The race is on to make a splash on International Drive this summer.
On Tuesday, Orlando’s original water park on the north side of International Drive announced a new waterslide would race into Wet 'n Wild in time for summer. Meantime, in the final months of 2013, Aquatica on the southern end of International Drive began dropping hints of a new attraction in 2014.
Wet n’ Wild’s new "Aqua Drag Racer" will stand about 60 feet tall and give park guests the chance to race each other through interlocking tunnels and down steep hills, while riding face-first on their stomachs atop a foam mat. The experience can be compared to the Olympic sport of skeleton, minus the ice.
The new multi-colored ride will send four passengers through dark tunnels while traveling at 15 feet per second before re-emerging in the sunshine and crossing a finish line.
Ashley Reyes with Wet ‘n Wild told News 13 the Aqua Drag Racer will have a clock at the bottom of the slide’s run out, keeping track of riders race times.
“We are known for multi-person attractions,” Reyes said Wet 'n Wild’s collection of waterslides. “This is great because it gives you another ride to experience together as a family.”
In order to make room for Aqua Drag Racer, Wet 'n Wild will retire the Bubba Tub family raft ride. The attraction that first opened in 1992 places passengers in a circular inflatable raft and sends them down a series of hills. Reyes said the old slide is not being sold to another water park and pieces will be scrapped. However, Bubba Tub’s legacy near Wet 'n Wild’s wave pool will empower the new Aqua Drag Racer. Some of Bubba Tub’s plumbing and support infrastructure will be reused for Aqua Drag Racer. “Installation should be easy,” Reyes said of the construction not far from the park’s front gate. That was not the case in 2012, when Wet n' Wild overhauled their childrens area. Reyes called that construction project two years ago, "much more complicated." An access gate close to the construction site will provide work crews with entry into the area while Wet ‘n Wild is open to visitors this spring.
Canadian waterside manufacturer ProSlide will supply the ride. ProSlide dubs the model headed to Wet 'n Wild as a KrakenRACER. Reyes said Wet 'n Wild’s Senior Vice President and General Manager Michael Black worked closely with ProSlide to create a version of the mat racer slide that will be unique to the Orlando market.
“The new Aqua Drag Racer will pull guests into a high-speed thrill ride unlike any other around,” Black wrote in a prepared statement.
Both SeaWorld’s Aquatica and Walt Disney World’s Blizzard Beach feature mat slides, where riders also lay down on their stomachs on a foam mat in a race to the bottom. The concept is set to evolve with the introduction of the KrakenRACER at Wet 'n Wild by adding enclosed lanes that are “braided." The enclosed portion of the flume twists over the top of the flume next to it.
A rider height limit on Aqua Drag Racer has not been announced yet.
Aquatica’s Taumata Racer slide requires riders to be least 42" tall.
Blizzard Beach’s Toboggan Racers can be experienced by adults and children of any height, according to Blizzard Beach’s web site.
Meanwhile, Riptide at Adventure Island, Busch Gardens' water park in Tampa, requres riders to be at least "42 tall and less than 300 lbs.
Like Wet 'n Wild, Adventure Island will also offer Florida residents a multi-day use ticket good for every day in 2014.
Adventure Island announced the sale of a Fun Card ticket on Tuesday. Starting March 8, visitors to Busch Gardens' water park in Tampa will be able to pay for one day and return through Oct. 12, 2014 for free. The Adventure Island Fun Card will cost $47 for adults and $43 children (yet the cost does not include parking fees upon each visit).
Wet 'n Wild’s Buy a Day, Get the Rest of the Year Free pass will cost an adult or child $51 for entry through Dec. 31, 2014. The price does not include parking fees.
Aquatica also offers an annual pass for $96, good for 365 days of use with complimentary general parking included.
What Aquatica has yet to announce: what is rising at SeaWorld’s water park in 2014. The park hinted in 2013 a new drop ride would be built in the coming months. The social media hashtag #NothingTaller was used by SeaWorld when teasing the new attraction.
SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment debuted a drop slide named Vanish Point at Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Va. in 2011.
The newest Aquatica-branded park in San Diego, Calif. has already announced the addition of their own version of the Taumata Racer mat slide in 2014. The California park opened in 2013, after SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment purchased the park from Ohio-based Cedar Fair, L.P. in 2012, where the water park formerly was known as Soak City San Diego.
Aqua Drag Racer
(65.9 feet tall)
15 feet per second
KrakenRACER Mat Slide
South of wave pool, across from front gate
Bubba Tub built in 1992