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Saturday, September 23, 2017

How to Ride a Banshee (Videos)

Friday was the last day of my vacation at Disneyworld, so by the time most of you read this I'll be back in good old North Carolina. But rather than write about golf -- which I'll have plenty of time to do over the next few days -- I thought I'd tell you about something unbelievably fun that I did at Disney.

On Friday I rode the Avatar: Flight of Passage ride in Animal Kingdom -- that's right, the one where you get to ride an ikran, better known to us humans as a banshee. For those of you who never saw the movie Avatar, here's what a banshee looks like:

Mountain Banshee with Na'vi warriors

Pretty cool, eh? I think the ride has become way more popular than Disney anticipated because... well, let's face it. Most rides, if there's a 90 minute wait time, people don't get in line. They try to get FastPasses -- a pre-arranged time to return and ride without much of a wait -- and barring that, they simply wait to ride some other time.

However, the word of mouth about the banshee ride is different. FastPasses were unavailable all week (for several weeks, based on what I've heard) yet every person I talked to this week said I should ignore the time in line and JUST GO. And so I spent three hours Friday getting a ride -- it was a two hour wait when I started at 11:15, then some of the simulators went down from apparent overwork, and I finally finished the ride at 2:15.

And they were right. It was TOTALLY worth it. So I found some YouTube video that gives you an idea how Disney managed to make this thing believable.

If you've ever ridden Soarin', Disney's hang glider sim, AFoP is Soarin' overdosed on steroids. You can actually feel the banshee breathing as you sit on it! Add in the sensations, the sounds, the smells, even the feel of the wind and ocean spray, and you end up with an amazingly real experience. They even found a way to simulate the feel of your avatar's actual movements as you sit on the simulator, which is quite simple but blindingly effective. It's just cool.

And I've found some YouTube videos to help you understand what I did Friday. First, here's a video from Attractions Magazine that was shot when the ride opened back in May. It shows you the simulator "saddle" and some of the stuff that you go through before you ride. But this doesn't show you everything. This is just the basic orientation stuff. There some fun stuff where, for instance, your DNA gets scanned for an avatar match, that isn't shown here.

But somebody taped their entire 4:30 ride and posted it to YouTube. I've included it below. Bear in mind that this doesn't even begin to let you know how the ride feels -- for example, the whale that leaps out of the water in this video is HUGE when you're on the ride and it nearly lands on you as it comes down. You can hear the person who taped this screaming as she rode... and it's not just for effect; I found myself doing the same sort of thing.

And I just don't do that, people. But this one had me reacting as if I was really plunging straight down toward the ground on the back of a flying lizard. Have a look:

This isn't a sales pitch by any stretch. But this is one of the best vacations I've ever had, and I have to attribute much of it to this ride.

So remember, folks: There's way more to life than just golf... and riding a banshee definitely fits in that category! The next few weeks are gonna feel a bit boring by comparison.

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