When he's not in class at the Grehan Journalism Building or shooting video for the Lexington Herald-Leader, there's a chance Marcus Dorsey is skimming down a water slide with a GoPro in hand (or on head).
The University of Kentucky student has zipped and splashed through slides at dozens of water parks across the nation as well as parks in the Bahamas and in Dubai. It's all for fun, but it's also for his not-so-typical pastime: running a water slide database.
The idea came to him in June 2009 in Dubai, where Dorsey traveled to with his dad and brothers. After a thrilling time at a water park there, he wanted to document what it was like on the slides for theme park enthusiasts everywhere — providing an authentic review by filming his own experiences.
"I'm really interested in the amusement park industry and I know a lot of roller coaster websites, a lot of theme park websites; there's a ton of them out there, but almost none of them based around water parks," he said.
So Dorsey, a media arts and studies senior in the UK College of Communication and Information, combined his interest in photography with his enthusiasm for water slides to create the website www.waterslidedatabase.com.
With every ride down a new slide, he writes reviews and documents the experience with photos and videos. His video of the Six Flags White Water amusement park in Atlanta, Georgia, has been viewed on YouTube more than 300,000 times. And his video going down the Deep Water Dive — a 12-story trap door slide and America’s tallest body slide - at Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay in Louisville, Kentucky, has more than 58,000 views.
His website has welcomed visitors from all over the world, and he credits a multimedia class with David Stephenson, lecturer and photojournalism adviser for the Kentucky Kernel, for helping him get started.
"The multimedia class I took with David Stephenson was very heavily oriented around structuring a website and building a website from scratch and I've applied a lot of what I've learned in there to structuring my website," he said.
Dorsey is getting ready to redo the entire website and said he'll be using HTML and hard code — takeaways from Stephenson's class — to enhance the site.
Surprisingly, the only course he's taken related to videography is a documentary course. He taught himself how to work the camera, but is signed up to take a video production course in the fall. In the meantime, Dorsey has been producing videos for the Herald-Leader part-time and his website, and eventually, he hopes to go into documentary filmmaking.
But even then, he plans to continue capturing the thrill of different water slides and running the database.
So what is the best water slide, according to the expert? Dorsey said he'd rank both the Wildebeest and Mammoth, at Splashin Safari Water Park in Santa Claus, Indiana, as the best.
"They're actually water coasters," he said. "They use linear induction magnets to bring riders uphill after they've gone downhill. So they act like roller coasters."
For those heading to the water parks this summer, here's another thing to keep in mind according to Dorsey: T-shirts or any large clothing item will slow you down. For his own summer break, Dorsey hopes to hit up Dollywood's Splash Country Water Adventure Park and Beech Bend Park's Splash Lagoon for the first time.
Story by Whitney Harder, UKPR. UKNow story here.