Launch - Summer Splash - October 2018


The tower of Adventure Island’s “Colossal Curl” was engineered in 2015 to hold “Vanish Point’s” loading deck when the park was ready to add a new attraction. (Credit: SeaWorld Entertainment)

Three SeaWorld Parks Add Water Slides

by Scott Fais

“Just add water” was the theme flowing across four SeaWorld Entertainment parks this summer, as three debuted new water slides. 

‘Vanish Point’

At Adventure Island in Tampa, Florida, “Vanish Point” tests parkgoers’ bravery with a pair of 425-foot-long liquid labyrinths. Two ProSlide SkyBoxes dare riders to enter a vertical chamber and anxiously wait for the floor to drop out from under them. Sound effects of a racing heartbeat add to the angst before the floor of the chamber retracts. 

“When that floor drops out, everybody jumps, screams, and clinches,” says Andrew Schaffer with Busch Gardens Tampa’s engineering team.

Those who are too faint of heart and opt not to “vow to vanish” (the new slide’s slogan) can watch the reaction of riders as the floor drops on two monitors at the base of the ride. Video of the plunge is rebroadcast in slow motion, allowing non-riders to savor their decision, as they watch riders’ honest reactions moments after their experience.


The signature element of “Ray Rush” sends riders into a half-pipe, where they slide back and forth. (Credit: SeaWorld Entertainment)

‘Ray Rush’

In Orlando, Aquatica’s new “Ray Rush” multielement slide from WhiteWater takes three concepts and fuses them together. Four riders sit in a round raft as they first encounter a Master Blaster, where powerful water jets launch rafts up a chute nearly 60 feet above ground level. Next, an enclosed tunnel leads to a giant translucent sphere. Inside, rafts slosh back and forth before descending into the attraction’s signature element, an open-air half-pipe. There, gravity takes over as rafts navigate the element by sliding up and down the half-pipe walls.

“It’s a really neat element that is not only fun to ride but also to watch,” says Brian Andrelczyk with SeaWorld Orlando’s engineering department.

The half-pipe on “Ray Rush” appears almost as a piece of modern sculpture, reminiscent of a swimming cownose ray. When leaving the half-pipe, riders traverse an enclosed tunnel with translucent gliding rays painted on the ceiling, artistically generating a sense of speed. Upon exiting the tunnel, riders pass under a waterfall, leading to a final splashdown pool.

Both of SeaWorld’s water parks in Florida placed their new slides on existing slide towers. Orlando’s “Ray Rush” replaced a short slide in a quiet corner of the park, while maintaining the original ride’s stairs, utilities tower, and dispatch platform. In Tampa, the “Colossal Curl” slide added in 2015 was built with a 2018 addition in mind. 

“ProSlide helped us with the design of the structure. We planned for the addition in 2015 that we would add new slides in the future but built the tower then to accommodate it in the future,” Schaffer says.


On the start tower of “Vanish Point,” riders have their expressions captured for guests on the ground to view on video screens. (Credit: SeaWorld Entertainment)

The same 70-foot-tall support tower, a guest staircase, and utilities for “Colossal Curl” also serve the new “Vanish Point.” 

By planning ahead, Adventure Island was able to save on the cost of building a new attraction totally from scratch. Meanwhile, Aquatica was able to install a marketable new family ride with a 42-inch rider height requirement without needing to add completely new infrastructure for “Ray Rush.”

“We’re really proud of how we took three different WhiteWater concepts and brought them together to create a new thrill for families. You can ride over and over and have a different experience,” Andrelczyk says.

‘Taumata Racer’

“Taumata Racer” at Aquatica in San Antonio, Texas, brings out the competitive spirit.

Named after a famous hill in New Zealand, the new Whizzard water slide model from WhiteWater allows six riders at a time to zoom headfirst on foam mats through a dark entry tunnel. Upon exiting the tunnel, the six riders align parallel to one another in lanes that lead to a splashy finish line. Like a sporting event, the ending of “Taumata Racer” is always different, thus giving riders the chance to challenge competitors to another race.