Aquatica’s “Breakaway Falls” is a fun but tense water ride

Crowds return in force as the sun heats up over central Florida. Image courtesy Brian Miller
Crowds return in force as the sun heats up over central Florida. Image courtesy Brian Miller /

There is a new slide at SeaWorld’s Aquatica water park called RipTide Race but Ihu’s Breakaway Falls is still the premier thrill ride at the park.

The tower of Ihu’s Breakaway Falls is imposing. It sits high above the other water slides at Aquatica water park and you can see it from almost every corner of the park. The entrance is near Kata’s Kookaburra Cove, the area for young children.

Beginning your climb is easy, you simply start walking up the stone steps but as you progress and start to get higher, those with a fear of heights can start to feel the vertigo sets in. I am one of these types of people but force myself to challenge it, especially when you are with your kids and they need you to be able to ride something.

I won’t lie, I wanted to back down and walk back down. Others did. Several people turned around left before reaching the top.

The ride is essentially this. A tower drop. There are three pods at the top of the ride and one other slide that is far closer to a normal slide. On that one, you simply sit down and pull yourself forward and go. There is a drop as you start but you are enclosed in a tube-like the other three.

It is the other three, however, that is the “thrill” of this particular attraction.

You enter the pods alone. You place your head against the back wall of the pod and cross your arms over your chest and cross your ankles. There is a countdown that can be heard. Sometimes it is your tube and sometimes it is someone else’s. Across from you, you can see someone else in their pod and that is when you realize that the apprehension on their face is probably what you have on yours.

The “ambassadors” that are running the ride will ask you for a nod or a thumbs up to make sure you are ready and then, you wait. The wait will kill you but if you are lucky, the countdown is in your pod and as such, you know when it is coming. It, of course, being the floor dropping out from below you.

Remember, as you entered the pod, you are above the rest of the park and that doesn’t leave your mind. When the floor falls out below you, you drop and you drop quickly.

The drop isn’t far but it sure seems like it at first. In reality, your body never leaves the side of the tube itself, it’s not a freefall at all but for a second you feel almost weightless.

Once the initial drop is over, you continue with a lot of speed down to the exit pool and that might sound fun but honestly, this was the worst part of the ride for me. I say for me because I don’t know what others experience with it.

The water hits you hard throughout the ride. You can feel the seems where the tube connects if you keep your head back against the slide in a ‘bump, bump, bump’ kind of way. Lifting your head slightly up and off the slide sends a lot of water into your face, especially if you look towards your feet. I took a lot of water into my nose and that was not a great feeling and kind of ruined the rest of the ride for me.

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My son loved it and it was by far his favorite slide. I can see why. There is a lot of tension built as you climb the tower knowing what is ahead. First-time riders will feel that tension but once the floor breaks away and you start your descent, your body relaxes quite a bit.

If you have no fear of heights or like to challenge yourself if you do,  Ihu’s Breakaway Falls at Aquatica is fun, in fact, it is the best thrill ride at the park.