How stuff works : The inner workings of Canada's best (and most fun) new technologies.
Ottawa-based ProSlide Technology Inc. is known for introducing new gravity-defying concepts to the water-park industry. Recently, Pro-Slide morphed the classic log-flume ride into their latest offering, the Rocket. The Rocket offers the same free-falling you'll-get-soaked drops of the log flume, but without the twiddle-your-thumbs climbs.
The Rocket sends a river raft along a fibreglass course of multiple water chute drops and speedy, mechanically assisted ascents. Including a motorized conveyor in a water ride is not particularly new. The Rocket's innovation is to use the course's drops to generate speed, with the carefully timed conveyors then whooshing the rafts back up without losing momentum. ProSlide aims to grab a larger slice of America's US$10.8-billion amusement park industry with this new “water coaster”; and with a glitzy roller-coaster costing operators US$15 million and up, its US$1.5-million to US$4-million price tag is a bargain.
ProSlide has won international awards for “best new water park ride” for three years straight. Rick Hunter, a former Canadian ski team racer, started the privately owned company in 1986. Since then, ProSlide introduced at least one new ride a year — with Busch Entertainment Corp. and Paramount Parks Inc. as repeat customers. ProSlide designs are at seven of the Discovery Channel's Top 10 water parks in America, including Walt Disney World's Blizzard Beach.
After two years of development, ProSlide's Rocket should spawn thrills. “You will really see the difference,” says Hunter. “We're faster going down; we're faster going up.” The first Rockets opened this summer at Noah's Ark in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. (ride: Black Anaconda), and at Six Flags New England in Springfield, Mass. (ride: Typhoon). In Canada, it's opening in spring 2006 in a 94,000-square-foot indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls.