An excerpt from an email I sent a couple of weeks ago
Incidentally, I went to a theme park (Thorpe Park, near London) with some friends yesterday, which was good fun. The best part was when we went to a ride called ‘Tidal Wave’.
Now, Tidal Wave is basically a big log flume (like Splash Mountain). When you first enter the park, you can see that Tidal Wave creates a *huge* splash when it hits the water. Pretty impressive. Anyway, when we got to the ride, we all oohed and ahhed over it, passed all of our expensive and breakable stuff to a friend who was sitting on the sidelines and then made our way to the ride itself.
On the entrance to the ride, it says ‘WARNING: You will get very wet on this ride!’ Being a hardened and experienced theme park goer, I have no real fear of water rides and generally these warning signs mean ‘You will be splashed by a few drops of water’. Thus, we just laughed heartily at the warning sign and proceeded on.
I suppose that we should have started getting a bit more cautious when we saw that some people on the ride were wearing waterproof clothing, but it didn’t bother us at the time. Soon enough we got into the log itself and were being cranked up the big slope to the top. Another warning was apparent: there was a worrying amount of water sloshing about in the log.
Finally we made it to the top and then started on the precipitious drop to the water below, accompanied by much screaming and profanities. There was an absolutely enormous splash that made water rise about three or four stories into the air.
I thought, ‘No worries, the water will just go to the sides of the log and I’ll be safe and dry here.’ About 0.1 seconds later, I saw the water start to drop down towards us, and thought ‘Uh oh, maybe I should’ve worn more than two T-shirts for this ride*,’ and lamely tried to duck.
A further second later and the equivalent of the Pacific Ocean had just dropped itself upon us. Even worse, the downpour continued for several more seconds. Once all the water was down, we were absolutely soaked. I am convinced that we couldn’t have been any wetter even if we’d gone swimming with our clothes on. Suffice to say that we were in a state of shock at this point.
*See, I thought that wearing an additional T-shirt would be more than enough protection for this ride. As it happens, it merely meant that I got two T-shirts drenched instead of one
Somehow we staggered out of the log flume at the end of the ride and I pulled off one of the T-shirts, wandering around aimlessly. But the ordeal wasn’t over, oh no. When you exit the disembarkation part of the ride, you walk onto a little bridge that sits alongside the splash pool itself. Yes, you guessed it – while we were walking along the bridge, the next log came whizzing down and a tidal wave started soaring towards us. I remember seeing out of the corner of my eye and thinking, ‘Oh shit.’ Things ran in slow motion from that point on – I was desperately trying to run towards the relative safety of the hut from which we’d just come from, but it was too far away!
And thus we all got drenched. Again. Including the guys who’d had the foresight to wear a poncho – but who’d taken it off by that point…
Sophie thought this was all very hilarious while standing up at the observation deck and taking photos with my camera. The observation deck deserves some explanation. It’s a bridge that directly faces the directon of the splash pool and tidal wave from the ride. If you stand in the middle of the bridge while the log comes down, then you’ll get soaked by the water, and it’s great fun to see unsuspecting people get caught out (for the more clued up people, there are windowed sections on either side of the bridge).
Even more fun is playing chicken with the tidal wave, in which you get a group of people all waiting to see who’ll be the last to jump out of the way of the wave. I’m pleased and honoured to say that I won twice at the game of tidal wave chicken while (if I may say so myself) heroically flinging myself out of the way of the water, action-movie style, with the water nipping at my heels as I sail away.