July 16, 2011 in City

Ricochet Rapids makes splashy debut at Silverwood Theme Park

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Laurel Pettey, center, and her children Alison, 8, left, and Jayden, 6, right, rocket up the side of a large tube on the new Ricochet Rapids waterslide Friday, July 15, 2011 at Silverwood Theme Park. The new ride, which is adjacent to, and shares rafts with, the Avalanche Mountain slide, dumps rafts into a large tube where riders are tossed to and fro before dropping into a long dark tunnel for the rest of the ride down.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

A massive attraction at Silverwood Theme Park’s Boulder Beach offered riders a thrill on its opening day Friday.

Ricochet Rapids, the new family raft ride, drops down a 40-foot-high mountain and into a 30-foot-deep valley. During the nearly minute-long journey, riders reach speeds of 20 miles per hour and pitch about while zigzagging down nearly 740 feet of twists and turns and stomach-dropping ups and downs.

“The screams begin as soon as the raft leaves the station,” said Nancy DiGiammarco, the theme park’s director of marketing, sales and public relations.

Four to six riders per raft plummet down the first drop before shooting up one side of the 20-foot-wide “MEGA tube,” then ricochet up the opposing wall, so high that the raft becomes vertical. At times the tube goes dark, blinding riders to what lies ahead.

“It was kind of unexpected, like what was going to happen next,” said Joseph Kroger, 14, of Bremerton. “That’s what I liked about it.”

Contract negotiations on the $2 million ride began in November and construction began as soon as the ground thawed in April, DiGiammarco said. Friday was the first day the ride was open to the public. Park officials were hoping to open the ride sooner, but there were delays in receiving the parts necessary to construct the gargantuan green tube.

“It’s actually about a month late,” DiGiammarco said. “It’s been long-awaited by a lot of our fans. It’s been an exciting day today.”

The wait, she said, was worth it.

“It was a long process, but this is the only one of its kind in North America,” she said.

The slide, the longest in the park, got good reviews Friday.

“I thought it was awesome,” said a soggy Kennedy Walker, 9, who came from Vernon, B.C., with friends and family. “I loved when it did the drop off and you flew up on the wall. I think it was kind of scary.”

DiGiammarco shared some advice with riders: “The goal is to get in the tube with more people.”

“You want heavier weight,” she explained. “That will make you go more vertical in the tube.”

While the ride may not be as terrifying to veteran amusement park attendees as some of Silverwood’s other attractions, at the very least it offers the chance to get wet and cool off.

Kroger and the other boys who went on the ride with him, Atyrus McDonald, 12, and Corey Bell, 13, also of Bremerton, said they will be going down the slide again.

“When you go up on the wall, that’s the good part,” McDonald said. “You didn’t know what was going to happen. Nice rush.”


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