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Wildebeest new water ride for 2010 season

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By The Staff

SANTA CLAUS - Holiday World & Splashin' Safari officials announced Aug. 13 that the "world's longest water coaster" will open in May.

"We're calling our huge new water coaster Wildebeest," said park President Will Koch. "And when we say it's long, we really mean it. Wildebeest is one-third of a mile long and it will thrill riders for two-and-a-half splashing minutes of hills, drops, twists and turns."

Located north of Bahari wave pool, Wildebeest will begin with a conveyor ride up the water coaster's lifthill. Following the 38-foot drop at a 45-degree angle, linear induction motors will propel the four-person rafts up seven additional hills, through three tunnels and around a helix. Wildebeest will cover more than two acres, increasing the water park's size to 27 acres.

"The LIM technology for shooting the rafts up the hills is fascinating," said Koch, who earned an electrical engineering degree at Notre Dame. "An alternating magnetic field beneath the slide surface propels the rafts, pushing them rapidly and smoothly uphill. LIM technology is a popular feature in some steel roller coasters; it's cool to see it applied to water coasters, too."

Wildebeest's tallest elevation is 64 feet higher than its lowest drop; its top speed will hit 36 feet per second. The conveyor-style lifthill replaces any slide-tower stairs, making the water coaster accessible to riders who might have difficulty walking up stairs.

Today's announcement marks the second largest single-ride investment in the park's 64-year history. Koch said the price tag for Wildebeest is $5.5 million. He predicts the need to hire an additional 50 seasonal employees next season, in addition to this year's total of 2,000 seasonals.

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari are open daily through Sunday and most weekends through Oct. 11. For more information, visit the parks' Web site at www.HolidayWorld.com or call (877) 463-2645.