Water Ride vs. Roller Coaster: Now You Don’t Have to Choose

I love roller coasters for many reasons: the wind in my face, the thrilling plunges downhill and back up, the sharp turns, that feeling of weightlessness and the tingle in my stomach as I dive. But during a season that can feel like one long heat wave, one thing would make riding a coaster even better: a nice big splash.

The only problem is that usually you have to choose. You can take a mind-bending coaster. Or you can take a water ride, which may give you dips, turns and showers but won’t provide the up-and-down rush of being on a track.

Enter the water coaster. These coasters — which have been increasingly cropping up at water parks around the world — combine the hills of a roller coaster with the splashy fun of a water slide. Though it may not seem like it, creating such a ride is a feat of engineering that requires a good deal of technology. Some of the coasters use blasts of water pressure to shoot rafts uphill in a seemingly gravity-defying feat. Others use linear induction motors, or LIM, to propel rafts uphill in a way that looks like magic. They also incorporate tunnels, lights, water walls and giant drops. And over the years, the rides have gotten taller, faster and longer.

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