Theme Park Insider Summer Roadtrip: SeaWorld Orlando

August 9, 2009, 5:45 PM · Come with us for a little aerial tour of SeaWorld Orlando:

Brian shot that video this morning from the park's Sky Tower, while Natalie and I continued our coaster quest with rides on Manta...

Manta at SeaWorld Orlando

...and Kraken.

Kraken roller coaster

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.

Blue Horizon at SeaWorld

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.

Salmon dinner

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.)

Filet mignon

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.

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.

Otters on the run

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 at SeaWorld

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.

Shamu and trainer

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:

Replies (15)

August 9, 2009 at 5:54 PM · Good stuff!
August 9, 2009 at 6:01 PM · I'm glad to hear you had a great time and that Manta was a great experience. Your reaction to it was the same as mine the first time as I just came off it with an "wow."

Great trip report and just wanted to say I enjoyed every one of them.

August 9, 2009 at 10:18 PM · I am in complete agreement with the above comment: thanks for the great reports (especially all the photos and videos), and for allowing me to vicariously travel with you and your family. I've had a great time.

Incidentally, the food picticured at Sharks Underwater Grill looks absolutely delicious. Although, I agree the entrees seem a bit heavy for lunch.

Read a few reports that Kraken had lost some of its smoothness over the year, but from your report it sounds like that is not the case. I am glad to hear it. Kraken holds a special place in my heart and I still regard it as the best coaster I have ever ridden. Can't wait to re-visit it again (as well as ride Manta) next year.

August 10, 2009 at 3:50 AM · James, I would agree that Kraken has lost a bit of smoothness, but not enough to change the basic characteristics of the ride. (Unlike the floorless Scream at Magic Mountain, which almost immediately became too rough to enjoy.)
August 10, 2009 at 4:45 AM · As much as I love Seaworld ( and I do ) it has always annoyed me that they charge an extra fee for the Sky Tower.
Is anyone else irked by bolt-ons like this ?
Great photos b.t.y.
A special mention has to go to the pre-show mime artists at Seaworld. They always have everyone in fits of laughter......even if , like me, you've been the butt of the jokes.
Their contribution is often overlooked ,I think, but always appreciated.

August 10, 2009 at 6:39 AM · Great report Robert.
I popped over there yesterday after a few early morning hours at Aquatica (Which was closed to capacity by Midday)

SeaWorld seemed pretty packed yesterday. Also wondering what time you rode Manta, as it seems the queue time never seems to match the actual queue length.

Look forward to more reports!

August 10, 2009 at 8:11 AM · Looks like SeaWorld is a must for my upcoming trip. I've only ever been once.

I am also curious about your queue times. Any info?

August 10, 2009 at 8:33 AM · 25 min for Manta
5 for Kraken
5 for Atlantis.

Lines seemed to blow up after 10:30.

August 10, 2009 at 10:25 AM · Call me crazy but I dont think Manta is nearly as awesome of a coaster as everyone else. Now dont get me wrong its a lot of fun!, the are around it the que line itself and everything about it looks a feels fantastic. However the ride itself to me isnt that unique from all the other flyers, an amazing and intense pretzel loop then nothing interesting, just like the other flyers. I really wish B&M would get more creative with their flyer layouts and inversions. I feel like there are plenty more unique inversions that could be accomplished with the flying train. Just my opinon, aweseom attraction, slightly above average ride.
August 10, 2009 at 12:22 PM · Robert -

You should update the SW 4-Hour Tour to include Manta.

August 10, 2009 at 4:27 PM · Working on it this week.
August 10, 2009 at 8:12 PM · I will be visiting Seaworld Thursday night for a TEA mixer, which will be my first trip there, and of course my first time riding Manta, so I cant wait.
August 11, 2009 at 9:55 AM · Great trip report Robert! I'm gonna be heading out to sunny (it will be nice to escape the gloom of the UK!) Orlando in 16days, I can't wait to ride Manta, can anyone tell me if you are on your back on the hill climb and 1st drop? I'm also hoping Rip, Ride, Rocket is going to be open!!
August 11, 2009 at 2:41 PM · I have to concur with Robert. We went to SeaWorld one day during our trip in June and Manta was AWESOME. Oh my goodness. That loop is something else.

The first time I rode Kraken in '06 it was awesome and very smooth. This time, not so much. Not sure when it was built but we all found it surprisingly rough. Atlantis was cool as always but Manta was something else.

August 12, 2009 at 8:11 AM · We rode Manta yesterday as well it is really is a fantastic ride. The only complaint I would have is the antiquated locker system. I completely understand why a locker is needed, however the fact that these are still key entry lockers instead of touch screen entry is a confusing thought to me. It seems that with a brand new ride like Manta the locker system would be updated. Many people, myself included, do not carry cash. So it was very annoying to have to find an ATM, pay the fee, then go make change just to get $0.50 to rent the one time use locker.
The price is fair but the system is flawed.

On another note we also hopped over to Aquatica and had a great time. I am a huge Mouse supporter but I dare to say that Aquatica is the best water park in Orlando. The fast style lazy river is a blast.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Buy Tickets

Plan a Trip

Weekly Newsletter