On a recent trip to the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, we spotted an unusual looking machine in front of Burlington Coat Factory. Apparently, they've been appearing at malls around the country over the past year or so. Labeled as a "Hurricane Simulator," this baby recreates hurricane force winds up to 78MPH. Pop your $2 in the cash slot, step inside the Plexiglas booth and prepare to be blown away like people's dreams during Hurricane Katrina.
We couldn't help but think it was in bad taste given all of the destruction places including New Orleans, southern Texas, Florida and Biloxi, Mississippi have suffered in the past decade. Still, that didn't stop me and Web Editor Jonathan McNamara from getting inside the booth. Video after the jump...
Yeah, it's a pretty big letdown unless you're under ten years old. Jonathan's scarf barely moved, though my hair looked like a bird's dream nest after my jaunt in the hurricane tube (thankfully, I avoided the camera). The adorable little girl who followed him seemed to have a better time.
"If my hands were very wet because I'd just washed them, it would've been very useful," quipped Jonathan afterwards. "When you told me there was a hurricane booth at the mall, I thought it was going to be a tunnel with no lights, where you get hit in the face with wind, and maybe some water. "This is like Austin Powers' dry-off body tube thing," chimed in Spring, who videotaped Jonathan's "ordeal." Sigh.
Here are five things that would improve the overall Hurricane Simulator experience:
5. Let it rain: What's a hurricane without the water? Rig the machine to pour buckets and it would be more refreshing than gelato in the searing Phoenix heat. If that's too much of a hazard, you can always spit on the dude in the machine or something.
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4. Change the venue: While an overrated hair dryer might not be a thrill ride, it'd sure be popular next to a public swimming pool. Or at a GWAR concert.
3. Fly in the Coop: Did you ever notice how Anderson Cooper shows up at every hurricane and other natural disaster that befalls our country? It's only fitting that he should be at this one. Perhaps a cardboard cutout of the always-wooden Cooper could pop down during the "storm," or he could narrate on the small countdown screen that's already inside the booth. It'll be just like the real thing.
2. Get totally wasted: Toss a few margaritas back before climbing inside the machine and then we might see some real action! Granted, watching your vomit circle around your shaking body as you frantically try to remain upright does not sound like much fun for the drunkard, but for the rest of us it's YouTube gold. After all, what are friends for?
1. Add some debris: If you've ever been caught in a hurricane, you know that part of the cool factor comes from miscellaneous crap blowing around in the wind. Litter takes flight. Palm tree fronds soar like paper airplanes. Even cows can be picked up and tossed around like rag dolls. (Ok, that's a tornado, not a hurricane, but whatever.) Add some paper clips and staples to the machine's blower and you could poke an eye out. Yippee!