Theme Park Insider Summer Roadtrip: SeaWorld Orlando
Written by Robert Niles
Come with us for a little aerial tour of SeaWorld Orlando:Tweet
Brian shot that video this morning from the park's Sky Tower, while Natalie and I continued our coaster quest with rides on Manta...
I'd ridden Kraken before, and continue to cherish this Bolliger & Mabillard floorless coaster as the finest sequence of inversions I've experienced. But this was my first trip on Manta, the B&M Flyer that you voted the Best New Attraction of 2009. Despite a posted wait of 60 minutes, we were on board in 25. The queue, an underwater walk through an aquarium, is beautiful. The ride?
Um... wow. Well, as always, TPI readers display excellent judgment. This is, simply, the greatest roller coaster I've ever had the pleasure to ride. Flying on your belly, B&M's selection of dips, twists and flips leaves riders giddy, having experienced the freedom of twisting, turning flight for the first time.
Yeah, there are other B&M Flying Coasters out there. But none fly through such a beautiful environment as SeaWorld's. And for those of you worried about comfort in this unusual riding position, I found that scooting my shoulders up a bit after the train seat rotated forward helped me immensely. YMMV, of course.
After short waits to ride Kraken and Journey to Atlantis following our flight on Manta, we were done with rides for the day, and ready to take in SeaWorld's shows. First up was Blue Horizons, the dolphin and acrobats show that will be copied at SeaWorld San Diego next fall.
Here's a clip of the show's finale:
Laurie and Brian had made reservations at Sharks Underwater Grill following their ride on the Sky Tower, so we headed over to the shark tank for our 12:30 lunch reservation. It's tough to get a good still shot of the view from inside the restaurant, so let's go to the video, instead.
As Scott Joseph noted in his review of Sharks last spring, this place ain't cheap. I had the 8 oz. Salmon filet with ancho chile beurre blanc and poblano mashed potatoes, which set me back $25.
Laurie's 8 oz. Filet mignon with jerk-seasoned demi glace and topped with gouda cheese and served with a fried garlic yucca cake went for $30. (Fried yucca cake, you ask? Think of a large, upscale hash brown cake.)
Both entrees also were served with summer squash, zucchini and carrots. The kids went with basic kids' meals - a hot dog and penne pasta - which each came with a blue gummy shark. Nice.
Was it worth it? As a nice, sit-down dinner to reward the family at the end of the day? Absolutely, yes. But not as lunch in the middle of a mid-90s Orlando summer sweat-fest. SeaWorld offers much-better-than-theme-park-average food. Since Sharks has no lunch menu, offering dinner prices all day, why not hit one of SeaWorld's other eateries for a lighter lunch? (And the steak would have been better without the cheese, by the way.)
After lunch, we took a short walk over to the Sea Lion and Otter Stadium for Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island.
This show doesn't aim for the heart, like other SeaWorld performances. It's going straight for the funny bone, and hits its mark. (Get there early and watch the mime assault late-comers for some of the best gags.) Of course, Natalie reserved her loudest applause for the otters.
She's demanding that SeaWorld's next park be built in California, and be called SeaOtterWorld. @shamu, please take note.
Speaking of the Big Whale, we wrapped up our day with Believe.
Believe's appropriately heavy with environmental and follow-your-dreams messages, but it's hard to notice anything about the show beside the awesome display of orca power and grace.
After the half-hour show, "Shamu" came forward for the audience's well-earned applause.
That wraps up the east coast leg of our summer roadtrip. Keep reading TPI for additional trip reports in the weeks to come.
Previously on the Summer Roadtrip:
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