Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
Now for those who don’t know me, I probably should state that I’ve been to a few theme parks, but I’ve been to some good ones! The best ones that Florida and England have to offer including Islands Of Adventure, Alton Towers, Busch Gardens Tampa, Thorpe Park, and many more that I can’t be asked to name! And throughout my many visits, I have ridden some truly awesome roller coasters (Nemesis, Hulk, Sheikra etc.) and a couple of truly terrible ones (X:/ No Way Out). In doing so, I have recently come to the conclusion that Manta is best of the bunch – and in this feature I shall state 10 reasons why. I rarely rate attractions 10/10, but Manta deserves every point!
Of course at the end of the day, this feature is just my opinion. Those of you who use this site often – you know the drill!
1). It does what it’s supposed to do
Sheikra simulates a bird of prey in action. Nemesis unleashes the fury of an alien pinned down by steel. Dueling Dra- sorry, ‘Dragons Challenge’ shows... erm... well I’m not really sure. Manta’s slogan is to ‘dive deep and fly high’ and it just takes one ride to prove that it does exactly that. With Manta, SeaWorld wanted to create the feeling of flying (as rays ‘fly’ underwater) and they were able to communicate this feeling visually and through the ride experience itself.
2). It’s beautiful to look at
Alton Towers, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld Orlando – proof that theme parks can be beautiful. And with great looking parks come great looking attractions. Roller coasters can be art – take a look at some of the B&M coasters around the world... some of them look like they belong in the environment they occupy. Manta is no exception. Like all the other attractions at SeaWorld, Manta’s design is inspired by the sea – the rock carvings, the lights, even the hand rails. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, go check out the photos. The trains look great too!
3). It complements the park it’s in
SeaWorld is about family entertainment, but it is also about conservation. Manta contributes to that concept perfectly. Roller coasters usually take up a lot of space but Manta fits into the park perfectly – right at the entrance as well. Not only that, but barely anything was demolished – the only thing that was moved (as far as I can tell anyway) was the flamingo enclosure and they don’t seem to be bothered by their recent new big blue neighbour. Manta makes use of the space it runs in and if anything it’s a great attraction to welcome guests into the park with. Plus, for those who don’t want to ride, there are plenty of places to sit and non riders can look at the nearby flamingos, sea turtles and even check a separate aquarium while they wait for their friends and family who are riding.
Theme parks are places of entertainment, but first and foremost they are a business. Always have been and always will be. To stand out from the competition, they need to have a collection of rides that pull in attendance numbers every year. But to truly stand out, the rides themselves have to be original. There’s only so many times where you can ride a standard inverted coaster at Six Flags like... oh, I don’t know... Batman The Ride, before you exclaim ‘I swear I’ve been on this before!’. Seriously – there’s 7 Batman The Ride steel inverted roller coasters! How’s that for a lack of originality! Manta is one of the most original rides in the world. How many other coasters can you name that has an aquarium for a queue and a ‘wing dip’ splash affect? Rides that are original are always the ones that will stand out from the crowd. Take a look at Hulk. Look at Nemesis. Look at Dueling Dra- oops, sorry – force of habit...
5). The animals
Ironically, Manta has no Manta rays in the aquarium. While this may seem odd, it actually makes sense. Manta rays are the largest of their species – they have a 25ft wingspan and weigh roughly 1,300 pounds (thanks Wikipedia!). The only way one of those would fit in the attraction would be if the lagoon or the aquarium got some major expansion work! This year, they’ve recently added about two or three Leopard Rays to the main aquarium (where all the stingrays are) and they are massive – good luck getting a Manta ray in there! Having said that, the amount of creatures that they’ve actually got in the aquarium is staggering – stingrays, Sea Horses, Sea Dragons, even an octopus! That’s the great thing about SeaWorld – there’s always something to look at!
6). The ride
This is usually the most important aspect for everyone who goes theme parks. People go to theme parks to be entertained and to be thrilled – they’re not there to take in the sights and sounds or to appreciate their surroundings – there are rides to be ridden! Manta is 140ft high and roughly 3,400ft long reaching speeds of up to 55mph. During its run, riders will encounter 4 inversions including (in order) a pretzel loop, an inline twist, a corkscrew and another inline twist. The ride is fast and intense, but also it’s also surprisingly smooth. You get the feeling that the train ‘glides’ along the track. Throw in the near-miss with the waterfall, the wing dip effect and you’ve got yourself the total package needed to complete a proper roller coaster experience!
7). It ranks better compared to other flying roller coasters
Sure, Air at Alton Towers was the first ever flying coaster ever built (2002), and yes Tatsu at Six Flags is the tallest and fastest (170ft high. Top speed of 62 – oddly, Manta has the bigger first drop.). But at the end of the day it’s about the experience. Air does a good job of simulating flight but because of the parks restrictions it never really has the chance to go full out and therefore there’s only so much the ride can do. Tatsu definitely has the thrill factor (never been on it but I’ve seen pictures and videos) but unfortunately, like most Six Flags rides, it’s design and theme (I use the term ‘theme’ very lightly) is disappointing. Manta goes full out in every aspect – the ride, the design, the way it fits into the park, it’s just perfect.
8). The sounds
Music makes everything better - that’s a fact. Even in theme parks a memorable jingle that can get stuck in your head adds to the whole experience (barring ‘It’s A Small World’). In the queue line, the music is soft, ambient and wondrous... a bit like the rays that are swimming round in the aquarium. But when you get to the station the music builds up to dramatic and epic proportions... just like the coaster that you are about to experience. Plus, the noise effect that echoes throughout the station as the train flips the chairs into the ‘flying position’ (accompanied with screaming riders who are quickly adjusting to their new body position) ... it just works so well! As for the coaster itself, you’d expect a coaster of such a size to make such a racket, but even by B&M standards this coaster is surprisingly quiet. As I said earlier, Manta contemplates the environment it’s in – you really think they’d put the flamingos so near the coaster if it didn’t bother them?
9). The queue line
Wow... just wow. The music, the animals, the design... it’s beautiful (and I rarely use that word!). There’s nothing more to be said – it is the best queue line in the world (yes, that honour once belonged to Dueling Dragons, but we all know what happened there don’t we...).
10). This magic trick...
See what I did there? Now you want to ride Manta. Amazing isn’t it!
I would have to agree that Superman is easily one of my favorites to ride.
You see a lot of the Disney and Universal die hards arguing all the time about whick parks are better. Universal is simply the best.. for us. Disney is better suited for younger families IMO and Universal is a better fit for families with kids that are 9-16 ish who are tall enough to ride everything. Universal does suck you in with the free Express Pass for on-site hotels. You can't go back....
Luckily for us, the child swap days are over. My youngest daughter just hit 54" this summer and was thrilled to go on everything she has missed over the years. She is now a coaster freak like her father and older sister.
I really wish Manta was running on our last trip, it was down all day and so was Kraken.... and no clouds or lighting in the area.... just not working. I would have loved to see the queue and experience the ride.
But Manta...excellent. :-))
Perhaps Manta is not a Superman clone, but a derivitave.... They are both B&M and have similar elements. Manta is a tweaked version of Superman and Tatsu.
That being said, Manta is a smoother coaster and the queue line is better, so my nod overall is towards manta.
I would disagree about the queue though. Yes, the initial queue with the rays is pretty awesome, but when you get close to the loading dock (SeaWorld queues in my experience have never been that long, so this is where I spend the majority of the time) the theme stops and then you're surrounded by blue walls. Unfortunately for me, this doesn't qualify as the best queue in the world.
For me, the best queue in the world is now undoubtedly FJ at WWOHP. Walking into Dragon Challenge breaks my heart...
There are some hidden ways to get around the castle, (presumably for the cast to get around) we got to cut through almost the entire queue and ended up at a door that leads directly into the single riders line with no one in front of us.
The girl at the main entrance pulled us aside and guided us to a very quick way through (even those hallways were made to look like the castle), then called someone at the loading platform to tell him we were coming and to let us ride together.
I love Manta, its not my favourite though, it scares me slightly that all my weight is on the very thing keeping me in the Coaster, not the most relaxing of rides, I agree that is absolutely beautiful though, Expedition Everest is probably my favourite Florida attraction, whilst Stealth is my favourite UK attraction, The Swarm looks epic though, cant wait for that!
I should’ve stated earlier that although I stand by what I said (even though Ashleigh raises a good point that I forgot about regarding the queue), by no means am I putting down other rides. Just because I think Manta’s the best doesn’t mean that all the other coasters are rubbish.
Kelly and Hannah
Regarding X:/ No Way Out... erm... I’m not really sure where to start! The concept behind it (as far as I understand anyway) was to make you feel lost in the darkness – hence the title ‘No Way Out’. At the time it opened it fulfilled that concept pretty well but now I’m not sure what Thorpe Park is trying to do with it. Over the years at random times they use to have robots, lasers and sound effects going on during the ride but there all gone. Even worse, they turned up the lighting which practically destroyed the original concept! The ride just isn’t that good anymore – maybe not the worst ride in Thorpe Park – but a good contender!
Anyway – Manta... awesome ride! Please watch video then go ride it!
Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disney Resort