News Column

Dorney Park's new Snake Pit water slide provides an adrenaline rush

May 31, 2014

By Kathy Lauer-Williams, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)



May 31--"I thought I was going to die."

That was the reaction of Sean Kullman, 13, the first Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom visitor to shoot down the Python Plummet. It's a new free-fall water slide that is part of the Snake Pit complex of water slides.

"The anticipation of waiting was the scariest part," the Alburtis seventh-grader said as he prepared to climb the steps for a second ride. "Then the floor dropped out and I screamed. But once the drop is over, you relax, and it's a lot of fun."

Sean was among the season-pass holders who got to ride the six slides starting at 10:15 a.m. Friday before they opened to other visitors to the South Whitehall amusement park later that morning.

The $4.5 million slide is the first major upgrade of Wildwater Kingdom since 2007. It's part of an $8 million face lift at Dorney's water park, which celebrates its 30th season this year.

Snake Pit, a sprawling twist of colored tubes, opened a week later than scheduled. Michael Fehnel, Dorney's general manager, said construction was delayed by "one of most challenging winters we've ever seen in Eastern Pennsylvania."

The seven-story Snake Pit, he said, will make the water park "wilder and wetter."

Fehnel said he was "blown away" when he first rode the 450 feet Python Plummet water slide.

"I can't tell the words that came out of my mouth when the floor dropped," he said. "That's between me and the Fiberglas."

The set of three Python Plummet slides is the highlight of Snake Pit. You enter a capsule and hear a countdown. Then the floor drops out, sending you down a nearly vertical tube for 65 feet. Then the slide levels off and goes through a series of curves before dropping you off in a shallow pool.

This reporter found it to be an adrenaline a rush. My first ride literally took my breath away.

Marisa Saeger, 21, of Allentown, hesitated before she took the plunge. "When the floor dropped out I was speechless," she said. "My heart started racing."

After testing all three Python Plummet slides, Sean Kullman said the orange tube was the fastest but the red tube "swung and twisted you around more." "They were all good," he said.

The Snake Pit complex also includes The Constrictor, a 450-feet-long tube slide that features four 360-degree loops, and Boa Blaster, two dueling 50-foot-high tube slides with S turns. The Boa Blasters feature rainbow-colored plastic sections in the tubes. As you zip through, you enjoy the rainbow effect from the sunlight filtering through.

Wildwater Kingdom now boasts 28 water slides, as well as two wave pools and two lazy rivers. Fehnel said Dorney stands out among parent company Cedar Fair Entertainment's 11 amusement parks for its water attractions. Cedar Fair's parks also include Cedar Point of Sandusky, Ohio, and Knott's Berry Farm, outside Los Angeles.

Other improvements to Wildwater Kingdom include a new 4,000-square-foot locker area with electronic locks rather than keys; wider midways; a new shade structure; updated sound system and new chairs and lounge chairs, Fehnel said. Everything also has gotten a fresh coat of paint.

"We truly touched every inch of Wildwater Kingdom," he said.

kathy.lauer@mcall.com

610-778-2235

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