Water slide event has faced a bumpy roll out in other cities

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt June 11, 2015
Photo obtained via http://www.slidethecity.com/

Photo obtained via http://www.slidethecity.com/

Excitement in Decatur over an upcoming event that will turn 1,000 feet of public street into a giant water slide has risen to levels normally reserved for the reopening of Dairy Queens.

When tickets went on sale June 10, people looking to buy tickets overloaded the website of Slide the City, the company behind the event. Decatur Metro reported that there were “only 6,000 available” passes to ride the slide on July 25. The company plans to install the slide on West Ponce de Leon Avenue. As of June 10, the city reported that tickets had not been sold out, “YET.” It’s unclear whether the server issues had been resolved, but Decaturish was able to log in on June 10.

Achieving 6,000 ticket sales in Decatur is not unfathomable. Decatur’s Craft Beer festival quickly sells its 4,000 tickets every year, though it has the distinct advantage of being an event that involves drinking beer.

But Slide the City has faced some challenges delivering on its fun-filled promises in other cities around the country. Two events held this month drew complaints from ticket holders. In Pittsburgh, they griped about the long lines. That event served 5,000 attendees over two days, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. According to a CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh, KDKA, some attendees complained “they had to wait well over one hour – even up to three hours to go down the slide. This was particularly an issue for people who paid at least $30 to ride the slip and slide three times or $50 for unlimited rides. Some people said they weren’t able to go down as many times as they paid for because of the long waits.”

There were also some concerns that people went down the slide too quickly, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

But that was nothing compared to what happened in Fort Worth, Texas. The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that while Slide the City’s June 6 event broke a Guinness World Record of some sort, it also faced technical issues that created long delays. Then people started fainting from the heat while waiting in lines, including the daughter of a city councilman. The mayor of the city called the glitches “maddening.” That event sold 4,000 advance tickets, the newspaper reported.

In both instances, representatives for the Salt Lake City Utah-based company took ownership of the problems, it should be noted.

Emerson Hamilton, Slide the City’s event director, told the Fort Worth Star Telegram that, “Unfortunately, the equipment that was brought out wasn’t in functioning condition. We, as Slide the City, that ultimately falls on us.”

Ryan Johnson, another event director for the company, told the the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that, “There were many things that were pure magic. But there are some very definite things that we learned and that we are planning on correcting and doing better.”

The company has also offered unhappy customers in Texas refunds. Decaturish attempted to reach Slide the City on June 9. A message delivered via Twitter, and two calls to company co-founder David Wulf were not returned on June 9.

The company is based in Salt Lake City Utah, and has only been in existence for a year. According to the Deseret News, the company tested the event out privately before unveiling it to the public for the first time in 2014. Slide the City has been held as a fundraiser in other communities. In Decatur, it will raise money for the Decatur Business Association.

The city of Decatur is working closely with Slide the City to prepare for the event, spokesperson Casie Yoder said.

“Yes, we are aware of these news reports,” Yoder said. “We have been in constant contact with the Slide the City company throughout the day. Please be assured that the city is working very closely with the Slide the City organizers to provide the best, safest, slip-slideyest time possible on July 25.

“Regarding the heat exhaustion, unfortunately there isn’t much we can do about the weather, so hopefully it won’t be too hot the day of our event. There will be emergency services, including EMT, onsite the day of the event. And as we do with all outdoor events in Decatur, we will urge people to drink plenty of fluids, wear sun protection (sunblock, hats, etc) and to get out of the sun and heat if they feel faint.”

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Anne

    Big bummer that this event excludes kids under 5. We always look forward to our kids playing in the sand at the Beach Party. We’ll be staying home this year.

  • Deborah Steinig

    You can add Baltimore to the list of cities where this event was a major mess. With taxes and fees, we wound up paying $139 for a family of four to each take one five-minute ride. That price would theoretically have covered three rides, but we were one of many families to leave before using all our rides because we were out of time, patience, and food and water. The manager apologized and said they’d been surprised by the volume of people — an odd claim for an event that had already sold out a few days earlier. They need to either sell fewer tickets or be honest and up front about expected wait times. They should also let you know that the large inner tube which they provide with most packages comes deflated — if you haven’t thought to bring a pump, you can either blow it up manually (takes about 10 minutes) or wait on yet another line and pay yet another fee to use a pump. While Slide the City’s business practices are within the letter of the law, the company is either absolutely sleazy or absolutely inept (perhaps both).

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