River rapids ride

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Piraña at Efteling in the Netherlands

A river rapids ride (or river rafting ride) is an amusement ride that simulates whitewater rafting.

History[edit]

The river rapids ride concept was proposed by Bill Crandall (general manager of AstroWorld in Houston) and developed by Intamin. AstroWorld introduced the world's first river rapids ride, Thunder River, in 1980 and popularized a concept which can now be found at most major amusement parks. Despite being an incredibly popular attraction, AstroWorld's Thunder River (being a prototype) was initially plagued by issues that were corrected in the first few seasons of operation. The boat bumpers were re-designed, portions of the wide river channel were narrowed or barricaded to prevent boats from bottle-necking or getting caught in a backflow, and a planned whirlpool effect was scrapped.

Construction[edit]

Many modern river rapids rides feature a much narrower river channel as well as smaller boats (6 seats as opposed to 12 seats). Some are heavily themed, while others may present a natural setting for added realism. Multiple manufacturers have introduced new elements to the rapids ride concept: a vertical lift system, shoot the chute-style drops, and a whirlpool feature.

River rapids rides feature circular rafts with two main components: the fiberglass body in which passengers are seated and the rubber ring upon which the body is secured. The rubber ring provides buoyancy as well as shock absorption for when rafts collide with an obstacle during the course of the ride or with each other. Most rafts hold between six and twelve passengers, seated in groups of two or three depending on the manufacturer of the ride. Riders face toward center of the boat and are usually secured by a lap belt. Some rafts feature a circular metal bar in the middle of the raft; this gives passengers a place to grip or brace their feet. Some parks include a space for stowing small items in the center. The floor of the raft body is generally above water level to allow drainage. Most parks require riders to be 36 inches or taller.

Congo River Rapids in the Katanga Canyon area of Alton Towers.

Generally, the station starts at the highest point on the ride, with the river channel having a slight gradient to it for the remainder of the ride. A lift hill then brings the boats back up to station level at the end of the ride. This is usually also the point where the ride's main pumps are housed, bringing the water up from the low point and back up to the high point. The gradient on the river channel provides the water with its flow and pace. This also has the interesting side effect such that when the ride's pumps are switched off at the end of operation or in an emergency, the water naturally flows back to the end of the ride where it collects, leaving the majority of the ride's river channel empty and drained until the pumps are turned back on. All Intamin permanent (and most other) river rapids rides feature a connected lake of some sort at the end of the ride before the lift hill. This is sometimes used to store broken boats. Its main purpose, however, is to help store the large amounts of water that collect at the end of the ride (before the lift hill) once the ride's main pumps are turned off. This is the water that would have been circulating around the ride when it is in operation. When observed, you can usually see the height difference in the water level in this lake from when the rides pumps are turned on, to when they are turned off. This effect is usually less noticeable if an already existing larger lake is used for the ride's water storage. Generally, a longer rapids ride will need a larger lake, as there will be more water to store once the ride's pumps have been turned off. Depending on the size and length of the river rapids ride, it can take up to 15 minutes to fill the ride's channel up from empty once the pumps have been switched on.

The flowing water makes its way over wooden logs or plastic tubes strapped to the base of the river channel, which disrupt the smooth flow of the water, thus providing the ride with its 'rapids'. Most river rapid rides also feature a wave section, where the river channel widens and a wave machine creates waves at a 90 degree angle to the flow of the water and the boats. Rocks are also sometimes bolted to the base of the river channel on metal frames, which helps create a more natural rapids feel.

There are generally two types of river rapids ride stations: those with conveyor belts and those with turntables. Those with conveyor belts are able to lift the raft completely out of the stream of water (usually as an extension of the lift hill at the end of the ride) and advance it to various points in the station to allow passengers to enter and exit via raised straight platforms on either side of the conveyors. Stations that utilize a turntable allow the raft to stay in the stream of water as the turntable continuously revolves, with the rafts wedged between the turntable and a curved surface so that the rafts move at the same speed as the turntable (and not at the same speed as the water). When they reach a certain point around the turntable, the rafts become un-wedged and are released in relatively even intervals to traverse the course.

Ride layout[edit]

Thunder River Rapids Ride drained for maintenance showing the system that generates the rapids effect

After leaving the station, the raft will enter relatively calm waters. After travelling a safe distance (usually 5–15 metres), the raft will enter more turbulent waters. Usually rapids are made by the amusement park having large cylinder tubes underneath the water. The bigger the tube, the bigger the rapids. Along with the rapids, there are often waterfalls.

Finally, there may be pressurized water jets. An automated system may spray streams of water through a nozzle directed toward a passing raft, or on other rides, large amounts of water may shoot from a jet or cannon, often pointed upward so that the falling water will douse riders. Some parks (for instance, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay), have coin-operated water jets and cannons so that passersby can pay to attempt to soak riders.

Safety incidents[edit]

On 25 October 2016, a malfunction of the Thunder River Rapids Ride at Dreamworld in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, resulted in the deaths of four people. Two were ejected from the ride and two were trapped in the conveyor belt under it.[1][2] River rapids rides have also had accidents at a number of other theme parks.[3]

On 9 May 2017, an 11-year-old girl, Evha Jannath fell into the water on the Splash Canyon Ride at Drayton Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire, England at around 2:20pm. She was airlifted to Birmingham Children's Hospital but died later in the hospital due to the extent of her injuries. The park was closed from 10−12 May to allow the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to complete their work. The park said this was a mark of respect for her family.

Notable manufacturers[edit]

Installations[edit]

Name Park Location Manufacturer Opened Status
Unknown Haikou Tropical Ocean World China China Hopkins Rides Unknown Operating
Unknown Qingdao International Beer City China China Hopkins Rides 1998 Removed
Unknown Ratanga Junction South Africa South Africa Unknown Unknown Removed
ACME Rápidos Parque Warner Madrid Spain Spain Intamin 2002 Operating
Airship Surfing Guilin Merryland Theme Park China China Hopkins Rides 1997 Operating
Alpin-Rafting Ravensburger Spieleland Germany Germany Intamin 2006 Operating
Amazone Express Everland South Korea South Korea Unknown Unknown Operating
Apache Falls Gulliver's Warrington United Kingdom United Kingdom Unknown 2016 Operating
Aqua Ride Sea Paradise Japan Japan Intamin 1992 Operating
Arung Jeram Dunia Fantasi Indonesia Indonesia Hopkins Rides 1993 Operating
Atlantis Energylandia Poland Poland SBF Visa Group 2014 Operating
Beaver Rafting BonBon-Land Denmark Denmark Intamin 1998 Operating
Bengal Rapid River Bellewaerde Belgium Belgium Vekoma 1988 Operating
Blizzard River Six Flags New England United States United States Hopkins Rides 1999 Operating
Bobby Drop Bobbejaanland Belgium Belgium Van Egdom 1999 Removed
Calico River Rapids
Formerly Bigfoot Rapids
Knott's Berry Farm United States United States Intamin 1987 Operating
Canyon Raft Ride Jin Jiang Action Park China China Bear Rides Unknown Operating
Canyon River Rapids Hersheypark United States United States Intamin 1987 Removed
Çılgın Nehir Vialand Turkey Turkey Intamin 2013 Operating
Colorad’Eau Parc du Bocasse France France Reverchon Industries 2003 Operating
Congo Rapids Six Flags Great Adventure United States United States Intamin 1981 Operating
Congo River Rapids Busch Gardens Tampa United States United States Intamin 1982 Operating
Congo River Rapids Alton Towers United Kingdom United Kingdom Intamin 1986 Operating
Crazy River Dennlys Parc France France Soquet 2008 Operating
Crazy River Madagascar Beto Carrero World Brazil Brazil Barr Engineering Unknown Operating
Crocodile Rapids Etnaland Italy Italy Hafema 2005 Operating
Diablo Falls Six Flags AstroWorld United States United States WhiteWater West 2003 Removed
Dino Raft Walygator Parc France France Soquet 1989 Operating
Disaster Canyon Elitch Gardens United States United States Hopkins Rides 1995 Operating
Djengu River Toverland Netherlands Netherlands Hafema 2013 Operating
Dòng sông thử thách Dragon Park Vietnam Vietnam Intamin 2017 Operating
Donner Fluss Holiday Park Germany Germany Intamin 1984 Operating
Dr. Geyser's Remarkable Raft Ride Story Land United States United States Hopkins Rides 1989 Operating
El Rio Bobbejaanland Belgium Belgium Hafema 2000 Operating
El Rio Grande Walibi Holland Netherlands Netherlands Vekoma 1994 Operating
Excalibur - Secrets of the Dark Forest
Formerly Mystery River
Die Unendliche Geschichte - Auf der Suche nach Phantasien
Movie Park Germany Germany Germany Intamin 1996 Operating
Fårup Rafting Fårup Sommerland Denmark Denmark Bear Rides 1998 Operating
Fjord Rafting Europa-Park Germany Germany Intamin 1991 Operating
Fluch des Teutates Freizeitpark Plohn Germany Germany ABC Rides 2013 Operating
Fury of the Nile Worlds of Fun United States United States Intamin 1984 Operating
Grand Canyon Dream World Thailand Thailand Hopkins Rides 2002 Operating
Grand Canyon Rapids MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park United States United States Intamin 1993 Removed
Grand Canyon Rapids PortAventura Park Spain Spain Intamin 1995 Operating
Grand Rapids Michigan's Adventure United States United States Intamin 2006 Operating
Grizzly River Rampage Opryland USA United States United States Intamin 1982 Removed
Grizzly River Run Disney California Adventure United States United States Intamin 2001 Operating
Grizzly Run Darien Lake United States United States Intamin 1989 Operating
Grizzly Run Geauga Lake United States United States Intamin 1996 Removed
Hidrolift Parque Aventura d'Or Spain Spain Zamperla 2008 Operating
High-Speed-Rafting Churpfalzpark Germany Germany Unknown 2003 Operating
Hunderfossen Rafting Hunderfossen Familienpark Norway Norway Bear Rides 2000 Operating
Hurjakuru Linnanmäki Finland Finland Intamin 1998 Operating
Hydro Surge Myrtle Beach Pavilion United States United States Hopkins Rides 1993 Removed
Infinity Falls SeaWorld Orlando United States United States Intamin 2018 Operating
I segreti dell acqua Felifonte Italy Italy Hafema 2003 Operating
Jungle Adventure Lotte World South Korea South Korea Unknown Unknown Operating
Jungle Adventure Energylandia Poland Poland Intamin 2017 Operating
Jungle Rapids Gardaland Italy Italy Intamin 1999 Operating
Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure Universal Studios Singapore Singapore Singapore Hafema 2010 Operating
Kali River Rapids Disney's Animal Kingdom United States United States Intamin 1999 Operating
Kållerado Liseberg Sweden Sweden Intamin 1997 Operating
Kaskade Festyland France France Zamperla 2015 Operating
Koskiseikkailu Särkänniemi Finland Finland Intamin 1999 Operating
Lost River of the Ozarks Silver Dollar City United States United States Barr Engineering 1985 Operating
La Descente du Colorado Le Pal France France Soquet 1988 Operating
Le Raft Bagatelle France France Hafema 2001 Operating
Le Rapidé
Also known as Drakkar
Rainbow Magicland Italy Italy Intamin 2011 Operating
Los Rápidos Parque Aventura d'Or Spain Spain Unknown Unknown Operating
Los Rápidos Parque de Atracciones de Madrid Spain Spain Hopkins Rides 1996 Operating
Lost World Erse-Park Germany Germany ABC Rides 2004 Operating
L'Oxygénarium Parc Astérix France France WhiteWater West 1999 Operating
Mangiabiglie Miragica Italy Italy Zamperla 2009 Operating
Mountain Rafting Heide Park Germany Germany Intamin 1992 Operating
Nagashimasuka Fuji-Q Highland Japan Japan Hafema 2008 Operating
Niagara La Récré des 3 Curés France France Van Egdom 2009 Operating
North Pole 1 Terra Park Romania Romania ABC Rides 2012 Operating
Piraña Efteling Netherlands Netherlands Intamin 1983 Operating
Planet AQA Space World Japan Japan Hafema 1992 Removed
Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges Universal's Islands of Adventure United States United States Barr Engineering 1999 Operating
Radja River Walibi Belgium Belgium Belgium Intamin 1988 Operating
Radja River Walibi Rhône-Alpes France France Soquet 1989 Operating
Radja River Walibi Sud-Ouest France France Intamin 1989 Operating
Rafting Didi'Land France France Soquet 2009 Operating
Rafting Africano Badoca Safari Park Portugal Portugal Hafema 2008 Operating
Rafting-Bahn Rasti-Land Germany Germany Hafema 2002 Operating
Raging Rapids Kennywood United States United States Intamin 1985 Operating
Raging Rapids in Boulder Canyon Holiday World United States United States Hopkins Rides 1990 Operating
Raging Rapids River Ride Kentucky Kingdom United States United States Intamin 1999 Operating
Raging River Adventureland United States United States Intamin 1983 Operating
Raging River Great Escape United States United States Intamin 1986 Operating
Raging River Rapids Gold Reef City South Africa South Africa Unknown Unknown Operating
Ragnarok Tusenfryd Norway Norway Hafema 2016 Operating
Rampaging Rapids Hunt's Pier United States United States Intamin 1985 Removed
Rapid River Fantasilandia Chile Chile Unknown 2003 Operating
Rapid River Zoomarine Portugal Portugal L&T Systems 2008 Operating
Rapid River Zoosafari Fasanolandia Italy Italy Fabbri Group 2008 Operating
Rapid River Ride Dream Park Egypt Egypt Intamin 1998 Operating
Rapide di Leonardo Leolandia Italy Italy Zamperla 2009 Operating
Rapidos de Argos Terra Mítica Spain Spain Intamin 2000 Operating
Rápidos del Orinoco Isla Mágica Spain Spain Intamin 1997 Operating
Rapids Raft Ride Gyeongju World South Korea South Korea Hopkins Rides Unknown Operating
Rapids Raft Ride Happy Valley Shenzhen China China Hopkins Rides 1998 Operating
Rattlesnake Rapids Lagoon United States United States Intamin 1997 Operating
Rattlesnake River Wonderland Amusement Park United States United States Hopkins Rides Unknown Operating
Renegade Rapids Six Flags America United States United States Hopkins Rides 1995 Operating
Renegade Rapids Frontier City United States United States Hopkins Rides 1990 Operating
Rescate de Ulises Terra Mítica Spain Spain Hafema 2000 Operating
Rio Bravo Europark France France Interlink Unknown Operating
Rio Bravo Hopi Hari Brazil Brazil Intamin Unknown Operating
Rio Bravo Mirabilandia Italy Italy Intamin 1992 Operating
Rio Dorado Hansa-Park Germany Germany WhiteWater West 2000 Operating
Rio Grande Fort Fun Abenteuerland Germany Germany Bear Rides 1997 Operating
Rio Grande Rafting Djurs Sommerland Denmark Denmark Interlink 1997 Operating
Rio Grande Rapids Enchanted Kingdom Philippines Philippines Hopkins Rides 1996 Operating
Rio Loco SeaWorld San Antonio United States United States Intamin 1993 Operating
Río Navajo Parque de Atracciones de Zaragoza Spain Spain Intamin 2003 Operating
Río Rápido Bosque Magico Mexico Mexico Hopkins Rides 1995 Operating
Río Rápido Parque Bicentenario Querétaro Mexico Mexico Unknown Unknown Operating
Río Salvaje Six Flags México Mexico Mexico Intamin 1992 Operating
Rip Roarin' Rapids Carowinds United States United States Kings Entertainment Company 1982 Operating
Rip Roarin' Rapids California's Great America United States United States Intamin 1988 Operating
River Quest Phantasialand Germany Germany Hafema 2002 Operating
River Rafting Ride Wonderland United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates Hopkins Rides 1998 Removed
River Splash Steinwasen Park Germany Germany ABC Rides 2007 Operating
River Splash Ride Hello Kitty Park China China ABC Rides 2015 Operating
Rivière Sauvage Mer de Sable France France Soquet 1988 Operating
Roaring Rapids Six Flags Great America United States United States Intamin 1984 Operating
Roaring Rapids Six Flags Magic Mountain United States United States Intamin 1981 Operating
Roaring Rapids Six Flags Over Texas United States United States Intamin 1983 Operating
Roaring Rapids Shanghai Disneyland China China Walt Disney Imagineering 2016 Operating
Rocky Mountain Rapids American Adventure United Kingdom United Kingdom Interlink 1989 Removed
Roman Rapids Busch Gardens Williamsburg United States United States Intamin 1988 Operating
Romus et Rapidus Parc Astérix France France Intamin 1989 Operating
Rumba Rapids Thorpe Park United Kingdom United Kingdom Intamin 1987 Operating
Saw Mill Splash Adventureland United States United States WhiteWater West 2002 Operating
Shipwreck Rapids SeaWorld San Diego United States United States Intamin 1999 Operating
Sky Rafting Skyline Park Germany Germany ABC Rides 2010 Operating
Smoky Mountain River Rampage Dollywood United States United States Intamin 1986 Operating
Snowy River Rampage Wonderland Sydney Australia Australia Intamin 1985 Removed
Splash Canyon Drayton Manor United Kingdom United Kingdom Intamin 1993 Operating
Splash Water Falls Six Flags New England United States United States WhiteWater West 2006 Operating
Storm Surge Thorpe Park United Kingdom United Kingdom WhiteWater West 2011 Operating
Sungai Kalimantan Avonturenpark Hellendoorn Netherlands Netherlands Bear Rides 1997 Operating
Tasmanian River Rapids Wild Adventures United States United States Hafema 2000 Operating
The Gully Washer Six Flags Fiesta Texas United States United States Intamin 1992 Operating
The Penguin's Blizzard River Six Flags America United States United States WhiteWater West 2003 Operating
The Rapids Ocean Park China China
Hong Kong Hong Kong
Intamin 2011 Operating
Thunder Canyon Cedar Point United States United States Intamin 1986 Operating
Thunder Canyon Dorney Park United States United States Barr Engineering 1995 Operating
Thunder Canyon Silverwood Theme Park United States United States Hopkins Rides 1993 Operating
Thunder Canyon Valleyfair United States United States Barr Engineering 1987 Operating
Thunder Rapids Lake Compounce United States United States Hopkins Rides 1997 Operating
Thunder River Six Flags AstroWorld United States United States Intamin 1980 Operating
Thunder River Six Flags Over Georgia United States United States Intamin 1982 Operating
Thunder River Six Flags St. Louis United States United States Intamin 1983 Operating
Thunder River Rapids Ride Dreamworld Australia Australia Unknown 1986 Removed
Vikings' River Splash Legoland Windsor United Kingdom United Kingdom ABC Rides 2007 Operating
Vikings' River Splash Legoland Billund Denmark Denmark Intamin 2006 Operating
Waschgzuber Rafting Erlebnispark Tripsdrill Germany Germany Hafema 1996 Operating
Wildalpenbahn Wiener Prater Austria Austria ABC Rides 2007 Operating
Wild Raft Familienland Pillersee Austria Austria Reverchon Industries 2007 Operating
Wild River Canyon Lihpao Land Taiwan Taiwan Hopkins Rides 1998 Operating
Wild River Rafting West Midland Safari Park United Kingdom United Kingdom Fabbri Group 2006 Operating
Wild River Rapids Lightwater Valley United Kingdom United Kingdom Reverchon Industries 2009 Operating
Wildwasser Rafting Bayern Park Germany Germany ABC Rides 2007 Operating
Wild West Adventure Attractiepark Slagharen Netherlands Netherlands Mack Rides 2000 Operating
White Water Canyon Canada's Wonderland Canada Canada Intamin 1984 Operating
White Water Canyon Kings Dominion United States United States Intamin 1983 Operating
White Water Canyon Kings Island United States United States Intamin 1985 Operating
White Water Safari Six Flags Discovery Kingdom United States United States Intamin 1999 Operating

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dreamworld: Four people killed on Thunder River Rapids ride at Gold Coast theme park". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 25 October 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Dreamworld deaths: Four fatalities in horror Thunder River Rapids accident". Brisbane Times. 25 October 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  3. ^ "River Rapids Rides - Accident Reports". www.rideaccidents.com. Retrieved 29 October 2016. (Up to 15 September 2003)

External links[edit]