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Underwater ride coming to Qiddiya in 2024
Imagine this: The ride vehicle that you and a park pal are sitting in leaves the loading station, slowly moves forward down a ramp…and proceeds to head underwater. We’re not talking about a simulated experience like Shanghai Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure. We’re talking about an actual, honest-to-goodness, you’re-gonna-get-wet, fully submersed ride. Sounds crazy, right?
Well, imagine no more. Aquaticar, the world’s first underwater attraction, is set to debut next year at Qiddiya Water Theme Park, part of the massive Qiddiya entertainment district taking shape near Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.
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You’re probably thinking: Say what now? Here’s the deal.
You know that physics experiment you probably did as a kid in which you placed a drinking glass upside down into a pot of water and found that the inside of the glass remained dry? It happened because the air in the glass displaced the water. That’s the basic concept behind the breakthrough attraction.
Passengers sit under an acrylic, see-through canopy that is pumped with a continuous supply of air. That enables them to breathe underwater without the need for any additional equipment and keeps their upper body dry. A flow of air, what the Aquaticar’s developers call a “Bubble Engine,” also powers the vehicles. A carpet of air bubbles turns rotors that enable the cars to amble along at a moderate pace.
Riders can steer the vehicles, but only within the confines of a fiberglass track, not unlike Disneyland’s Autopia or the antique car rides found at many parks. Registers placed at strategic locations in the track feed the cars’ air supplies and Bubble Engines. It’s an ingenious system.
Using effects and themed set elements, the ride, which is designed to last about 10 minutes, could take guests on a journey to a distant planet, to the lost city of Atlantis, or any number of other whimsical places. The storyline for the Qiddiya attraction has not been revealed.
“I think the experience will be out-of-this-world unbelievable,” says Hannah de Bie, VP of marketing and a member of the family behind Sub Sea Systems, the California-based company that created Aquaticar. In fact, it is so unbelievable, unexpected, and unprecedented, she says that Qiddiya and other parks that offer Aquaticar attractions will want to educate their visitors. “They’ll need to explain what it is and let people know that they will actually be submersed. Most people haven’t dreamed about going underwater–certainly not like this.”
Sub Sea Systems offers other water-based experiences, including the Sea Trek helmet diving system found at SeaWorld Orlando’s Discovery Cove and other locations, and DIVR+, a virtual reality snorkeling experience that uses the natural buoyancy of water to convincingly send guests on otherworldly jaunts. The company’s latest innovation is Kaimana (Hawaiian for “power of the sea”), an underwater arena that will invite guests to don Sea Trek helmets and compete in a target-shooting game as well as an aqua maze.
Qiddiya will also include a Six Flags park filled with one-of-a-kind, cutting-edge rides such as Falcon’s Flight, the world’s longest, tallest, and fastest coaster. I’m hoping to check out the new parks and dive into these wild attractions when they open next year.
What do you think about Aquaticar? What kinds of themed environments would you want to experience in a ride like this?