Manta, the upcoming “flying” coaster at SeaWorld Orlando, remains on schedule for its summer debut. The rails already in place have changed the look of the park, and all of them are expected to be in place by the end of December, park officials say.
The impact should be great near the front entrance as the coaster’s cars sweep down toward water for a dramatic splash. Riders — in a facedown, headfirst position — will glide over other guests during the 2 1/2-minute trip.
Passengers will be harnessed into the seats with legs dangling, and then will be shifted into a flying position in the loading station. From there, off to the biggest hill and a swoop over the Whale & Dolphin Stadium walkway before encountering an elaborate pretzel loop.
“I think this is horrifying,” says Brian Morrow, director of design engineering at SeaWorld.
He means that in a good way. Morrow and Manta team members have ridden other flying coasters that receive high marks from coaster fans. The cars — designed to look like rays with a 12-foot wingspan — will flip over four times during the voyage.
Morrow also enthuses about the waiting area, which will feature a king-size aquarium.
“This queue line will look like nothing you’ve seen before on the planet,” he says.
Expect waterfalls, sea-inspired artifacts, mosaics and lots of sea life in the tank — more than 60 species, including 300 rays, 23 sea dragons and 2,500 tropical fish. There will be an educational aspect.
“Every animal in there has a conservation story to it,” says Gary Violetta, SeaWorld’s director of aquariums.
Other Manta bits:
*There will be separate entrances for riders and for nonriders wanting to see only the aquarium. They will be close to Turtle Point.
*Expect Manta to have more rumble than Kraken, but more quiet than SheiKra, its sister coaster at Busch Gardens in Tampa.
*Passengers must be a least 54 inches tall.
*During a dive loop, riders will come within “inches” of a rock wall, Morrow says.
*More than 250 trees were removed from the construction site and taken to a tree farm. They’ll be moved back in time to provide shade for opening day.