Darius D.W laughs uncontrollably while at the same time trying to conceal his glee as he watches grown up men and women scream their hearts out from the inverted Banana boat hanging mid-air.
This is the first time he has gathered enough courage to get close to the boat. “I wanted to see this thing (Banana boat) which makes people scream,” said Darius who frequents Lunatick Park in Pangani to have his car washed.
Anxiously, he walks to the cashier, pays and waits for the next ride. Soon the boat rocks and slowly comes to a standstill. The next group take their seats and the engine roars ready for another adventure. Darius gives the crowd below a smile, perhaps assuring them that there is nothing frightening about the Banana Boat.
Suddenly, the boat gains momentum and he reaches for the metal bar to keep steady. The experience is not as expected; he bends his head almost resting it on his laps as he struggles to keep his cool. Another rotation and things seem to be getting worse. He cannot contain the fear anymore. He has to do something, yes, scream for help.
The spectators do not matter anymore. He opens his mouth wide and lets out a deafening scream which catches the attention of the ladies watching from below and they instantly break into laughter. Yes.
They are laughing at him. He ignores them and keeps on yelling as he asks the machine controller to stop the boat. Despite his attempts, his screaming is lost in the loud music from two speakers placed next to the Banana boat. After what seems like an eternity, the machine comes to a halt.
“The experience is like going to hell and back,” says Darius describing the adventure to BDLife.
Darius’ story is not a fabrication but one that anyone who has tried the Banana boat, like the male writer in this story, identifies with. ‘The devil dare experience had him screaming for help to the dismay of his wife who sat calmly throughout the ride’.
“The Banana boat is meant to excite people. It makes them scream and let out their stress. It’s therapeutic,” says Sonat Savasci, director of Lunatick Park. Darius disagrees with Sonat saying it adds to the tension.
If you are thinking of an adrenalin-inducing adventure once in your lifetime, then this is the activity to place top on your list this weekend. But one thing to keep in mind is the fact the boat is no respecter of persons. Regardless of age and the stature you hold in society, the ride can get you to lose your cool.
Sonat admits that this is partly the reason why female clients are the ones who have been referring people there.
“Women bring their male partners or friends here and cunningly opt out of the ride. Instead they watch the men scream as they laugh their hearts out,” says Sonat recalling many of those instances.
Lunatick Park is a 15-year-old business though it existed as a family business more than 40 years as Luna Park. Upon the former owner’s death, Sonat and his brother chose to run the enterprise independently. His brother runs Shark place on old Kiambu road.
The Banana boat is a simple machine modelled like a banana. An original Banana boat oscillates at 180 degrees although Sonat adjusted his to 360 degrees and this is what makes the ride more exciting. One can either import or purchase it locally from artisans. But Sonat advises those keen of starting the business to get the boat from certified manufacturers.
“It important to consider the safety of users, balance and measurements of the machine,” says Sonat who relocated his venture from Westlands to Pangani early this year.
The Banana boat is powered by electricity and has a generator in case of emergency. In case of a power outage, the machine slows down and comes to a gentle stop. The charges are Sh100 per person per ride. They also offer special rates for schools and corporates coming in groups. Children pay Sh50 for 180 degree swing.
The park also has additional activities which include, merry- go-rounds and electronic cars among others. In case you want to fight off your Banana boat fears, try out the 180 degree boat first at Rock City Gardens, Muthaiga Road or Langata. Rock City charges Sh50 a ride.