Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007

Six Flags confident all rides will be operational by 2008 season

New water slide seen as a key attraction

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All of Six Flags America’s rides — including those shut down for safety inspections last season — will likely be fully operational when the Largo park opens for a ninth season April 26, said spokeswoman Karin Korpowski.

‘‘It’s great that we have this downtime in the offseason so that we can take great care and consideration in taking care of our rides,” Korpowski said. ‘‘It is our hope that we will have everything up and running for the 2008 season.”

In June, the park’s Tower of Doom ride was closed for inspection after a 13-year-old girl had her feet severed by a similar ride at a Six Flags in Lexington, Ky.

In August, The Octopus, a mild thrill ride for children, was closed for inspection after a 6-year-old girl fell from the ride and suffered minor injuries.

In October, one of the park’s roller coasters, Two Face: The Flip Side, was closed for inspection after a safety sensor suddenly shut the ride down, stranding 25 people 100 feet in the air for nearly two hours.

None of the inspections have been completed, Korpowski said.

‘‘Safety is our number one priority at Six Flags. Always has been. All of that will be completely addressed before the park opens in April,” Korpowski said of the inspections.

In addition to all of Six Flag America’s current rides reopening, a new ride will make its first appearance at the park.

An exclusive new water slide will be added to the park’s arsenal when Tony Hawk’s Halfpipe arrives at the Hurricane Harbor water park in April.

The four-story slide, named for the well-known skateboarder, will resemble a skateboarding halfpipe.

The slide sends guests shooting down one side of the halfpipe aboard one- and two-person inner tubes as their momentum carries them to the edge of the other side. The frictionless surface will help create a free-fall effect as riders slide forward, in reverse and up and down the U-shaped slide, according to a Six Flags America press release.

The ride is not built yet but is expected to be by the time the park opens this spring, Korpowski said. No height requirement for ride admission has been determined, she said.

‘‘The Tony Hawk name is synonymous with a lot of good things,” Korpowski said. ‘‘We found that all our guests are drawn to the Tony Hawk brand even if they’re not a skateboarder. I think moms and dads respect him as a sportsman and kids look up to him.”

Korpowski said the ride will be a featured attraction and will be placed at the front of the water park.

‘‘I am honored and excited to be involved with this new water park ride,” Hawk said in the release. ‘‘This water slide is a great way to emulate the fun of skating a huge halfpipe and the thrill of riding an amazing waterslide.”

Korpowski said the attraction is intended to be for park guests of all ages.

‘‘The ride is definitely a family ride,” she said. ‘‘It’s certainly something moms and dads can ride with their children. It will give family more reasons to come to the water park and to experience fun there together.”

Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags America is free with paid park admission. The water park has 39 rides and attractions including a children’s section called Buccaneer Beach and a large wave pool called Hurricane Bay.

E-mail Jonathan Stein at jstein@gazette.net.