Harry's Corner: Interesting Facts About Congo Rapids
Although Houston's rapids ride is no longer in operation, this year Great Adventure's Congo Rapids attraction celebrates its 35th season of whitewater fun as the world's oldest operating rapids ride. Back in 1980, Six Flags pioneered the design and construction of the first man-made rapids ride for their AstroWorld park in Houston, Texas and a similar attraction was soon added to Great Adventure the following year.
Congo Rapids was first introduced in the spring of 1981 as Roaring Rapids. The ride was renamed in 1991 when the theme park added Adventure Rivers - a selection of water attractions themed to various rivers around the world. Even though Adventure Rivers was removed after the 1998 season to make way for Looney Tunes Seaport, the Congo Rapids ride and name remained.
Construction of the ride began in the fall of 1980 in a remote corner of the park which had previously been the site of one of the park's first attractions, the Great Train Ride. Situated on a 5.5 acre plot of land, it took the excavation and removal of over 20,000 cubic yards of dirt, the installation of approximately 3,500 cubic yards of concrete, 60 tons of artificial rock, and 16 tons of concrete coloring for the reddish brown walls of the ride's artificial canyon to build this massive attraction. After years of planning and months of construction, Six Flags Great Adventure unveiled their largest water ride to the public on June 16, 1981 and it has been thrilling and soaking guests ever since.
Each trip aboard one of Congo Rapids' twelve person rafts is unique as the trackless boats navigate the turbulent waters on a five minute journey that will have most riders leaning from side to side trying to avoid the deluge of the churning waves. Many first time riders attempt to pull on the circular handrail in the center of the raft thinking they can spin the boat just like one of the Enchanted Teacups, but don't waste your time and effort - the water's current is in complete control. And unless you are safely back at the dock, don't be too quick to laugh at that soggy guy sitting across from you. All it takes is just a little bump of the raft on a rock and soon enough you are the next deep-sea diver. It is this total randomness that makes a ride on Congo Rapids so appealing to families and kids of all ages, especially since it has a minimum height requirement of just 36".
While a few adjustments and modifications have taken place over the years, Congo Rapids remains a popular attraction for cooling off from the hot summer sun. Even though you aren't guaranteed to get wet, odds are you will step off the ride wringing out your clothes and straightening your hair. This summer take a chance on getting drenched and enjoy shooting the whitewater on the granddaddy of all whitewater rapids rides, Congo Rapids - our 35 year old classic!
Try to stay dry!
Six Flags Great Adventure Historian