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Eagle's Nest Family Raft Ride at the Water Park of America Review

Water Park of America indoor water park, Bloomington (near Minneapolis), MN

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Eagle's Nest Family Raft Ride at the Water Park of America Review

The raft ride splashes down for the finale.

©Arthur Levine, 2006. Licensed to About.com.
Although the Water Park of America bills itself as "America's Biggest Indoor Water Park," there are much bigger facilities in terms of square footage. It is, however, the tallest park and the Eagle's Nest Family Raft Ride is perched atop its 100-foot slide tower. The exhilarating ride is actually among the tallest raft rides at any U.S. water park, outdoor or indoor.

A Wild Indoor Water Park Ride

  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 3.5
    (Enclosed tube, some raft spinning, moderate drops)
  • Type: Family raft ride in an enclosed tube

A family raft ride that sends passengers spinning in an enclosed tube is a relatively common water park attraction--make that a common outdoor water park attraction. But this is no common ride, and the Water Park of America is no common water park.

It's wild to consider the sheer magnitude of the attraction. A lift contraption carries the circular rafts straight up to the 10-th floor loading station in the cavernous building's rafters. Instead of hitching a ride on the lift, guests need 136 stairs up to the loading area. While it is the most popular ride in the park and lines can get long, the ride loads fairly quickly, and the line keeps moving.

Depending on their weight, as few as two and as many as five passengers can pile into the circular rafts. After the ride operators get an all-clear signal from below, they give the rafts a gentle nudge...and they're off.

Is it Really Indoors?

It's a bit of a misnomer to call this an indoor water park ride. True, it starts and ends indoors, but most of the enclosed tube is actually outside the building. Even when it's snowing and the air temperature dips below zero, the water temperature and the warm air from the building help keep the ride comfortable.

Although it is enclosed, the tube is not completely opaque, so it is not lights-out dark like other enclosed family raft rides. The translucent green tube allows some light in (and at night there are high-intensity lights shining on the tube), but not enough that you can see through to the outside.

The ride provides about a 30-second experience. Because of its extreme height, it builds up some decent speed and offers some good drops.

About halfway through the ride, the rafts reenter the building, first into an open tube, and then into an enclosed, completely opaque tube which offers a quick burst of disorienting darkness. For the final leg of the ride, the rafts head outdoors again and really pick up speed. Highly banked curves send the rafts swinging up and down the sides of the tube and back into the park for a splashdown finale.

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