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Ultimate Abyss Tops the Thrill Factor

By BijalWednesday 25th May 2016

At 10 storeys high, with a 100-foot drop and hair-raising twists and turns, it’s easy to see why Harmony of the Seas’ Ultimate Abyss has been named “possibly the most thrilling man-made adventure at sea.” This incredible slide gives guests an experience like nothing else onboard, and now we can prove it!


We invited Professor Brendan Walker, Director at the Thrill Laboratory, UK, onboard to give Ultimate Abyss a full thrill assessment. Read on to find out more.


About Brendan Walker

As the Director at the UK’s first Thrill Laboratory, Brendan Walker specialises in all things thrilling. The Thrill Laboratory is made up of scientists, artists, designers, engineers and technologists who work together to create, produce and examine new forms of thrill. And, in 2015, Walker unveiled his own experimental thrill ride, Neurosis: World's First Brain Controlled Thrill Ride, to global acclaim.

Testing Ultimate Abyss

In order to measure the thrill level of Abyss, Walker carried out two days of testing to measure the physical reactions of volunteers who were brave enough to take on the slide. He measured their heart rates, their facial expressions and the activity of their sympathetic nervous system, the body’s primary process in stimulating the fight-or-flight response.
Brendan Walker, Director at the UK’s first Thrill Laboratory Brendan Walker, Director at the UK’s first Thrill Laboratory

The Five Stages of Thrill

Although not all rides are the same, Walker says there are five important stages of thrill.
1. Imagining: When the rider consciously entertains the idea of riding. The stronger the rider can imagine riding the ride, the stronger the moments of thrill.
2. Approaching: As the thought of riding becomes a reality, the moments of thrill created through imagination become intensified in a "countdown to thrill.”
3. Committing: The rider passes through a stage of no return such as being strapped into a ride or being urged on by friends. At this stage, the only way to proceed is forward.
4. Doing: The ride begins. If it’s thrilling, the ride will provide intense novel sensations that will immerse the rider and transport them into a state of flow.
5. Celebrating: The ride ends. The rider experiences an afterglow as adrenaline and dopamine – hormones that induce a state of excitement and happiness – continue to course through their brains.
“The initial arrival experience – riders climb the stairs leading up to the slide platform, walk over the clear platform suspended above a more than 90-foot drop – sets the tone for the experience, and when combined with the multi-sensory experience during the slide, Ultimate Abyss has a hugely thrilling effect. This combination of a natural phenomenon – the feeling of being small in comparison to the endless ocean view – coupled with a manmade experience (i.e. a stainless steel slide) is defining a new genre of thrill that is setting the standard for future attractions as people demand more extreme, and expertly crafted thrill-seeking adventures.” – Brendan Walker

The Results

On average, Ultimate Abyss caused heart rates to increase by 44 bpm (compared to the resting rate of a 30 year-old with average fitness), while facial expressions of extreme pleasure could be seen more than 40% of the time. Additionally, the volunteers’ fight-or-flight response became 15.74% more active than when resting.
Collating these results, Brendan gave Ultimate Abyss an impressive Walker Thrill Factor of 45.35%. He also tested the FlowRider and RockWall, which received 36.15% and 34.49% respectively. According to Walker, these scores are at the high end of the scale, as it’s unlikely that a single experience could score a thrill factor of 100%.
"Having experienced it myself, I have no doubt that the Ultimate Abyss will be absolutely thrilling for our guests, but it is really gratifying to get confirmation from such a thrill expert as Professor Brendan Walker. The exciting multisensory experience that the tallest slide at sea offers, combined with other Royal Caribbean firsts such as the FlowRider and the RockWall, confirms that Harmony of the Seas isn't just the largest cruise ship in the world, but also the ultimate adventure at sea." – Michael Bailey, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International
Ultimate Abyss gets Brendan's seal of approval. Ultimate Abyss gets Brendan's seal of approval.

Experience the thrill of Ultimate Abyss


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