ProSlide Technology guarantees unforgettable emotions for adventure seekers with its sensational water slides, which entertain millions of water park visitors on five continents
The number of innovative water rides created by ProSlide® Technology over the years is so overwhelming that it would be perfectly accurate to proclaim the Canadian designer and manufacturer of adventurous water slides as the emblem of the water park industry in the past 30 years. The company is the brainchild of Rick Hunter – a former national ski team racer, whose vision has always been to reflect alpine ski racing’s smooth turns, steep grades, and big drops in the design of the water rides. Today, he is still intricately involved with the development of new products and his passion is nowhere near fading. Over the course of its history, ProSlide has continuously reinvested a substantial amount of its profit into the R&D division of the business, leading to the creation of some of the most extraordinary water slides the world has seen. Perfectionist to the core, the company even has its own water park built on a ski hill to test its slides, which also explains its expertise in maximizing topography.
While practically impossible to list all the ProSlide inventions, we get to speak with Mike Fergusson, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations, who talks us through some of the most important milestones the company has reached. “We started developing body slides and tube rafting slides, before we got into what we call ‘features’, like the funnels you can see on our rides, in the late 1990s. In 2006, we invented the first linear induction motor-powered water coaster, a genuine game-changer in our industry.”
A cross between a water slide and a roller coaster, the HydroMAGNETIC® ROCKET® is the most prominent representative of the technology. The linear induction motor propels people uphill and the experience has often been described as identical to ‘riding a bobsled on water’. “We have then used that same coaster mentality as the basis for our RocketBLAST™, which we incepted in 2015,” Mike points out. “We introduced a new water propulsion technology that drives three and four person boats at higher speed and delivers uncompromising force. Because it uses water as a propulsion, it also constitutes a more affordable water coaster solution for more parks.”
The RocketBLAST™ positions custom water jets to apply consistent force to the boat and enable it to speed up steep hills. Water is directed incrementally along the boat’s sides to help it glide smoothly. For further acceleration, nozzles direct high-speed water onto a patented channel on the side of each boat. The boat’s cup-shaped pockets then capture the water’s dynamic energy to create 50 per cent more efficiency than the original blaster technology for a truly exhilarating ride that promises to skyrocket your adrenaline.
“Parallel with the RocketBLAST™ slide, we also patented the FlyingSAUCER™ feature to build a hybrid ride between the two,” notes Mike. The saucer shape, combined with the water coaster technology, is steeply angled to create the constant acceleration and ‘drop-and-dive’ sensations, closely resembling a World Cup giant slalom ski race. “We have had these features installed at a number of sites all over the world already, the latest park to feature it is Hersheypark in Pennsylvania.
“Another ride we have just recently introduced to Hersheypark, is our new mat RallyRACER™, which we have turned into a dueling ride that gives you the opportunity to race against your friends,” Mike continues. High above the pool, the competitors launch themselves headfirst into their own tubes, coming out onto either an open or an enclosed flume that allows them to see and/or hear each other as they splash into the pool. Along the sharp descent, the racers rocket through drops with bumps creating speed, compression, and zero-gravity moments to maximise the thrill of the experience.
Strong growth indicators
First launched in 2003, ProSlide’s most iconic product, however, remains the TORNADO® 60 – a funnel that, as its name suggests, is 60 feet in diameter. “We have installed more than 240 TORNADO funnels in the last 15 years, and, at the moment, it is the most notable ride not just for us, but for the entire marketplace. It is super thrilling and can be a bit intimidating, but it is an extremely fun ride,” laughs Mike.
Standing six storeys high, the enormous TORNADO® 60 exalts the courageous with bursts of speed, crushing G-forces, and heart-stopping weightless hang time. Riders enter the TORNADO at the steepest angles and the fastest speeds, but as they sweep high up the opposite wall, the feeling of weightlessness possesses them completely, before they are devoured by the curve funnel, which safely slides them down to the pool.
“The TORNADO features at the Aquaventure Waterpark in the Atlantis Sanya resort, in the south of China, which opened only a couple of months ago, in May 2018. So does the RocketBLAST™, as well as our RideHOUSE® product line, which consists of play structures for kids. In fact, Atlantis Sanya boasts one of the largest RideHOUSE® sets in the world,” Mike explains, going on to discuss the geographical regions that have proven especially receptive to the company’s breath-taking rides.
“China has evidently been one of the fastest growing areas for ProSlide in recent times, but this can be said for many parts of the continent. We have been working on and installing rides in Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia, so the entire region has been a fairly hot bed of activity for us, especially in the last couple of years,” he reveals. “We also see strong indicators of growth in Australia, as well, and the EU is beginning to pick up pace, too. Eastern Europe, in particular, is fairly strong. As to our home market in North America, we have witnessed quite a resurgence in the past three years, which is another positive sign for the future.”
Working in partnership
Known for partnering with some of the largest and most popular water parks around the world, ProSlide has just opened several new rides in what has been labelled ‘the best water park in the world’ by Trip Advisor – Siam Park, in Tenerife. “Furthermore, we work closely with Great Wolf Lodge and we have installed rides in 16 of their parks in North America. Six Flags is another big customer of ours, and the good news is that both of them are starting to branch out globally,” Mike enthuses.
“Because of the nature of our products and the fact that they need to be installed in large spaces, we tend to partner with some preferred clients, installing the rides right in their park, where we perform all the testing in the presence of the customer. Only when we are certain that we have reached 100 per cent safety and operability, do we hand the product over. We have devised a three-year product roadmap for new slides, so watch this space for some exciting product announcements,” he teases us.
Since Mike joined ProSlide six years ago, the company has more than tripled its workforce, currently employing around 160 staff, and to him, the priority in the coming years will be to control the tremendous growth the business has achieved in the last three years. “We have grown by 30 per cent over this period, so we now want to make our growth more manageable and keep it at reasonable levels. The water parks industry is posed for a strong spell in the next ten years, therefore, we have to make sure that we scale with its requirements, as well.
“To achieve our goals, we will continue to focus on our people, processes, and technologies. Our constant innovation and improvement philosophy has taken us to incredible heights, and I am certain that our customers can relate to the values we promote, as they recognize us as the leading supplier of some of the best water rides in the industry.”
Products: Water rides