After theme park powerhouse Cedar Fair L.P. acquired Knott's Berry Farm in 1998 and installed thrilling attractions Ghostrider and Supreme Scream, many people thought the rapid expansion was over, but only two years later, Knott's saw the construction of a brand new high-thrills attraction: Perilous Plunge.
Though not technically a roller coaster, this water ride features the same thrills as a traditional scream machine. Simply the long, slow climb up the steep, 45-degree lift hill plays psychological war games with the riders, heightening the fear and raising the tension as the boat climbs higher and higher.
Located in the park's Boardwalk area, Perilous Plunge can easily be seen by folks driving up from Western Avenue or La Palma Avenue. The ride itself is rather simple to describe. A boat leaves the station and proceeds up a steep lift hill, evening out over 120 feet in the air. Rolling around the turnaround, the boat than plummets down a steep drop into a flood lane, soaking the passengers and any park visitors who stand on a bridge that spans over the splashdown area. However, it is the specifics that make this ride extra special. Standing at 121 feet tall, Perilous Plunge is the tallest water flume ride in the world. It's 115 foot drop is also the longest in the world, and the mind-boggling 75 degree descent is a world record for steepest drop on a water ride. To ponder that amazing fact, consider that most roller coaster drops do not exceed 65 degrees in steepness. The plunge is so close to vertical that the water actually leaps off the side of the drop at one point, meaning that if the boat was not secured to the track, it would come flying off to the ground as well.
On a hot summer day, the line for Perilous Plunge will be overflowing. The combination of many hot folks waiting to be drenched by cool, refreshing water and a loading procedure that has since become in-depth, complex, and very tedious makes a long wait no surprise. While the hot weather cannot be prevented, the new loading procedures is the result of a tragedy that occurred on the ride in 2001, where a woman fell to her death as the boat dropped because she was not fastened securely enough to her seat. The force of the drop literally threw the woman out of her seat, even with the presence of a lap bar. As a result, the ride was shut down for months as Knott's installed a new set of safety equipment.
Now, when passengers climb into the 25-seat Perilous Plunge boats, they must buckle a standard lap seat belt, pull the lap bar firmly, AND wear a four-point harness, which is similar to the restraints worn by fighter jet pilots. In fact, after the procedure is over, riders may be so strapped in that they feel like they actually are fighter pilots. Those who worry about mildew on the soppy restraints may also feel a bit queasy when climbing in.
After a few minutes, the boat finally beings its ascent. During this first half of the ride, the boat is actually more like a roller coaster car. There is no water on the lift hill, and the mechanism that pulls the boat up is more similar to a lift chain than the traditional rolling belt found in most other water rides. Upon reaching the top, the train dips a bit and then makes about a 210 degree left turn. The tension mounts as some passengers begin to freak about the ordeal. Then, the boat tilts down, and plunges 115 feet at 75 degrees, plowing into the splashdown area at an amazing 50 miles per hour. The force is enough to create an enormous, tsunami-like 45-foot tall wave that crashes back onto the riders of the boat and the park guests standing on the overhead bridge. Just to give an idea of the scale of this wave, the DROP of the Coca-Cola Log Ride, another flume attraction, is 40 feet tall. Simply the wave generated by Perilous Plunge is taller than the actual drop of another attraction! The wave is so huge that it actually seems to hit people in parts. It's almost like a wave within a wave. Another fantastic fact to ponder is that Perilous Plunge's drop is actually taller than the drop of the wooden coaster, Ghostrider!
After splashing down, the boat gradually slows to a leisurely, gentle drift, slowly turning to the right back toward the station. It could take hours for riders' clothes to dry, but the thrill has been well worth it. Besides, perhaps when they return home, they won't need a shower!
Knott's Berry Farm
July 22, 2000
Shoot-the-chutes water ride
1 minute 30 seconds
- 75 degree drop
- Tallest and steepest drop on
water ride in the world
- Splash wave of up to 45
- PHOTOS -
Photos courtesy of America Coasters Network.
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