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My first (three) time(s) riding the Banshee

Last Friday I was asked to be in a photo shoot for Kings Island here in Cincinnati. I was told that I was being cast as a dad and that I would be in some shots as a family unit. I guess I was expecting nothing more than walking around the park in front of rides or certain features that they wanted to highlight. Maybe by photo shoot, they actually meant video, but I opted to take them at their word. I was told to bring 3 changes of clothes including some shorts and sneakers, so I showed up a few minutes early just in case they needed me to change before the first shoot.

When I got there I was surprised to see many other actors show up: from kids to students to Great Wolf Lodge kitchen chefs. We were all corralled over to a picnic area by some of the newest and fiercest rides at Kings Island.

Right at 9:30 a bald-headed gentleman walks up and asks for everyone involved in the photo shoot to follow him. Mind you, the kids (and their actual parents) stayed behind, so I thought that maybe I was supposed to stay with them and be a part of whatever shoot they were waiting to do, but I opted to follow the crowd to see what was up.

They lead us over to one of the newer rides at the park: The Banshee. This is how the ride is described on King's Island's website:
The world’s longest inverted roller coaster, “Banshee,” makes its highly-anticipated debut this year at Kings Island. The first female-inspired thrill ride at a Cedar Fair Entertainment amusement park, Banshee will send riders screaming through 4124.1 feet of track and seven mind-bending inversions at speeds up to 68 miles per hour!

So here I am--poor little unsuspecting me--sitting on a roller coaster after assuming that I would just be walking around the park all day getting snapshots taken of me. I secretly hoped that maybe the photo shoot would just involve us sitting on the ride pretending to have just had the time of our lives; maybe they were just locking us into the seats to make it look more believable; maybe they were just doing safety checks as a part of the preliminary video....or maybe, there was a GoPro strapped to the front of the ride that was recording us as we made our rapid ascent to the first drop.

I clung to my harness, politely smiling and looking to have a good time with the Great Wolf chef seated beside me (he was still on the clock for the sister organization and was having a ball getting a chance to be distracted from his regular line of work). We dropped down the first hill and gutted our way through the course in a rapid 40 seconds or so. By the time we coasted in to the main area I realized that my stomach was still somewhere back between the third and fourth inversions. We hopped off and I was both elated and relieved, eager to see what ride they might film us on next.

But that's when the director called for us to get back on the ride.

"Let's do another take!" he shouted to the ride operators and the happy passengers. We all climbed back on and strapped ourselves in. I already know what to expect, this shouldn't be so bad, I thought to myself. As we made the final inversion and coasted back in to the bay, I realized that my stomach was now trying to exit my body through my throat, and knew that pancakes was a bad choice for breakfast. Once the cars braked to a stop, I just sat and breathed for a moment, ensuring that my eating habits remained where I had very intentionally placed them.

That's when the director called for us to get back on the ride.

Since I was already seated it wasn't very difficult to be physically on the ride again, but mentally I was really working at convincing myself that I could ride it a third time in a row. I'm getting paid to be here, I finally convinced myself, I can do this. So I buckled up and put on my best smile as we began to crest the first hill.

I am here to tell you, that I have never in my life tried so hard to clench my stomach muscles as hard as during this ride. I mean, the worst thing ever would be to puke on a ride that you are trying to promote. Vomiting on your fellow models and actors won't exactly get you many brownie points for rebookings either. So clench I did.

When the cars came in to the bay this time, I made it a point to quickly find my disoriented way over to the exit side of the station. If he called for us to ride it a fourth time I would make it my aim to be somewhere less noticeable while I collected my wits about me and tried some slow breathing tactics to calm my angry stomach.

And then the director called for us to get back on the ride.....for more times.

Needless to say, I knew I would do the commercial shoot no good for the rest of the day if I kept riding the ride, so I was able to beg my way off the ride and sit on the sideline with some other nauseated models.

I guess I should have seen it coming, but now I know for sure: if you get called to do something--anything--for King's Island, expect to be inverted, twisted, flung, or flipped.

...and don't eat pancakes for breakfast.
No, this is not the Banshee. This was gratefully the next ride they put us on. #Mercy

PS, as I write this post, I am listening to the gentle rain that falls after the heavy storm front swept through our neighborhood. I watched the whole thing from the "safety" of my front porch and was standing there when I saw my neighbor's tree split and fall from heavy winds--about 20 feet from my front porch. Gratefully, it fell in just the right place so as to miss the cars, houses, and telephone poles. It did catch the neighbor's main power line, and that keeps fritzing out the power on the whole street, but otherwise limited harm.


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