The contest, named the Hurricane Harbor Power Payoff in honor of the park’s new wing, will require its quartet of participants to live inside an actual rescue raft — day and night — until all but one of the contestants bows out.
A rotating bevy of lifeguards will monitor the raft as it drifts across Calypso Bay, the water park’s 38,000-gallon wave pool, during the day, while security guards will ensure no one leaves the rubber craft as it docks on the nearby cement shore overnight.
The last man or woman sitting will net $10,000 in Six Flags prize money.
Contestants Kevin Queen, Imani Bethel, Cassie Cantrell, and Mark Daley were selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants.
Each provided a different reason for participating, from Bethel’s desire to pay off her student loans to Queen’s eagerness to “showcase (his) great singing ability,” and each expressed confidence they would outlast their raft mates.
Through a partnership with Atlanta-based radio station Power 96.1, the park solicited online submissions from contest hopefuls that included a picture and a short story explaining why they deserved to brave the waves.
Jasmin Queen watched the opening hours of her husband Kevin’s indefinite raft ride from the pool’s edge, accompanied by their daughter, Callie, 7.
Jasmin Queen said she would be at the park every day to support her husband.
“He won’t give up,” she warned.
Although Callie said she wanted to use the prize money to “buy dragon toys,” her mother guessed the family would likely use the cash to take a trip to Disney.
Kristy Daley also vowed to attend the park every day to cheer on her husband, Mark.
“I’m a teacher, I’m off in the summer. So I have time,” Daley explained.
She said her husband, an alternate who was pulled into the contest at the last minute after one contestant dropped out, prepared for the feat by watching YouTube videos of Calypso Bay to see how big the waves would be.
“We just got married in April, so we are going to pay off our wedding,” Kristy Daley said of the couple’s intended use of the prize money.
Gene Petriello, a spokesman for the park, said more than 1,000 guests had passed through Hurricane Harbor on Friday alone. Indeed, the cramped contest raft seemed to nearly disappear in the sea of swimmers enjoying one of Six Flags’ newest attractions.
“This is just something fun that we want people to be a part of,” Petriello said. “These guys are excited to do it, we’re excited to watch them do it, and we have all these guests that are watching and knowing what’s going on. It’s a lot of excitement.”