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Watch the Designer of the World's Tallest Water Slide Take the Plunge


The Verrückt towers over the previous tallest ride in Schlitterbahn Kansas City

Courtesy Schlitterbahn Kansas

The Verrückt towers over the previous tallest ride in Schlitterbahn Kansas City

The world’s tallest water slide opened today at the Schlitterbahn adventure park in Kansas City, Kan. Perhaps it’s more accurate to call it a wet roller coaster, as riders will plummet from a height approximating that of Niagara Falls at a speed of 65 miles per hour.

Called Verrückt—“crazy” in German—the ride was originally scheduled to open Memorial Day Weekend but was delayed because of safety concerns. After some failed test runs, Jeff Henry, the slide’s designer, says he has rectified the problems and offers video proof as he takes the harrowing plunge. Watch for yourself:

Designing the tallest water slide wasn’t always a smooth ride. Henry, who is also one of the park’s owners, told Bloomberg Businessweek in May that the first trials were disastrous, even after the team built prototypes and a 50 percent scale model. “We were picking up too many G-forces at the radius curve at the bottom,” he says. (G-force measures gravity’s affect on the body.) The danger to human riders meant that the team had to pull the structure apart and start over.

In May, Guinness World Records confirmed that the 168-foot 7-inch Verrückt is the tallest water slide in the world, besting by a little more than 5 feet the previous record holder, Kilimanjaro at Águas Quentes Country Club in Rio de Janeiro. Unlike most water slides, Verrückt has extra safety measures: Riders are strapped into mesh-covered rafts before rocketing down a nearly vertical incline and over a five-story hill. Schlitterbahn requires passengers to be at least 54 inches tall and 14 years old.

The Verrückt towers over the previous tallest ride in Schlitterbahn Kansas CityCourtesy Schlitterbahn KansasThe Verrückt towers over the previous tallest ride in Schlitterbahn Kansas City

Henry calls it “the biggest, baddest thing ever built.” But his record will probably soon be broken—and he says he hopes to be the one to break it. He’s hard at work on a taller ride based on Schlitterbahn’s Master Blaster uphill water slides. “We’re using a new means of shooting water at any speed or velocity we want, and by doing that we can reduce the cost of operating Master Blaster technology by as much as 70 or 80 percent,” he says. “It’ll be the fastest slide that exists.”

Lanks is the design editor of Businessweek.com.

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