Nov. 20, 2013 at 4:37 PM ET
Talk about making a big splash. That’s what visitors to the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City can expect to experience next spring when the park opens Verrückt, which aims to take top honors as the tallest, fastest waterslide in the world.
Taking its name from the German word for insane, the ride is expected to live up to that description by rising 17 stories and sending riders on a 65-mph descent that includes a water-powered blast up and over a second, 50-foot hill.
Those willing to take the plunge will do so in four-person rafts because, as the park says on its website, “It’s more fun if someone is screaming in your ear.”
“Imagine a combination of a speed slide and a water coaster,” said park spokesman Layne Pitcher. “It’s going to be a thrilling experience unlike anything you can get anywhere else.”
To experience that thrill, the brave — or is that verrückt? — will have to climb a tower made of railroad tanker cars connected end to end. The 264-stair ascent should give them plenty of time to ponder the nature of the trip back down.
The ride was designed by Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry, who is credited with creating the Meg-A-Blaster concept, which uses powerful jets of water to propel riders uphill the way chain lifts and linear-induction motors do on non-aquatic coasters.
The ride is already being touted as a game-changer.
“This attraction is going to change the waterpark industry the same way that mega- and giga-coasters changed the coaster industry,” said Erik Yates, editor of BehindTheThrills.com. “With these limits being pushed, they are just starting to open the door on what's possible.”
Alas, Schlitterbahn visitors who want to explore such possibilities will have to wait until May 23, when Verrückt will open to the public, at which point park visitors will have to determine what sort of thrill they want to experience.
“There will be two categories of folks that will be looking at it,” said Pitcher. “Those that will say, ‘When can I get on it?’ and those that will be happy just to watch.”
Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him on Twitter.