Specific Type: Water Coaster
Orlando, Florida's SeaWorld park had attracted visitors from all parts of the country since originally opening with oceanic exhibits and sea-life attractions to draw in the guests, but as the central Florida ride wars of the late 1990s had close competitors like Disney World planning major rides and Universal preparing to open up an entire new landscape of thrills with Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld needed its own claim to fame for thrillseekers. And what could be a more appropriate first major thrillride for a park like SeaWorld than an aqua-based flume-type ride? Take that, mix it with a steel coaster and a dark ride, add major theming, and you've got Journey to Atlantis, the Orlando park's and German manufacturer Mack's own version of a 'watercoaster' hybrid. Designed by St. Louis, Missouri's PGAV Architects, Journey to Atlantis opened in early 1998 to thrill seekers and has remained a true hit for SeaWorld. The course for JTA weaves through and around an incredible 4-acre, 100-foot-tall interpretation of the mythological world of Atlantis and other surrounding first-class theming renown of theme parks in the parent Busch chain, all combining to bring the experience to life. And during the layout, 1.2-ton boats glide and splash their way through 116,000 gallons of water and ride over nearly 1,000 feet of steel coaster track, with five lift-hill sections and two major drops awaiting adventurers.
The experience begins for SeaWorld Orlando guests as they near the attraction, the ancient golden city looming ahead. Before debarking on the Journey, future riders travel through a small Greek fishing village where they learn that Atlantis has mysteriously emerged from the depths of the sea. Once aboard an eight-passenger vehicle, riders glide out from the station where they are introduced to Hermes, a fiber optic seahorse that will be the guide through the dark depths of Atlantis. Around a first bend, the seahorse leads the boat through fog-enshrouded passages, drifting by intricate themed scenes and effects left and right. The first lifthill soon takes
the ride up nearly six stories and out of the temple, a right-hand turnaround bringing passengers to the second half of the split-lifthill after some wet surprises. Up the boat goes, leveling and re-entering the building. Once back inside, a left turn finally leads riders to the first plunge, and the boat falls six stories before leveling and splashing down in a pool of water below. 180 degrees of curvature to the right takes the vehicle to a small lift attaching it to the steel rails, followed by a dip back down into the water. Passengers are taken up into the temple once more by the fourth lift, and the track curves through the darkness again. Finally, a small final lift prepares Journey to Atlantis for the final drop, and then it comes... The track curves down to the lift, taking its riders 30 feet below water level, then back up with a right-hand ascent and a splash back down in the water for a finale at the back of the Atlantis building.
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