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SeaWorld lays final segment for Manta track

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Published: December 14, 2008 at 9:58 PM

Here's another photo, e-mailed from the folks at SeaWorld Orlando, to keep roller coaster fans warm this winter:

Manta roller coaster at SeaWorld Orlando
(Photo courtesy SeaWorld)

It's the final segment of track being put into place on Manta, SeaWorld's new B&M Flying coaster, debuting in Spring 2009.

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on December 14, 2008 at 11:23 PM
Yay!

So what still needs to be built? If the last track is in place, what else is there that needs to be done that will make it take until Spring 2009

From Robert Niles on December 14, 2008 at 11:24 PM
Well... trains, ride system installation (on-track sensors, computers), the queue, the station, testing, training. Plus, show effects and setting, of course.
From Bruce Lane on December 14, 2008 at 11:43 PM
I see things like this, and I can't help but think of how many millions of dollars were poured into it (and have yet to be poured, for the electronics and other things that Robert mentioned).

I then tend to think of the kinds of improvements in the animal facilities and education programs those same millions could have bought.

Sorry, but it seems like a poor trade-off to me. Always has, always will. Theme parks need to be theme parks, and oceanariums need to be oceanariums, though I have severe doubts that Sea World will ever remember that.

Happy travels.

From James Rao on December 15, 2008 at 8:14 AM
I am excited for the new coaster at SWO. Their existing coaster, the Kraken, is one of my all time favorites. I think SW does a great job of mixing top notch ocean-based attractions with outstanding thrill rides. Far as I know, there is no rule that says a park can't try to be all things to everyone. In fact, it makes sense to branch out and pull in more customers. Heck, Disney has Animal Kingdom, and Busch has BGA. Those two parks do a great job of mixing traditional zoo elements with top notch rides. Why shouldn't SWO do the same thing with their "oceanarium"?

I applaud the addition of Manta, and look forward to riding sometime in 2010.

From Alan Puscus on December 15, 2008 at 9:56 AM
Wow, that was quick. I can't believe the circuit is complete. I wonder what the hold up is on RRR at USO.

I agree with James in that "wild life parks" that integrate family and thrill rides as well as high quality shows do quite well and give the average family more of what they really want these days. Something for everyone.

I wish that SW CA. would get a couple of coasters like it's sibling parks.

From Joshua Counsil on December 15, 2008 at 9:57 AM
Bruce -
I understand where you're coming from, but the SeaWorld franchise has so much more money than many oceanariums, meaning their facilities/research incentives are often more elaborate and up-to-date than standard oceanariums. To boot, this roller coaster will either draw more guests in or, at the very least, sustain their current fan base. This keeps the money flowing.
From Ray Schroeder on December 15, 2008 at 11:15 AM
I was there in Nov. It looks great. I can't wait to ride it.
From Robert Niles on December 15, 2008 at 11:17 AM
Waaaay back when I was in school, I worked as a checker in a grocery store, where the manager introduced me to the concept of a "loss leader." Every few weeks, he'd mark the milk at a ridiculously low price -- so low that he lost money on every gallon.

But the milk was a "loss leader," he told us. He'd take the loss on the milk because it'd get people in the store, where they'd buy other stuff in addition to the milk. And the store would make up the loss on the milk with the profit from the other things that customers would buy.

In that sense, the millions spent on Manta (and other rides) are loss leaders of a sort, getting folks to spend money not only on SeaWorld admission, but to spend time in other SeaWorld exhibits. In this way, you can see the roller coaster as bringing people into an oceanarium the way that milk brought people into the grocery store.

Maybe without the coaster, many of those people wouldn't visit an animal exhibit, but with the coaster, they do. That's an opportunity for education... and to make some extra money for conservation as well.

I'll leave it to others (or for me at another time) to evaluate how well SeaWorld follows through with that opportunity, but SeaWorld certainly has created that opportunity with its attraction mix.

From Deidre Dennis on December 15, 2008 at 1:22 PM
I agree, Robert. I think the more a park can offer a family, particularly with what it costs to get in, the better the attendance will be and the more people will spend inside their parks.

I'm excited to take a ride on this, too!

From Justin Trinh on December 15, 2008 at 3:02 PM
This will be a great new addition to the park and lets not forget that yes SeaWorld may have spent millions to build this coaster, a good portion of those millions goes into the aquarium/animal exhibit that was built as well.

Not only do we get a brand new coaster, but we also get 10 aquariums with over 3,000 animals from over 60 different species inside including over 2,500 fishes and over 300 rays.

I think this is a great match, bring in those guests with a new coaster while at the same time, educate them about conservation and the animals that we share our world with.

From Bruce Lane on December 15, 2008 at 11:12 PM
Robert wrote...

"Maybe without the coaster, many of those people wouldn't visit an animal exhibit, but with the coaster, they do. That's an opportunity for education... and to make some extra money for conservation as well."

And Justin Trinh wrote...

"I think this is a great match, bring in those guests with a new coaster while at the same time, educate them about conservation and the animals that we share our world with."

You both make valid points. And, if this were anyone OTHER than Sea World, I would probably not have even griped about the thing to begin with.

Robert, you and Justin are both correct in saying that this new ride will draw people in, and there are always opportunities for education. But do either of you truly believe that the kinds of people who will be drawn in by the presence of any type of thrill ride are going to be seeking knowledge about marine animals, and human impact on them, in the same breath?

For that matter, I've always questioned whether Sea World's brand of "education" is truly in the best long-term interests of the animal species they claim to care so deeply about. From what I've seen, parts of it bear a much stronger resemblance to hard-sell marketing than anything you'd find in, say, a standard zoo exhibit.

This is drifting severely off-topic, so I'll let it go at that. If Manta is the kind of thing you've truly been looking forward to, may it bring you much enjoyment. Personally, I think the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

From Justin Trinh on December 16, 2008 at 6:58 AM
I see where your concern is coming from, however, sure some people they draw in aren't going to care anything about animal conservation but at the same time there will always be people that are drawn in that are or can be persuaded to care.

If you ever been to the park recently, you would notice how much they try to get you to care about animals and conservation. Its everywhere from signs all around the park about their conservation fund, to the previews before the Believe show, to their education department where if you ever visit their exhibits, they explain everything you would want to know about the animals from laws protecting them to how much they eat per day.

SeaWorld is also accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and SeaWorld in Orlando at least is also one of the top manatee as well as sea turtles rescue and rehabilitation program in the state of Florida.

The way I see it. Half the people who goes to SeaWorld probably would never go to a zoo anyway and because SeaWorld combines both thrill rides and live animal exhibits, while having fun, they could probably learn something as well.

From Robert Niles on December 16, 2008 at 4:01 PM
Bruce,

Among the kids... I'd say many.

Among the teens and grown-ups without kids... I'd say very few.

Among the parents... I'd say a moderate percentage of those whose kids are interested.

From Alan Puscus on December 16, 2008 at 5:07 PM
Cold hard fact.

If a thrill park got a dolphin show, or aquarium I doubt business would boom and draw travelers.

But a coaster at an animal park would....well look at all the buzz happening. I plan on going as soon as I can afford it.

I've gotta say that if SWO didn't have Kraken last time I
was in Orlando, I probably wouldn't have visited. Yeah I'm one of those guys. But since I DID visit, I saw and learned some amazing things about our aquatic co-inhabitants that I would've normally missed out on. And re-newed a fascination I haven't had since childhood. So maybe coasters/thrill rides are good things at these parks. Hmmm? Maybe?

From Bruce Lane on December 16, 2008 at 10:12 PM
Well... I seem to have touched a few nerves. I'll make this my final statement on this thread.

No. I don't believe thrill rides at oceanariums are necessary nor a good idea.

Here's why. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of other dedicated oceanariums and zoos that have enjoyed considerable success without ever laying one section of coaster track, without ever putting up one single "sideshow" or "midway" style attraction, without ever deviating from their reason for being there in the first place.

If all those other parks can do it, so can Sea World. Oh, they may not make as much money, or be able to afford all the fancy show production and marketing schemes, but I'm not convinced that such things serve the long-term interests of protecting the very animals they display.

As I've said -- If coasters are something you love, and you don't care where they crop up, then by all means enjoy the blazes out of them! All I'm saying is that it's going to take a LOT of changes at Sea World to convince me that they stand for anything more than being a marine version of Cirque du Soleil (did I spell that right?)

From James Rao on December 16, 2008 at 10:37 PM
I'll agree with you on one thing, Bruce: I don't want to see any Midway-type attractions at SeaWorld (heck, I don't want to see Midway attractions anywhere, to be honest). If they put up a Ferris Wheel or Roundup, man, I will be the first to join you on your soap box.

But as long as the attractions SeaWorld adds are top notch, well-thought-out, A-list, decently-themed, one-of-a-kind experiences like Kraken, Manta, and Journey To Atlantis, then I applaud, support, and encourage those additions. And as others have written, the influx of cash from the cross-over crowd (like me) should be beneficial to the marine exhibits as well, which is a win-win in my book.

From James Rao on December 17, 2008 at 5:30 PM
There is some more info on Manta from the Orlando Sentinel at this link.

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