August 15, 1999
Buena Park, CA -- Just 24 months after debuting the world's tallest descending thrill ride and the West's longest wooden roller coaster, Knott's Berry Farm in Southern California will make another entry into the theme park record books by building the tallest and steepest water ride in the world in time for Summer 2000.
Named Perilous Plunge, the Niagara-sized thrill ride in Knott's Boardwalk themed area will send guests in 24-passenger boats up a 121-foot-tall lift before plummeting them down a world-record 115-foot water chute at a revolutionary 75-degree angle - just 15 degrees from a sheer vertical, waterfall-like drop-off! The high-tech mega-thriller and related improvements represent the next phase of redevelopment of the park's largest themed area, introduced in 1996 as a tribute to Southern California's celebrated beach lifestyle.
With an eye toward year-round guest satisfaction, Knott's designers have equipped the new attraction with a state-of-the-art braking system enabling officials to control not only the speed of the cascading boats but the size of the splash and the extent which riders get wet on colder days. At their top speed of 50 mph (13 feet per second), Perilous Plunge's descending boats will generate an amazing 45-foot, 180-degree splash - the biggest in the theme park industry.
"We wanted to create a big splash on The Boardwalk, our tribute to Southern California's beach culture - and this is about as big as it gets," explained Jack Falfas, Knott's vice president and general manager. "Perilous Plunge will not only introduce the world to a new level of water thrills, it will reinforce Knott's ongoing commitment to world-class themed attractions."
Three 14,500-pound boats will travel the Plunge's 1-minute track, accommodating 1,900 riders an hour. State-of-the-art water pumping technology will pump 40,000 gallons of water up the 121-foot-lift per minute.
No less impressive than the attraction's record-shattering thrills is its attention to design detail. Building heavily on the 1920s California boardwalk theme, Perilous Plunge will give guests the impression they are boarding a thrill ride on a legendary Southern California pleasure pier of the past. Riders will access Perilous Plunge's themed queuing and loading areas by walking under a giant 1920s billboard rising 50 feet over the midway.
Heavily themed merchandise, food and games facilities will add to the vintage 1920s look - as will a 420-foot-long viewing and activity "boardwalk" running the entire midway length of the attraction. A dining deck on the southern end of Perilous Plunge's 420-foot-by-175-foot footprint will thematically link the attraction to the existing Lindy's Cafe and HammerHead's Subs food facilities. After splashdown and unloading, exiting riders will return to the Boardwalk midway by walking across a 125-foot-long "Splash Pier" offering an unparalleled photo - and splash! - opportunity for exiting riders lingering long enough to watch (and feel) the cascading boats directly below.
As a design tribute to Huntington Beach, ascending and descending boats will shoot through the middle of a 90-foot-tall oil derrick, with the ride's 865-foot-long track forming a giant "figure-eight" pattern in the middle of new, 650,000-gallon California Harbor. Rocks, buoys, watercraft and other seaworthy props will adorn the new harbor, which becomes Knott's second-largest body of water (Bigfoot Rapids is 800,000 gallons).
Other Southern California landmarks figured prominently in the design of the new attraction. Whimsical remnants of Avalon on Catalina Island and Huntington Beach's surf and oil-drilling past can be seen throughout Perilous Plunge's scenic California Harbor area.
The announcement of Perilous Plunge signals the next phase of redevelopment of the Boardwalk, introduced in 1996 as an updated version of the Roaring 20s area originally opened in 1976. As part of the 73,500-square-foot redevelopment site along Western Avenue, Knott's HeadAche ride will be permanently retired. HeadSpin and a new ride, Wipeout, a classic spinning attraction, will be relocated to an area under Windjammer. The Pacific Pavilion, formerly home to marine mammals and, most recently, in-line skate, skateboard and BMX bike athletes, will be removed. An existing restroom facility also will be demolished but not before a new facility is completed north of the recently opened Coasters Diner. The existing midway will be moved east 40 feet toward Boomerang to straddle the Boardwalk's ten towering Canary Island palms.
In addition, the Parachute Sky Jump, long a victim of low ridership, will be permanently retired to make way for future new attractions at the base of the Sky Tower, home of the rotating Sky Cabin, which will remain operational.
Currently, the world's tallest water ride is 100-foot-tall Tidal Force at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania. Universal Studios' Jurassic Park attractions in California and Florida drop guests 84 and 85 feet, respectively.
Officials will break ground for Perilous Plunge immediately upon closure of Knott's "Extremely Cool Summer" season in early September.