By ATD’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
SeaWorld Orlando loves to do things with style and a flourish and, on 16 February, the park unveiled the ride vehicle for the Mako hyper-coaster, going up in what is currently the Sea of Mystery area of the park. And if the hashtag #NothingFaster isn’t enough to catch your attention, seeing the height of the lift hill will be!
In a dramatic reveal, a sea-water blue shipping crate was raised and a sleek ride vehicle gleamed in the bright Florida sunshine. With the park’s newest thrill ride’s tracks going up in the background, we got our first look at the hyper-coaster that will be opening in SeaWorld this summer. Brian Morrow, Vice-President Theme Park Experience Design for SeaWorld parks, gave us the full story on Mako, and dropped a little hint about another change coming to the park.
“Mako is the centre-piece of this land, which is all about sharks,” he told us. “It is typical for us at SeaWorld to be inspired by sea-life, and this replicates the experience of what we think it must be like to be a Mako shark. The cars have lap-bar restraints, or lap guards as we call them, which allows for upper body movement. Although there are no inversions, Mako will be a relentless ‘air-time’ machine, very tall and very fast. We studied Mako sharks swimming in the wild and this is what it would be like if a Mako was translated into a rollercoaster.”
Mako's ride vehicle
When popular coaster Manta opened, one of the most striking features was the aquarium it soars over and around, with the coaster’s namesake animal swimming lazily throughout the interior walkway, giving guests an up-close view of their seemingly ‘smiling’ faces. With Shark Encounter and the fabulous Sharks Underwater Grill in the Sea of Mystery area where Mako is going up, will guests be able to see a live Mako shark when they visit? “We don’t have a Mako shark here because they are still relatively unknown in the wild,” Morrow admitted, “but we wanted to make sure it is the top of the conversation in this area. We will have a unique queue-line as well that helps in this process of educating and understanding. This is the next evolution of design: to feel like the animal itself and feel the power of the shark. This is our chance to be different and unique.”
Conservation and environmental awareness remain a top priority at SeaWorld, as is a dedication to the welfare of animals around the world. Morrow confirmed education was front-and-centre when it came to designing Mako’s queue, as it was with the addition of the aquarium at Manta. “We aim to help these animals in the wild as well. Our interactive exhibits will show how various shark species are threatened or endangered. It is a big point of difference for us at SeaWorld to educate as well as entertain, so that even non-riders can learn and play as they watch.”
Mako’s lift hill is 200ft tall!
We think that’s great news for families with youngsters too small to ride (Mako’s height requirement will be 54 inches). But what about the cars themselves? With padded bucket seats and those lap guards mentioned earlier, each train will have 7 cars, each seating 4 riders, for a total of 28 riders per car. Morrow added a few more insights: “The ride vehicle has made a long journey all the way from Switzerland, around 4,500 miles, and it was custom designed by S.E.A. Creative. The steel comes from the USA but the ride was manufactured in Switzerland and then shipped to us here. The design was completely inspired by the Mako shark, which is unlike other sharks in that it has five gill slits instead of six, and you’ll see that characteristic in the physiology of the shark’s head, detailed on the front of the ride vehicle. And like a shark, the coaster is super-dynamic.”
The ‘footprint’ for Mako is surprisingly tight, with the track not far from the existing Kraken roller coaster. SeaWorld and her sister park, Busch Gardens Tampa, each have a keen eye for designing attractions that fit into the existing space in their parks, as we will reveal in our next blog, giving you a sneak peek at another coaster coming to Central Florida this summer.
Mako’s track—the inverted U—winds around behind the existing Kraken coaster. Serious air-time!
But the big question is: what will the actual ride be like? “We are well known for developing ride experiences that feel good,” Morrow said, “and the way that we present them is important to us. It has to have the right ‘feel’ and we think Mako will be the quintessential version. Being a hyper-coaster, it can’t have any inversions. It also has to have a lot of height – they can go from 170 feet to 300 or more – as well as speed. We wanted the optimum coaster experience with Mako. If you get too tall, you go too fast and lose the airtime, so we developed a unique mathematics process that we went through that effectively created it and found the ‘sweet spot’ in terms of height and speed. The magnetic brakes allow for a frictionless, smooth system, and the polyurethane wheels are state-of-the-art and also add to the smoothness of the ride. We have a really beautiful graphics package for the front of each train, too.”
Construction for Mako is ongoing.
What about that ‘other change’ we mentioned earlier? Morrow hinted at a change coming to the Sea of Mystery area, and indeed, the entire park, saying, “The name of this realm will be revealed next. I can’t tell you what it is, but I can tell you it will have a shipwreck theme.”
Intriguing! You know we’ll report back as soon as the announcement is made, and on all further progress for the park’s exciting new coaster. So…watch this space!
Join us on Attraction Tickets Direct’s discussion forums for more talk about SeaWorld, coasters, and the thrill of a visit to Orlando!
Liked this post? You may also like...