Wednesday, February 28, 2024

First AquaLoop in Southeast US Newest Attraction for Wilderness at the Smokies

Sevierville, TN, USA (April 16, 2012) — A trap door….a 39-foot vertical free fall drop….speeds of up to 40 mph…an adrenaline rush like no other – this is what guests at the Southeast’s largest indoor and outdoor waterpark resort will have the opportunity to experience as Wilderness at the Smokies announces yet another exciting expansion project. Wilderness at the Smokies Resort will soon be home to the Wild Vortex, a 66-foot tall AquaLoopTM, the Southeast’s only near-vertical translucent looping waterslide. The Wild Vortex is scheduled to open June 1, 2012.

Riders of the Wild Vortex will enter the capsule at the top of the ride, standing vertically over a trap door. Once the trap door is released, the rider accelerates into a 39-foot vertical free fall drop generating maximum g-force (2.5 Gs in less than two seconds) before reaching the inclined loop element. The entire ride is over within seven seconds. The Wild Vortex at Wilderness at the Smokies will be the first AquaLoop located in the Southeast and one of only a handful in the U.S.

“Not only will this new attraction significantly change the skyline of our resort, but it will undoubtedly provide our guests with one of the most adrenaline-packed experiences of their lives,” said Steve Cruz, General Manager of Wilderness at the Smokies. “And thanks to the translucent tube, we expect both riders and spectators to be left breathless following the 7-second thrill ride.”

Since the grand opening in the summer of 2008, the resort has experienced a tremendous amount of growth. The opening of the Wild Vortex will mark the sixth significant expansion project in the resort’s short history, including the most recent opening of the Adventure Forest family entertainment park in March 2012. With this continued expansion, Wilderness at the Smokies Resort becomes the second largest tourism investor in Sevier County (second only to Dollywood).

“We have been fortunate to experience a great deal of success since our grand opening nearly four years ago and that is truly a testament to the strong tourism market here in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, as well as the hard work of our dedicated staff,” said Cruz. “We look forward to introducing new attractions to our guests in the future and continuing to be the only local attraction where families are able to get everything they are looking for in one place.”

Wilderness at the Smokies, located minutes from Interstate 40 and situated in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, is one of the area’s only year-round vacation destinations. With a 36-hole championship golf course, two outdoor waterparks, an indoor waterpark with a wave pool and the Southeast’s only Surf Rider, hot tubs, and countless waterslides and attractions, Wilderness at the Smokies has something for all age groups. It is adjacent to a 200,000 square-foot conference, convention and event center known for hosting the areas largest conferences, athletic events and trade shows.

The resort is owned by Patrick Helland, Pete Helland, Jr., Tim Lucke and Tom Lucke (who also own Wilderness Territory Waterpark Resort in Wisconsin). Steve Cruz is the General Manager of Wilderness at the Smokies and Rick Laney is spokesperson for the resort. For more information about Wilderness at the Smokies, visit

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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