Theme Park Insider does not typically cover water parks, but they are growing in popularity, sophistication, and the level of attention to theming and storytelling. As a contributor to Theme Park Insider and a member of the Busch Gardens Ambassador Blogger program, I was invited to attend the media event and ribbon cutting for Water Country USA’s newest waterslide, Colossal Curl. As a member of the Busch Gardens Blogger Ambassadors, I receive special access and perks for events such as this, but my opinions presented on Theme Park Insider are my own. The Williamsburg water park’s newest addition is located right at the front of the park, and is billed as the park’s first "family thrill" attraction. The 67.5-foot tall attraction is the only slide in North America to feature both a funnel feature and wave/half-pipe element.
Riders boarding the slide’s clover-leaf shaped 4-person rafts climb 108 steps to the summit and situate themselves facing each other, similar to many "tornado" style slides. Guests must be at least 48 inches tall to ride the slide, which stretches the definition of what many would consider a "family" attraction, and single riders are not permitted. Before sitting down in the raft, groups of guests are weighed together to ensure the 700-pound capacity is not exceeded. That probably means four average-sized adults will probably not be able to ride together. Since the scale is at the top of the tower, it may create a bit of embarrassment for some groups where one rider may get left at the top searching for a group of strangers to ride with them. The scale may also create extremely long waits for the slide as groups of three or four that might think they can ride together are forced to split up at the last minute after a long wait and climb up the tower.
Once on the slide, though, the ride is definitely one of a kind. The slide starts out with a gentle decent into the funnel where the raft sloshes back and forth in the 24-foot diameter element. I’ve never been a huge fan of funnels, since it is anticlimactic waiting for the raft to lose enough momentum to progress further down the slide. On Colossal Curl, the relatively small funnel (compared to standard "tornado" style slides) means the raft sloshes back and forth just 2 or 3 times before moving down the slide.
The next section of the slide features a waterfall and an enclosed tube with a couple of relatively gentle turns. The opaque nature of the enclosed slide allows light to penetrate allowing guests to see each other as they get ready for the best part of the ride.
Before leaving the enclosed slide, the tube plunges down at a 45-degree angle, causing the raft to pick up speed for the climax of the ride. The 40-foot high wave feature propels the raft up a near-vertical wall for an out-of-your-seat experience. Other half-pipe slides have decent zero-g sensations, but rarely do you feel like you’re going to fly off the raft. That’s not the case on Colossal Curl, where the instruction for guests to continuously hold the raft handles should be heeded. The wave feature is truly thrilling, but unfortunately it is over quickly, as the raft then shoots down into another enclosed slide, through a final waterfall, and into the splash pool/unload area.
Colossal Curl is a good addition to Water Country USA, where most of the raft-based water slides are either open or enclosed slides with low and high speed turns and mild drops. Combining the funnel feature with the wave/half-pipe feature creates an experience that’s not like anything else in the park. However, there are some drawbacks. Like most multi-person waterslide attractions, the lines will grow quickly and move slowly. The scale on the top platform could be a bit intimidating to some families and groups that don’t want to disclose their weight to friends and family, and could end up splitting groups that initially thought they could ride together. However, the biggest problem is that the 48" height requirement is not conducive to many families with preschoolers or first graders. What’s worse is that a family of three with a child under 48" cannot even parent swap because the slide prohibits riding solo. I’m sure single riders could be accommodated with other groups when reaching the top of the stairs, but something billed as a "family attraction" with a splash pool that is barely knee deep should be able to accommodate the entire family, except infants and toddlers of course. However, those that are able to experience this attraction should be thrilled, particularly by the wave/half-pipe element. Colossal Curl opens just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend, and will be a must experience slide for any guest spending time at Water Country USA.Tweet
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