Specific Type: Flying Coaster
Back in April of 2008, the concept for a new attraction was first revealed by SeaWorld Orlando to a group of travel and community leaders. Though it had been in the planning stages for years, no details had been released. Even at this big reveal, no exact specifications were given other than the fact that it would be “the largest single investment in the history of any SeaWorld park” and that it was slated for a 2009 debut.
Park officials also revealed that the attraction would include a roller coaster, but be much more than that. Joseph Couceiro, Vice President of Sales and Marketing said “What it’s going to be is the next generation of SeaWorld attraction. What we do well is connect the world with the sea, presenting marine life in totally different perspectives. Also what we do well is put the guest in the midst of that. This is the next generation of that.”
In April that year, artists’ concepts of the attraction were leaked, though SeaWorldrefused to acknowledge the images, their accuracy, or representation. They did, however, reveal that the coaster would “have a gliding sensation,” which pointed many enthusiasts speculation in the direction of a B&M Flying coaster. As enthusiasts searched for new information, trademark applications were found for use of the term “Manta” as an “amusement ride” and a large construction area was being cleared. On May 29, the park finally confirmed the new attraction would be named Manta and revealed other details about the ride. It would be “a new mega-attraction which [would] seamlessly transition guests from the awe of encountering rays in underwater flight…into the sensation of actually being one.” Construction began in September 2008, and the coaster officially opened on May 22, 2009.
The journey itself begins even before boarding the ride in the queue line itself. As riders enter the misty queue line, they wind through caverns decorated in ray-inspired marble, jewels, and mosaics. Even more awe-inspiring and beautiful than this, however, are the huge glass walls within the rocky caverns that give guests views of over thousands of fish, and most importantly, over 300 rays of different species—shark rays, spotted eagle rays, leopard rays, cownose rays, and oscillate river rays.
After making their way through the queue within an aquarium, guests emerge to board Manta’s twelve-foot wide, ray-themed, B&M flying trains in one of the stations dual loading platforms. From here, riders climb a 140 ft lift hill, with nothing below them except the ground…no platform or nets to obstruct your view here. Upon cresting the lift, the train banks right and spirals down 113 ft to the ground, back in the direction from whence it came. Hitting a top speed of 56 mph, the train then rises sharply, 98 ft into the air, before performing the inversion B&M flying coasters are known for, the Pretzel Loop. Diving under itself, riders experience up to 3.7 G’s as they hit rock bottom on their backs in a trench below the ground level, before being curled around back into the flying position once again. Pulling out of the pretzel loop, the trains drop slightly down and to the left, making a u-turn straight into an in-line twist before then spiraling down 270-degrees in the opposite direction. Just as riders skim the ground and the bottom of the pretzel loop, the trains pull up into a left-hand corkscrew, followed by a rise into the ride’s mid-course brake run.
After a brief breather, the train swoops down, diving right and skimming just a couple of feet above the water. As the train “skims” the water here, jets synchronized to the trains movement shoot off water in a long stream, so perfectly timed and realistic that it actually looks as if the train’s wing is skimming the water—a photographer and onlookers dream. But beware, riders on the right side of the train may get wet! The train then rises up, continuing its right-hand trek, before falling downwards again right next to a waterfall; warning, now riders on the left side of the train may get wet. Manta continues its rightward pull as it rolls over to the right through another corkscrew, before curving and rising to the left into the final break-run, bringing a close to the rides 3,359 ft journey.
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