A modest crowd gathered at the back end of Water Country USA Friday for the grand opening of the much anticipated Cutback Water Coaster — the first of its kind in Virginia.
The 856-foot slide features a jet propulsion system to rapidly push riders up steep inclines, giving the ride a distinctly roller coaster-style experience.
“It’s high thrill, but not too much,” Water Country USA President Kevin Lembke said before heading off to the ribbon cutting ceremony. “It’s a good balance.”
With only a 42-inch height requirement and tubes seating up to four, Lembke said Cutback is perfectly suited for families.
“I have young kids, we’re always looking for good family thrill experiences, and I think this really fits that bill,” Lembke said.
Cutback takes the place of Meltdown, which was retired in 2018. Senior Lead of Designing and Engineering Suzy Cheely said Cutback still uses the same tower and splash pool as Meltdown did over its 18 year run.
Cheely said before breaking ground at the end of last season, the crew rode other water coasters in the country, particularly one in Texas, to learn about — and perfect — the new attraction
“I think ours is even bigger and better,” she said with a laugh.
Both Lembke and Cheely predicted park goers will enjoy the attraction, and that it will boost future park attendance.
“We’re always happy to give them new and different experiences, and I think this one fits right in with that,” Cheely said.
As the morning drew on and the heat began to glare off the concrete, kids in wraparound goggles and parents with cherry-red sunburns lined up to be some of the first people to ride Cutback. Lembke and Elizabeth Ringas, communications director for American Coaster Enthusiasts, walked up to cut the ceremonial ribbon with a giant pair of scissors, surrounded by a group of kids from the local Boys & Girls Clubs.
“There’s a little surprise at each launch so if you haven’t ridden it yet, you’ll get that surprise,” Lambke said. “But it will be a good surprise on a hot day like this.”