Daredevils visiting Kansas City's Schlitterbahn Waterpark on June 26 will be able to experience the Verrückt, the world’s tallest water slide. Its name means “insane” in German, and the name was chosen with good reason. The slide towers 17 stories above Kansas City, Kansas, and at 170 feet tall, it's higher than Niagara Falls. USATODAY.com will be providing exclusive coverage online the morning of the grand opening, and this reporter will be there.
It takes a spiral climb of 264 steps to reach the 30-foot by 34-foot deck at its summit. Riders will plummet at highway speeds in a specially-designed inflatable raft until soaring skyward via a five-story arc that will challenge gravity and riders’ stomachs.Verrückt — Photo courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts
Yes, the ride is high. But is it really the tallest in the world? Well, on April 25, The Guinness Book of World Records declared the Verrückt water slide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City as the tallest water slide in the world, dethroning the more than 163-foot-tall Kilimanjaro at Aquas Quentes Country Club in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That slide clocks its riders doing 65 mph; Verrückt is expected to top that as well.
The Verrückt, under construction — Photo courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterpark
“I’ll go down it once, because I pretty much have to,” says Winter Prosapio, spokesperson for Schlitterbahn. “But I think that’ll be enough for my lifetime.”
The Verrückt is the brainchild of Jeff Henry, whose family owns Schlitterbahn Waterparks & Resorts. Henry is called the “Wizard of Water,” and he's no stranger to waterpark ride design. He owns several patents for innovations such as water surfing, uphill water coasters and lazy river inner tube rides. Henry improved upon his uphill water coaster patent to blast riders over the Verrückt’s final five-story arc.
View from the top of Verrückt — Photo courtesy of Schlitterbahn Water Park
Four riders will strap into an inflatable raft single-file, which Henry says makes the Verrückt a communal experience. This will help those who need some reassurance take the plunge with a support group. A net encloses the 601-foot fiberglass slide. While the ride may feel like an eternity to some, it’s expected to last all of 10 seconds before the raft is slowed in a splash zone to a safe stop. Riders must be at least 48 inches tall.
Bob and Billye Henry opened their first waterpark in the Hill Country of New Braunfels, Texas, in 1966. Wanting to honor the area’s German heritage, they named their park Schlitterbahn, a German word they coined that translates to “slippery road” in English.
Today, the family operates an additional three parks in South Padre Island, Galveston and Kansas City. A fifth park is slated to open in Corpus Christi. While the Texas locations will get Verrückt rides as well, none will be as tall as the Kansas City record-holder.
Watch this hilarious video about how to say "Verrückt."