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Is Primeval Whirl the new Son of Beast? Plus, changes at SeaWorld

By Robert Niles
Published: June 8, 2011 at 7:35 AM
The Primeval Whirl roller coaster at Disney's Animal Kingdom will remain closed through the summer, according to the Orlando Sentinel's Jason Garcia.

Primeval Whirl

The spinning coaster has been closed since last March, when a worker died after suffering head injuries in an accident on the ride. It was the second fatal accident involving a worker on the ride.

The ride's accident record, plus its ever-extending downtime reminds me a bit of Son of Beast, the Kings Island wooden coaster that - like Primeval Whirl - earned poor reader reviews, was involved in several injury accidents, subject to a long state investigation and ultimately, relegated to a "temporary" closure that stretched on and on and on.

Disney's not talking about its plans for the ride while OSHA investigates the most recent incident.

Also, on the subject of Sentinel reports, business columnist Beth Kassab quotes me in a piece about new developments at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The company's looking to expand its business beyond its traditional theme parks, potentially building hotels and moving into TV and movie entertainment to support the SeaWorld brand. Such moves might sound familiar to readers who saw our piece on Marketing Shamu last year.

Beth suggested that SeaWorld's new moves might make the company less dependent upon its traditional trainers-in-the-water-with-animals shows. I tried to plant (or at least water) the seed that SeaWorld might get even better public reaction by doing a bang-up refurbishment of Journey to Atlantis and the Wild Arctic movie, too. What do you think?

Readers' Opinions

From duncan henny on June 8, 2011 at 7:47 AM
i agree imagine if they did a star tours and updated wild arctic in HD or even 3d and got journey to atlantis back to what it was like when it first opened that would be cool.
From edwin roman on June 8, 2011 at 7:57 AM
Wow...I agree 100% on doing something with atlantis...the park is weak with rides..Of course, its meant to be a park with sea life and shows, but, with Manta and Krakken, the park is just a ride or too away from being really, really good. As for hotels, the area is teeming with them. Not a bad idea if they used universals idea of a room key fast pass all day and maybe a neat theme...Back to atlantis,you really cannot ride it during the cold months as you do not want to get soaked...some change is needed.
From Brian Emery on June 8, 2011 at 8:00 AM
May 5th I was at Animal Kingdom and I peeked in to see any if construction was going on at Primal whirl… I could not see any changes.. Looked like all the did was put up the under construction fencing.
From Rod Whitenack on June 8, 2011 at 8:06 AM
I've experienced both coasters, and Primeval Whirl is both a masterpiece of ride design and a gentle massage next to the Marquis de Sade designed Mike Tyson beating that is Son of Beast.
From Anon Mouse on June 8, 2011 at 8:09 AM
Turning itself in to a media conglomerate with hotel and restaurants will be a stretch. I wonder how they can best manage it. The theme parks will also need to change from a show based park and into Disney-like theme parks, sort of like Animal Kingdom.

They probably shown have paired with Legoland. How about another property that needs help like Busch or Six Flags or Cedar? Create a destination.

From Mark Migliaccio on June 8, 2011 at 9:25 AM
I know I said this the other day, but Sea World needs to get their parks theming back on track. Fix up Atlantis, restore Darkastle to where it used to be and for the love of god get rid of Europe in the Air. I think they're doing a good job at BG Tampa, maybe add a dark ride or simulator? The hotel thing is interesting. I don't know how well that will work. If BG Tampa was in Orlando instead they'd be golden.
From 75.98.44.18 on June 8, 2011 at 1:05 PM
Primeval Whirl has to be living on borrowed time. I'd be shocked if the ride sees double the life span it's already seen at AK. Poor Joe Rhode, every time I see him in an interview where he has to talk up this section of the park, I have to believe deep down inside he wants to hurl a verbal missile (and a real missile for that matter) at the whole premise of that area. I'm sure is Disney could, the whole section would be torn out of there for relatively little cost, it's the price of filling that space with something of quality that most likely keeps chester and hester the current occupants. As it was, when Primeval Whirl was working, it was an eyesore of a ride. Now that it's static, it's just an eyesore.
From Michael Owen on June 9, 2011 at 4:25 AM
Primeval is incredibly poor in terms of both enjoyment for the guest and operation for the theme park itself, especially considering it's fairly low capacity in a park which suffers still from a lack of major attractions.

Hopefully the closure of the ride can be the catalyst for a complete overhaul of the whole Dino-Rama area. it could be put to much better use, such as for a new e-ticket or at least two d-tickets to more evenly spread crowds at AK.

From Andy Guinigundo on June 10, 2011 at 12:45 PM
I think describing Primeval Whirl as a "masterpiece" of design is an over statement. It is a spinning mouse coaster. And, I rode Son of Beast 2 weeks before it closed with the new heavier cars and it wasn't nearly as rough as I had remembered with the loop in place.

I will buy the fact that the rides have been plagued with problems, injuries and sometimes less than stellar ride reports.

However, I would describe Son of Beast more of an "e-ticket" (if you will) attraction costing millions and very vital to the landscape of Kings Island at the time although less so with Diamondback on the scene. I like PW, but it's not an e-ticket ride.

From 71.100.157.114 on June 12, 2011 at 3:16 PM
Am I the only person in the world who really likes Primeval Whirl? I think the theming could have been better, (it would be great as a dark ride as is or with good primeval theming), but as an enthusiast of thrill rides I think this one has plenty of nice G force moments above the typcial carnival type ride. I hope that they fix any dangerous areas, of course, but I've never understood all of the negative vibe about the ride itself. Why?

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