On the eve of their departure for mainland China, Lincoln High School students took a break Monday from their busy schedule for a day of play.
They spent the day at Ocean Park, an amusement park filled with rides, including several roller coasters, an aquarium and exhibits of giant and red pandas.
“The rides were intense,” said sophomore Desmond Ye, who rode the Hair Raiser, a giant roller coaster that whips riders around loops upside down.
“There were a lot of forceful twists and turns, up and down, which increases the heart rate,” he said. “I like that.”
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To reach the Hair Raiser, students rode a gondola car that on its mile-long route to the summit of the park offered stunning views of Deep Water Bay.
“It was super nerve-wracking,” said Haley Naparan, “because the gondola was so small.”
Logan LaRue rafted The Rapids, getting wet along the way as water spray along the journey struck them.
“I got it in the back every single time,” LaRue said, “but it was fun.”
The students also took in the aquarium during lunch, sitting in a restaurant on the second level, eating either chicken or a large burger and watching many varieties of fish, manatees and hammerhead sharks swim by.
Scattered throughout the park were entertainers, including dancers and singers.
Some got a glimpse of what is yet to come — viewing giant pandas later this week at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Ocean Park houses four of the animals and another three of the much smaller red pandas.
The group was to fly Tuesday (Oct. 11) to Fuzhou, Tacoma’s sister city, where the students will visit a school and other sites Wednesday.
Jonathan Nesvig, a former News Tribune reporter and copy editor, is traveling with the Lincoln High School students while they are in China. He will share updates throughout the trip.