SeaWorld San Antonio next year will open what it is calling the world's first launched flume coaster.
Catapult Falls will launch eight-person boats at 30 feet per second (doing the math, that's about 20 mph) up a crossover and into a splashdown before turning toward a 55-foot vertical elevator lift that will dump riders down a record-setting 53-degree drop, after which they will hit the ride's second splashdown at about 37 mph.
"Catapult Falls will be the perfect addition to our already fantastic line up of family rides," SeaWorld San Antonio President Byron Surrett said. "Not only will it provide thrills for those wanting the exhilaration of a coaster-type ride, but being a water ride, it will give guests one more way to cool down in the hot Texas temperatures. It will be the perfect family adventure ride."
SeaWorld also is calling Catapult Falls "North America's first vertical lift flume coaster," which splits more hairs than a Marine Corps barber on the first day of basic training. Sister park SeaWorld San Diego's 2004 Journey to Atlantis features an elevator lift, yet SeaWorld hasn't used the specific term "flume coaster" for it, so there's that hair split. Now if we are talking about water attractions that use only a flume rather than a track to guide their ride vehicles, Holiday World's old Pilgrims Plunge flume ride, later Giraffica, featured an elevator lift for its 10-person boats. But those boats never went up again after going down on the ride, so perhaps that's enough to DQ it as a "flume coaster" and split our next hair.
Regardless, an elevator lift on a water ride is hardly a novel experience at this point (see also SeaWorld Orlando's Infinity Falls and Silver Dollar City's Mystic River Falls). Nor is a launch. (That's pretty the defining element of a water coaster at this point, isn't it?) But the combination of a water launch and a vertical lift on one ride? Okay, let's give SeaWorld San Antonio that as a unique combination among major American theme parks.
Catapult Falls will open in 2023.
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