When no one wanted to build the world’s tallest and fastest water slide, Jeff Henry built it himself. So when Verrückt was completed, and it was time to test the 168-foot coaster in his Kansas City, Kansas, water park, the choice of test riders was rather easy.
The guinea pigs: Henry, owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts; Henry’s assistant; and head designer John Schooley.
“It was terrifying,” Schooley said. “It was great fun, but it was actually terrifying.”
The slide is finally scheduled to open to the public on Thursday, July 10, after several weeks of delays, a park spokeswoman said. Technical glitches forced the original May 23 opening date to be pushed back three times, she said.
Officially certified by Guinness World Records in May, Verrückt — which is German for “insane” — is 5 feet taller than the previous record holder, a water slide at a Rio de Janeiro country club.
Verrückt is precisely 168 feet 7 inches tall. To put that free fall in perspective, it’s longer than a plunge at Niagara Falls.
Schooley stressed, however, that the ride is more than a single drop, calling it an “extreme thrill” without comparison.
“You have three or four experiences on the ride,” he said. “There is a 3-second free fall before you get launched into a weightless situation for a few seconds, and then you come down like a roller coaster and have a long splash down.”
Officials say top speeds on Verrückt will reach 40-50 miles per hour, slightly slower than originally anticipated. The ride’s rafts have also been scaled back from four-person rafts to three-person rafts.
“We always ride our rides first,” Schooley said. “And we found out it was too steep and too short. So we were able to redesign it from what we learned. We tore down two-thirds of the slide and rebuilt it into the design we have now.”
“It would have been relatively easy to do (just one drop) a long run-out, but to shoot you back over another hill was extremely challenging,” Schooley said.