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Soak it up

Magic Springs to further entice the hordes with new wave ride.


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THE BOOGIE BLAST: New ride at Magic Springs Crystal Falls water park.
  • THE BOOGIE BLAST: New ride at Magic Springs Crystal Falls water park.

June is barely upon us, and already that sick-of-summer, middle-of-August heat has us chained to our air conditioners. Funny, how it's customary to complain about our Arkansas weather, with its 100 degrees and oppressive humidity, as if this climate took us completely by surprise.

Sizzling as it is, summer should nonetheless be stress-free. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the heat and keep the important stuff, like global warming and oil spills, off your mind. For instance, Crystal Falls at Magic Springs: Ever pushing the boundaries of poolside fun, the water park right outside Hot Springs opened a new attraction last week.

The Boogie Blast is a ride meant to simulate surfing and boogie boarding. It's essentially a stationary wave with soft padding underneath, allowing the rider to surf around on his stomach until — with one wrong move — he's sent spinning out of control. Only two people can go at a time, but fortunately half the fun is watching others try their hand at a sport that's thoroughly un-Arkansan (in other words, there's a lot of wiping out). A stage area is also built into the Boogie Blast, which will host DJs and local bands during special events.

On the day it opened, professional surfer Leah Dawson was around to promote the ride and demonstrate how it worked. She admitted that the Boogie Blast, once you got the hang of it, wasn't so different from riding an actual wave. Perhaps. But if you're going to be standing around getting sunburned and you're tired of the rest of the water slides, you might as well hop on a boogie board and pretend like you're carving a wave in the direction of an unspoiled Hawaiian beach.

Not that the water slides ever really get old. There's something pleasantly regressive about spinning around in a bright yellow tube for 45 seconds, then lining up for 20 minutes to do it all over again. One might think the water was incidental, especially with the Ouachita Mountains rolling in the distance. Magic Springs may in fact be a frontrunner in the battle against obesity — just a few hours of sliding and Boogie Blasting is exhausting, and once you're inside the park, it's hard to sit still.

For those who don't want to get their feet wet, there are always the thrill rides, including The Gauntlet, a wooden rollercoaster that helped the park's yearly attendance surge to over 400,000 when it was added in 2004. Of course, as long as you have a shirt and shoes, you can move freely between both sides of the park. Also, on many Thursday and Saturday evenings throughout the summer, the park hosts national acts, including REO Speedwagon and Joe Nichols, in its Timberwood Amphitheater. A reserved seat will cost you $5 to $10 above admission price.

Last week, the debut of the Boogie Blast was exciting but not too crowded — school wasn't out yet, and it was the first time Magic Springs had been open during the week. But the lines were still long, suggesting that by the time August has us gasping for breath, there'll be a lot of people who want to get global warming off their mind.


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