It Has Been Twenty Years Since Fabio Killed A Goose With His Face On A Roller Coaster
It might be the most internet-ready thing to happen before the internet became the internet
Somehow, the Red Wedding of roller coaster rides is reduced to one simple sentence on Fabio’s Wikipedia page.
Maybe it’s the fact that this happened in a pre-YouTube/Twitter era, so it wasn’t immediately meme’d to death. It probably made your local news; maybe it was the last story of the night after sports and weather. It definitely made the rounds on Leno and The Daily Show. But Fabio showing up to promote a new roller coaster, then getting hit in the face by a goose is the funniest thing that has ever happened.
(I realize this was not funny for the goose. RIP goose.)
Think about everything that went into this. This happened in Virginia, not California, where I assume the spokesperson for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter lived at the time. So he had to be flown there, picked up at the airport, and presumably spend the night at the Williamsburg Embassy Suites, all so he could get hit in the face by a bird the next day.
The roller coaster is called Apollo’s Chariot, so it has some sort of Greek god theme, and Fabio has a lot of hair and muscles, so he kind of looks like a Greek god and that’s all the PR department at Busch Gardens needed. They also filled the roller coaster with women wearing white robes and fake laurel wreaths. What’s amusing, though, is Fabio is not wearing a costume. He looks like a manager at a Bass Pro Shops.
So, Fabio and the rest of the riders are all set to go. And off they go for the two minutes and fifteen seconds ride. Now, according to reports, he hit the goose on the first drop. That means he had to ride a roller coaster, which is supposed to be fun and thrilling, with the knowledge that a bird just exploded on his face. That is not an enjoyable way to ride a roller coaster! It has to be incredibly uncomfortable, painful and disgusting. Plus, you know there are TV cameras and photographers waiting for you. That’s a lot to take in for the next minute and a half.
Then the ride ends and the assembled media and Busch Gardens workers see what’s rolling in on Apollo’s Chariot. Their bloodied Greek god with his harem behind him in white, all covered in blood. Now, imagine you are standing there and see this happening in real time. You’ve never seen someone go on a roller coaster come back with a blood-soaked face, so it’s not like you’re going to immediately deduce what happened and say, “Oh, he hit a goose.”
I mean, for the people waiting in that station, that had to be the biggest WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENS ON THIS RIDE?! moment. And for the people who work there who know that the ride does not normally include a face exploding part, what happened? Did he hit his face on the bar in front of him? Did one of the ladies put her arms up and mistakenly smash his nose? Does Fabio have a rare face-exploding condition when exposed to high speeds? Is there a paintball course nearby?
“Welcome back. Please remain seated until the ride has OH MY DEAR GOD!!!”
How there hasn’t been a Where Are They Now or podcast or oral history of this day, I will never know.
Look at the perfection in this photo. I want to know everything about everyone. When did they know a goose exploded on Fabio? How far back did the splatter go? Does the girl squinting in the second row know what happened? Because the girl directly behind Fabio sure looks like she knows what happened and it might be in her eyes or mouth. Of course the highlight of this photo (not counting Fabio) is the girl on the right who seems to be thrilled to meet Fabio. If you watch the video, you see she is doing her best to reassure him that everything is OK. She’s kind of the hero here, but in this photo, she just looks like she’s having the time of her life. Like, “Can you believe what luck? We hit a goose!”
And then there’s Fabio, who is just having that realization that all of these people are taking video and photos of him. It’s the sort of “oh, I’ve wasted my life” look on his face that kills me every time.
I don’t know why I think about this so often. But the combination of D-list celebrity, PR stunt, the fact that this almost never happens to anyone, and probably that they’re all wearing white. I mean, that’s really funny.
Again, RIP goose. And someone please make a movie about this day. Thank you.