Case Study: How to Make a Billboard Attraction—“The Edge” at Soaky Mountain

Billboard Attraction

With over 14.1 million visitors in 2021, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has long been the most visited national park in the USA. A half-hour drive away, just off Highway 66, a.k.a. the Great Smoky Mountains Parkway—the very busy artery through Sevier County, lies Soaky Mountain Waterpark, which opened in 2020 to serve the popularity of this tourist region.

In its first expansion project, Soaky Mountain was looking for a unique, eye-popping billboard attraction to anchor the front side of the water park to draw guests from the highway. They wanted something to take advantage of the mountain side. They wanted something to generate marketing opportunities.

And they found it in “The Edge”—the world’s first Blasterango Battle.

The Edge, Soaky Mountain Water Park, Sevierville, USA

Boomerango Battle, Soaky Mountain Waterpark, United States

First and Only

The Edge is a masterpiece of a water coaster not found anywhere else on the planet. It is

  • The world’s first Blaster Battle + Boomerango fusion, aptly named Blasterango Battle
  • The first and only Master Blaster 2.0 in North America, WhiteWater’s updated version of the popular original
  • The first Boomerango walls in the world made of translucent fiberglass and decorated by WhiteWater’s exclusive veiling technology
  • Tennessee’s only dueling water coaster
  • The length of two football fields

Perfectly situated on the hillside facing the highway, The Edge is a feat of engineering in itself, as water slides are challenging to build on a gradient. The uphill blasts and two- to three-story drops alone would have already made it a super fun ride, but The Edge goes the extra mile with mind-bending AquaLucent rings and strips as well as additional sound and light effects for an experience not found anywhere in the Smokies.

The Edge, Soaky Mountain Water Park, Sevierville, USA

Boomerango Battle, Soaky Mountain Waterpark, United States

Going over The Edge

Built on a hillside and at the edge of the park, The Edge is a high-speed ride full of thrilling surprises. Side by side, two riders in each lane start at the top of the 70-foot tower. Sitting in an inner tube, they grab on tight as they look down at the immediate three-story mega drop below. Before they know it, the stop-go light turns green, and they are simultaneously propelled forward with their stomachs turning. Hitting the first valley of the ride, they are quickly blasted up the hill and curve into a kaleidoscope of colors.

Inside enclosed AquaTubes, riders see mesmerizing AquaLucent rings—colorful circles around the tube. The distance between the rings is at first further apart. Then they are placed closer and closer, giving the riders an appearance of acceleration before being surprised by seeing their competitors again to scream side by side in another heart-stopping open drop. A second uphill blast takes them into the next enclosed segment, where they are distracted by colorful, laser-like AquaLucent strips. These strips first start longer, and then shorter and shorter, giving a sense of sci-fi speed while the AquaTubes take the riders on a turn. When they come out of the tubes, they see not one, but two imposing half-translucent, half-veiled Boomerango walls ahead of them, embellished with massive imagery and the lettering, “THE EDGE,” before dropping to the base of the wall, feeling extreme Gs. As the momentum takes the riders up the parallel walls, they can see their competitors as they feel a sense of weightlessness before sliding back down with their stomachs tickling. Just when they think it’s over, the riders go over a zero-G hump at the finishing lights for a ride that does not disappoint from the beginning to the end.

The Boomerango is loved the world over, but guests at Soaky Mountain are being treated to very special Boomerango walls that have never been done before—translucent walls that will make the riders feel like they are going over “The Edge.”

two lanes of water slide in one flume
Boomerango Battle, Soaky Mountain Waterpark, United States
Two inner tubes climbing two water slide walls
Boomerango Battle, Soaky Mountain Waterpark, United States

Light and Sound Effects to Intensify the Racing Experience

Another unique feature of The Edge dueling water coaster is a radically new special effects system to intensify the race. Sensors are integrated in the ride to periodically detect the location of the riders and alter the experience throughout.

When launched in pairs of competing inner tubes, at the halfway point of the ride, the audio system will interact with both sets of riders, simultaneously presenting a unique audio experience depending on which slide path has the leading or the trailing vehicle. The sound effects are purposely tuned to imply “speed up” or “you’re leading.”

As the riders approach the Boomerango, the sound and light show is driven as a function of how high up the wall each vehicle goes, with lights installed right in the middle of each wall. Many audio sounds and messages are supplied, chosen at random to prevent repetition, but also reflecting the success of the wall climb. As the ride concludes, the audio and light system reacts to how each inner tube raced relative to one another and how far up the Boomerango wall the riders were able to climb. The system interacts with each exit lane either with a message of congratulations, such as, “You won, you went over The Edge!” or something like “You lost, you went way too low.” It also randomly provides feedback and hints about how to climb higher for repeat riders, such as, “You will go higher if the vehicle weighs more, so go buy a cheeseburger!”

Boomerango Battle, Soaky Mountain Waterpark, United States
Boomerango Battle, Soaky Mountain Waterpark, United States

Harmony Liau