A water slide (also referred to as a flume, or water chute) is a type of slide designed for warm-weather or indoor recreational use at water parks. Water slides differ in their riding method and therefore size. Some slides require riders to sit directly on the slide, or on a raft or tube designed to be used with the slide.
A typical water slide uses a pump system to pump water to the top which is then allowed to freely flow down its surface. The water reduces friction so sliders travel down the slide very quickly. Water slides run into a swimming pool (often called a plunge pool) or a long run-out chute. A lifeguard is usually stationed at the top and the bottom of the slide, so that if a rider gets hurt they will be treated immediately.
Traditional water slides
As the name suggests, body slides feature no mat or tube, and instead riders sit or lie directly on the surface of the slide. The simplest resembles a wet playground slide.
There are a variety of types of body slides including flumes, speed slides, bowls and AquaLoops; the latter three are explained below.
Inline tube slides
Some slides are designed to be ridden with a tube which typically seats either 2 or 3 riders inline. Similar to a traditional body slide, these slides include many twists and turns and come in a variety of types including bowls, funnels and half-pipes.
The world's longest water slide was a temporary installation in Waimauku, New Zealand, in February 2013. Constructed with a length of 650 metres (2,130 ft), of which 550 metres (1,800 ft) functioned properly. Its creators claimed the previous record holder had a length of ~350 metres (1,150 ft). The slide is being moved to Action Park in Vernon, New Jersey.
21st century water slides
The first known existence of a looping water slide was at Action Park in Vernon Township, New Jersey in the mid-1980s, named Cannonball Loop. This slide featured a vertical loop but was repeatedly closed due to safety concerns. In the late 2000s, Austrian manufacturer Aquarena developed the world's first safe looping water slide, known as the AquaLoop. The company engineered a slide with an inclined loop rather than a standard vertical one. The slide is currently licensed and distributed by Canadian water slide manufacturer WhiteWater West. There are nearly 20 AquaLoop installations around the world. The first installation was in Slovenia in 2008. The largest collection is located at Wet'n'Wild Gold Coast in Australia which houses 4 AquaLoops that opened in 2010. Wet'n'Wild Gold Coast was also the first to install more than one AquaLoop at a single location. The AquaLoop uses a trap-door to release riders down a 17-metre (56 ft) near-vertical descent at a speed of up to 60 kilometres per hour (37 mph). Riders experience 2.5 Gs in less than 2 seconds. The whole ride is over within 7 seconds.
A bowl is a type of water slide where riders descend a steep drop into a round bowl. Under the effects of centrifugal force, the riders circle the outer area of the bowl before exiting down through the middle, often into a pool underneath but sometimes into an additional slide section. This style of water slide comes in various styles and is manufactured by ProSlide, WhiteWater West and Waterfun Products. The different variations can be ridden on a 4-person cloverleaf tube, 2 person inline tube, single person tube or as a body slide.
Family rafting water slides have the largest capacity of all the different types of tubing water slides averaging between 4 and 6 riders per dispatch. Riders hop in a circular raft and travel down long, twisted 4.5-metre (15 ft) channels to the ground. This type of water slide is manufactured by Australian Waterslides and Leisure, ProSlide, Waterfun Products and WhiteWater West. All of these companies manufacture open-air slides while ProSlide also manufactures an enclosed version.
A funnel water slide requires riders to sit in a 2 or 4 seater round tube. Riders drop from inside a tunnel out into the ride's main element shaped like a funnel on its side. Riders oscillate from one side to the other until they exit through the back of the funnel and into a splash pool. The most common type of funnel is the ProSlide Tornado which is installed at almost 60 locations around the world dating back to 2003. In 2010, WhiteWater West began developing a competing product known as the Abyss, utilizing a raft that holds up to six riders.
Similar to a funnel, a half-pipe features a slide in which riders oscillate back and forth. However, this style of ride does not feature any enclosed sections. On a Waterfun Product Sidewinder or Sidewinder Mini, riders oscillate several times before coming to a rest at the base of the slide. Riders then need to walk off the slide returning their tube to the next riders. On a WhiteWater West Boomerango or Family Boomerango, riders are sent down a steep drop and up a steep hill on the other side, before sliding backwards down another path to the end of the slide.
A multi-lane racer is a ride where between 4 and 8 riders dive head-first onto a mat and down a slide with several dips. As an additional component of this ride, both some offer an additional enclosed helix at the top of the ride. ProSlide offer ProRacers, Octopus Racers and Kraken Racers, while WhiteWater West have designed the Mat Racers and Whizzards. Australian Waterslides and Leisure have also manufactured a standard multi-lane racer.
A speed slide is a type of body slide where riders are sent down steep, free-fall plunges to the ground. Almost all water slide manufacturers offer a variation of this type of slide. ProSlide & WhiteWater West both offer a speed slide with a trap door, the same trap door found on the AquaLoop.
A water coaster is a water slide that mimics a roller coaster by providing not only descents, but also ascents. There are three different ways water coasters operate: water jets, conveyor belts, and linear induction motors. High powered water jets power the first type of water coaster, generically known as Master Blasters. Originally manufactured by New Braunfels General Store (NBGS), the rights were sold in December 2006 to WhiteWater West of Canada. The first installations of this type of ride were Dragon Blaster and Family Blaster installed in 1994 at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas. The following month a third Master Blaster opened at Adventure Bay in Houston, Texas. This type of ride features over 70 installations worldwide. The largest collection of Master Blasters is at Wild Wadi Water Park in Dubai where 9 of the park's 16 water slides utilize this technology to power riders to the top of a mountain. The first conveyor belt was installed at Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio. Known as the Zip Coaster, the ride powers riders up hills using high speed conveyor belts. The third incarnation of the water coaster utilizes linear induction motors and specially designed rafts. The first installation to use this technology was Deluge which opened in 2006 at what was then Splash Kingdom at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. The longest water coaster utilizing this magnetic system is Mammoth at Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana. This technology has been adapted to other ProSlide products and is collectively known as the ProSlide HydroMAGNETIC. In 2010, ProSlide announced that they would be combining the family rafting and water coaster technologies to create a Hydromagnetic Mammoth. The first installation of this variation is aptly titled Mammoth which premiered in 2012 at Splashin' Safari in Indiana. It replaced the park's own Wildebeest as the longest water coaster in the world.
A drop slide is a type of body slide where at the end of the slide, riders fall through a hole into a pool underneath.
Inflatable water slides
Inflatable water slides are designed for the home user. They are typically made of a thick strong PVC or vinyl and nylon, and are inflated using an electric or gasoline powered blower. The water slide is attached to a water hose in order to generate the supply of water. There are small-sized inflatable water slides for private house uses or larger inflatable water slides for school, picnic, corporate, or carnival style use.
There are also swimming pool water slides which users can set up to slide straight into a pool. Most parks avoid this due to safety concerns, and will have swimming sections in a separate pool.
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