Verrückt, the world’s tallest and fastest water slide, is taking shape at Schlitterbahn (poll)

11/20/2013 10:11 AM

11/20/2013 10:11 AM

It could take a while to climb the 264 steps to the top of the new water slide at Schlitterbahn.

It won’t take that long to get back down at 65 mph or so.

The Verrückt — German for insane — will be the tallest and fastest water slide in the world when it opens next year at the Kansas City, Kan., water park.

How tall? About 17 stories, but company officials are keeping the ride’s exact height under wraps until an official measuring event this spring. They promise it will exceed the height of the current world-record-holding slide in Brazil.

“We have always been family friendly, but this will attract those adrenaline junkies who are always looking for that next biggest, coolest thrill,” said Layne Pitcher, the park’s director of marketing and sales.

The company hopes the ride will become a destination attraction.

Those brave or crazy enough to try the ride will have to wait until the park opens May 23. Until then, information and photographs of the work in progress can be seen online at Schlitterblog.com.

The experience will begin with the 264-step climb to the deck at the top of the tower, which was constructed using railroad tanker cars cut and welded together, according to the company.

Rather than individual riders hurtling to the bottom, four-person inflatable rafts will be used.

“At Schlitterbahn we love rides that encourage people to share the experience,” the company said in a fact sheet. “Besides it’s more fun if someone is screaming in your ear.”

And that trip down?

The company says it will be faster than the thrill that riders now experience on the Brazilian slide — clocked at 65 mph — although like the height, they are not yet saying what that number will be.

At the bottom of that initial plummet, riders will confront a five-story hill. They will be propelled up and over that hill for the final descent to the ride’s finish.

That uphill push required new technology, according to the company. It also had to design and build the conveyor system to transport the rafts to the top of the tower.

The ride was designed by Jeff Henry, a Schlitterbahn co-owner who has designed a number of water park innovations like the uphill water slide technology that will be used on the Verrückt.

Thanks to the recession, Schlitterbahn has not achieved its goal of becoming $750 million vacation village. But ambitions remain strong for the water park itself, which has doubled in size, with the slide part of a major expansion.

A mile-long river allows visitors to reach any part of the park without leaving the water. Two huge screw pumps push more than 20,000 gallons of water every 16 seconds for the rapids and wave pools.

Henry was working at a park construction site on Tuesday and was not available for comment.

But in a company news release, he was quoted as saying that the new slide would be a “game changer” for the industry.

With the construction phase almost complete, Pitcher said the ride will undergo extensive testing before the public is invited to ride it.

“Safety is paramount to us,” he said. “We want to provide a thrilling ride, but safety comes first.”