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Water, Cooler

With more intense rides--just the way young adults like 'em--Hurricane Harbor aims to attract the whole family.

May 15, 1997|IRENE GARCIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Welcome to Black Snake Summit at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. It's a 75-foot tower and attached to it are five thrilling water slides.

The most intimidating is Venom Drop, an open flume slide with an almost vertical 75-foot plunge. Twisted Fang and Coiled Cobra are also 75 feet tall, and Sidewinder and Boa Constrictor are enclosed and winding 59-foot tube slides.

Riders speed down the slides on their backs, with arms crossed over chests.

"It's such a big rush," said 20-year-old Wahkene Kitchenmaster during a recent test run of Venom Drop. "It really is fun and exciting."

If this attraction sounds too intense (you must be 48 inches tall to ride it), there are gentler versions available. After all, when the folks at Six Flags decided to expand the Valencia water park, they had the whole family in mind.

The expansion, which doubles the number of water slides from 11 to 22 at the facility adjacent to Magic Mountain, took about four months to complete. The public will get a chance to see it when Hurricane Harbor opens for the season on Saturday.

"We've added more thrilling elements for young adults," said Magic Mountain spokeswoman Bonnie Rabjohn. "Now we're much more well-rounded because we have more thrill rides."

Several other slides created when the park opened in June 1995 have the 48-inch size requirement for riders, but only one of the new attractions--Reptile Ridge--has this restriction.

It features a three-story tower with five, 35-foot-tall slides attached to it.

The rest are appropriate for the whole family.

Bamboo Racer, for instance, is a wide and curvy slide, which has a gradual descent of 45 feet, and allows up to six riders to plunge side-by-side on special water toboggans.

And there's Lizard Lagoon, a 3.2-acre activity area, with tropical beach atmosphere, where guests can relax on lounge chairs, play volleyball or swim in the 7,000- square-foot lagoon, which is 3 1/2 feet deep.

There is water basketball as well as water-spouting trees and lots of shade structures. "This area was created for young adults and teens because we were lacking an activity area like it," Rabjohn said.

All these new attractions mean higher prices for visitors (adult admission will increase by $2 to $18), but park officials are certain the expansion, combined with Hurricane Harbor's popularity these last two years, will lead to an attendance boost this summer.

"More people will come now because this broadens our audience appeal," said Rabjohn, who would not disclose the cost of the improvements or last year's attendance figures. "That's why from the very beginning we planned to do this."

Nothing new has been added for young children, since officials at Hurricane Harbor felt their needs were already being met.

Among the existing attractions is Castaway Cove, a large water play area designed exclusively for kids under 54 inches tall. It features a variety of pint-sized water activities like slides, waterfalls, friendly sea creatures, hidden pirate treasures and swings.

The River Cruise takes guests through a scenic journey on a 1,300-foot-long lazy river. It goes past volcanic rock, ancient ruins and tiki straits.

There is also the Forgotten Sea, which has a constant tide with a 2-foot wave action. It is the region's largest body of water.

If that doesn't sound exciting enough, there's always that fierce descent called Venom Drop.

BE THERE

Hurricane Harbor opens Saturday adjacent to Magic Mountain theme park, Interstate 5 at Magic Mountain Parkway in Valencia. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday until May 31. After that it's open those hours daily. Admission: $18 for adults, $11 for children under 48 inches and seniors 55 and over. Information: (805) 255-4100.

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