Case Study: Warner Bros. Movie World Water Ride Upgrade

In the themed entertainment industry, there comes a time when every attraction must answer a question for the operator: retire or be refurbished. For the Wild West Falls Adventure Ride, its popularity over the past 20 years meant that this Super Flume ride would continue to run and be upgraded to enhance its safety, comfort, and ease of maintenance. Here is its story.

The only water ride at Warner Bros. Movie World on Australia’s Gold Coast, the Wild West Falls Super Flume has a unique place in the theme park’s attraction mix and is an absolute guest favourite. With theming that tells the tale of a ghost town echoing the heyday of the Wild West, guests travel 7 ½ minutes through the narrative, complete with the sound of the river rushing, geysers spraying, and even a water tank “leaking” onto the ride path. Finishing with a big splash, the ride provides a cool reprieve from the famously hot Australian sun, and guests would wait up to two hours to experience this refreshing thrill.

People on a water ride after the drop

Image credit: Warner Bros. Movie World

After working like a horse since 1998, Wild West Falls ride was ready to welcome a new generation of boats. As well, recent changes to the safety regulations in Australia meant that the boats needed to be adapted anyway. So Village Roadshow Theme Parks (VRTP) approached WhiteWater for a new set of vehicles to replace the existing fleet.

Newly Re-Engineered Vehicles for a Classic Attraction

First and foremost, the new boats had to meet the updated codes. With VRTP being a world-class operator and WhiteWater’s non-negotiable attitude toward safety, together, we aimed to go above and beyond what was required.

For the operators, the vehicles had to be more corrosion resistant, more durable, and easier to maintain. For the guests, the boats should offer more comfort and safety for riders of different shapes and sizes.

Re-engineered and thoroughly tested in 2021, WhiteWater’s Super Flume boats checked all the boxes. Our team worked closely with Warner Bros. Movie World’s team to make sure all their needs were met.

People in a water ride vehicle in a river

Image credit: Warner Bros. Movie World

For longevity and ease of maintenance, each boat featured:

  • A high-tech composite body to make the hull more durable
  • Stainless steel parts, such as for handles, to resist corrosion
  • Four wheel brackets precision machined from solid marine-grade aluminum coated with a military spec anti-corrosion layer
  • Sacrificial anodes electrically grounded to key components to provide additional galvanic protection
  • Easily removable floor panels for quick maintenance access

Water ride vehicle after coming down a drop

Image credit: Warner Bros. Movie World

For guest safety and comfort, each boat featured:

  • Individual hydraulic lap bars that lock perfectly to the size of each guest so that a small child and a large adult can optimally sit next to one another, as well as ensure single-rider safety
  • Curved lap bar pads that provide form-fitting comfort, with grips underneath for small hands to hold to self-soothe during thrilling moments
  • Non-slip flooring with micro-texture made from marine-standard polyethylene
  • Eight dash pads with integrated grab bars encased in soft foam for comfortable bracing, doubling as cushioned headrests for the rows ahead
  • An anti-roll back system designed for quieter operation when going up lift hills

Valuable Recommendations to Improve Guest Experience

Though the original scope was for new boats, WhiteWater made a couple of valuable recommendations that the client agreed to. The first was changing the loading station from a constant motion conveyor to start/stop. This redesign made entry and exit of the ride safer and more accessible for guests of varying mobility, such as young children, seniors, or those with physical challenges. This change also made operations easier and more controlled for attendants.

Secondly, to improve the guest experience, WhiteWater recommended a test ride seat placed outside the attraction so that visitors can see if they fit comfortably in the seat before deciding to join the queue.

Fantastic Visitor and Operator Feedback

With one of the best drops anywhere in the world at 20 meters and up to 70 km/h, Wild West Falls remains a major highlight in the park. With the recent upgrade to comfort and safety, it will be entertaining guests from all over Australia for many years to come.

Keep the splashes going in your theme park. Contact WhiteWater to discuss how we can help you upgrade your water ride to delight guests season after season.

Harmony Liau