Pack your swimsuit for K.C. thrill ride

05/18/2014 12:00 AM

08/06/2014 11:27 AM

Adrenaline junkies have a new destination in Kansas this year.

Just be sure to pack your swimsuit.

Verruckt – German for “insane” – will be the tallest and fastest waterslide in the world when it opens next month at Schlitterbahn, a water park in Kansas City, Kan.

“This is an amazing attraction,” said Layne Pitcher, director of marketing and sales for Schlitterbahn Kansas City. “Nobody’s really ever done anything like this with a waterslide before.”

When it opens in June, Verruckt – at 168 feet, 7 inches high – will be higher than Niagara Falls and will send a four-person raft screaming down at speeds of up to 65 miles an hour. At the bottom of the initial drop, riders will be propelled up and over a five-story hill before their final descent to the ride’s finish.

“You don’t make it up the second drop without us blasting you back up with a jet of water,” Pitcher said. “And that will be the tallest uphill climb on any waterslide as well.”

That uphill push required new technology, he said.

The company also had to design and build a conveyor system to transport rafts to the top of the world-record, 17-story tower for the slide’s initial drop. Riders will have to climb the 264 steps to the top.

“Not everybody’s going to be brave enough to ride Verruckt,” Pitcher said. But the ride is safe and will undergo extensive testing before the public is invited to ride, he said.

“Safety is paramount to us,” Pitcher said. “We want to make sure people have a thrilling and exciting day, but they need to be safe while they’re doing it. We want folks to come back over and over again.”

Plummets down Verruckt are included in the park’s general admission, which is $41.99 for adults, $29.99 for ages 3-11. Visitors can save $5 per ticket by purchasing online.

If waterslides aren’t your thing, there are several other notable thrill rides at amusement parks within driving distance of Wichita. Here are just a few:

• Mamba ( Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, Mo.) – This coaster, named for one of the fastest and most feared snakes in Africa, is one of the tallest, longest and fastest in the world. The first hill takes riders more than 200 feet above the ground and flings them toward the earth at 75 miles per hour. (Other Worlds of Fun favorites: The Patriot, an inverted coaster with vertical loops, S-curves, a corkscrew and high-speed spiral, and Prowler, a wooden coaster that speeds riders through forested terrain.)

• Screamin’ Eagle ( Six Flags St. Louis) – Famed roller coaster designer John Allen designed this wooden masterpiece, whose 110-foot height and 62 mile per hour speed were Guinness World Records when it opened in 1976 for the American Bicentennial. Now a classic, the coaster’s 3,800 feet of track are still a thrill.

• WildFire ( Silver Dollar City, Branson, Mo.) – This coaster lets riders admire the beautiful view before plunging them down a 15-story drop and zipping them through five inversions at speeds reaching 66 miles per hour.

• BATMAN The Ride BACKWARDS ( Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, Texas) – Enjoy hairpin turns and vertical loops without ever seeing them coming. This coaster features an overhead track, so your feet dangle as you navigate drops, loops and a double set of corkscrew descents that pack a whopping 4 Gs.

• Wildcat ( Frontier City, Oklahoma City, Okla.) – A must-ride for any fan of classic wooden coasters. For loop-de-loops, try the Silver Bullet or Diamondback, which speeds you down a steel track and through a loop before stopping and doing the whole thing again in reverse.

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