Friday, May 30, 2014

Snake Pit Now Open at Dorney Park's Wildwater Kingdom

Dorney Park VP and General Manager Michael Fehnel
Today marked the grand opening of Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom's brand new six water slide tower, Snake Pit, to the park's eager visitors.  An overcast morning suddenly turned to sunny blue skies just in time for the opening ceremonies, led by the park's Vice President and General Manager Michael Fehnel.

Snake Pit is the centerpiece of Wildwater Kingdom's renovations for 2014, part of a plan to give a total refresh to the park.  In short, it worked.  I detailed many of the changes in Wildwater Kingdom earlier this week, but they are vast and have the park looking like brand new.

The landing pool with guests coming down Boa Blasters
All the work, including the construction of Snake Pit, also took place during a rather tough off-season as Mr. Fehnel points out.  "Literally thousands of man hours went into the construction and rejuvenation of Wildwater Kingdom, many of which occurred during one of the most challenging winters we've seen here in Eastern Pennsylvania.  I can't tell you how frustrating it was to watch the teams come in here to plow snow to get up frozen dirt just so they could try to pour some foundations."  Happily for us the construction crews soldiered on and toughed it out!

The red tube on Python Plummet's drop and first twist
A water park's 30th anniversary is not something that many outside the South have celebrated yet, with Wildwater Kingdom having been one of the earlier ones in the area.  

"It was a little over thirty years ago when Robert Plarr, Jr. convinced Robert Ott Sr. and Jr. about the notion of a seasonal water park here at Dorney Park," recalls Mr. Fehnel.  "At the time, seasonal water parks simply weren't something that occurred in this area and certainly were not a business that you would get into if you were only going to be open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  When you look around today and see what the water park has turned into I think you'll be surprised and think it was a low risk decision, but honestly in 1985 it truly was a gamble that could have jeopardized the entire park."

Clearly the park is a gamble that has paid off, now offering a substantial set of 28 different slides, two wave pools, several children's areas, two lazy rivers, and plenty more.

Looking out from the climb up the stairs
As the big draw for this year, Snake Pit has totally changed the lower section of Wildwater Kingdom - and all for the better.  The tower stands nearly seven stories above the catch pool below, with a coiled group of slides slithering downward from it.  There's three different slide types mixed in the attraction, each with their own signature name.

Probably the most high profile of the slides is Python Plummet, a trio of red, orange and yellow body slides.   Stretching from 337 to 449 feet in length, these are more for the thrill seeking set.

He looks nervous... I would be!
Right now one of the hottest trends in the water park industry is trap-door launch body slides.  That is exactly what Python Plummet utilizes to giver riders a heart-thumping start to their experience.  You enter a large capsule, seen above, cross your arms and legs and wait for the drop.  I was able to watch a great many take the plunge, and seeing their expression as that floor fell never got old!

First you drop, then you make some quick turns
After riders fall downward they begin to twist and turn their way down to the bottom of the slide.  It is a quick experience, but one that won't soon be forgotten.  The tubes on the upper portion of Python Plummet are slightly translucent, so whether you are waiting in line or down on the midway, you're able to see riders as they fly down the path.  It's pretty neat to see the speed differences between guests of different sizes, too - but either way Python Plummet is a zippy ride at the least.

One side of the Boa Blasters chutes
Starting from a slightly lower platform (at around 50 feet) on Snake Pit, three other slides begin their journey.  A pair of them make up the Boa Blasters, a mix of blue and teal tube slides that represent a more 'classic' approach to water slides.  Once guests grab a tube and make their way to the top they are able to choose which of the Boa Blasters courses they want to take on.

Splash!  And then right back in line.
One side of Boa Blasters is about 274 feet in length, while the other is 326 feet long.  Both feature a neat section of enclosed tube that features colored stripes that greatly enhance the sensation of speed, but the endings of the slides are quite different.  One side takes a rather large and steep drop downward right into the splash pool, while the other covers that elevation change in two drops with a slight pause in between.

Constrictor is coiled and ready to go
The third slide is named Constrictor, and features a purple and yellow color combination.  Honestly it is a bit hard to photograph as it is located under the slide towers and other attractions.  Constrictor is a tube slide that features several extremely small in diameter helices.  Basically the turns are extremely tight, making for a wild tubing experience as you make your way down.  This type of slide is another recent creation by manufacturer WhiteWater West, who created all the attractions on Snake Pit.

"With this expansion at Wildwater Kingdom, we will continue to bring a best day of the Summer experience to our guests, making us the entertainment destination of choice in Eastern Pennsylvania."  That's how Mr. Fehnel wrapped up his opening speech, and I have to say that I agree with his plan - not only in theory but also in reality.  Wildwater Kingdom looks exceptional after all the renovations, there's an exciting new slide addition, and that's on top of an existing top-notch collection of attractions.  If there were ever a year to stop by and spend a day in the sun, this is certainly it.

I'll leave you with a short video of the various slides of Snake Pit in action.  That should help hold you over until you experience them yourself!


raider324 said...

Are the boa blasters and contrictir all single tubes or do they allow double tubes?