Coursing through a rainforest river, passengers on a glass-bottomed raft track a glowing lizard-like animal in a theme park ride designed by a group of UF students.

The ride design, dubbed “Cryptid Creek,” took first place in the 2018 Cornell Theme Park Design Competition. In addition to the “Cryptid Creek” team, another UF team placed third at the competition.

More than 50 teams competed, and this was the first year UF teams have ever registered to take part in the competition, said Michael Breen, a UF mechanical engineering senior. The four UF students on the first place team were Will Meldrum Thush, Christopher Berry, Kristofer Robinson and Breen.

Breen said his team spent one month designing the ride. The team designed everything in that time, eventually condensing it into a seven-slide presentation and a concept video.

“We created an innovative water ride,” Breen said. “It had to meet a lot of certain criteria like budget constraints and how could we creatively use the land.”

The ride design used new technology like OLED screens, Breen said. OLED screens are clear television-like screens that can display images in vibrant color.

The screens were part of the glass bottom in the raft design, Breen said. It would allow for animals to appear on the screen as though they were in the moving water below.

Christopher Berry, a recent UF architecture graduate and “Cryptid Creek” team member, said the team was challenged by the competition guidelines. The team also had to create a story for the ride while adhering to a strict budget.

The project must have a budget between $15 to 20 million, according to the program guidelines.

The competition win came as a surprise to Berry.

“It was just kind of a big shock,” Berry said of the win.

Daniel Fishman, a UF senior mechanical engineering student, said competitions like this allow students to apply their skills and get their names out there for large companies to see. Fishman organized meetings for the students competing.

“It allows them to have fun, take something new and design it, go crazy,” Fishman said of the competition.

Follow Gillian Sweeney on Twitter @gilliangsweeney and contact her at [email protected].

Gillian is a PR student and summer Staff Writer. She grew up a New York native and is now exploring the Sunshine State. If you have a story idea, email her at [email protected]