(Photo: Great Wolf Lodge)
By Jordi Lippe for Yahoo! Travel
Just as amusement parks are in a constant competition to create the most terrifying, most stomach-dropping, and most incredible roller coasters, water parks are in what could be considered an all-out arms race of water slides.
We’ve seen the 14-story plunges and the 360-degree loops. But this is the first time that we have seen the marriage of a water slide with a video game — and it is truly awesome.
Slideboarding is the world’s first interactive video game water slide. Using rafts that double as video game controllers, riders careen through the hairpin turns of an LED-equipped fiberglass flume, scoring points by mashing control buttons that correspond to the flashing lights zooming by.
“The slide experience is no longer a passive one that riders enjoy as they twist and turn through the tube,“ Susie Storey, director of communications at Great Wolf Lodge (home to three of the slides, tells Yahoo Travel). “But instead riders must be fully engaged so they can react and earn a high score.”
As riders (players) continue to level up as their score increases, the experience with the lights changes and requires increasingly faster responses, making it new each time.
The WhiteWater West company is the brains behind the gaming attraction, and their director of imagination, Denise Weston, credited her son for inspiring the idea. “When he was younger, he and his friends would come up with target ideas, such as the joints in the fiberglass,” said Weston. “It was really watching kids play and understanding their gaming behavior and translating that to fiberglass and water, where it’s usually about the thrill and not the skill.”
With 36 levels of difficulty and the chance to track your score, riders are spending hours on the ride competing against family and friends. “We’ve ridden hundreds of water slides together, but with Slideboarding my daughter would splash down, find her score, make sure it was higher than mine, and race to the top of the stairs to do it all over again,” Dave Parfitt, founder of the travel website Adventures by Daddy, tells us. “We could ride Slideboarding all day because the video game was always changing and adapting, and we had the challenge of beating each other’s score.”
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Families get to compete for a high score. (Photo: Great Wolf Lodge)
Not only does your body become a personified joystick and interactive character, but you also get to choose your own playlist that changes the lighting system inside the flume, essentially creating a real-life version of Guitar Hero. “I loved being able to choose my own nickname and favorite pop song for my ride,” 10-year-old Jennifer DiMaria of Dix Hills, N.Y., tells us.