When Adventure Island opens for the soaking season Saturday, the perfectly fine water park will finally have its first perfectly star-making attraction: Colossal Curl, a 622-foot-long thrill slide with a "weightless wave wall" as its looming gut check finale.
I conquered Colossal Curl twice during media day, but I could have splashed down that beast 10 more times and still wouldn't have been ready for the drop-then-rise of that finish.
You're like a human windshield wiper. Very cool.
AI's charms have always been centered on its manageability: It's modestly sized at 30 acres, family friendly, affordably priced at about $44 per person. It's clean with wide walkways; even when the joint is slammed, it doesn't feel uncomfortable. (Okay, that lazy river can get a little thick.) The water slides are good enough, with one of them approaching greatness: Wahoo Run, a five-person rafter with decent downhill speed.
Colossal Curl, now the tallest ride at the park at 70 feet, is in the same spot as the since-demolished Gulf Scream, a speed slide once considered the park's ultimate chicken-out test. The new ride improves on both the nerve-testing of Gulf Scream and the all-together-now whoosh of Wahoo Run. It's a gem — even if it lasts only a fast 42 seconds.
(By the way, allow the theme park nerd in me to also gush about how gorgeous Colossal Curl is, all mesmerizing yellows and blues. Slides can get sun bleached down here, making everything look sad, but this one should hold up pretty well.)
The height requirement is 48 inches. No solo passengers allowed. You need at least two riders minimum per four-person raft, with the total weight restriction set at 700 pounds. Fair warning: You have to walk up 114 steps (I was sucking wind) and then have a weigh-in with your party (I was sucking in my gut).
But if all that doesn't keep you away, you're in for a screamy treat. My claustrophobia often kicks in at water parks; no tight tubes for this 6-foot-2, 190-pounder. But Colossal Curl's mammoth fiberglass sections, built by Canada's ProSlide Technology, are humongous and spacious. The entire attraction weighs about 293,500 pounds.
Of course, the reason it is so mammoth is for the steep banking; your clover-shaped raft climbs the heck out of those high walls, as if the Jamaican bobsled team wore Speedos. There's also more than the usual number of water-in-your-face moments. If you go in thirsty, you won't be at the end.
About that end: There is no feeling or thrill at Adventure Island quite like Colossal Curl's ultimate kicker. In fact, it even rivals the sheer adrenaline boost of a lot of the screamers across the street at Busch Gardens.
After twisting and turning, down and down, you get sucked down into a steep roller-coaster-type drop that then propels you straight up onto a weightless wave wall. If it's not 90 degrees, it sure looks like it, and the feeling is both physics-defying what-the-heck and pure joy.
Somehow gravity knows exactly where to send you. Let's hope it keeps remembering.
Contact Sean Daly at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife.