O.D Hopkins first launched their water ride division in 1981 at the request of Wonderland Park in Texas. The owner was looking for a cost effective Log Flume and O.D Hopkins, at the time mainly a ropeway and sky ride manufacturer was intrigued. It ended working out perfectly and the partnership continued in 1988 when O.D Hopkins designed and manufactured a new style of Rapids attraction for the park. River Raft Ride is the model name given to the ride by Hopkins.
The result used round fiberglass boats mounted on a low floatation collar. 6 individual seats are mounted around the sides of the raft and each seat has a L shaped grab bar in front of it. Seatbelts are installed due to the fact the bucket seats don’t have much side to side protection and in order to prevent guests from being bounced around.
Rattlesnake River Raft Ride was the name chosen and the ride themed to nearby State Park, Palo Duro Canyon State Park. A space efficient 782 feet course was constructed and the ride a hit from the start.
In 1989, Story Land in Glen, NH approached O.D Hopkins with a different target for a raft ride: as the park target crowd is Families with young children, they wanted a ride with the mildest rapids in order to have the lowest height restriction as possible. How to soak riders then? Dr. Geyser Remarkable Raft Ride uses various props and waterfalls around the ride to get riders wet while having a calm river. It worked out perfectly and the ride is still a hit today.
Some of the remarkable theming around the ride.
This is one of the set on the ride. You go under the cloud and the “rain making machine” will drop water over the raft.
You can see the water of one of the ride’s geyser in this picture.
Flex provided us with this picture of the last stretch of the attraction.
The ride use a separate unload station.
Dr. Geyser Remarkable Raft Ride loading station and small lift back to the station.
In 1990, Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN went back to O.D Hopkins for a second water ride. At the time, the park was still quite small and the giant wooden roller coasters still a distant idea. Hopkins constructed Raging Rapids in Boulder Canyon at the back of the 4th of July area. Eying potential growth of the park, park president Will Koch asked Hopkins for a higher capacity ride and the 8 seat raft was born. The raft is a little wider and now has 8 individual seats arranged in a circle.
Holiday World provided us with this promotional picture of Raging Rapids. Holiday World
The raft itself is reminiscent of early Intamin efforts with a wide pool at the beginning. This help break things up from the usual very fast Hopkins rapids ride you usually see. In the middle, the raft goes through the middle of the flooded town of Boulder Canyon and hidden geysers go off, soaking the raft.
The pool on Raging Rapids.
A view at Boulder Canyon, the flooded town we go through. This picture appears courtesy of Holiday World.
This was the first Rapids ride from Hopkins to feature continuous loading. This is accomplished by having the raft sit on rubber conveyor belts in the station and guests have to enter and exit while it is in motion.
In 1994, Hopkins opened a new Rapids ride in Thailand. The site was a brand a new theme park located near Bangkok. Located at the back of the park, Grand Canyon is themed to the American Wild West and features a lot of props and water effects in addition to aggressive rapids.
The top of the lift hill of Grand Canyon. Most Hopkins Rapids rides have the lift hill at the start and they use double conveyor belts.
Totems installed around the banks of the river.
As you can see, the ride has some violent rapids.
The boat smashing through the rapid seen in the picture above.
This totem sprays water at the raft.
The tipping bucket usually seen at water parks is used on this attraction.
Gyeongju World in the city of the same name in South Korea has a remarkable River Raft Ride installation. It features a visual whirlpool element, a dark cave and excellent rapid sections.
One of the raft on Grand Canyon Adventure.
Some of the rapids on Grand Canyon Adventure.
Grand Canyon Adventure loading station in the background.
In 1996, Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT reopened on a fulltime schedule after its new owner, Kennywood, invested massively in the park. In 1997, Thunder Rapids opened in a previously unused area of the park, at the other corner of the lake. What was remarkable is that it was built on the side of a mountain and so, it has quite a long course and it concentrates on amazing rapids. No need for waterfalls to soak riders here!
As you can see, the park left many of the site original boulders on site.
One of the more aggressive dip in the water.
The course features many turns and winds down the mountain a lot.
This huge rock was left over and the course designed to go around it.
The ride reservoir was built at the bottom of the ride, near the station.
In 1998, Happy Valley Shenzhen opened and one of the ride present was Gold Mine Drifting, a Hopkins Rapid Raft Ride.
Thrillography provided us with this great picture of Gold Mine Drifting.
What you see in the background is not mist, but artificial rain! The rain goes around nozzles calibrated to simulate a heavy rainfall. Thrillography
Large hoses then soak the raft again. Thrillography
In 1999, Riverside Park in Agawam, MA finally opened a River Rapids attraction. In the past, the park had tried to build an in-house effort, but they were unable to get that ride open. New owners Six Flags went back to the site of that effort, cleared up the land and hired Hopkins Rides to design a brand new ride. Called the Blizzard River, it received a lot of theming and features tunnels, waterfalls and mist over the first part.
The entrance to the waiting line of Blizzard River.
The loading station.
A close-up of one of the boat on the attraction. Having so many openings eliminate the need to have an Indexer system to position the boat in the loading station.
A view of the lift hill, pumps and holding reservoir.
Six Flags New England provided us with this picture of Blizzard River.
Fake snow and other props were installed around the ride. Six Flags New England
Six Flags New England provided us with this great picture of one of the ride’s waterfall feature.
In 2012, WhiteWater West Industries Ltd. from Richmond, BC purchased Hopkins Rides. It was integrated in their WhiteWater Attractions division and the company is again pursuing contracts around the world. It gives WhiteWater great flexibility as they can now bid on all kinds of RFT (Request for Tender, which are formal invitations for suppliers to bid on a contract) and can even include things like Shoot the Chute and River Raft Ride attractions in waterpark tender propositions.