Aquatica Orlando’s newest attraction, Ray Rush, is not like your typical family raft ride. Forget tame. This ride is full of thrills without being too scary for even the youngest park-goers.
The water slide officially opened over the weekend, and I was invited to preview it with my teenage daughter. AllEars.Net has been following the progress of this attraction, which replaced Hooroo Run.
Ray Rush shares the same tower — and 60 feet of stairs — as Walhalla Wave, another family ride. (Walhalla Wave had been closed during Ray Rush construction and is now open, as well.) The tower is adjacent to the large children’s splash area, Walkabout Waters. Guests who want to set up their home bases for the day in this area will find 200 new lounge chairs. Plus, lockers and bathrooms are conveniently located right next to the queue entrance.
The queue for Ray Rush winds under the serpentine tube slide and is somewhat shaded by the ride and lush tropical foliage. Once riders conquer the stairs — which probably won’t seem as bad when you’re inching forward in the line rather than trying to hurry up them as we did — they will step onto a platform where a hidden scale weighs each group of riders. Ray Rush requires a minimum of two riders and no more than four, and the total weight cannot exceed 700 pounds. (Don’t worry: If the weight limit is exceeded, only the ride operator sees a red light flash and then adjustments are made without embarrassment to guests.)
Guests are then asked to sit in the circular raft with their legs crossed, and handles are within grasp on the lip and floor of the tube. The tube launches down a short drop and is propelled forward with the Master Blaster feature, which encompasses many powerful jets of water. Most of the ride keeps the raft inside a closed tube, but it’s not boring at all. Riders will see shapes of manta rays and rings in translucent sections of the tubing.
Ray Rush features a combination of three special elements, which make the attraction a first in Florida. The first of these elements is a giant AquaSphere, an enclosed globe that looks like an oversized version of a hamster trail toy, if you will. Inside it, we washed up against the sides when it was just the two of us. When a friend joined our raft, we really flew around. On that second voyage, I got a surprise when a huge shot of water doused me in the face while I was sitting backward in the raft.
Next, it was on to the most thrilling element of Ray Rush: the halfpipe that was designed to look like a Manta ray’s wings (and hence the name of the ride). In this area, the raft soars up high on the halfpipe multiple times. When we first launched out of the tube and into the halfpipe, I was nervous about how close I felt to the side of the ride but the thrill was enough to overpower my fleeting concern. This area of the ride gives visitors that hang-time feeling, and those on the ground are likely to hear lots of delighted screams. It certainly felt like we traveled higher on the halfpipe with more people in our raft.
From the halfpipe we descended back into a closed tube for a straightaway run to the splashdown. This is where the natural daylight comes through on the translucent rings and gives riders a feeling of acceleration, which is the final special element.
My 13-year-old daughter who has never met a thrill ride she didn’t like really enjoyed this ride. Of course, she loved the halfpipe, but she said she also like the little details like the manta ray shapes in the translucuent tubing. The best part, she said, was that there are jets and sprays throughout the entire slide, which means riders are continuously getting wet.
The height requirement for Ray Rush is 42 inches, which means the ride is quite family friendly.
While we were at Aquatica, I noticed a few new pieces of merchandise with the Ray Rush logo. The restaurants and snack stands carry the reusable cups, which are $10.99 and include free refills on the day of purchase. These cups can be used at SeaWorld Orlando, too. Ray Rush also is represented in the Aquatica 10th anniversary merchandise: T-shirts, mugs, tumblers and magnets.
DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando for a preview of its Ray Rush attraction. This did not affect my review; my opinions are my own.