Will Koch had a vision for Holiday World, and it involved an array of exciting things. But, the legacy he left is centered around great customer service, world-class wooden coasters, and some of the most unique water slides ever created. On a trip to Holiday World last summer our team rode Wildebeest several times and experienced Mammoth. Both were the first of their kind and remain a dynamic duo unlike anything else in the industry.
I reached out to PR extraordinaire Paule Werne Holiday World so the park could share some of the background information on these rides with me. Matt Eckert, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari’s President and CEO, told me some information on the attractions, “We always try to name our Splashin’ Safari attraction in a way that keeps to our theme. When I think of ‘safari,’ my mind automatically goes to animals. We also have turned to the Swahili language for names (Bakuli and Bahari, for example). For YEEEEEARS, our Communications Director, Paula Werne, would throw out the name ‘Wildebeest’ every time we would have a dreaded ‘name game’ (as Will Koch dubbed them) meeting. Every year, she got a ‘this is not the right name’ for ‘this attraction.’ Her perseverance finally paid off. When we set down to name this attraction, Paula, of course, offered up the name. This time it stuck. It was a brilliant name for this attraction and fits it so well (we see this every morning of operation as our Guests stampede to be the first to ride). Although the water coaster was not named for Will, since it was his last ride project before his untimely passing, we like that his name is a part of Wildebeest.”
Holiday World, which has become in many ways a Proslide show park, sports a lot of innovative water attractions. Wildebeest opened in 2010 as the world’s first HYDROMAGNETIC Rocket, Proslide’s LIM (linear induction motor) launch water coaster. It has a length of 521 meters (1,710 feet) and sends up to 4 riders in a raft around the course. The LIM motor system, which has been in use on roller coasters since 1996, is essentially an electric motor unrolled. Instead of the changing polarity following a circular path it follows a linear one, and the ride vehicle is forced forward. While LIM and LSM motors have been in use on coasters for some time, they saw a very different application on water slides. Instead of providing one initial boost, like on a roller coaster, here they allow for the water coaster to maintain momentum, or even accelerate, while going uphill. This had previously been accomplished by NBGS/Schlitterbahn, who created the Master Blaster concept (which is now licensed by White Water). In this system troughs bleed off slower moving water and add a jet of spray to keep the vehicles moving. While Proslide’s water coaster system is just as complex, it has less moving parts than the Master Blaster System. Here, the LIM motors accelerate the rafts, which have thin reaction plates in the bottom of them.
Matt told me, “For the longest time, Will talked about wanting to add a water coaster to our park, but he was waiting to see if new technology would increase capacity. We have a longstanding and wonderful relationship with ProSlide and the technology was developed and we had the opportunity to build an attraction that would be the best in the industry. The decision at that point was simple. Wildebeest remains a Guest and Industry favorite, with six Golden Tickets in its six seasons.”
After riding a long lift hill to the top, Wildebeest splashes through its course, offering airtime just like a roller coaster. Its bigger cousin, Mammoth, does many of the same things, but in a crazier manner. With Mammoth, you do not know which way you are going because it features circular rafts that spin depending upon the weight distribution in each vehicle as the LIM motors accelerate them. No two rides are ever the same and it is a crazy sensation, one minute you head uphill looking forwards, the next you fly around a turn in the dark, spin and are tossed down a hill backwards. It is a pinnacle of waterpark attractions.
While both rides are significant investments, they offer some good capacity, Matt let me know that the two attractions combined can put through around 900 pph. But, they make an excellent repeat attraction because guests come back again and again to ride them, “Water coasters are different from your typical water slide. Indiana summers are very hot and humid and our Guest love being in the water park. To be able to offer two award-winning attractions that provide such a unique experience to our Guests is rewarding not only to us, but more importantly to the many Guests who visit us every year!” he said.
If you’re out in southern Indiana pull off the highway and take these two beasts for a spin. But before, they are popular, and even with great capacity expect to wait a while to experience some of the most unique water slides in the world.
Photos courtesy of Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari.