clientUniversal Orlando Resort
whitewater raft ride is world’s biggest and fastest
When Universal Studios wanted to develop the world’s biggest, fastest whitewater raft ride for its Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida, Barr was selected to provide hydraulic, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering services. The concept called for abrupt changes in velocity, surprise turns, and vertical lifts of more than two feet, so maintaining passenger safety presented challenges.
Barr's hydraulic designs moved water at a high velocity but minimized raft impact on channel sides. We designed Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges’ 2000-foot course, through which water travels at up to 16 feet per second, courtesy of a recirculation pump station with three 640-horsepower, submersible axial flow pumps. Our control-system design included computers that operate the ride equipment, monitor the number of rafts in each zone, and control special boat brakes designed to prevent too many rafts in any safety zone simultaneously. We also designed a rotating turntable where riders board and disembark.
The finished ride features twisting channels, spinning 12-person rafts, deep plunges and ascents—even a waterfall that the rafts go over. It continues to be a riders’ favorite and was nominated for 2010’s Best Theme Park Ride – Best Themed Ride by Theme Park Insider.