Thursday, November 20, 2014

A New Vertical Looping Water Slide?!

I'm certain many of you know that IAAPA's annual Exposition started this past Tuesday and, like always, companies and businesses left and right are popping out new, innovative, and creative creations as well as announcing new installations coming to parks inside and outside of the United States.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions is an annual trade exposition comprising of most big-name companies and businesses from around the world to showcase their products for amusement parks, entertainment centers, arcades, and more to see and make possible purchases to install at their facilities. Many big behind-door deals and innovations are typically announced for the first time at this exposition every year, with this year being no exception for many companies.

One particular innovation I'd like to highlight comes from, no surprise here, the water park industry. This one comes from Avalanche Waterslides and Skyturtle Technologies, based out of Missouri and Iowa, who just announced something that seems will put water slides on a whole new level of thrills, with The Skycalibre slide!

The Skycalibre slide completely breaks boundaries on what typical water slides can do. It all starts with a capsule that a single rider is locked into. Next, the capsule is pushed into the enlosed flume and starts with a vertical plunge; and by vertical I mean a true 90 degree drop! After 45 feet of pure freefall, the slide pulls up and keeps going until it has completely encircled to create a real 30 foot tall vertical loop!

In The Loop podcast, hosted by Coaster Crew and Screamscape, were at IAAPA to speak with the president of Sky Turtle Technologies, Lance Fischer, about the slide.

Whenever I see the concept for the slide, I can't help but think of two things. One is the first water slide in recorded history to have a true vertical loop, the notorious Cannonball Loop that sparsely operated at Action Park in New Jersey. This slide didn't have a capsule to hold riders in, so if they didn't make it totally through the loop, they would flop onto the opposite side before sliding backwards. Secondly, it remind me of a concept I bumped into from the 1920's by two New York inventors who proposed a concept involving riders in a bullet-shaped car being shot out of a cannon and landing in a lake.

The slide looks pretty ambitious (and frankly, just plain scary!), but if Lance can ride his own creation 10 times and say he likes it, then I'm sure it's bound to turn the whole water park industry on their heads yet again!

Thanks to In The Loop podcast and Screamscape for covering much of the announcements and presentations coming from IAAPA Expo in Orlando, Florida.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kentucky Kingdom - Part 2 of 2

We covered the dry side of Kentucky Kingdom in the last part of the review. In this part, I'd like to focus on Kentucky Kingdom's water park, Hurricane Bay. If you would like to hear about the overall view of Kentucky Kingdom in the first part, please click here.

Hurricane Bay is a water park that is connected to Kentucky Kingdom amusement park and is free with paid admission. It consists of multiple slide complexes and various standalone water slides ranging from easy beginner slides to many thrilling slides. Hurricane Bay was added to the park in 1992, opening with the original Big Surf Wave pool and later on added the water slide complex Mt Slide Hai.

The water park's original lineup, after its renaming to Splashwater Kingdom and before it's 4 year dormancy, included a basic slide complex with three inner-tube slides and a body slide, a ProSlide Tornado, a ProSlide Hydromagnetic water coaster, a water playground, a kids splash area, and a wave pool. When Kentucky Kingdom reopened for the 2014 season, the water park was put back to the original Hurricane Bay name and doubled in size with many brand new water slides added to the still-standing lineup.

Starting with the original areas of the water park, Mt. Slide Hai is a water slide complex that houses four average water slides, three of which are inner tube slides and the fourth being a body slide. Two of the slides, Voodoo Express (orange) and Forbidden Passage (yellow), are pitch black inner-tube slides which wind and bend left and right in tight turns and multiple sudden dips before spitting riders out into a pool at the end. Conquistador canyon is a green inner-tube water slide that winds and bends much like the previous two slides, but is an open-roof flume which consists of wider turns. The last slide is Vanishing Falls, and it is a dark blue body slide that starts with a downward curve to the right before making a very quick s-bend curve and an extra large dip before launching riders into the pool shared by the previous three slides.

Tornado is the park's self-titled ProSlide Tornado brand water slide, implemented in 2005. The ride utilizes a yellow cloverleaf raft for three to four riders, and a circular green-wheel raft for two riders. It starts with a u-turn from the platform tower, then drops straight into the funnel element completing multiple oscillations up and down the wall, creating multiple zero-g moments before coming to a pool at the end. This slide is quite popular with park go'ers, and can often have a lengthy (and hidden) line to grab a raft.

Deluge is the water park's premier hydromagnetic water coaster built by ProSlide in 2007, which broke records for being the tallest, longest, and fastest hydromagnetic water coaster in America when it opened. Riders climb stairs to the top before boarding the four-person inline raft that would send them out into the flume via conveyor belt. After an initial u-turn, the raft goes down a large steep drop followed by a large LIM powered uphill section. The ride makes a right before changing to a leftward helix, then completes a second drop and upward section in the opposite direction of the first drop. The ride completes a right u-turn into two bunny hills, before performing a left u-turn into a small dip, and finishes onto a conveyor belt on an exit platform where riders disembark.

Deluge is an exciting water coaster. While it doesn't match to the intensity (or length) of a water coaster such as Wildebeest at Holiday World, it still stands out as quite the crowd pleaser, and is a must-ride for anyone visiting the water park.

In the lesser of thrills, Mega Wedgie is a ProSlide BulletBowl brand water slide located next to the park's Splash Zone water playground. After grabbing a single-person inner-tube and climbing to the top of the starting platform, riders coast into a tunnel, bank left, and enter a downward dip before turning right and being shot out into the bowl. They complete multiple revolutions around the perimeter of the bowl before reaching the center and exiting into a dip before splashing into a pool.

These were part of the original collection of slides and attractions along with the Castaway Creek lazy river, Big Surf wave pool, Splash Zone water playground, and Buccaneer Beach water playground. Following the park's 4-year dormancy, many new slides (all built by ProSlide) and new attractions were added to the lineup, and the water park was doubled in size! The new additions included two new speed slides, an inner-tube slide complex, and a family raft slide along with a new river and wave pool.

The most notable installation is the speed slide tower with two body slides attached, Deep Water Dive and Wave Runner. Wave Runner is a triple-dip body speed slide that starts about 66 feet up the tower. Riders push themselves off and descend down an initial slope, gradually picking up speeds while going over two large humps and receiving a bit of airtime on the last hump. Wave Runner is a surprisingly gentle water slide, considering its height and the speed riders pick up on the way down. Nevertheless, it's a fun slide, and is actually my favorite body slide in the park due to it relatively shorter height and the quicker-paced line for it.
One thing guests to the water park will pick up on is that Wave Runner is also known to serve as an excellent chicken-out slide for the next water slide far above it.

Imagine Summit Plummet at Walt Disney World's Blizzard Beach. Now, remove the ski-lift, remove the mountain, remove the snow, add one foot to the height, and add a drop capsule.

Deep Water Dive is a 70 degree drop capsule free-fall body slide that starts at the top of the tower, about 121 feet off of the ground. That extra foot above Summit Plummet's height puts it as the tallest body slide in North America, and (to my understanding) the tallest drop-capsule slide in the world. After riders ascend the stairs to the top of the tower (and after catching their breath... yes, it is a long way up!), riders get great views of the nearby airport, downtown Louisville in the distance, Churchill Downs, Cardinal football stadium, and many other parts of the Louisville area.

Riders step into a capsule, greeted by a female automated voice and heartbeats. After the capsule door shuts, another automated voice counts down from three, before the floor gives-way and the rider plummets through a wall of water and down the steep slope at very, very fast speeds. The slide gently levels out and riders come to a very smooth and spectacular stop in the shut-down lane, to where they then disembark.

The slide is quite intimidating to most riders, mostly because of its height and the drop capsule portion of the slide. Luckily it's a very smooth experience. The only discomfort one might get from the slide is the amount of water rushing past them, but it's usually a minor instance. Deep Water Dive is very re-rideable... if you're willing to make the trek back up the stairs!

Among the new slides the park received includes the Wikiwiki Wai inner-tube slide complex, which includes three ProSlide specialty slides. The first on the far right is the Kilawaya, which is an enclosed "Explosion Flume" style slide that completes three tight helixes in opposing directions before dumping riders into the pool at the end. The Explosion Flume sections are similar to WhiteWater West's Constrictor slide, where the radius of the tunnel widens for each 360 degree helix.

The center slide is a ProSlide CannonBOWL slide named Waikiki Wipeout. This slide is similar to Mega Wedgie, except larger and slightly faster. Riders come down a sloped drop gradually banking to the left before being shot out into the bowl to complete multiple revolutions around the inner perimeter. The slide ends with riders coming to the center and exiting down a small dip out of the bowl and into the pool at the end. The last slide that's on the far left is Calypso Run. This is a ProSlide Tornado 12 (Formerly known as a TopsyTurvy slide) and has 3 funnel sections along the flume. After the third funnel section, riders come into a fast helix before coming into the pool at the end.

All of these slides provide different experiences, though the favorite tends to be Calypso Run due to its slightly longer layout and the fact that the funnel sections can send a rider backwards.

Plummet Summit is the park's first circular raft family slide, and consists of multiple tight turns in a quick and compact course. I have yet to ride this slide myself so I can't speak about the experience, but I have noticed that riders tend to get high bankings on the walls of the flume due to the speedy and tight course!

The new Adventure River is similar to a lazy river, only instead of using inner-tubes riders use nearby pool noodles and floaters. The river flows around the expanded section of Hurricane Bay, and snakes its way directly under the park's two new speed slides Wave Runner and Deep Water Dive. Also the new Family Wave Lagoon is similar to the park's current wave pool, only it has smaller waves that can be enjoyed by smaller children thanks to the shallower water and smaller waves produced.

Almost similarly to the dry side of the park, there are some minor navigational issues when someone is trying to find your way to certain attractions. One good example is finding the entrance to Deluge, due to its location behind the wave pool and not having a completely clear route to it.

Hurricane Bay's new expanded form makes it something that must be experienced for any new visitors to the park. It's roughly half the size of the entire park on its own, and provides plenty of fun and thrilling slides for families and thrill seekers to enjoy. From the crowd-pleasers like Deluge and Tornado, to head-turners like Deep Water Dive, to family favorites like the Wikiwiki Wai slide, there's enough slides in the water park (combined with the rides in the dry section of the park) to make a visit to Kentucky Kingdom much more worth the price of admission.

Ratings for slides ridden (N/A= Unavailable):
Calypso Run: 8/10
Conquistador Canyon: 7/10
Deep Water Dive: 9/10
Deluge: 9.5/10
Forbidden Passage: 7/10
Kilawaya: 6/10
Mega Wedgie: 6.5/10
Plummet Summit: N/A
Tornado: N/A
Vanishing Falls: 7/10
Voodoo Express: 7/10
Waikiki Wipeout: 7/10
Wave Runner: 8/10

Overall Waterpark Rating: 8/10

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Double Looping Water Slides!

The company that pioneered the first aqualoop water slide, Aquarena, have taken the concept further by doing double-looping water slides! As far as I have learned, there are at least three double-looping slides in the world; each one in Europe.

The first is the most popular for being the first double-looping slide ever built. The L2 at Wörgler Wasserwelt in Wörgl, Austria.

The second is called Pegasus II and is located at Kristall Palm Beach in Stein, Germany.
The last one, the Hurricane Loop, is located at Miramar in Weinheim, Germany.
They all look pretty intense! Would you dare drop in on any one of these slides?!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Kentucky Kingdom - Part 1 of 2

I made a promise to post a review of Kentucky Kingdom's Hurricane Bay water park a long time ago, so I apologize for it being so belated... in fact, I'm positive that Kentucky Kingdom's season will have finally ended while I'm still typing up and proofing this review. Oh well, better late than never... I guess?

We'll get to a review of the water park in the second part (a separate post). I'd like to talk about the whole park (and the dry-side of the park) in general here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wet'n'Wild Las Vegas to Acquire First Slideboarding Technology Slide

Very recently, WhiteWater West announced that their newest sliding technology, Slideboarding, will be installed at Wet'n'Wild Las Vegas water park near Las Vegas, Nevada.

If you've never heard of Slideboarding, here's an excerpt from WhiteWater on the technology:

Slideboarding is a waterslide that integrates gaming, skill, edge, and competitive sports into an experience that will define waterparks of the future. Slideboarding builds on the thrills of waterpark fun and adds in gaming in the same way we love to play today. It’s a waterslide that uses a state-of-the art ride vehicle with an S3 embedded game controller that when combined creates what we call a Slideboard. It uses a smart gaming system that knows who you are and tracks your progress/scores over your run down the waterslide as well as multiple runs thereafter.

Basically, it's to combine video games with a water slide. It practically adds a whole new form of experience for a slide, bringing them from being less passive as attractions. Following the announcement, WhiteWater also released a video of people sampling it on another slide that was possibly retrofitted to include the new technology.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

2014 Golden Ticket Awards

Amusement Today held their annual Golden Ticket Awards ceremony last night at SeaWorld San Diego. The Golden Ticket Awards, in case you didn't know, is an annual awards show for the best parks and rides nominated by chosen "amusement park experts" located around the world. Think of it like the Oscar Academy Awards, but for amusement parks! Categories include best amusement park, best water park, best steel/wooden coaster, best new ride of 2014 (amusement/water park), and more.

Here are the winners in the water park categories:
  • Best Water Park: Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas
  • Best Waterpark Ride: Wildebeest at Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
  • Best New Ride of 2014 - Water Park: Verrückt, Schlitterbahn Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Best Indoor Waterpark: Schlitterbahn Galveston Island, Galveston, Texas