By Brady MacDonald
10:00 AM EDT, May 29, 2012
The weather forecast for Legoland California this summer calls for a 100% chance of getting 100% soaking wet.
The new Pirate Reef water attraction opened over Memorial Day weekend at the Carlsbad kiddie park with a pair of life-size Lego pirate ships flanking the splash zone of the classic shoot-the-chutes ride.
For its relatively modest size, the 25-foot-tall attraction built by Florida-based Hopkins Amusement Rides generates a surprisingly enormous splash.
The 15-foot-tall fan-shaped tidal wave delivers a double whammy, with the initial deluge sweeping over the boat like a tsunami only to be followed by a trio of ricocheting blasts that careen off the twin pirate ships and the overhead bridge connecting them onto the boat passengers below.
When I rode Pirate Reef, it felt as if every last drop of the 155,000 gallons of water in the lagoon rose in unison and crashed down upon our collective heads. I couldn't get wetter if I dove into a swimming pool in a rainstorm.No place is safe. Front row, back row, it doesn't matter. You can't hide. Every last inch of you will get wet. Guaranteed. I've never been on a wetter ride in my life.
I wore one of the $6 plastic ponchos that Legoland sells, but it didn't help much. I clenched up the hood as tight as possible and water still managed to flow down the neck hole, soaking the front and back of my shirt.
Then came the water cannons fired from the decks of the pirate ships, followed by a series of innocent-looking Lego frogs that squirted a continuous fire hose-flow of arching water over the boat. By the time we returned to the dock, it felt as if we'd driven a convertible with the top down through a torrential downpour.
The brilliance of Pirate Reef is that the ride can be accessed from both the Legoland theme park and the separate-admission water park, meaning you can and should ride Pirate Reef in a bathing suit. I don't know about you, but I don't like walking around a theme park soaked to the skin — clothes clinging, shoes squishing, shoulders shivering. It takes all the fun out of the day.
For the theme park visitors who do get soaked, Legoland has stationed $5 body dryers right near the Pirate Reef exit. The walk-in dryers leave you 90% dry and may well be the greatest theme park invention of the past decade.