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New KCK water slide touted as world's fastest

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- At about 17 stories tall, a water slide opening this spring in the Midwest is being touted as a contender for the fastest in the world.

The Schlitterbahn water park and resort company is keeping the ride's exact height secret until an official measuring event this spring, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1iuNzW6) reports. But officials promise it will exceed the height of the current world-record-holding slide -- the Insano, Spanish for Insane -- at Beach Park outside the city of Fortaleza, Brazil. Riders on the Brazilian slide have been clocked at 65 mph -- a speed Schlitterbahn vows it can top.

Thrill seekers will get their first chance to ride the Verr 5/8ckt -- German for insane -- when the Kansas City, Kan., water park opens May 23. The company hopes the ride will become a destination attraction.

"We have always been family friendly, but this will attract those adrenaline junkies who are always looking for that next biggest, coolest thrill," said Layne Pitcher, the park's director of marketing and sales.

After a 264-step climb to the deck at the top of the tower, riders will hurtle downward in four-person inflatable rafts. At the bottom of the initial plummet, riders will confront a five-story hill. They will be propelled up and over that hill for the final descent to the ride's finish.

Jeff Henry, a Schlitterbahn co-owner who designed the ride, said in a news release that the new slide would be a "game changer" for the industry.

With the construction phase almost complete, Pitcher said the ride will undergo extensive testing before the public is invited to ride it.

"Safety is paramount to us," he said. "We want to provide a thrilling ride, but safety comes first."