Aquatica Puts A New Twist on Water Slides!

Aquatica® Tickets , Orlando , Expert View Column
Father and daughter on Roas Rapids at Aquatica Orlando
By’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
Get ready for a truly original water park experience with the brand new Tassie’s Underwater Twist

When SeaWorld Orlando opened its Aquatica water park in 2008, it brought a real freshness to the genre, with several first-of-the-kind attractions. This month, they have gone and done it again with their newest ride, as Tassie’s Underwater Twist offers a truly eye-popping experience among the park’s splendid array of watery fun.

It shouldn’t be a great surprise, of course. Aquatica – which celebrated its 15th birthday last year in high style – has been raising the bar for new features almost year on year, with no fewer than six major additions in the past seven years.

But their latest – and very possibly greatest – attraction is really something special, the likes of which we haven’t seen before.


Tassie's Underwater Twist


The special media preview was on March 12 (just ahead of the official March 15 opening), and park president Brad Gilmour made sure their latest investment didn’t get a low-key introduction.

He explained: “For the past four years, Aquatica has been named the country’s number one water park, and that’s a testament to our creative services team, who develop and create these unique, one-of-a-kind attractions, and our ambassadors, who work at this park day in and day out and create an amazing experience.

“Tassie’s Underwater Twist is the world’s most immersive water slide. You will slide down our tube into the Super Bowl, and you’ll be in the middle of a fully 360-degree, fully encompassed projection system with audio. It will transport you to Australia’s Shark Bay, where you will see whales coming into the frame, you will see sea turtles, schools of fish, even a shark or two, and it’s always going to be a different and unique experience as you fly. 

“The ride vehicle for this attraction is a double raft, so we can accommodate one solo rider or two riders together. I would categorise this as a family thrill ride, and there is definitely a thrilling ride component to the experience.”

For once, absolutely none of that is hyperbole. In fact, Brad might have under-sold this all-new ride experience, because it’s an absolute dazzler. Each of Orlando’s other four water parks all have their own headline attraction that draws the biggest queue. At Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon it is the thrilling “water-coaster” Crush ’n Gusher, while Blizzard Beach impresses with family raft ride Teamboat Springs. At Universal’s Volcano Bay, the outstanding attraction is the fab Krakatau Aqua Coaster, while Island H2O in Kissimmee boasts the double-dipping fun of The Downloader two-person raft ride.

Aquatica has had plenty of contenders for ‘Top Thrill’ prior to this year, most notably heart-stopping body slides Reef Plunge and Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, dueling racer Riptide Race and family raft rides KareKare Curl and Ray Rush. But that big, standout attraction was hard to pin down (especially as we also love the all-out fun of Roa’s Rapids, the hilarious white-water river excursion). Until now.


Tassie's Underwater Twist


You only have to see Tassie’s Underwater Twist to realise it is on a different scale to just about everything else. The imposing, fully enclosed, twin aquamarine ‘Super Bowls’ are the key component, but there is also the three-storey tower with the connecting blue tube that starts it all off. From the top, riders board their raft and pull themselves into the tube, where the current quickly pulls them in to the main section of the ride. From the enclosed tube, the raft suddenly bursts into the main bowl and the full effect of the undersea immersion takes over.

From projection equipment in the top centre of the bowl, the full Shark Bay underwater imagery surrounds riders in a total 360-degree panorama, accompanied by a stirring orchestral soundtrack that really adds to the marine effect.

The sharpness of the video and realistic nature of the projections almost makes you hold your breath as the raft twirls around the bowl three or four times, before being dumped out of a central drain into the splashdown zone below. It is a pretty brief experience at just 35-40 seconds, and there are quite a few steps to climb to reach the launch point atop the tower, but we think it is definitely worth it for the vivid nature of the underwater projections, which definitely have a life of their own.

Now, sharp-eyed readers who know Aquatica well will probably spot the essential contradiction at the basis of the new ride. Because it isn’t a ‘new’ ride in the sense of being a completely new construction. Oh no.


Reef Plunge


In fact, Tassie’s Underwater Twist is actually an updated version of the previous Tassie’s Twisters bowl ride. But, just as Turi’s Kid Cove was a distinct improvement on the previous Kata’s Kookaburra Cove last year, Reef Plunge gave us an enhanced version of the original Dolphin Plunge, and Ray Rush was a major step up from HooRoo Run, so the Underwater Twist is a real upgrade on its predecessor.

We would go as far as to say this DOES, actually, feel like something new thanks to the technology involved, and we think this is something visitors will want to ride over and over again because of the novelty factor and the fact the experience is slightly different each time from the changing nature of the projections.

So, if you’re ready for a (mild) thrill, and the feel of sliding along under the waves, then Tassie’s Underwater Twist is definitely the water ride for you this year!


Ride Info: Riders under 48 inches tall are required to wear a life jacket, but as long as you can sit upright in the raft and maintain a proper riding position, you are good to go, and it is billed as a fully family-orientated experience.


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Aquatica® Tickets , Orlando , Expert View Column