11 Feb     How To Make A Splash

Posted at 12:00AM

WhiteWater West is the leading global designer and manufacturer of innovative waterpark products and active family attractions. They are responsible for manufacturing many of the new waterpark attractions coming to Carowinds, including Seaside Splashworks and Blackbeard's Revenge. We sat down with David Svehla, senior project manager at WhiteWater West, to talk shop about Carolina Harbor and take an in-depth look at the magic happening in Carolina Harbor waterpark at Carowinds.

WhiteWater West

1. What do you do as a project manager in relation to Carolina Harbor?

My role as Project Manager (PM) is to be the glue that holds the execution of the project together. For Carolina Harbor, I’m responsible for coordinating the production of engineering drawings, manufacturing of steel and fiberglass, shipping, installation and commissioning of the Blackbeard’s Revenge waterslide complex and Seaside Splashworks! I act as the single point of contact between the project and the many, many teams at WhiteWater working to complete the various components.

2. What materials are White Water West manufacturing for Carolina Harbor?

WhiteWater is responsible for producing the steel waterslide towers, all fiberglass waterslide flumes, entry and exit boxes, and the play structure including all slides, interactive features, tipping bucket and theme. We’re also responsible for installing our equipment, testing it and commissioning it for use by the excited waterpark guests!

3. In total, how many different slides and how many different slide parts are being manufactured for Blackbeard's Revenge?

The new Blackbeard’s Revenge slide tower consists of 6 individual waterslides including three side-by-side Flatline Loops with AquaLaunch starts (Pirate's Plank), two classic Inner-Tube Slides with innovative AquaLucent technology (Cannonball Drop) and a spine-tingling Constrictor (Captain's Curse). In total, we are manufacturing 614 fiberglass waterslide parts that are put together using 15,660 each of nuts and bolts. The 614 fiberglass parts make up a total of 2245.46 feet of ride length!

Blackbeard's Revenge is a very large slide complex. To put it in context, to ride Captain's Curse or Cannonball Drop, guests must climb 90 stairs. To get to the trap door slides (Pirate's Plank), guests must climb another 25 stairs to reach the 67-foot tall launch pad!

Guess which waterslide is the longest of the 6? (Answer: Captain's Curse)

4. How does the manufacturing process begin? How do you identify the specifications of each slide and create them to each exact detail?

Our slide path designers start with modeling the waterslides on a computer using a kit of fiberglass parts, much like building with Lego pieces except much more complex. Using the modeled waterslides, we run computer-generated simulations that show us the slide path a rider takes. We use these simulations to test out various weights, water flows and ride experiences to perfect it. During the process of slide path development, the colors of the waterslides are also chosen. Out of the models and engineering drawings come the parts list that shows part-by-part what’s required to build, for example, a yellow Flatline Loop with translucent sections. These parts lists are divided up to various teams to begin manufacturing. The single project manager continues to act as the “glue," keeping all the various ordered and manufactured parts on schedule and ensure they are delivered to the right destination at the right time.

5. What elements do you look for to create excellent attractions?

In order to create a great attraction, our goal is to safely maximize the variety of experiences. These experiences include anticipation, fast turns, big oscillation corners, cascading drops, zero gravity drops and maximum gravity corners. By combining these experiences in different ways, we can create many different ride experiences.

6. How do you test your slides? What kind of safety precautions go into designing these types of attractions?

During the design phase, we run computer simulations that show us how exactly how the raft or rider will behave in the slide based on a number of variables. With 35 years of experience designing waterslides, we have become experts in creating designs that produce an exceptional ride experience. Once the slide is built, it goes through another round of testing to ensure it’s completely safe and ready to be opened to the general public. Our Installation advisers test the waterslide in various situations during ride certification to ensure even if the slides are not operated with proper weights or water flow, accidents will be avoided.

7. How closely do you and your team consider themes in your design and manufacturing?

Most often the theming is client driven, but when a complex or play structure is set to be themed, it is very carefully considered in the overall design from the very beginning. Seaside Splashworks is a perfect example of this. The water fortress has a heavy influence of Coastal Carolina theming, and we kept that in mind with almost every play element.

8. What does the manufacturing process involve? How long does it typically take to complete a piece or an entire attraction like Blackbeard’s Revenge (six-story slide complex with three attractions and six slides)?

The manufacturing process of creating the various components of each waterslide and each play structure are very involved and complex. The process starts with engineering work for the new waterslide complex and developing all the required drawings. The engineering stage takes roughly 4 weeks. Next, the drawings are sent to manufacturing where they convert the models and drawings into actual waterslide parts! The manufacturing phase takes roughly 8 – 10 weeks. Once the parts are all shipped to the site, the installation begins. The installation period varies depending on the project, but for Blackbeard’s Revenge it’s slated to take about 6 weeks.

9. What are you and your team’s overall mission when creating waterpark attractions?

Our overall mission is ensuring we have happy clients and we’re helping our clients be successful. We want to support their goals by putting smiles on each guests’ face by providing world-class attractions! We aim to help them build a park that is not only functional and safe, but also provides the best experience possible.

10. What is the most rewarding part in creating these types of attractions and the most rewarding part of your job?

One of the rewarding parts of my job is the challenges and victories that come up throughout the entire process. Each project is different and overcoming the unique challenges of a complex site or a remote destination keeps my job interesting.

The best part is seeing the happy client at the end of a project. Being able to support our client’s vision by delivering quality waterpark products.

In addition to the new waterpark attractions at Carowinds, there are several other additions coming in 2016. For a complete listing, click here.

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