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A first ride on SeaWorld Orlando's new roller coaster, Manta

By Gareth H
Published: May 5, 2009 at 11:17 AM
Well, I just got back from my first ride on Manta at SeaWorld Orlando, and all I can say is WOW.

The queue, at 40 minutes, was air conditioned, with great visuals throughout. Plenty of fish and stingray (In fact, hundreds of stingray) to look at.

At the end of the queue it splits into two loading stations, being a single rider I was pushed up the Quick Queue Line (It would have been nice for an addition of a single rider line from the entrance), taking my total wait time to about 30 minutes.

Once seated on the ride a loud motorised noise sounds and the seat lifts backwards so you are facing down. (Note: The seats are quite comfy, well padded, especially around the chest and leg area.)


There is also an area to place your shoes and loose articles, something I love about Busch parks, so unless you have a purse, hangbag or backpack, etc, there is no real need to use the lockers located by the entrance.

The journey up to the lot of the hill is great. Facing down the entire way, lookiing down on people staring up in awe, taking pictures.

At the top there is no stopping, just a straight trip onto the ride and the loop.

Although not the fastest ride it seems to make the loop even better, going from face down to lying on your back in a matter of seconds.

Without ruining it too much, I willl say that there are some great water features (as expected at Seaworld), making sure anyone seated on the left hand side gets a little splash, very welcomed in Orlando.

Some of the features are yet to be completed, including the underwater viewing area and aquarium, but with 3 weeks until official opening there is no doubt that it will fully operational on May 22nd.

One thing I will mention, it is in test mode at the moment, I had to wait on the run back in, face down for 10 minutes due to operational issues.

Some people may feel claustraphobic so be warned. Your legs are held in place and laying on your chest for that extended period could also be an issue.

Overall, great ride, definately worth the pain and frustration of watching it go up for a year.

Update from Robert: SeaWorld's offered to have Brian Morrow, Manta's design director, answer questions from TPI readers. Post 'em in the comments or e-mail 'em to me ASAP.

Update 2: Here is the Brian Morrow interview.

And here is an on-ride video of Gareth, taken a week later at the ride's media day:

Readers' Opinions

From William Clark on May 5, 2009 at 11:56 AM
Yeah, Manta is a rush and a half. Gotta love the loops, they look inocuous enough when seen from the ground but man they pack a wallop when you're sitting in the back row. Amazing ride. Seaworld has a winner!
From Daniel Cernuschi on May 5, 2009 at 12:25 PM
This looks an incredible ride. The water effect just looks beautiful! I have been on Air at Alton Towers and I agree with you about the restraints, they are extremely comfortable (apparently B&M use a rubber which adapts to your body).
From Mark Walker on May 5, 2009 at 12:55 PM
Not missing Air at Alton Towers, eh Gareth? ;)


Glad you enjoyed it, I myself have been looking forward to it for a long time. I'll hopefully get the chance to ride it this summer, assuming I'm going anyway.


'SeaWorld's offered to have Brian Morrow, Manta's design director, answer questions from TPI readers. Post 'em in the comments or e-mail 'em to me ASAP.'


Oh goodie! Here are mine:

1). I thought Manta was a great name for coaster at Sea World. Whose idea was it? Did you go through a list of names?

3). Did anything about Kraken inspire you while you were designing Manta?

2). This is going to sound ambitous but are you planning to put a Manta Ray in the aquraium? Any other standout creatures I should look forward to seeing?

3). Have you ridden Manta yourself? :)


Thanks in advance!

From James Rao on May 5, 2009 at 1:01 PM
Thanks for the report, Gareth.

Manta is not so much a coaster as it is a work of art. Just beautiful. I can't wait to experience it next year.

Here's my question from the "what have you done for me lately" bin: Now that Manta is finished, what's next for SeaWorld Orlando?

;)

From 98.213.238.60 on May 5, 2009 at 1:11 PM
Is the entire course filled with sand? Was the decision to utilize sand based on the ride experience or complaints from park neighbors?

Thanks,
Rob Warren
Rockford, IL

From Joshua Counsil on May 5, 2009 at 1:19 PM
For Mr. Morrow:

How does the lie-down dynamic change the safety tests performed? Does it affect the maximum allowable G-forces on the body?

Also, what is the standard Safety Factor for a roller coaster like Manta? This one's a bit of a nerdy engineer question, but I'm curious.

From Deidre Dennis on May 5, 2009 at 2:10 PM
Excited to ride it next month. It looks amazing.

Seeing how it flips you and straps you in, and the lift reminds me a bit of Tatsu at Magic Mountain.

Can't wait!

From David on May 5, 2009 at 2:27 PM
First, Gareth, thank you for the article.

Manta is a awesome B&M. I had the chance to ride in the front row with no wait really (15 minutes) Monday and then in the back as well. It really is a completely different beast, and as I've heard others state, you really have to be a coaster junkie to handle the back with the G's you feel back there and "whipped" effect.

Question, hmmmm... The locking harness, is that the first of it's kind? I've been on Superman at SFGA, but don't remember it being that unusual.

From Anthony Sigmaur on May 5, 2009 at 7:55 PM
Question about the lift hill..........I am not sure if i am seeing it correctly from the video i have seen but is there a platform below the coaster on the lift hill. If not how do they let people off if they needed to evac the train if it got stuck ?
From Anthony Murphy on May 5, 2009 at 8:33 PM
Excellent work!

Looks similar to Superman, but I am betting is is MILLION times better!

From Pyra Dong on May 5, 2009 at 8:43 PM
Gareth, I have SO been looking forward to this entry. NOW I am superhyped and wanting to visit Manta-- and i'm SUPER jealous of you and annoyed that I had to choose between SeaWorld and my family on a day when I had no school. Oh well...

My questions:
- Was Manta created already with the thought of incorporating SOME type of water creature to entertain guests during the line wait? I mean... what if the ride was called "Man O War?"

- Were there any difficulties to designing a coaster where its queue would would be an attraction itself?

From Corey Romberg on May 5, 2009 at 8:48 PM
My question for Brian:

What was the thought process of the creative team that led to the idea of a Manta Ray-themed coaster? Does the ride itself have an actual story (like Kraken and Journey to Atlantis do)?

From Mark Sajowitz on May 5, 2009 at 10:42 PM
Mr. Morrow, the Manta looks absolutely stunning and I'm excited to get out and ride it this summer. One question I have is how do you go about trying to make this or any coaster unique from others already built aside from the theming? Lastly, why did you decide to enter this industry and how did you get involved?
From Derek Potter on May 6, 2009 at 9:32 AM
The ride looks great. Kudos to Sea World for the queue and the landscape. Hopefully they can keep that load time down. It's always been one of the weak points of the flying coaster, and it can cause lines to move very slowly. Dual loading stations help, but so do ride ops who know what they are doing. All the better reason to give you something to look at while you wait.
From Robert Niles on May 6, 2009 at 12:36 PM
I've collected the questions and sent them along. Will publish answers as soon as I get 'em.
From 75.203.171.187 on May 6, 2009 at 1:52 PM
I think its ride is going to be awsome im going to seaworld May22.I just cant wait i've been counting down the days for me to go to seaworld.Ohh yea brian i was wondering if it was really hard to design and make Manta?Well I love your work you did really well.
From 98.122.22.237 on May 6, 2009 at 2:13 PM
I would like to ask Mr. Morrow what you have to do to get an amazing job like the one he has.
From Justin Trinh on May 6, 2009 at 8:15 PM
I was able to ride Manta today and the ride is amazing. One of the most exciting and intense coaster I have ever been on. Great ride overall.

On a side note, Brian Morrow was in the station during my ride. I walked right next to him after getting off.

From Brandon Mendoza on May 7, 2009 at 9:48 AM
Seeing as I won't be traveling anywhere outside of Southern California in the next year or two I just have to ask if there's any plans of this awesome looking ride for Sea World San Diego. And if so, hopefully it won't end up mediocre like San Diego's Atlantis.
From Daniel Binder on May 9, 2009 at 3:13 PM
Hey, everyone. I rode Manta this afternoon. I got to SeaWorld around 2 PM today, and went straight to Manta. Using the single rider line (which doesn't start until you are almost at the end of the queue), I was on the next to last row within 5 minutes. After getting off, I got back on again and used the single rider line. 5 minutes later, I lucked into a front row seat. An hour later, I returned, and single rider was closed. The standby took about 10 minutes, and I rode front row once again.

Manta is incredible. A "work of art" like James says. Off the top of my head, only Expedition Everest, The Beast, and maybe Boulderdash could give this a legitimate fight over which would is truly the greatest themed coaster ever made.

With Sheikra, you get the sense that the water is just there because it's supposed to make a splash. With Manta, this is the first coaster I have rode that truly incorporates the water effects and the gorgeous scenery within the ride, as if the ride could not possibly be complete without them.

B&M has now created an almost perfect roller coaster, and Seaworld of all places now has two of the three best roller coasters in all of Florida. Kudos to SeaWorld.

From 65.40.32.156 on May 11, 2009 at 6:04 AM
I was on Manta 8 different times this past Saturday, riding once in each row. The single rider line was great, but should have been at the front saving some wait time. The aguariums are a wonderful distraction while waiting making the time go by a little faster. I had a problem with people wanting to take pictures at every aquarium which only held up the line more. I didn't want to be pushy and ask to go around them while they looked on in awe.

I definitely like Superman Ultimate Flight at SFOG a lot better, especially the pretzel loop. The restraints are the same on both rides that make these rides very comfortable - unlike Borg Asimilator which hurts to ride.

Anyway, Manta is a wonderful addition to Sea World, but not in my top 10 list. It will be a great first flying coaster for the younger kids. I know my grandson will enjoy this ride when he attends the media event on the 20th with me. I didn't take him on Saturday as I wanted to preview the ride first.

See you on the ride,

Rollercoasterqueen

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