A type of amusement park water ride
commonly found in the trolley park
s and resorts
during the turn of the century. The first patent for a Shoot the Chutes was obtained by Butler in June 1985 for Sea Lion
Park at Coney Island
. Shortly after its inception, the ride style was imitated
in many other parks across the nation. Most versions operated in the same manner. Boats were pulled up to the top of the incline
by one of two conveyor belt
s found on either side of the ramp. Once the boat was at the top, it was turned around and placed on a track
. There was a waterfall effect
underneath and around the track, but because of the unpredictability
of a water slide, the boat actually was laid on the track not the water. The boat then would slide down the track under a pedestrian bridge
and end in a lagoon
or splash pond.
The term Shoot the Chutes more commonly refers to the modern amphibious equivalent of this ride. Some names of modern Shoot the Chutes are: Wave, Splashwater Falls, Whitewater Falls, Typhoon, Perilous Plunge, etc. Synonyms for deluges, torrents, waterfalls and weather phenomena are most commonly used as the ride name. The modern ride will allow many riders to enter the now-wider boat in the station. The newer boats generally allow 15-25 persons whereas the Coney Island version would only permit up to about 5 persons. In the modern ride, the boat will then be lifted up 35-115 feet on a chain lift. Some rides may feature theming or scenery on the incline (ie: Escape from Pompeii). The boat will then freely float in an 180 degree turn (sometimes 270 degree turn) in a trough and then approach the downramp. While it appears that the boat then floats down the downramp, the boat will now use its wheels to quickly descend the downramp.
There are two main versions of the Shoot the Chutes. One version will use an 180 degree turn and have a pedestrian exit bridge that passes over the runout (splashdown) area of the ride. "Unsuspecting" pedestrians will be "blown away" by the sheer force of the wave. Fun ensues. The second version will use a 200-270 degree turn in the trough so that when the boat descends the downramp, it will actually pass underneath the chain lift thus providing a "headchopper" effect. Again a pedestrian exit bridge will pass over the runout area of the ride. Spectators will get wet and again fun will ensue. Most often it is a requirement (and thus privelige) that boat riders will pass over the one-way pedestrian exit bridge. However in some versions, the bridge is optional and may be crossed by any person. More often than not amusement parks will only allow boat riders to enjoy the pedestrian bridge so that small children and infants (yes I've seen a parent bring one up onto the bridge) will not sneak onto the bridge and experience the powerful splash.
Sources: United States Patent and Trademark webpage;