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SeaWorld unveils new attraction line-up for 2017, including VR on Kraken

September 26, 2016, 6:58 PM · SeaWorld Tuesday morning will announce its line-up of new attractions for 2017 and beyond, but the company gave several newspapers an early look today. The highlights will include adding a virtual reality narrative to the Orlando park's Kraken roller coaster as well as a new evening show at the company's largest park. The announcements also include additional detail about previously announced new rides in San Diego and San Antonio.

SeaWorld Orlando's floorless Bolliger & Mabillard coaster will become the first roller coaster in Florida to get a permanent virtual reality overlay, as SeaWorld designs and installs a new VR storyline for the ride. The experience will reflect the ride's name and long-standing theme, putting riders in under the ocean's surface alongside a mythical Kraken sea serpent.

In addition, the park will offer a new nighttime show called Electric Ocean, which will play at the Bayside Theater and feature music, fountains, bioluminescent lighting, and fireworks. The park also will add a new show at the Nautilus Theatre and renovate its Dolphin Nursery to replace concrete walls with acrylic windows that will allow visitors to see the dolphins underwater. The changes are expected to debut next summer.

In San Antonio, SeaWorld will open Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster. The $18 million, 2,600-foot coaster will put riders in seats that look like personal watercraft for a high-speed ride around and over the park's Ski Lake. SeaWorld hasn't revealed the manufacturer of the coaster, which will be themed to its ABC-TV series "Sea Rescue," but riding side-by-side while hunched over a pair of handlebars reminds us a bit of Shanghai Disneyland's TRON Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster. (Or, if you're feeling more cynical, Knott's Berry Farm's Pony Express, too.)

At SeaWorld's original park in San Diego, the company will provide additional detail about its Submarine Quest ride and Ocean Explorer pavilion, along with a more "natural" orca show in Shamu Stadium. The "submarine" track ride will run through outdoor and indoor scenes, including past aquariums holding crabs, eels, octopuses and other marine animals. On board, the subs will feature game-like elements that allow riders to solve tasks they learn about animals depicted in the exhibits. The new land and orca show also will debut sometime next summer.

Update: And now, here's SeaWorld's official announcement, with some additional concept art.

Replies (17)

September 26, 2016 at 7:28 PM · So excited for all of these announcements!
September 26, 2016 at 8:22 PM · In regards to Kraken, do we know if the entire coaster is going VR, or just certain rows? Whilst I'd definitely give the new experience a go, I do love the views that Kraken offers. It would be disappointing if nobody got to see them anymore.
September 26, 2016 at 10:17 PM · As with every other VR coaster I know of, the headsets will be optional on Kraken. If you don't want to wear them, and just ride the coaster in the traditional way, you may.
September 26, 2016 at 10:40 PM · I have to wonder if VR on coasters is really a permanent addition. At my home park La Ronde, they seem to have stopped offering the VR helmets on Goliath, because it slows down the loading process so much.
September 26, 2016 at 11:12 PM · I'm more interested in the additions in San Antonio and San Diego, but I am curious how well VR will work on Kraken. As Six Flags has shown, the idea is sound but the implementation is challenging. SeaWorld needs to find a better way to use the technology because they won't start changing opinions by promoting a big new ride with a capacity of 400 riders per hour.
September 27, 2016 at 8:57 AM · The roller coaster will be built by Mack, the same manufacturer that installed Manta at SeaWorld San Diego.

On Kraken the headsets will be permanently installed on the trains. Riders will board the train, take a seat, lower their restraint, and then put on their headset. There will be no calibration based on the seat number necessary.

SeaWorld is hoping this will improve capacity since VR so far has been a capacity disaster. Parks are lucky if they get 250+ pph on a VR coaster. Also, most riders opt out of VR for repeat rides. That alone says a lot about it being a gimmick. This is not an experience that people love and want to repeat.

September 27, 2016 at 10:36 AM · The SeaWorld SA ride sounds a lot more like "Jet Rescue" at SeaWorld Australia than either Disney's TRON LPR or KBF's Pony Express.
September 27, 2016 at 10:45 AM · Correct my comment earlier. Roller coaster is Intamin and nearly identical to Sea World Australia
September 27, 2016 at 11:12 AM · Yeah, the capacity issue has really hampered this idea at La Ronde. When they don't use the VR, you can usually get on the ride in about 10 minutes.
They will be introducing a Halloween version of the VR in a couple weeks.
September 27, 2016 at 11:25 AM · I just went on Kraken last month. While far from the roughest, there was still quite enough jostling to make me dizzy for a few minutes. Hopefully the VR, if implemented properly, can alleviate the ride's current disorientation.
September 27, 2016 at 11:44 AM · @70.114.217.18 That the headsets on Kraken will be affixed to the trains (and this is affirmed by the Orlando Sentinel)strikes me as unsanitary in the extreme. I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole. Imagine using them in the heat of summer after another rider has been sweating profusely while wearing one. Yuck! As to ride capacity with VR, I've seen what a disaster it can be firsthand while visiting Six Flags Over Texas.
September 27, 2016 at 1:39 PM · Not another VR...
September 27, 2016 at 1:44 PM · I need to correct myself. Earlier I stated Wave Breaker The Rescue Coaster would be Mack equipment, when in fact I meant to say Intamin. The identical ride was engineered for Sea World Gold Coast Australia and named Jet Rescue. I'm pretty certain however that the layout in San Antonio will be custom, but it is expected to use the tire-drive launch system.
September 27, 2016 at 2:35 PM · Is there any hope for us who don't want a crappy attempt at a story, don't want to watch your crappy before-ride low budget movie, and definately don't want to strap a pair of headache-inducing goggles to our eyeballs... but just want to go on a ducking-roller-coaster?
September 27, 2016 at 6:25 PM · Maybe no hope for those of us who simply want to ride a roller coaster and experience it in its purity. Just turned down a media invite to the preview of Rage of the Gargoyles at SFGAD (Skull Mountain transformed into interactive VR experience enabling riders to shoot at flying demons).
September 28, 2016 at 7:51 AM · They should add VR on their new roller coaster at San Diego. They should replace the 3D ride at the Polar Bear attraction too. It's awfully ambitious to finish the Submarine Quest attraction to open in 2017.
September 28, 2016 at 11:08 AM · I liked the VR on Goliath at La Ronde, it was certainly a freaky new experience. And I didn't get a headache or disorientation. But the capacity hurdle might be one that ensures that this will be a temporary gimmick. It's cool to try it a few times, but a good coaster doesn't really need high tech enhancements.

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