‘Cannonball’: Inside 5 of the Thrill Rides on Summer’s Craziest Show

Cannonball Thrill Rides Preview
Eddy Chen/USA Network

Don’t try this at home! Summer’s craziest show may come with the standard warning, but the stunts on Cannonball are so insane, your pool would never cut it anyway.

To adapt the international hit for America, the competition’s producers built an extreme water park, dubbed Cannonball Bay, on L.A.’s man-made Hansen Dam Recreation Lake. Its 7-story-tall slide (where six of the challenges begin) sends contestants airborne at speeds up to 80 mph.

“We wanted to go higher, we wanted to go faster, we wanted everything to be a little bit more intense,” explains Keith Geller, executive producer for ITV Entertainment.

In each episode, 12 contestants are whittled down to one $10,000 winner—and every challenge they face has been seriously tested, first by the show’s pros, then by “realies” (family and friends), for its wow factor and for laughs. “Where competition meets slapstick, that truly makes a great Cannonball challenge,” Geller says.

Here, he and the hosts, WWE star Mike “The Miz” Mizanin and former 106 & Park emcee Rocsi Diaz, take us inside five of their favorite thrill rides.

Cannonball, Series Premiere, Thursday, July 9, 8/7c, USA

Cannonball Hurdle Jump
Eddy Chen/USA Network

Need for Speed

In “Hurdle Jump,” contestants launch from the 70-foot Megaslide and are judged by how far they soar in the air before hitting the water (supersize inflatables below get in their way). As a first-round challenge, it’s no small feat for acrophobes.

“We had great triumphs where people were in tears, and they finally faced their fear and were so happy,” Mizanin says. (Some did opt out of later challenges, mainly “The Cannon.”)

Cannonball The Cannon
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Fire in the Hole

Of the series’ 18 challenges, only one appears in every episode: “The Cannon.” Finalists come down the Megaslide—souped up to be longer and steeper than usual—through a smoky, pitch-black exit and take flight. Maximum height and total distance are added together for their score.

“It’s not that you’re doing a cannonball; it’s that you are the cannonball,” Geller says. “It’s the perfect fun and ridiculous ending.”

Cannonball Fly Ball
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Shock and guffaw

Net as many balls as you can? “Fly Ball” sounds easy—but you have to do it in midair. Players start lying on a giant raft (“air blaster,” in show lingo), waiting for a 500-lb. cannonball to drop from a tower and propel them skyward.

“The tension in people’s faces before, the screams on the way up,” Diaz recalls with a laugh. “The funniest part about every challenge is they really, really think they’re going to be able to stick to their game plan.”

Cannonball Surfrider
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Blue Crush

Geller recalls the staffer who pitched “Surfrider” by pretending to hang 10 on top of his desk and asking, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to do this 30 feet in the air?” From a 4-story-high landing, contestants leap onto a board suspended from a zip line and try to ride it across the water.

Says Diaz: “You’re going to get your belly flop. You’re going to get face plants. You’re going to have tushies that are red.”

Cannonball Blast Off
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Swing Time

In the timed challenge “Blast Off,” contestants cling to a firehose whose water pressure can reach 70 mph. Mizanin loves this one most because its slow start is deceptive.

“[Players] get cocky. They talk smack to me and Rocsi. They wave at people. But once it [truly] starts going, that sucker whips them left, right, upside down and around 360,” he says. “It shuts them up real quick.”