The Hydro Flume at Six Flags Great Adventure

The Hydro Flume was the second flume built in the park.   With the immense popularity (and long lines) of the Log Flume in the inaugural season, the park quickly decided to add this second flume for the 1975 season.  

The first public mention of adding a second flume came with the publication of the Souvenir Book in the summer of 1974, when on the back page in the "Tomorrow" section, which described the park's future it mentions plans to add "A second, more spectacular flume".

While the Hydro Flume promised to be the park's premier water ride, it never quite lived up to expectations.   Its secluded location during the early years, and later its shortened operating season meant it never drew nearly the same size crowds as the Log Flume, or later Roaring Rapids and Splashwater Falls.

After years of neglect, the ride was given major rehabs in the 2005 and 2006 seasons, and was finally removed in the 2006-2007 off season as part of the installation of Wiggles World. 

Onride photos posted here were taken
before the park had placed
restrictions on onride photography.

Please adhere to current park rules.

Construction began on the Hydro Flume during the 1974-75 off season, and the ride made its debut in summer of 1975.

The ride differed from its sister log flume in that it was slightly taller, offering a longer, more thrilling drop.  

Also, the Hydro Flume design utilized all the water pumped into the flume trough in the final drop, where the Log Flume design had the water bypass the drop, with a smaller pump supplying water that basically provided the appearance of the logs floating down hill, while they actually run completely on rollers.   The Hydro Flume design dispersed the water by spreading it out between two channels, allowing the boats to roll down the drop safely on a thin sheet of water.   the double channel drop also helped increase ride capacity, allowing the operation of more boats spaced closer together. 

 At the base of the drop, the boats also hit a speed hump, giving them an extra pop of air time and creating larger splashes as they slowed in the amassed water in the lower basin.

Like the Log Flume, the loading station was designed using a turntable which kept the boats moving while allowing safe boarding and disembarking.   Other parks chose to install flumes that required the log to stop for loading and unloading, while passengers had to contend with a vehicle that bobbed up and down on the moving current, creating safety concerns.  The turntable allowed guests much more time for boarding and disembarking, and allowed ride operators more time to group riders and ensure higher capacity.  

The ride queue was originally configured as two mirror image lines, which only came together at the base of the stairs.   Later this configuration was replaced with new railings to form a single queue line.  The divided entrance stairs were setup to help fill boats, with groups of one or two on one side and groups of three or more on the other, allowing the ride operators to easily and quickly fill empty seats.

Photos  of the Hydro Flume
from the 1976 press kit

The shape of the fronts of the flume boats helped create a larger splash down as they bounced along the lower trough, ensuring a wetter ride which was much appreciated on hot summer days!

In the years up until 1991, the Hydro Flume had a secluded location, surrounded by the native forest which was carefully preserved around it during construction.   The only attraction sharing the area until that point was the Great Train Ride, which meandered through the woods, under the flume course until its removal after the 1980 season.
As part of an effort to make rides safer in the spring of 1988, the Hydro Flume received modifications which altered the ride's final drop for the rest of its existence.

The speed hump at the base of the drop was removed, taking away one of the most memorable and exiting parts of the ride.

Also modified was the drop itself, with the outer channel being permanently closed off to boats.   This helped alleviate the problem of boats jamming at the top when they would occasionally get caught in the gates that sent them down the two sides alternately.   Instead, a single gate was retrofit to the top, allowing the boats to be safely separated.  

The ride's popularity was already waning at this point, since Roaring Rapids and Splashwater Falls both offered not just ways to get wet, but get absolutely soaked.   The diminished thrill of the ride combined with its location in a remote corner caused many guests to simply overlook it, until things changed drastically at the end of the 1990 season when construction began on the park's Adventure Rivers section, where the Hydro Flume would become the centerpiece.
Hydro Flume 1991-1998
The Adventure Rivers Years: Irrawaddy Riptide
For the 1991 season, Hydro Flume received a cosmetic makeover and one of its half dozen name changes as it transitioned to become the Irrawaddy Riptide, named for a river in Asia.

The station structure received a new bright read canvas roof and the entry stairs and boats received fresh, bright paint as well, giving the ride an Asian theme, and a new lease on life.

In addition, a stairway was added allowing guest to pass over the concrete trough as it meandered from the station to the lift hill.
The Adventure Rivers makeover opened up new views, both of the ride and from the ride, as new paths and new slide towers were added alongside, and inside the course of the flume.   The Asian Tower was nestled into the coils of flume, and rose above the upper sections of the ride.

In its time as part of Adventure Rivers, the Hydro Flume experienced renewed popularity and increased ridership.

Many riders took the flume for its panoramic views of the surrounding attractions.   Passing especially close to the Asian Tower offered a new thrill for both flume and slide riders.

The Asian Slides required the placement of footers in the Hydro Flume reservoir, which were left in place long after the slides had been removed.
Hydro Flume 1999-2006
After Adventure Rivers
In 1999, the Adventure Rivers slide complexes were removed, and the area around the flume was cleared to make way for a new section, Looney Tunes Sea Port.  

As part of the remake of the area, sections of the concrete trough were re-aligned.   The top three pictures on the right show the construction process as first a concrete pad was laid, with rebar inserted to strengthen the walls.   Wooden forms were placed, and the concrete walls were poured to match the existing trough sections.

In addition, a second bridge was constructed to create a connection between the two halves of Looney Tunes Seaport.   This long wooden bridge offered more stroller and wheelchair friendly access than the previously constructed steps which were also left in place. 
For a while, the upper sections of flume were strung with rope lights.

Almost as often as the ride changed names, it also changed neighbors, with rides like Batman The Ride, Skull Mountain and Nitro being added to the surrounding area.   Despite new additions around it, the Hydro Flume continued to be treated as a second class ride, with shorter and shorter operating seasons, and increasing neglect of cosmetic maintenance each year.  

For a time, Six Flags corporation struck a deal with the Dannon Water Group, which resulted in parks nationwide renaming flume rides and other water attractions with the names of the local Dannon Brands water.   The Hydro Flume received the name Poland Springs Plunge, as did one of the slides in Hurricane Harbor.

After the ride sponsorship was dropped, the ride reverted back to the Riptide name, and its sign was brought back out of mothballs.

To try and generate additional revenues as well as offering another way to ensure riders got wet, coin operated sprayers were added to some of the park's water rides, including Hydro Flume, which featured a bank of them at the end of the drop.   Spraying unsuspecting riders became a spectator sport on the bridge on those days when the flume was running.
Age and neglect really began to take their toll on the Hydro flume, with the wooden stairs and the canvas coverings showing it most of all.   The area of the park between Skull Mountain and the Hydro Flume was mostly deserted, with dead end paths and shops which were rarely open even on the busiest days.   The pavement was a patchwork of colors and textures showing where elements had been removed.   With each passing season the area looked like more and more of a ghost town, often confusing guests trying to get into or out of Looney Tunes Sea Port with strollers.  

Opening Date:

Late July 1975
Manufacturer: Arrow Development Co.
Model: Hydro Flume
Lift Height: 85 feet
Track Length: 1598 feet  
Speed: 40 mph
Number of Boats: 36
Number of Guests per Boat: 4-5 guests
Hourly Capacity: 2000 guests per hour
Gallons of Water: 350,000 Gallons
Features: Twin Chutes
Spillway Drops
Hydro Jumps
Rotary Station
Ride Cost: $2.2 million  
Names given to the ride: 1975--Hydro Flume/Hydra Flume
1976-1978--Moon Flume
1979-1980--Ride the Rapids
1981--Splash Down
1982-1989--Kodak’s Splash Down
1990--Splash Down
1991-1998--Irrawaddy Riptide
2000-2005--Poland Springs Plunge
Top left: Picture from the 1979 park yearbook

Right:  Panoramic Postcard of the Hydro Flume

Lower left: Postcard from the 1979 Postcard Foldout
Map images from 1975 (left)
and from 1977 (right)
Left: Photo from the
1978 Souvenir book

Right: Photo from the
1981 Souvenir Book  
See the
Hydro Flume
in action

At the start of the 2005 season, it looked like the Hydro Flume finally got some much needed attention.   The operating chute of the drop was disassembled, and repairs were made to the fiberglass trough.   The steel track that the car wheels ride on was replaced as well.

In addition, the service stairs on the drop were repaired and replaced in sections, and the ride station and stairs received much needed paint and repairs.

The fresh coat of white primer and eventual blue color gave the ride a new look of prosperity.

The Hydro Flume still suffered a shortened operating season between staffing issues and the closures in spring due to cool weather, and fall due to Fright Fest.  
  In the spring of 2006, the flume underwent another rehab, this time with the station turntable receiving new decking and other maintenance.  

The ride spent much of the summer closed once again due to low staffing and maintenance issues, finally closing for the season in August when a boat jammed in the turntable.  

The park's already strained budget meant the ride never ran again, and over the 2006-2007 off season the flume was removed completely to make way for the new Wiggles World section, with the rides turntable and canopy becoming a stage for the new show. 

The lower five aerial photos show the removal of the Hydro Flume during the winter of 2007.

The process began with removal of the fiberglass trough, leaving the steel skeleton in the top two pictures.  

In the lower left and center pictures, the remainder of the steel framework has been removed along with most of the concrete channel and retention basin.

The photo in the lower right shows the new landscaping taking shape in the former flume path, and the colorful new look to the former station turntable with its new lease on life as the Wiggles World stage.
Before: After:
1999 as Riptide 2007 as Wiggles World

PLEASE NOTE: Onride photos posted here were taken before the park had placed restrictions on onride photography. Please adhere to current park rules.