Waldameer's Water World
launches Rocket Blast water coaster
AT: Jeffrey Seifert
ERIE, Pa. — This past June, Waldameer’s Water World opened Rocket Blast, a water coaster from ProSlide Technology of Ottawa, Ontario. As the name implies, the coaster utilizes ProSlide’s patented RocketBlast water propulsion mechanics to propel four-person inline rafts uphill with jets of water strategically placed alongside the sides of the water trough.
Rocket Blast is a significant installation for the family-owned park. At a reported $9 million, it is the biggest investment in the park’s history, and it comes just a few years after the opening of Rally Racer, a massive, six-lane mat-racer, also from ProSlide.
In order to experience Rocket Blast, guests must first make the trek up a 67.6-foot slide tower — 116 steps total. The rafts are transported to the top via a conveyor lift. Once assembled into groups, up to four riders board the inline rafts to begin their journey.
After getting a green light indicating all is clear, the riders on the raft begin their journey by entering an enclosed tube and then accelerate through a right-hand turn. Riders then burst into daylight as they encounter the first saucer section, where they will make a quick turn to the left while experiencing increased G-forces as the raft careens through the saucer. The exit to the saucer leads into the first uphill blast. The same series of elements is repeated with an enclosed right-hand turn followed by a left-turn saucer. Following the second saucer, riders are surprised by a quick drop that leads to the second uphill blast. The exit to this blast leads immediately into a right-turn saucer, followed by another surprise drop and then the third and final blast. From there, an enclosed tube winds its way back down into the final splash pool, where an attendant will assist riders as they exit. The attendant then directs the raft onto the conveyor, where it is transported back to the top of the tower.
Before opening the new attraction to the public, Waldameer invited family and friends to test the slide, run the crew through their paces and work out any operational issues. Approximately 150 guests got to enjoy the slide over the two-day soft opening.
At a media preview, just prior to the official opening, Park President Steve Gorman told news reporters, “We are so glad that we are just about ready to turn the switch and have people come ride this ride because I think the public will really, really enjoy it.”
The ride’s opening came just a few weeks after the passing of Gorman’s father-in-law, Paul Nelson, who was the long-time owner and visionary of Waldameer Park & Water World. In his final weeks, Nelson oversaw the installation and near-completion of Rocket Blast. While the ride is a professional milestone for Gorman, it's also a personal one, as Rocket Blast was the last ride he and Nelson worked on together.
At 831 feet, Rocket Blast is the longest slide at the park, almost twice as long as any other slide at Water World, according to Gorman. The slide earned Waldameer a Golden Ticket Award for Best New Water Park Ride of 2023.
“We are thrilled that Rocket Blast won the Golden Ticket for Best New Water Park Attraction,” said Gorman. “For our family, it's somewhat bittersweet because this was the final attraction that Paul Nelson selected to install before passing away in late May, three weeks before it opened. He personally was the driver in all additions and upgrades to Waldameer for the last 60-plus years. We still have three generations of family members managing the park and will try our best to continue his legacy. Paul would have loved to have ridden this amazing water coaster and seen the positive reactions of our guests. They love the twists and turns and the wet splashes of the blast sections. Designing and installing this slide so close to existing slides and buildings was quite a feat, but ProSlide and USA, Inc. managed to succeed and provide Waldameer with a winner that will be loved for years.”
Nelson started at the park in 1945 when he was just 11 years of age. The previous park owner, Alex Moeller adopted Nelson, who worked his way through the ranks to become general manager. When Moeller died in 1965, he willed the park to Nelson.
Under Nelson, the park expanded to include waterslides. Water World debuted in 1986 with two waterslides provided by Molded Fiberglass Company of nearby Union City along with a children’s play area. The expansion paid off, and the water park breathed new life into the park with record seasons closing out the decade. Attractions were added over the years, and then in 2015, Water World doubled in size with the addition of a giant wave pool. That was the beginning of an aggressive expansion leading to the installation of the massive Rally Racer in 2020 followed by Rocket Blast just three years later.