Reporter tames the Torpedo

07/14/2014 8:07 PM

07/15/2014 2:12 PM

According to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And once you face that fear, you deserve to strut a little.

At least according to our plucky reporter Coleen Daniell, who faced her fears, hurtling 40 miles per hour down a four-story drop on the Torpedo at Hawaiian Falls last week.

“There is a sense of empowerment after going down the Torpedo after dreading it for days,” Coleen admits.

Our scrappy reporter suited up with teen-age daughter Tara for this episode of “Let’s Try It!”, taking on the rowdiest rides at Mansfield’s water park. After after overcoming her surprise at her survival, she admitted that she actually liked some of the rides. But first she had to tackle her fear.

General manager Randall Hudson met us at the gate early Thursday morning, eager to show off his park. Mansfield’s Hawaiian Falls opened in May 2008 at the corner of Heritage Parkway and Texas 360. The 13-acre park features 14 slides, a lazy river, enormous wave pool, tree house and children’s play area, plus cabanas and food stands.

But we were here for the big rides, not the kiddie stuff.

“Isn’t there some medical criteria I can meet that will disqualify me?” Coleen asked, hopefully. “My blood pressure is fine, but my heart rate is going up.”

Hudson grinned and suggested that Coleen warm up on the Hightide Whirlpool, better known as the Toilet Bowl. She swooped down a tunnel slide, whirled around a giant bowl and got flushed out at the end with a splash, barely wetting the tips of her hair. The only traumatic moment, she said, was when she feared she would spin around and get flushed out backward.

On to the most popular ride in the park. Hudson guided us to the Hawaiian Halfpipe, a chute that leads to a giant blue and yellow striped wall that you go straight up, then head down a sloping slide into a welcoming pool. Tara climbed on for the two-person ride and everyone in the park could hear mother and daughter screaming before they hit the wall. The two did get a little damp, but not really wet. And they liked it -- a lot.

But the biggest -- and baddest -- ride in the park awaited. The Torpedo opened in 2010 and is the most intense ride in the park, Hudson says.

“I love this ride,” he said. “You see a lot of fathers and sons do this together.”

Coleen wasn’t so sure. Walking toward the yellow and red chutes, she began to laugh nervously.

Riders stand upright in one of the two towering chutes, a mechanical voice counts down, 3--2--1, then the floor drops out and so does the person standing in the chute, sucked down the tube before ending with a splash in a slide at the bottom.

Hudson escorted Coleen to the top, just like he did on all the other rides. In fact, Coleen said that was the best part of the day, having him carry her inner tube to the top and leading her to the front of the line. For the Torpedo, though, there was no line, like NO ONE in line, which didn’t seem encouraging.

Coleen got her instructions, climbed in the yellow tube and the door suctioned closed. Hudson pressed the button and then pressed it again. Nothing. He pressed again. Must be broken, he shrugged. Oops, just kidding, he laughed, and the floor dropped out below her feet.

“There’s a moment where the floor is gone before you go,” Coleen said. “It’s like cartoon suspension.

“The 3--2--1, that is the worst part,” she said. “You could wet yourself waiting for it. I tried to keep my legs crossed (as she was advised), but I still got a pre-colonostomy.”

After splashing down at the end of the slide (and soaking everyone taking her photo), Coleen seemed almost buoyant.

“All the rides were much more fun than I thought they would be,” she said, and she especially liked the Halfpipe because she got to ride with her daughter.

That made Hudson happy.

“Our mission is bringing families closer together,” he said. “We want it to be rides that little ones can do with their parents.”

After her strenuous assignment, Coleen decided to relax with Tara on a slow ride in the Kona Kooler lazy river, which turned out to be the toughest ride of the day.

“The lazy river was surprisingly hard,” she said. “We got stuck on the beach.”

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