Southern California’s first water coaster will debut this summer at Raging Waters water park in San Dimas - and it’s about time.
The 1,000-foot-long Aqua Rocket hydromagnetic water coaster will accelerate up three “rocket incline zones” that propel raft riders over whoop-de-do hills and down drops at 30 mph.
A water coaster is a water park slide that mimics the ups and downs of a traditional roller coaster with the help of magnetic propulsion.
Linear induction motors use magnetic fields to push metal plates in the bottom of four-person toboggan-style bobsled rafts over an undulating course.
Designed by ProSlide of Ontario, Canada, the Aqua Rocket will be built on unused land adjacent to Raging Waters’ front parking lot.
In production for more than two decades, water coasters have been installed at water parks around the world and across the United States - just not in Southern California.
Debuting in 1994, the Master Blaster at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas, was the world's first water coaster and winner of Amusement Today's Golden Ticket award for best water ride for a decade.
Walt Disney World's Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando, Fla., the most visited water park in the world, opened the Crush 'n' Gusher water coaster in 2005.
Around the world, water coasters are spreading rapidly with installations in China, Singapore, Ukraine, South Korea, Australia, England and the United Arab Emirates. Wild Wadi water park in Dubai features eight (yes, eight) water coasters.
In the United States, there are still only about two dozen water coasters at water parks big and small in places like Massachusetts, Texas, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kansas and New York.
The thrill slide concept remains a rarity west of the Rockies, though.
The closest water coasters to Southern California are still a day's drive away in Colorado (Water World), Arizona (Wet 'n Wild) and Northern California (Golfland SunSplash). The newest of those, the $4.5-million Mile High Flyer by ProSlide, opened at Denver's Water World in 2012.
Southern California has been long overdue for a water coaster.
Wild Rivers is expected to reopen with a Master Blaster water coaster built by WhiteWater West, but the former Irvine water park is still looking to secure a new location.
The oft-delayed Great Wolf Lodge, planned about a mile from Disneyland in Garden Grove, is expected to be the largest property in the chain of indoor water park resorts. While the California location has yet to divulge a full slide list, a Great Wolf Lodge next to Kings Island amusement park in Ohio features a water coaster.
The new Raging Waters hydromagnetic slide may portend good news for other water parks operated by Newport Beach-based Palace Entertainment.
Could a water coaster be in the future plans for the Raging Waters parks located in San Jose and Sacramento or Idlewild’s Soak Zone water park in Pennsylvania? Only time will tell.