SeaWorld Orlando Kraken VR Review

Edited: June 14, 2017, 12:08 PM ·

Just got back from the AP preview of Kraken VR. Thought I would share my thoughts briefly ...

In general, I found the VR overlay on Kraken to be largely disappointing. It really wasn't immersive at all and I kept asking myself why VR on a coaster is even necessary in the first place.

The graphics themselves were pretty unimpressive. No real story to speak of. Just some underwater scenes with generally unrealistic graphics. The VR unit fit OK, but did bounce around some during the ride. The earmuff speakers were basically a joke and did not work well at all.

It all kind of feels like a cheap retrofit. Which, in reality, is exactly what it is. Something you might expect to find at a smaller, regional theme park - perhaps around the corner in Orlando at Fun Spot America.

The dispatch times were right around 4 minutes/car. Horrible, although I would expect it to improve some over time. And although I never get motion sickness on rides EVER, I did experience a twinge of motion sickness on Kraken VR.

One and done for me. I love Kraken and think it is a top tier floorless coaster. But it probably won't be worth enduring the wait. I can only hope that the reception on Kraken VR is poor enough that it is eventually pulled from the ride.

And if Mako can't spin the turnstiles for Sea World, Kraken VR certainly won't move the needle on attendance either.

Kraken VR was gimmicky ... even more so than I expected. After hitting a grand slam with (arguably) the best coaster in Orlando with Mako, SW has given us a total dud. Here's hoping that Electric Ocean can save the summer.

Replies (20)

June 13, 2017, 2:06 PM ·

I really don't get VR on a coaster either as a coaster alone should be good. But it shows how desperate Sea World is, a new "addition" that is just a letdown which is really a metaphor for the whole park. At least not the massive waste the Antartica section was.

June 13, 2017, 2:25 PM ·

Cedar Point did a test run using VR on Iron Dragon, a very easy family coaster, and it was so successful that it's being offered every evening this season. Iron Dragon is an Arrow suspended coaster- basically a good first coaster for those just discovering the fun, but the VR they added makes it like a brand new, really exciting coaster. Cedar Point got two different coasters this way- the gently swinging daytime coaster, and the wild flight through attacking ogres and dragons in the evening.

Not every coaster has to be a Maverick or Millennium Force to be a good coaster.

June 13, 2017, 2:40 PM ·

I definitely won't be using the VR option, when I ride Kraken. Not because I don't like VR. I think it's great. But because Kraken just doesn't need it. It's a fine coaster as it is, with some fantastic real life views. I'm not about to miss out on that, for a bit of CG.

June 14, 2017, 4:53 AM ·

So just a few comments. Floorless, not inverted. My headphones worked perfectly and the video synced up with the motion spot on. The story was engaging and really made the VR work. No motion sickness for me. The AP preview you attended was the first day of operations with real guests. There were no soft openings prior. So to clock their dispatch times and quote them on day 1 is a little petty... If you like coasters without VR, the headset is optional. And just think, not wearing yours will speed the dispatch time up for everyone else. Generally though, reviews have been very positive!

June 14, 2017, 12:17 PM ·

@Robert Clay

Edited to reflect floorless. I learned something new.

Regarding load times, I stated that they should improve some. But given the cleaning, reset with new guests process, I wouldn't expect miracles. And yes, I will be happy to improve load times when I ride without VR.

I just found myself feeling disappointed - but that's my opinion. No real enthusiasm from guests on the car that I rode in (as opposed to the overwhelmingly positive reaction you hear on almost every ride as Mako or Manta pulls in the station.) Mostly "it was OK" reaction from what I saw. Will be interesting to see what non-AP guests think. Also heard a few other comments on earmuff speakers being ineffective. Kind of a wonky design.

I agree that the syncing was spot on. You are correct, there was some form of a story there. I just didn't find it engaging. In the end, I wanted to be impressed. But just wasn't.

June 15, 2017, 2:56 PM ·

SeaWorld confirmed today that it will use a virtual queue for Kraken Unleashed. SeaWorld's calling its virtual queue service "Spot Saver."

June 16, 2017, 4:44 AM ·

SeaWorld has stated that their goal is for 3 minute dispatches. Right now they are at 5-8 minutes, which is understandable given that this just debuted. Not sure how realistic 3 minutes is though. I think 4 to a max of 5 would be more realistic.

June 16, 2017, 1:15 PM ·

The dispatch times don't seem long to me, Goliath VR at La Ronde was around 10 minutes per train when I went.

June 18, 2017, 6:42 PM ·

Posted wait time for Kraken VR at 4:00pm on 6/17 was 510 minutes. All Virtual Queue gone before 2pm.

Edited: June 21, 2017, 2:11 PM ·

Can you ride Kraken without the VR. I still need to make a trip over to Sea World.

June 21, 2017, 2:24 PM ·

I like how SeaWorld has the VR unit mounted on the shoulder bar, but can somebody explain to me how it is cleaned between riders?

June 21, 2017, 3:19 PM ·

@Ryan Chard yes, you can ride Kraken without VR. But you will still have to wait in the VR queue. Currently, load times are around 7-8 minutes per dispatch.

@Rob McCullough a TM (one per row) wipes them down with hand sanitizing wipes, like the kind you see at the supermarket entrance to wipe down the shopping carts

June 21, 2017, 7:44 PM ·

You might have just had a bad experiance, seeing that it just started, because ive heard many rave reviews about the ride so far.

Edited: June 22, 2017, 4:01 AM ·

@GarrettE certainly a possibility. I'm going to give it another shot in about 2 weeks.

June 23, 2017, 7:15 AM ·

In terms of the VR it was fine but I think it works much better at a Six Flags where most people in attendance have already been on said coaster. SeaWorld is a destination park and most people going there (myself included) have never been on proper Kraken.

Kraken was never the best floorless coaster to begin with, anyway.

Edited: June 23, 2017, 7:45 AM ·

"Kraken was never the best floorless coaster to begin with, anyway."

What are you talking about? Kraken is probably the best floorless coaster (not including the dive machines) in the world (maybe Superman: Krypton Coaster is neck and neck), and probably top 10 in terms of all steel sit-down looping coasters in the world (I would rate Maverick, Hulk, and a few others ahead of Kraken). Please enlighten me as to which one would be better.

Edited: June 24, 2017, 5:21 AM ·

@Russell Meyer Exactly. Kraken is a world class coaster and the VR is just OK. And therein lies the problem - in my opinion, the VR makes riding the coaster mostly pointless. Not to mention that VR has totally gimped the ride capacity. In my original review, I spoke of 4 minute load times. But that was on an annual passholder preview day. More of a closed, targeted group. Touring Plans and other theme park news outlets have since reported 8+ minute load times for Kraken VR since opening to the public.

Now let's talk virtual queue. Works great for Jimmy Fallon and same for when Fast and Furious opens at Universal. But those are indoor rides. Last weekend when the typically FL afternoon thunderstorms came rolling through, Kraken was closed for nearly 3 hours from about 3-6pm. And it, of course, created a log jam of people with Virtual Queue all trying to get on the ride when it reopened. Posted wait time was 510 minutes (yes, five hundred.) And Virtual Queue were all distributed before 2 pm.

Edited: July 8, 2017, 3:50 PM ·

I'm a Seaworld passholder and visit the park 2-3 times a week to ride the coasters and utilize their excellent dining plan.
Mako is one of my firm favorites, but Kraken always drew me back once in a while to experience life as it was before Manta and Mako. I've just returned from a vacation in the U.K. and I missed the opening of Kraken unleashed. Whilst there I visited Alton Towers and rode their VR converted coaster, Galactica. (Formally Air) I rode it without VR the first time around (front seat) but twice after that with the headset. The concept of flying (a la Manta) made the space theming work for me and I really enjoyed the experience. The staff were well drilled and changeover time was remarkably quick.
Fast forward 2 weeks and I'm back in Orlando and excited about trying the VR Kraken .... Oh dear, what a disappointment. I visited Seaworld one Saturday morning as passholders are allowed in at 8am. Obviously no wait, but load time was still painfully slow. Give the staff credit though, they were trying their very best but still a long way to go before it becomes 2nd nature. The headsets on Galactica were much easier to fit and tighten, which in turn led to the better load times.
As mentioned, I liked the flying thru space concept on Galactica but it just didn't work for me when diving into the ocean on Kraken. It seemed mundane and uninspiring and it didn't have me looking around in amazement as I did in space on Galactica.
I had great expectations for Kraken unleashed but sadly they were all dashed early one Saturday morning in July. Roll on September when us locals will have 'our' Seaworld back and I can go round and round on Mako again. At least they got it right for that coaster. Let's hope they get it right again with Infinity falls.

Edited: July 8, 2017, 7:08 PM ·

We tried this today for the first time. You can either walk up to the ride and get your queue time from the kiosks or visit www.spotsaver.com. We got ours at the kiosk at 12:45 and our queue time said 5:15-5:45. We went back at 5:30 and from walking in to exiting the ride it took approximately 1 hour. The load time was slow although I didn't time between the trains. On observation more than 75% of guests were using the VR experience. It is optional. They are inside a case attached to the front of your seat. I used them but was not able to adjust them right. They hung down over my nose and I had to ride with my mouth open to breathe. Hah. My son is 10 and he put the glasses on but they were so huge he took them off and rode without. Halfway through the ride the glasses continued to move down and were over my mouth and I had to pull them up. The timing with the video and ride are excellent and I personally enjoyed the experience. I get scared on coasters and close my eyes often. This made the ride less 'scary' but more fun. It's a neat way to turn an older ride into an immersing experience. If you are going to SeaWorld for sure go on Kraken Unleashed. VR on coasters well there is a long way to go for improvements but if you are a fan it's neat to see this develop in the industry. For sure room for improvement but they have to learn by testing this on the riders. Also if you are worried about motion sickness with VR this didn't bother me at all. Don't let that put you off from trying. Enjoy!

Edited: July 9, 2017, 6:24 AM ·

@Makorider I couldn't agree more with your comments. Glad to see someone else sharing their not so positive opinion. It seems that some of the early riders/bloggers will gush over just about anything. "Best RIDE EVER!! A++!! 5 STARS!!"

@Mommygoesfast I can definitely see where using the VR would be appealing to people that are intimidated or scared by roller coasters, because it makes the coaster part much easier.

In a previous post, @GarrettE suggested that maybe I just had a bad experience. I had mentioned in response that I was going to give it another try and remain open-minded. I used my free July Rewards AP Quick Queue and tried Kraken VR again. And it was just (if not more) disappointing the 2nd time. Load times were improved from the AP preview, so that's a plus. As @Mommygoesfast pointed out, I also saw about 25% of folks not doing VR so I think that helps improve loading. The earmuffs are a joke. I've yet to hear any sound on the ride, which robs it of any immersion (think of watching a big action movie scene with the sound turned off.) The visuals on Kraken VR are OK ... nothing great. The fit on my VR headset was much better this time, so the staff have definitely hit their stride. But it just lands flat for me and comes off as something that belongs at some small, regional theme park. It doesn't improve the experience of Kraken. In my opinion, it robs it significantly. I wasn't a big fan of the VR announcement, but I wanted to like it. I wanted it to be good. I really did. But I just don't get the point of VR on a coaster. I could strap on a VR headset and bang around in our bedroom closet and feel like the experience would be improved, because at least I would hear the sound.

My 13 y/o old son came with me and this was his first time riding Kraken VR. He's about as big of a Sea World fan as you can get. I believe he's up to 28 rides on Mako. He's my coaster riding buddy and loves them. He was VERY excited about getting to finally try Kraken VR. I said nothing to him about my having even stopped in during the AP preview and riding it previously because I didn't want to color his opinion. I was really curious how someone younger would experience Kraken VR and what their thoughts would be. Maybe I'm just a dinosaur, I thought.

Well, we got off the ride and he said ...
"Worst ride ever. 0 stars for Sea World. Now I need to sit down before I get sick , I feel like I am going to throw up."

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