Friede News & Updates

Slide Tower Replacement: Two Similar Problems, Two Different Solutions

[fa icon="calendar"] May 4, 2017 10:23:17 AM / by Scott G. Truehl

Scott G. Truehl

Kalahari_Slide_Tower_Wood.jpgThe 45-foot high wood slide tower that supported two body slides, one tube ride and one raft ride was showing significant signs of decay was in need of total replacement.

Over the course of a two-year period, Friede & Associates was asked to work with two different clients in the Wisconsin Dells who were experiencing the same problem. Both waterpark clients had 45-foot, wooden slide towers that were showing significant signs of deterioration. They both needed immediate solutions that would result in replacement of the towers. But that’s where the similarities end.

Kalahari Resorts Slide Tower Replacement

The first project we began was the slide tower at Kalahari Resorts:

The Problem

The 45-foot high wood slide tower that supported two body slides, one tube ride and one raft ride was showing significant signs of decay was in need of total replacement.

The Challenges

  • The tower was located in the heart of Kalahari's more than 200,000-square-foot indoor waterpark.
  • There was limited access for the work to be completed.
  • Because the waterpark would remain open for all but a single, five-day period during construction, noise and scheduling were challenges.
  • The bulk of the reconstruction of the tower and the reconnection of the slides would have to be performed with customers and Kalahari employees nearby.

The Solution

The plan included replacing the wooded structure with a new painted, galvanized steel structure. It was agreed that the park would drain the lazy river and all the attractions attached to the attraction for a five-day window beginning after Labor Day and that Friede staff and subcontractors would utilize this timeframe for demolition of the existing tower and all the piping and electrical fixtures that were attached. 

Kalahari Resort Slide Tower | Wisconsin Dells | Friede & Associates | ReconstructionThe lack of water in the lazy river allowed Friede to drive a lift in the river bed and to utilize it with tower deconstruction. Additionally, the conveyor would be removed from the tower and disassembled to allow Kalahari staff to refurbish and repaint it for reinstallation when the tower was completed.

A job-specific safety plan was created to identify potential hazards, as well as determine work areas and the locations for the crane, lifts and scaffolding that would be utilized during the project. Dozens of sheets of plywood were installed to protect the pro tile pool deck around the slide tower during the construction period. The identification of what materials could safely be handled by crews and equipment was also determined

The project team decided that the large starting tube for one of the rides would be lifted with roof mounted hoists and suspended from the structural joists located above the tower during construction. To provide more clearance around the tower, it was also agreed that a large section of HVAC duct work above the tower would be removed at the start of the project and reinstalled later when the tower was completed.

Friede engaged Ramaker & Associates, the project architects and structural engineers, to perform a 3-D survey of all the existing conditions prior to the demolition beginning. This provided the team with exact measurements and details.

In addition to the galvanized steel structure, fiberglass risers were used for the stairs and Polyuria Elastomer (think truck bedliner) coating was applied over wood walkways and stair treads to provide a protective coating.

The Wilderness Resort Slide Tower Replacement

A year later, we were asked to work with The Wilderness Resort on their slide tower replacement project:

The Problem

The 45-foot high wood slide tower that supported two tube rides and two body slides was showing significant structural decay and was in need in major repair—and ultimately—total replacement. Initial plans called for the replacement of the wood tower with a galvanized steel structure.

The Challenges

  • Lack of access for equipment to perform the demolition and the rebuild
  • The weight of the galvanized steel for the replacement tower meant that the roof would need to be removed to accommodate a 125-foot crane
  • The other features of the waterpark were planning to remain open during the reconstruction
  • The project team needed to engineer solutions to isolate the construction zone and ensure the safety of the waterpark visitors
  • The existing HVAC system needed to be fully-functional throughout construction

The Solution

In an attempt to mitigate some of the challenges, the design-build project team began exploring other options. During discussions with The Wilderness Resort, maintenance staff expressed a desire to create better access into the water park for future maintenance and service of the attractions. The option of removing and relocating the existing man door was suggested to allow for the installation of a 10’ by 10’ overhead door into the building. The team also identified the opportunity for the installation of a ramp on the outside of the building to bridge the five foot difference in elevation from the surrounding driveway to the floor elevation of the waterpark. 

The Wilderness Resort | Wisconsin Dells | Friede & Associates ReconstructionOnce the team identified ways to improve access to the park to enable mobile lifts to access the attraction area, Friede & Associates began exploring other material options for the tower and ultimately determined that fiberglass structural elements could be used for this application.  While not originally designed for this use, this option seemed to offer significant end benefits to the Wilderness Resort with respect to ongoing maintenance and upkeep. Fiberglass also offered the key benefit of being significantly lighter, and ultimately proved to allow Friede field personnel to handle even the largest 45 foot beams by hand. This change in direction also eliminated the need to open up the roof of the existing park and the concern over exposing the waterpark to the outdoor elements.

During construction, Wilderness Resort decided to seize the opportunity by upgrading the attraction. Whitewater Attractions, Wilderness Resort’s supplier of the “wet games” helped to refurbished the existing fiberglass slides, installing electric components to allow for a brand new interactive slide boarding game called The Claim Jumper.

Claim Jumper | Wilderness Resort | Friede & Associates |Reedsburg WisconsinUltimately, a project that began with the idea that we would need to remove the roof to allow for access to demolish and replace a failing tower, ended with the installation of a much-needed service access to the park and the construction of a nearly maintenance-free fiberglass tower, complete with a new and exciting interactive slide boarding game. All of this while saving The Wilderness Resort hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.

While both of these construction problems could have been solved with the same exact materials, the specific needs of the client (both current and future), the layout of the site, and the complexity of the challenges led to two very different solutions for our clients.

In the end, both projects were named ABC of Wisconsin Projects of Distinction and were recognized as some of the most distinct projects in Wisconsin based upon their complexity and challenges. As we say around here at Friede & Associates, "We Do Weird Well."™

Interested in talking to us about your project ideas? Call 608.524.4383 or fill in the form on our contact page. We'd be happy to discuss your ideas and how we can turn an idea on paper into the structure you've dreamed of.


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Topics: Wisconsin Dells, Design Build Construction, Slide Tower Reconstruction

Scott G. Truehl

Written by Scott G. Truehl

Executive Vice President & Partner—With more than 30 years of experience in site selection and commercial development, Scott is responsible for assisting clients with not only their project development, but also their site analysis/acquisition, municipal approval and development needs. Scott is an active member and presenter at the international Construction Leadership Network and is a speaker at both national and state contracting conferences on topics including: creating a positive corporate culture; marketing construction services; design-build construction; and working with Realtors and developers. He also routinely participates in “Meet the Generals” programs around the state of Wisconsin and speaks to hundreds of trade contractors each year on how to effectively work with general contractors. For more than three decades, Scott has served the Wisconsin community in various roles: as a city councilman in Madison and Stoughton, as well as on numerous municipal boards, committees and economic development commissions.

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