Water parks have plenty of wild waterslides, but there’s nothing (yet) quite like the Slidewheel, a bold new concept in water slide thrills from German manufacturer wiegand.maelzer GmbH. A unique hybrid of family raft ride and rotating Ferris Wheel, the first prototype Slidewheel was recently successfully tested in Europe, and will hopefully make its way across the Atlantic before long.
Since we can’t yet ride the Slidewheel for ourselves, we reached out to Rainer Maelzer, co-founder and managing director of wiegand.maelzer, for this exclusive interview about his exciting new invention.
What is the origin of Wiegand.Maelzer, and what are some of its notable past projects?
Wiegand.maelzer, originating from the bold idea to combine two materials – stainless steel and FRP, has been on the market for over 10 years. The world’s largest thermal indoor waterpark, Therme Erding, can definitely be named as one of the most fascinating and remarkable projects of our company, among many others. Kokpunkten Västerås in Sweden, Säntispark in Switzerland, Therme București in Romania, two large waterparks in Belarus, Tropical Islands in Germany, numerous thermal waterparks in Austria, such as Therme Wien (Vienna) Oberlaa, Lopiersdorf or Lutzmannsburg, are just a few other noteworthy examples of wiegand.maelzer projects.
Who had the initial idea for the Slidewheel, and what inspired the ride?
Believe it or not, the ride was inspired by a six-year old boy from Switzerland back in 2012. He had a vision of a rotating waterslide, we patented that idea and have kept ourselves busy developing it ever since. A small body slide with a total height of approximately 10 meters has evolved into a 24-meter-high monster attraction weighing 130 tons and capable of bringing joy to 12 people at once.
How long did the design and development of the Slidewheel take? What challenges did you face during that process?
It has taken us approximately four years from the original idea to the first trial with the prototype. Major challenges included adjustment of the tube to the steel wheel, calculations of the forces and the speed inside the tube, start synchronization and run out safety. As a matter of fact, this list could easily be continued – as with every large-scale project, there were quite a few obstacles and hurdles along the way.
What are the unique features of the Slidewheel that allow it to function safely with multiple simultaneous rafts?
This product must be grasped both in its complexity and its simplicity. It is plainly not possible for two rafts to collide in the tube, unless one of the teams is magically able to fly! Definitely, it is distinctive and unprecedented that a water ride and its supporting structure are rotating. One can have a tremendous influence on riders by simply adjusting the speed. The SlideWheel can be operated as a nice and mild family slide and, in the next minute, when the speed rises by five percent, as a pure adrenalin experience. This is unique and outstanding. One attraction can be operated as three different rides at least.
How have initial riders of the prototype described the experience? Have you personally ridden it yet?
The very first ride was shot on a GoPro camera. You can see joyful emotions on the riders’ faces, their smiles and their screaming. No further descriptions must be required. The SlideWheel is unique, new, never seen and experienced before.
And yes, we have tried the SlideWheel together in one raft. This was truly amazing and unforgettable.
How long (in minutes/seconds) is the Slidewheel ride experience?
In the first season the SlideWheel will be operated at a maximum speed of 30 seconds per turn. Every team does three turns per ride. From start to end, the SlideWheel is 90 seconds of pure joy. The run out will be at the level of 11.5 meters and from there the riders will be taken down to the 0 slide by a big raft slide. Roughly, this ride shall take another 20 seconds. Total SlideWheel duration will then be approximately two minutes.
Have any Slidewheels been sold yet?
Three deals have been closed as of today, two more contracts are expected to be signed very soon, and we receive numerous inquiries from all over the world and nearly every continent on a day-to-day basis.
Will a Slidewheel model be on display at IAAPA?
Yes, we intend to display a SlideWheel model and updated videos at the upcoming IAPPA show in Orlando.
Is Slidewheel solely a waterslide concept, or could a dry version be installed in a mall or indoor entertainment center?
In point of fact, we have already started working on a dry SlideWheel solution.
For more information on wiegand.maelzer, visit their website, and look for more coverage of the Slidewheel and other innovative attractions when we visit the annual IAAPA convention in November.
Check out our video of the construction timelapse and slidewheel testing below: