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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / TOURISM

Knott's New Ride Is Not Yet Up, but Revenue Isn't Going Down

August 22, 2000|E. SCOTT RECKARD

Riders on Knott's Berry Farm's new water-plunge attraction will be hauled high in the air above Buena Park and then, before the big 75-degree, 115-foot drop, will slowly circle while they wait . . . and wait . . . and wait. . . .

Which is pretty much what Knott's fans have been doing all summer while the park has struggled to get Perilous Plunge in operation.

The ride, originally scheduled to open by early June, missed its latest deadline last weekend, and General Manager Jack Falfas is now shooting for Thursday. That would give Perilous Plunge just two weekends of operation before Labor Day brings the tourist season to a close.

"If I'd had the ride, I would have had a great, great summer," Falfas says. "Now I'll have a great, great fall. I hope everybody in the world--or in Southern California--wants to ride it in the fall."

The problem seems to be that one sails into uncharted waters at one's peril: Perilous Plunge, the world's tallest shoot-the-chute ride, has required more fine-tuning than expected.

Falfas said the boat plunge itself now works fine, but minor glitches persist, like a leak above the line leading to the boarding area. It's one thing to get drenched when you're expecting it, but a drip, drip, drip on your head while in line is unacceptable, Falfas said.

There's better news just outside the park, where customers are cooling off at Knott's new Soak City U.S.A. water park. "It's doing very, very well," Falfas said. And despite the problems with the water ride, Knott's is still hitting its budget targets for the summer, he said.

E. Scott Reckard covers tourism for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7407 and at scott.reckard@latimes.com.

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