Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Quicksand Vortex

Not for the claustrophobic.
  (+8, -1)
(+8, -1)
  [vote for,

The Quicksand Vortex amusement park ride is a big, slowly turning vat of plastic ball 'quicksand'. Participants experience the sensation of sinking in and falling through, coming out into a safe 'reception' area.

The main part of the ride is a large, circular 'vat', approximately 15-20 feet across. This vat extends down about 20 feet and is offset-funnel shaped - one 'side' is straight and the other side is angled so that the bottom of the funnel is about four feet across. There is a pressure-sensitive door at the bottom, which opens outward but stays closed until an object of sufficient weight comes in contact with it from the inside.

The vat is filled with coloured hollow plastic balls, like those found in child play 'ball pit' areas. The balls are about 3 inches across (large enough that they won't fit into any body cavities). There are hoses that stick up around the outside edge of the vat that occasionally blow 'fresh' balls onto the top layer of the vat of balls, keeping it full (as some will spill out the bottom during use).

This whole mechanism rotates completely around once every 30 seconds. Lining the sides of the vat are rows of soft projections that do not move with the vat (extending through horizontal slots in the vat), poking out just a foot or so into the balls to 'stir' them as the vat spins. These will move in and out as the offset funnel shape rotates around them.

The vat mechanism is suspended above a 'ball pit' area filled with balls, about 3 feet deep or so. The bottom door of the funnel is about 4 feet from the top of the ball depth. Because of the offset funnel shape and slow rotation, the bottom door of the funnel traces a circle shape around this 'ball' room once per revolution. This ball pit is open and people outside can watch this area.

That was probably a very bad description, but perhaps when I describe the working of it, it'll be more clear.

Participants (of proper height - "you must be this tall") remove any loose clothing (like jackets) and put on goggles to protect their eyes. Then, when the operator tells them, they step off the deck and wade into the rotating vat of balls. The slow rotation, stirring action, combined with their own weight and movements will pull them into the balls, deeper and deeper until they are completely submerged underneath the balls. This is the scary part.

The participant will continue to be pulled deeper and deeper into the balls until their body meets the inside wall of the funnel shape, which then guides them downward toward the opening at the bottom of the funnel. It should take about 30 seconds or so to 'fall' through to the bottom.

When they meet this opening, their body weight pushes open the door and they spill out into the ball pit at the bottom, where onlookers will cheer their successful trip through the Quicksand Vortex. (Seeing the participant's reactions here will get people interested in trying out the ride, too.) The participant rights him or herself, gets bearings and wades through the balls to the exit, only to get back in line for another dive.

waugsqueke, May 24 2003


       apparently quicksand does not pull you down - its your frantic struggles that do that.   

       nice one waugs +1   

       \ /
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po, May 24 2003

       If only we could do this to trolls.
thumbwax, May 24 2003

       I'll be first in the queue. +
sambwiches, May 24 2003

       GERONIMO! ++++
If there is ever a halfbakery amusement park I'm moving in.

       Don't wear a dress.
bristolz, May 25 2003

       No, just moving in. No dress.   

       +1 damn awesome. Can I be the first to have a go when you build it? Ball pools get unpleasant with depth, as i did experiment once when I was young. The weight of the balls mean you have alot of spheres pushing into you. The weight of other children on top doesn't help either.   

       There is not reason why you couldn't have a giant whirlpool in a swimming pool using the same concept.   

       Are you suggesting, tiger lily, that... um.... nevermind   

       Quicksand is several times denser than water thanks to the sand component. So basicly you should float on it. Ever got you shoe stuck in mud? You end up pulling your foot out of your shoe it. When you struggle the human also foot acts as a suction cup, with pumping motion it sucks you down into the mud. Basicly quicksand and soft mud is a thixiotropic fluid. Wriggle and it liquifies, you sink. But you generally don't go completely under contrary to popular myth.
venomx, May 25 2003

       Ball inhalation thread removed because a) the issue is addressed in the idea, and b) the double entendres were starting to get stinky.
waugsqueke, May 25 2003

       Sounds pretty fun... *buys stock in Waugsqueke Amusements Inc.*
UglyPuppy, May 25 2003

       Great idea, but I'm not sure about the mechanism. I think it needs more than rotation to suck the person down. Agitated mixtures usually separate out the larger (though eavier) items to the top, and without a mechanism to extract balls as well as people at the bottom, I think the same will apply here.   

       So I think you need to let the balls out at the bottom (and feed them back to the top) as well as the people.
DrCurry, May 25 2003

       thought this was a way to get rid of baking bakers. Quite a disappointment.
ato_de, May 26 2003

       *shivers* I just have to say, that when I was a child, I used to have a recurring nightmare about being stuck in a machine EXACTLY like this - in part.   

       At the top is an ordinary children's jungle gym, only it's on top of this huge cylindrical tower. The only way down is to crawl down the inside of the tower, going from one hold to another, sometimes jumping several feet and grabbing on. If you fell, a huge vat of play-balls was there, much as waug described, swirling you around and sucking you in.   

       Then, once you were sucked through, you were stuck inside this digestive system made of tansparent plastic, and for the next several hours all your friends would watch as you were punished for your poor sense of balance by being smothered by thousands of plastic play-balls.   

       Now, that didn't stop me from enjoying the ball-pits at the local McD's. But it made me check the depth first.
ooys, Aug 20 2004

       I got stuck in quicksand once. This sounds like a lot more fun than, and not a gross as, the real thing. +
echo, Aug 21 2004


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