Thursday, May 27, 2010

Taking A Spin In The Ultimate Storm

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park, located next to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ, is celebrating it's 10th anniversary season this year. A 10th wedding anniversary is traditionally celebrated by giving your spouse something made of tin - well - Hurricane Harbor came up with something just slightly better than that for us, the Tornado.

Talk about a relaxing setting...

I've never visited Hurricane Harbor before, though naturally I've peeked at photos of the water park here and there. Of course what I saw made it look like a beautiful park, but being there in person today really wowed me. The park is themed wonderfully, has a great roster of slides and attractions, and is full of shade - something somewhat rare at a water park.

Shark! This is not Universal Studios, please don't stick your head in its mouth!

Hurricane Harbor officially opens for the 2010 season this Saturday, but held a special preview of the Tornado slide today for invited guests. Naturally the media was there, but the park also invited individuals from the Children's Miracle Network to be the first riders of the slide. Each year Six Flags Friends and Cure Kid's Cancer team up to hold the A Walk In The Park program, an event aimed at raising funds to benefit both Cure Kid's Cancer and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

If you haven't heard much about A Walk In The Park yet, I highly suggest checking out their site and participating in a walk at your local Six Flags park.

Nothing like fire dancers to heat things up!

The morning started on a warm note, literally. The park had these wonderful fire dancers perform to help set the mood of the tropical paradise that Hurricane Harbor represents.

Mark Kane, Park President

Shortly thereafter Mr. Mark Kane, President of Six Flags Great Adventure, the Wild Safari, and Hurricane Harbor made a few remarks about the new slide. This past winter was quite a beast, so he made sure to thank the construction crews and park employees for their hard work in having the ride ready on time.

Bill Tawpash

The Executive Director of the Children's Miracle Network, Bill Tawpash, also thanked the park for their contribution to their efforts and noted that to date Six Flags has raised over $750,000 for children's hospitals across the country. Not only that, but Six Flags employees and characters regularly visit hospitals to help make the day a little brighter for patients. Commendable work, indeed.

Mark Kane, Lilly Daneman, and Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz

When it was time to cut the ribbon, or in this case scissor-proof tropical floral, Mr. Kane was joined by Lilly Daneman and Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz of NBC Philadelphia fame. Lilly is the ambassador for Great Adventure's Walk In The Park this year. With the ribbon cut it was time to slide!

Slide inside the funnel!

The Tornado was created by Proslide and stands 75 ft. at its peak. Riders sit in family friendly four person clover shaped rafts and begin by venturing through a 132 ft. long tunnel after leaving the boarding area.

The rafts make quick work of flying up the side of the wall

Its at the end of that tunnel that the thrill meter kicks up a notch. Riders plummet down at 35 feet per second into the 60 ft. funnel, where they quickly sail up on the side of the structure, back down, and up again on the opposite side.

Nothing beats an aerial view

The funnel is visually impressive, I have bumped into slides of this type elsewhere and I'm always taken aback by just how huge it is, and how tiny the people and rafts look on it! I think the photo above makes that point pretty well.

Only one way outta the funnel!

After sliding up the walls a few more times the rafts lose energy and settle into the home stretch, where they flow out through a water curtain and into the catch pool.

If the slide didn't get you wet the finale will

The experience is both thrilling and fun, that's for sure. If the screams of the riders didn't give that away, the smiles they had when their turn was over sure did. I threw together this short video of the Tornado in action:

The Tornado, which joins an enormous wave pool, relaxing lazy river, family water playground, and 20 other thrilling slides, will open with the park on Saturday, May 29th - just two days from now.

Many thanks to the park staff for the invitation and the great time! For information on the park and tickets, see the official website.