Unlike Team Samezuka, Team Iwatobi thought to venture outside of the Disney region and into the more tourist-trap-like areas that were on International Drive. During the day, I-Drive was more for the sandal-wearing, camera-toting stereotype of a tourist, but during the night it was lit (literally). And as much as Nagisa was interested in checking out the night life of Orlando, Rei was going to make sure that they didn’t end up in jail or dead. After all, the end of the school year was nigh, and they had to live to see Makoto and Haruka graduate.
So instead, they took a taxi to Wet ’n’ Wild. This particular water park was getting ready to shut down after Universal Studios had bought the expansive property for a newer water park, but this part of the deal was unbeknownst to most locals. The day they had chosen to go was actually the last day that the park would be open for its full hours.
“With a name like that, I can’t wait to try out the rides!” Nagisa excitedly said as he bounced in his seat next to Rei. The cab driver glanced back at him to make sure he was trying to rip the seat apart. “Hey, hey, Rei-chan; which ride do you want to go on first?”
“We haven’t even seen what they have to offer yet, and how can you be so excited? It’s 8:30 in the morning!” Rei replied.
“Be more excited, Rei-chan!”
The taxi brought them to the park only about ten minutes before they opened, and once Rei paid for the ride and thanked him for putting up with his rambunctious friend, the little blond penguin pulled him to the entrance. A couple hundred people were all buzzing around the tickets ranging from older children that were a little more than half Nagisa’s size to college students that were a few inches taller than Rei to parents of either group. The two second-years had purchased their ticket online, saving a few bucks and skipping most of the line. Once they were scanned in, they went to the rental kiosk for their locker.
The two of them wore the same suits they wore for their competition considering that they anticipated children, but it still felt like there were a larger number of adults than they were expecting. Upon checking the minimum height for each ride, they understood why.
They made their way to their first attraction at the butterfly’s request that they start slow and small. The rides were incredibly bigger than they had expected, and knowing that these rides were most likely going to be more intense—because the name of the park is Wet ‘n’ Wild—Nagisa allowed him that peace of mind.
The first attraction was the Blast, and like all of the tube rides at this park, it was a group one with the option to ride it alone. The crowd had dispersed since the opening for the day, and it seemed that more people were interested in the bigger ones, so there was no wait. They approached the exit pool and grabbed a tube for the both of them and carried it to the top of the slide. When they reached there, they gave the lifeguard the tube.
“Rei-chan, you get on first and get comfortable,” Nagisa almost kindly told him. It was unsettling.
“A-Ah, I forgot to take off my glasses!” Rei panicked.
“It’s fine,” the lifeguard responded. “You shouldn’t lose them on this one.”
“Nagisa-kun, after this ride, let’s go back to the lockers, okay?” Rei asked.
Nagisa agreed, sitting in his spot on the tube. He gave a thumbs-up to the lifeguard, whom pulled them to the entrance of the ride and began to spin them just enough to get them moving. The ride was a little on the fast side, but unlike the other rides they were going to see, there were structures meant to give a narrative to the ride. That is, until they shot cannonballs of water at Rei and Nagisa. Next they were faced with a couple waterfalls, and finally they came to a gliding stop into the exit pool.
“That was so awesome!” both of them exclaimed.
“We have to do this one again at some point!” Rei suggested.
“Let’s go on the Flyer now!” Nagisa replied.
“But my glasses!”
“After this ride!” At this point Nagisa was already well on his way to the next attraction.
Flyer was part of the same complex, but it was a bit more elevated. The rafts were already at the top, and unlike the tube for the Blast, the raft had no bottom padding and no designated holes to sit in. After they climbed the stairs to the top and got their turn, the lifeguard told them that Nagisa was to sit in front. He pressed the button repeatedly to mess with them after noticing that Rei was more apprehensive about going down. Finally they were off.
The ride wasn’t a bump and tumble one but, as the name implied, a glider. They sped down the winding slide with Rei gripping the safety straps as tight as possible while Nagisa was tempted to let go of them.
“Nagisa-kun, don’t let go of the straps!” Rei begged him.
“Nothing’s going to happen!” Nagisa replied.
The raft glided across the pool, only stopping when the lifeguard got his hand on it to slow it down. Nagisa jumped out feeling positively invigorated while Rei hobbled out and weakly demanded they put his glasses away before they broke.
Next on the agenda was one of the local favorites. It was an enclosed behemoth bowl called Disco H2O. Rei gaze up at it with shaking knees. From the top, the slide curved left then right and there was a steep drop that allowed for the weight and speed of the raft to build up enough momentum to swirl around the inside before the raft would slide out of the center and into the pool underneath. In theory, it didn’t sound as terrifying, but Nagisa was adamant in putting it into practice.
“All set?” the lifeguard asked at the top.
Rei was going into the ride first with his back to the entrance. Nagisa shook with anticipation and excitement, of course he was ready! The life guard sent them off into the darkness as the song “Celebration” blasted down the tube. The tube had a few colored lights that went dark just before the drop, which cause Rei to scream much higher and louder than he ever had. He opened his eyes as they swirled around in the bowl with hundreds of lights flashing and swiveling about. Then, slowing just before the “drain”—for lack of a better word—there was a gush of water and they had come out to the light of day.
“Wow, wow! That was so awesome!” Nagisa hoorayed.
“It was, but it would have been nice to know about that drop beforehand!” Rei complained.
“But you saw the drop!”
“I didn’t think it would be that drastic!”
“Whatever, let’s go on the other one up there. I think it’s called the Surge.”
The Surge didn’t have any huge drops and was significantly tamer, like the Blast. It had its share of bumps and turns, and it helped Rei to calm down after the drop…not that he was perpetually scared of it.
Next was the space-inspired one called Blackhole: the Next Generation. Rei was much more interested in this one thanks to the science aesthetic, and Nagisa was just interested in the double corkscrew tubes. Unfortunately with this ride, the riders had to pull the raft up a spiraling staircase, and since the blond penguin was a little on the small side to carry up the hefty raft, Rei took it upon himself to carry it. About halfway up the stairs, he took a break; the heavy lifting surprisingly had tired him out, yet he focused on making it to the finish line. Even if there wasn’t much to this ride, they had to ride this it for the science!
After they came out to the raft return, they went down the stairs where Rei found the rocket ship fountain. “It’s so beautiful,” he crooned.
“Okay, okay, we gotta go—Rei-chan, look at that one over there!” Nagisa pointed to another one of the local favorites called Brainwash.
This enclosed-tornado ride had a funnel that on the inside allowed riders to half-pipe down the side into the drain. The line extended from the standard zigzagging compacted line that every amusement park had to the raft pickup. The line then followed around the entirety of the ride over to a conveyor belt that took the raft up to the top while passengers climbed the tower on foot. The line bifurcated about two-thirds of the way up; one half of the line fed into the lip of the Brainwash dock while the other half continued up to another ride that deterred both of them for its bomber-like drop.
Rei and Nagisa got into their raft, this time Nagisa facing backwards into the attraction. They headed into the pitch black. There were a couple slight turns and then the adventure picked up, dumping the two of them into the tornado. Because their combined weight was less than 300 pounds, they didn’t go as high as they were hoping. Just like Disco H2O, the ride emptied out into a pool, where they handed off their raft.
After that was a try on the newest attraction Aqua Racers. Nagisa wasn’t a big fan of toboggan rides, but Rei wanted to try it. They learned that this ride was a little too violent, especially for a winding decline down the slope. The results of Aqua Racers weren’t favorable to win a second ride—Nagisa hit the ulnar side of his arms on the slope while Rei’s throat was punched by a hill in the track.
By now, Nagisa was extremely hungry. “Do you think we should take a break and get some food?” he asked his partner in crime.
“That’s a good idea. I saw a place that had coffee, food, and a bar,” Rei told him.
“Can we get drunk?”
Rei and Nagisa took a small break at a tiki-bar. The latter was interested in the bartender, who was the only one there and mixing probably twenty drinks for an ocean of people. He wanted to try one of the drinks, but the butterfly reminded him that the age limit in America was 21 years old. Naturally, the little penguin wasn’t happy about that.
They decided that they would digest their lunch in the lazy river before trying anymore rides. There wasn’t much left to do except redo their favorite ones. They made their way to the lazy river, which was much deeper and had a faster current than they were expecting for something to lounge in. Nagisa was rather tempted to swim, and Rei would have joined him if not for the clumps of people clogging up the portions of the river on the few inner tubes available to them. Compared to Disney’s rivers, though, it was shorter and packed away neatly in the corner of the park. The upside was that this river had a special spot to relax outside the current and under a scenic waterfall and it overall had a refreshing resort feel to it.
After two laps around the river, Nagisa ventured a suggestion in trying out the Storm. This ride was a mixture of an inline tube ride and a bowl. It was almost like the designers for Blackhole and Disco H2O set the two rides up on a date and a year later had a baby together.
“The map shows it’s got two sides, so we can go down the same time,” Nagisa said.
“It looks dangerous,” Rei apprehensively mumbled. “Do we really have to go on this one?”
“Rei-chan, Rei-chan, Rei-chan! We might never get an opportunity like this again, and the park will be closing at the end of the year! We have to do everything we can while we’re here!”
Rei had no choice but to agree to go on the ride with that argument. The Storm was adjacent to the lazy river on the map, and the line for it was rather short. Seeing the actual size of it, Rei felt a little better, but he wasn’t too keen on the idea of the slide opening into a pool. The other rides had a slide into them; falling right into a pool seemed like it would be more painful than fun. In addition to all that, the slide was also a body slide as he later discovered.
“Okay when you get up to the slide, hold onto the bar until you see the green arrow. Then cross your legs and but your arms behind your head. If you don’t do that last part, there is a chance you can get whiplash,” the lifeguard warned. Nagisa went down first, too excited to wait for Rei.
Rei pushed himself hesitantly down the slide doing as the lifeguard had explained (and demonstrated seeing that they couldn’t understand English very well). He watched as the slide suddenly opened up into the bowl that he was to circle two or three times before falling through the hole. But the speed and pressure that allowed him to stay glued to the side of the bowl was a little too much, and his ear violently popped. When he reached the end of the ride, the lifeguard pulled him closer to the edge. She looked at him with concern as he held his ear and kept looking at his hand whenever he removed it.
“Sir, are you okay?” she asked him.
“I…don’t know…I am not bleeding, so I must be,” he managed in English as best as he could while preoccupied for the condition of his ear. He met with Nagisa to tell him that his ear had popped. “I don’t want to do this one again. At least not until the right side of my head is back to normal.”
“I’m sorry,” Nagisa replied. “But maybe you just hit your head?”
“If I did, I’d have a minor concussion.”
At this point, dark storm clouds rolled in over the entirety of I-Drive. There was a thunderclap, and just like that all the rides were shut down until further notice. Rei and Nagisa, beside themselves with what to do until the storm blew over, returned to the exit of the Flyer to wait it out. Neither of them had ever seen so much rain, and they didn’t think it could rain for an hour and thirty minutes—not even Floridians thought that could happen. The park had music playing, and every once in a while they would halfheartedly sing along. Remarkably, Rei recognized Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” and sang along to the chorus.
“Mm, sing it, man!” a girl at another table called.
Nagisa stifled a giggle as Rei instantly stopped singing both out of embarrassment and pride. When the rain stopped, they realized that they only had about two-and-a-half hours left to stay the park.
“Nagisa-kun, there’s something that I want to test,” Rei suddenly said as they made their way back to Disco H2O. The little blond looked at him with interest. “I think if we can get more weight on our raft, we might be able to circle the bowl at least one more time before exiting it.”
“Oh, my God, let’s do it!” Nagisa replied. He was more ecstatic than the purple butterfly had anticipated, but that was probably because it just meant that they had an excuse to ride it again.
Climbing all the way to the top, they encountered the perfect specimen. An easy-going black man was waiting on the side at the request of one of the lifeguards. They had told him that he needed to be with a group to go on the rides, but since he was only a single rider, it wouldn’t be excruciatingly difficult to find a party of two or three that would allow him to piggyback on their raft.
“Are you a party of two?” the lifeguard asked Nagisa and Rei.
“Yup! Does he need someone to ride with?” Nagisa replied.
“Yeah, do you mind?”
“It’s perfect!” Rei told him.
The single rider got on the raft with them, and he thanked them for letting him ride. Rei explained to him that he was simply in the right place at the right time because they were going to test his hypothesis. The ride started, and the three of them went sailing into the bowl. On their first time, they managed to go around twice; now that they had at least 130 extra pounds, they got an extra half-circle out before exiting. The hypothesis was only partially supported, and Rei figured that they would need just one more person to get an extra full circle. Now Nagisa was interested in testing the hypothesis in Brainwash.
“Do you want to go with us on Brainwash? We want to test our hypothesis there, too!” he offered.
“Yeah, sure. I’m cool with that if that’s okay,” the man said. “By the way, name’s Derrick.”
Nagisa and Rei introduced themselves, and as they walked to the next ride, they learned that Derrick was a few years older than them and was preparing to take an exam in the coming months. They told him, in turn, that they were visiting from Japan after having competed in the Nationals for their swimming competition. Derrick was fascinated that for sophomore-type guys, they were extremely well-built. He listened to them talk more about their school and about how an entire group of them were traveling together to the different water parks in Orlando. Nagisa even alluded to the vice president of the Iwatobi Swim Club for being one of the most beautiful swimmers he’d ever seen.
As they neared the top of Brainwash, Nagisa shared with Derrick, “When Rei-chan was first starting out, he sank like a rock!”
“Really? You have to tell him that?!” Rei cried
“Yeah, why not?”
“How could you?!”
“I love you!” Nagisa tittered.
“Man, you two sound like really good friends to do that to each other!”
They finally got into the raft, Nagisa again sitting so that he would go back first. The objective was to attain a higher peak height on the half-pipe. After the preliminary bumping and the drop, Nagisa and Rei momentarily became disoriented as they indeed went higher than before in the tornado funnel. They celebrated at the exit of the ride after handing off the raft.
“It worked!” they said in unison.
Rei turned to Derrick, who was getting ready to head off into a different direction. “Derrick-san, thank you very much for helping us to test our hypothesis!” he gratefully said with a bow.
“Aw, it’s no problem, man! It was fun talking with you guys! Hey, good luck in your swimming and in college when you go!” Derrick chuckled.
Rei and Nagisa went off in the direction of the Blast for their final ride at Wet ‘n’ Wild, dancing to the music and being applauded by the same girls who had cheered for Rei’s singing earlier and winning a back-up dancing lifeguard a few minutes later. Since it was almost closing time, it seemed like everyone was trying to squeeze as much as they could on the rides including the Blast. Nagisa and Rei were already on their raft and ready to be sent down the cute adventure that was the burst water pipe, but there was a raft behind them trying to push them forward.
“Hun, you have got to stop!” a girl laughed.
“Nuh-uh, boo-boo, I came to go down on this ride, and I will go down!” a boy responded.
Nagisa sprouted a devious smile, but Rei didn’t condone getting wrapped up in their business. “Hold on, Hun, there are plenty of us that are waiting to be flushed!” he playfully yelled at the two.
“I don’t think you understand. I had four frappes today, this ish needs to go!”
“Nagisa-kun…I can’t tell if they’re actually mad. Maybe you should apologize,” Rei whispered.
“We mean no harm, by the way!” Nagisa relayed.
“Naw, you good, boo-boo,” the boy responded.
At that moment, the lifeguard sent Rei and Nagisa down the ride for the last time, and after they went back to the lockers to get their stuff, they ran into the lifeguard that had danced to “Call Me Maybe” with them. He introduced himself as Chandler and requested that they tell guest services that they thought he was awesome for singing and dancing with them. When they did, they met up again with the boy and girl they had bantered with at the Blast. It turned out that they were the same age despite Rei and Nagisa having mistaken them for college students. The girl wanted to go party with them, but her friend told them that didn’t look like the partying type but chess-type people—which wasn’t necessarily true considering Nagisa was willing to go to a club in the area.
“Nagisa-kun, we have to get back to the hotel. Makoto-senpai and Haruka-senpai might be waiting for us to go have dinner,” Rei scolded.
“Ah, fine,” Nagisa pouted.
The two Iwatobi swimmers bought a couple souvenirs and waited for a taxi to take them back to their hotel, where they took turns using the shower after greeting their upperclassmen. Makoto asked how they day was, and they could not wait to tell them about the day.