour).

Convincing Your Child the Haunted House is Too Scary for Them

This is a game of great skill and patience. Obviously you know that the Haunted House is an anxiety attack waiting to happen, but your child will have little sympathy for your exaggerated startle response. So rather than explaining how your autonomic nervous system works, it’s better to insist that it’s “way too scary” and that you can discuss going on it next year when they’re “mature enough to handle it.”

Filling-out a Health and Safety Report

If you’re like me, you become hyper-aware of a number of health and safety violations throughout your afternoon at the Ex, and I am sure the proper authorities would want to be made aware of them.

Hiding in the Washroom for a Solid Half Hour

Everyone needs a break, so at the end of an overwhelming day I find the washroom is the perfect place to unwind, have a good cry and maybe finish off the rest of the wedding cake you squirrelled away in your fanny pack.
Leaving the City for the Entirety of the Air Show

Oh look, the air show is starting! Remember these are best enjoyed at a safe distance, preferably by a calm lake in Muskoka.

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