On Thursday, AllEars.Net was invited to go behind the construction walls at SeaWorld Orlando’s water park, Aquatica, and see the progress of its newest water slide, Ray Rush, which is nearing completion.
David Heaton, vice president of Aquatica, spoke with members of the media about the new attraction. Here’s what we know so far:
What makes Ray Rush different from other water park attractions in Orlando?
“There are three unique elements to Ray Rush. The first starts at the top of the tower and it’s what we call the Master Blaster feature. As soon as the riders are dispatched from the top of the tower, it will give them that sudden burst of acceleration as they go down the slide,” he said.
“Once they [get going] through the serpentine slide and into the next unique element — the 12,000-pound AquaSphere — riders will slide and oscillate on the inside of the walls of this sphere and there are some elements inside the sphere to create a misty, fog effect.
“From that point, riders will transition to the next part of the slide making their way down to the third unique feature, which really is where the inspiration for the ride’s name came from — a halfpipe that resembles the shape of a giant manta ray. They will come shooting out of this 10-foot-diameter funnel down into the halfpipe and then slide up and down the walls of the halfpipe.
“The final part of the slide has some other unique features. You’ll see some lighter colored stripes on the fiberglass as you move down. Those are actually translucent rings that allow natural daylight to come in, so you have this feeling of pure acceleration as the rings get smaller and smaller. These three features have not been used on a slide in the state of Florida before. We’re really excited to combine these three elements into one great, thrilling attraction for our guests.”
How would you rate the thrill factor on Ray Rush?
“I hate to rate it before I get to ride it, but with the halfpipe element, the oscillations in the sphere, the dynamics in the slide itself — it’s a very serpentine slide as you can see with all the turning as you come down — it’s got to be in the 8 to 10 range [out of 10],” Heaton said. “With the 42-inch height requirement, it really will be accessible for our families.”
How long is Ray Rush?
Guests will slide, splash and soar down 508 feet.
How many guests can ride Ray Rush at the same time?
Each raft can accommodate two to four people with a maximum total weight of 700 pounds. There actually is a scale built flush with the pavement of the tower that riders will step onto before boarding their raft. If the total weight is more than 700 pounds, a red light will flash. Otherwise, the group gets a green light.
What ages of children will this ride appeal to?
“It’s a good ride for younger kids who are still a little nervous about riding some of those taller water slides,” he said. “I’m the father of two girls, ages 9 and 5. When they come to Aquatica, sometimes they are a little apprehensive about riding some of the taller rides, but the fact that this is a family ride where mom and dad can ride with the kids, I think that takes some of the anxiety out for them.”
What will the queue be like?
The queue is not built yet, but it will contain manta ray theming and will wind under the actual ride, leading to the tower steps. (The tower is 60 feet tall.) An additional 200 reclining chairs will be added to the area around Ray Rush and Walhalla Wave (the other family raft ride that shares the same tower) for guests.
Is the water going to be heated?
Yes, all of Aquatica’s pools are heated to 82 degrees.
When can we ride Ray Rush?
Later this spring. Aquatica officials are not yet ready to announce an opening date.