Orlando, arguably the thrill ride capital, has a couple of new weapons in its water slide arsenal this summer – which is perfect, since either will aid adrenaline junkies with a hankering to keep cool in the season’s blistering heat. And both engender some friendly competition of sorts between riders.
At Wet ‘n' Wild Orlando, the family-friendly Aqua Drag Racer is a colorful and refreshing six-story plunge to the watery finish line. With four lanes, daredevils at least 42” tall line up in the chutes, pitted against one another as they scream through twisty tunnels – choose red, yellow, blue or black - at roughly 15 feet per second before the sky opens up overhead. The water slide features a couple of impressive inclines, finishing up with a dramatic plummet toward the end of the line.
Friends and family compete for bragging rights on the Aqua Drag Racer at Orlando's Wet 'n' Wild water park — Photo courtesy of Wet 'n' Wild Orlando
Those familiar with the park will note that this new ride replaces the Bubba Tub, a multi-rider raft slide. The Aqua Drag Racer provides a decided uptick in adrenaline.
Single-day admission to Wet ‘n' Wild ranges from $36 to $56; usually June through December, the park offers half-price admission for afternoon tickets.
Meanwhile, theme park geneticists who have fantasized about splicing some of the industry’s more stomach-flipping plunges (Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Disney’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror come to mind.) will likely find favor with Aquatica’s newest addition - Ihu’s Breakaway Falls - the tallest, steepest, longest and only multi-drop ride of its kind in Orlando.
Daredevils on Ihu's Breakaway Falls endure an excruciating wait before the floor drops out beneath them — Photo courtesy of Aquatica
One part water slide, one part free fall ride, it’s a creation only a Bond villain could imagine – an eight-story plunge that leaves three of four riders at the mercy of the operator, who decides which of them gets released from the breakaway box first. Breakaway. As in, you're "standing on a trap door.”
The clear plastic of each holding cell allows for gut-wrenching commiseration via eye contact as they await the inevitable. While each slide differs in ride and intensity – freefalls range from 27 to 40 feet – each is an undeniable doozy. Riders plummet at an 80-degree angle, falling about 20 feet per second; 360-degree spirals await. A fourth slide offers an “introductory” experience; there’s no breakaway box.
This one, clearly, is not for the faint of heart. Riders must be at least 48” tall (and willing to make the 126-stair climb) to test their mettle.
Single-day admission to Aquatica (where the Loggerhead Lane lazy river ride will be a welcome respite after conquering Ihu’s Breakaway falls) ranges from $28 to $51.