World’s tallest ‘insane’ water slide opens in Kansas City
The tallest water slide in the world opened last Thursday to the shrieks of riders who plunged at up to 80kmh down what a Kansas water park calls Verruckt, the German word for insane.
"Awesome, it felt like we were in the air the whole time," said Nick Reeves, 14, the front-seat passenger for the public's first ride on the slide, after taking the plunge.
Reeves said he, his twin brother, Chris, and father Troy, made the trek from Arizona for the ride.
Verruckt is 51.4m high, towering over the Schlitterbahn Waterpark and rivalling the height of Niagara Falls.
Taller than the Statue of Liberty, from toe to torch, the climb to the top is 264 steps.
Riders are strapped into a raft that has room for three people and dives 17 storeys in a near vertical descent before getting propelled back up five storeys by rushing water and plunging a second time before it comes to a stop.
The descent takes 15 to 20 seconds.
"It was breathtaking," said Paige Rife, 17, of Olathe, Kansas.
"It was actually steeper than I thought. I screamed all the way down."
The slide is nearly 1.5m taller than the previous record holder in Rio de Janeiro called Kilimanjaro, the Guinness World Records said on its website.
Operators postponed the opening of the Kansas City slide three times to ensure safety.
Several riders said the raft felt like it travelled above the rushing water.
But ride designer John Schooley said the raft is in constant contact with water during the entire trip down the fibreglass slide.
Riders must be at least 1.37m tall to take the plunge and are weighed to make sure rafts are run with a combined weight of 181kg to 249kg.
A net surrounds the slide on its descent, not out of concern that riders could be thrown out, but that they won't try to climb out if the raft stops for some reason, Mr Schooley said.
A sign warns people they should ride Verruckt only if they are in good physical and mental condition.
Riders said it felt safe, if a bit scary.
"Insane is a good name for it," said Mike Van Elsen of Kansas City.
It was actually steeper than I thought. I screamed all the way down.
- Paige Rife, 17, of Kansas