I had gone my entire life without ever messing up my equilibrium to the point where I could hardly function for half a day. I have survived hundreds of loops and corkscrews on countless roller coasters, ferries across 26 miles of ocean, several days of an Alaskan deep-sea fishing boat that rocked so violently that I had bruises on my sides when I came home, and even “Cloverfield” (barely). All of that came to an end when I rode on the Incredible Hulk at Universal Islands of Adventure.
It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of effort and ill-advised decisions on my behalf, combined with, of course, one hell of a roller coaster. So kick back and enjoy a quick anecdote on how I Hulksmashed my equilibrium.
Let’s begin with my wife, Mrs. Brownie Bites. I honestly think that on a bad day, she could get motion sick on the Dumbo ride. Therefore, when it’s just the two of us, roller coasters ain’t happening unless I go on them alone. Since the one and only reason we went to IoA was for Harry Potter, I decided that our compromise would be that I would go on the Hulk as soon as we got into the park, then we’d spend the rest of the time on her devoid-of-motion activities. The plan was perfect.
We got to the park, purchased tickets that were somehow more expensive than Disney tickets, and soon discovered that the Hulk was at the end of the first walkway, before the park splits in two directions. I jumped into the line for the Hulk and was overjoyed to find that it was almost completely empty. Not only that, but there is a separate line just for the front car of the train. Otherwise known as – the perfect place to take a point-of-view video of the ride. While waiting for my car to pull in, I remembered that I needed to remove my cochlear from behind my ear and pocket it so that it wouldn’t fly off during the ride, which would only have set me back a cool $8k or so.
Within a minute, I was in, strapped down with one of those over-the-head-and-chest restraints, and had my camera ready in video mode. As the train starts lumbering uphill, you soon realize that there is not a downhill at the end of the climb, but rather a corkscrew immediately at the end of the climb. It was obvious that one of two things would happen – we would get up there and fall out, or something was going to launch the train the rest of the way, before we even reached the top. I was giddy and couldn’t wait for this new experience.
Sure enough, we got about 3/4 of the way up and the train launched forward towards the corkscrew at the top. We hit the corkscrew at near-top speed, and then my stomach fell. I felt a slight bit of movement behind my right ear. Oh, no!!!
I had forgotten to take the cochlear off and put it in my pocket.
My mind briefly raced with panic because my arms were trapped and unable to reach my head. I had no way of grabbing it before the next loop, where I was almost certain it would have come flying off and down into neverland, leaving me without hearing for the rest of the trip. I did the only thing I could do – I slammed the right side of my head against the headrest section of the restraint, trapping it between the restraint, my earlobes, and my temple.
How to Hulksmash your equilibrium #1 – riding down a monster roller coaster with your head at a 30 degree angle.
A few loops and corkscrews later, I breathed a small sigh of relief as it no longer appeared to be in any danger of falling. The camera was still surprisingly held rather steady, and there was still plenty of coaster left. Then, I felt a little uneasy. Once the blood came back to my brain after the monster loop in which I started feeling a little uneasy, I realized something else. Due to a combination of cramming my head forcibly against the headrest and willing the laws of physics to work in my favor with every fiber of my being, my right eye had been squinted shut for the entire first half of the ride.
How to Hulksmash your equilibrium #2 – going down a monster roller coaster with one eye closed, thus killing your depth perception
My right eye flew open, sending my brain into a scramble to try and re-align the world. This, of course, was a vain effort. We hit the next corkscrew; the train spun once, my vision spun 4 or 5 times.
How to Hulksmash your equilibrium #3 – opening both eyes, as opposed to closing both eyes, when your stomach is already holding on for dear life
We pulled into the station seemingly at the same rate that the van drove off the bridge in Inception, and I almost forgot to get out of the train. I staggered to my feet and slowly made my way to the ride’s exit, feeling dazed but generally OK and not in danger of tossing my cookies. I found Erin sitting on a bench not far away and zombie-walked my way over. I was still hanging on. I sat down next to her. Oh heck no, that wasn’t going to happen. My body was going to crash, and hard, if I ceased movement.
I never did hurl or black out, but it took me until the mid afternoon before I was OK again. The first time I attempted food was a churro from Harry Potter-land, and I might as well been trying to dine on ipecac syrup. It must have lasted me 30 bites over an hour. But, I did enjoy a few sips of butterbeer at least.
Whew. Won’t be forgetting to remove that little piece of equipment again…
So, enjoy the crappy video that I almost ruined my life over!