In the amusement park industry, the roller coaster is king. But during the hot summer months, these classic attractions get some tough competition from water slides. In the past 25 years, the world of water slides has exploded. Water parks boast slides with dozens of loops, top speeds and exhilarating, 100-foot drops. A water slide is like a wet roller coaster with no seat and no safety harness.

In the past 25 years, water parks like Wet 'n Wild Emerald Pointe in Greensboro, NC, have sprung up all over the world.

In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we'll peek behind the scenes to find out what's involved in operating a water slide. We'll also see how the pieces of a water slide fit together and see what keeps you from flying off into the air as you whip around corners.