Going With Da Flow

Da’ FlowRider is the newest, coolest ride at Hawaiian Waters Park, and MidWeekgets a preview of the perfect, never-ending wave

Yu Shing Ting
Friday - May 20, 2005
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Surf’s up at the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park with a new wave of fun called Da’FlowRider. It may look like surfing, but it feels more like snowboarding with the tricks of skateboarding.

Da’FlowRider opens to the public on Memorial Day weekend, but MidWeek got a sneak peek and test ride on the highly anticipated milliondollar wave.

It’s not as easy as it looks. Trust me. I’m a recreational surfer, but this time I spent more time wiping out than I did standing up. It was still endless fun on an endless wave, however, and quite a workout.

“It’s kind of like a liquid treadmill,” says Andrew Thatcher, marketing manager for Wave Loch, which makes the ride. “It feels just like you’re snowboarding in powder. Anyone who enjoys board sports will want to try this.”

There’s no age requirement or weight limit to go on Da’ FlowRider, but you have to be at least 42 inches tall to bodyboard on it, and at least 52 inches tall to stand up. A waiver also needs to be completed for stand up riders.

After a few wipeouts, the author catches a wave
and can’t help grinning

“How the ride works is there’s a tank of about 75,000 gallons of water,” explains Thatcher. “And there are three submersible propeller pumps that pump approximately 48,000 gallons per minute. And there are only three to four inches of water that travels approximately 30 mph uphill. The ride surface is reinforced kind of like a trampoline. And the surfboard and bodyboard are made specifically for this ride.

“This is one of the safest rides in the water park industry. We have never had any serious accidents from Da’ FlowRider.”

This Memorial Day, Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park officials will celebrate not only the grand opening of Da’ FlowRider but also the sixth anniversary of the Kapolei water park. With nine thrill rides, five family rides, 10 specialty areas and two dining areas, this water-themed amusement park has become a family favorite among locals and tourists.

The park attracts between 500 and 5,000 visitors each day, depending on the day of the week and season. About 70 to 75 percent are kamaaina, and the park had its 2 millionth visitor this past spring break.

“The opening of Da’ FlowRider is in many ways a gift back to our youths who are passionate about board sports,” says Jerry Pupillo, general manager for Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park. “This is really their park, and we are excited to heighten their adventurous experience by offering the perfect milliondollar wave in the home of surfing.

“For us, Da’FlowRider has been six years in the making. We always had the dream of putting in this ride.” And there’s more to come. Pupillo says they’re in the midst of formulating a five-year master plan, as well as a rezone process covering everything from agriculture to commercial.

Jerry Pupillo, Hawaiian Waters Adventure
Park general manager

“After we accomplish the master plan and the rezone process, it’ll allow us to do some of these things on our long term list, with the first project being an 18-hole miniature adventure golf,” says Pupillo. “We also have plans for a fitness center and perhaps a drive-in movie.

“The total parcel (of the water park) is approximately 30 acres, and we’re using about 25 right now with five left for future expansion projects.”

The mini golf course, which is expected to be open by next summer, will feature an ahupua‘a theme with heavy vegetation, waterfalls and rock work.

“The biggest thing for me is that we provide a good, fun, clean, safe and controlled environment with something for everyone,” says Pupillo. “We have a little bit of everything from the lazy river which takes not much effort to The Cliffhanger.

“Since our opening, we’ve put in some major new rides, such as the Shaka in 2000, the Volcano Express in 2002, and now with the Da’FlowRider. And I’m just so happy to see kamaaina come back with the level of excitement that they have.”

The park staffs about 150 employees during the off season and between 250 and 300 in the peak seasons. And while some of the rides may look intimidating, no major accidents involving guests have been reported.

“Over the last three years our track record was good enough that our insurance rates started to drop significantly,” notes Pupillo. “And Ellis & Associates, the governing water safety board, has awarded HawaiianWaters six years straight with the top 15 percent of all waterparks. Three of those years we qualified for the Platinum Award for the top 7 percent of all parks worldwide. This point is magnified by the fact that we are one of only a handful of parks open year round.”


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