SeaWorld's New Ice Breaker Raises Height Requirement

February 21, 2022, 4:55 PM · Just days after officially opening its new Ice Breaker roller coaster, SeaWorld Orlando has raised its height restriction from 48 to 54 inches.

The higher requirement effectively keeps some of the younger visitors that SeaWorld was hoping would find the Premier Rides Sky Rocket an "ice breaker" into the world of grown-up coaster from experiencing the 52-mph ride. SeaWorld said that the change was made "out of an abundance of caution" after "experiencing some operational issues with smaller riders."

Ice Breaker
Photo courtesy SeaWorld

SeaWorld said that it is working with the manufacturer to make adjustments, though it provided no details on what those adjustments ultimately might be.

For now, Ice Breaker has the same 54-inch height requirement as the park's three Bolliger & Mabillard coasters: Mako, Manta, and Kraken.

For more information about the park and a link to purchase discounted tickets, please visit our Guide to SeaWorld Orlando.

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Replies (22)

February 21, 2022 at 6:00 PM

Yikes. I guess we should be glad that they made this change before anything major happened.

Hopefully the trains get re-configured so they can revert to 48 inches.

February 21, 2022 at 9:48 PM

Really doesn't breed confidence that they would open the ride and so quickly change the safety requirements. They didn't test the ride first?

February 21, 2022 at 10:48 PM

I wonder what kind of incidents occurred for this to happen. It's gotta be those atrocious comfort collars right? Maybe Premier will finally get rid of them haha.

Has this ever happened in the past? Much more intense coasters than IB have a 48-inch requirement. It does have some aggressive ejector at some points but it's never more intense than X2.

@thecolonel- I'm not sure if testing can account for real-life humans being in the seats having the experience. But maybe, idk how the height requirement system really works.

February 21, 2022 at 11:39 PM

This is mostly conjecture, but here's what I know...

Back in 2019, a friend of mine talked with the Premier reps at IAAPA about this ride and the 48" height requirement, and they were told that the main change to the restraint system was changing the shin guard so that it could better secure riders with shorter legs. If you compare the pictures of Ice Breaker's trains to those of other Sky Rocket models, you will see that this component is shaped and positioned differently on the new trains. From what I have heard, during the preview period there were reports of smaller riders enduring a rough and unpleasant ride on Ice Breaker due to not being held securely in the seat and instead tossed around by the forces of the coaster. Word has it that the forces on the coaster are more extreme than anticipated, so my guess is that Premier needs to redesign the lap bar/shin guard to better secure smaller riders, and that is the reason for the temporary change. The comfort collars are a secondary restraint and as such would be more involved with setting a maximum size for riders than a minimum size, despite many enthusiasts somehow concluding those are what are at fault.

It should be noted that this is not the first time a Premier Sky Rocket has needed a height requirement adjustment shortly before opening. Full Throttle at Six Flags Magic Mountain actually had the height restriction increased from 52" to 54" just before opening after it was discovered that the extreme amount of hangtime on portions of that ride could be uncomfortable for smaller riders who would be held primarily by the lap bar rather than a combination of the lap bar and shin guard. Ice Breaker's issues are not all that dissimilar as the coaster does pull up to 1.5 negative gs in certain seats due to some super sharp hills.

February 21, 2022 at 11:55 PM

Thanks AJ!

February 22, 2022 at 6:40 AM

This has got to be a PR nightmare for SWO. Advertised as a family coaster, it's now on the same height restrictions as the other 3. They will have to do something, to bring it back down to the original 48"

@AJ I've been on Tigris many times, and now Ice Breaker a few times, and I have not noticed any differences between the lap bar restraint. If there is one, it's got be be minimal. The trains are identical, standard Premier, so would they really go thru all that expense to tweak those restraints. Doesn't seem to make economic sense?

The other reason I think they started at 48", is the fact it doesn't invert. Some of the transitions could be a little harsh on the kiddos, but nothing that I would see as a reason for adding 6" to the height requirement. It's not anything like Tigris, and the kids I saw riding it, were skippy happy :), and ran round to come back on and ride again.

As for the comfort collars being a 'secondary restraint' I suppose I can see where you're going with that, but lets not forget there are a few skyrockets that run without them, so are they really any part of the restraint system at all ?? They are more of a tourist reassurance thing, than anything else.

A bit extreme I know, but if they want to bring it back down to 48" I could see them tweaking the track layout. We will see.

February 22, 2022 at 6:50 AM

All the know it all’s - “out of an abundance of caution” means it’s not life threatening but just uncomfortable. I’m sure with an adjustment it’ll soon be back to a lower height. Why does everything have to be classified as a “nightmare” it’s like none of you experienced imperfection in your lives and are horrified at your own shadow!

February 22, 2022 at 7:04 AM

I found the ride to be intense, but not in an enjoyable way. Tossed me around in a way that I can only experience down the road on Rip Ride Ragdoll at Universal.

February 22, 2022 at 7:22 AM

Nightmare = proverbial egg on one’s face. You advertise a ride to have a height requirement of 48”, and then you change it to 54”. SWO has just shut out a large proportion of the riders Ice Breaker was built for. And for what, “an abundance of caution” what does that mean …. It means SWO/Premier we’re very “lucky” one or more of the kids didn’t get seriously hurt. They paid $$$m for a ride that was supposed to fill the gap between Grover’s and Mako et-Al …. and what have they got ?? A PR nightmare/disaster if ever I saw one.

Oh well, let’s all go on Super Grover’s box car derby again !!

February 22, 2022 at 7:22 AM

Ghastly it’s the talk of the town - I mean protests and shovels are coming and sea world says - “let them eat cake” . Lol, overwrought emotions must be a burden.

Anyway I think SEA has bigger fish they are still dealing with…

Excited to see what penguin is !

February 22, 2022 at 8:28 AM

Here is a preview of what we might see with penguin...

February 22, 2022 at 9:30 AM

@AJ- Thanks for the info!

I did some researching and apparently a child’s leg was completely outside the ride vehicle during the duration of the coaster. Also, parents apparently were complaining that their children suffered from head injuries after the ride. The only way I can imagine their head to hurt is due to the forces or possibly hitting their head on the sides of the headrest? There’s no way that they were tall enough to hit their head on those comfort collars.

February 22, 2022 at 12:00 PM

From pictures posted of injuries to the kids, on the SWO pass member page, most are front of forehead injuries, with parents saying the kids have been jolted forward and hit their head on the comfort collar buckle/latch. No one seemed particularly upset though, in fact most said their kiddos just brushed it off, and went straight back round, and rode again.

SeaWorld had no option but to make those changes due to these incidents. So far as I could tell, none of the kids had any serious injuries …. thank goodness.

February 22, 2022 at 6:51 PM

Makorider, it's not the lap bar but the shin guard that has changed. I can't seem to get the pictures to link properly, but go to RCDB and compare picture #2 of Tigris to picture #12 of Ice Breaker. Notice that the Ice Breaker shin guard is not flat across the top, but instead is shaped to separate the legs and hold them more securely. This was done specifically because SeaWorld wanted a ride suitable for younger riders, and Ice Breaker was designed with the intention that it would be an all audiences coaster accessible to younger riders who weren't quite ready for the B&Ms at the park. 48" has been the intention all along, so clearly something just didn't work out quite as expected and a little more tweaking is needed. It's not the first time the restraints on a ride have needed adjustment, and it most certainly won't be the last.

As for the comfort collars, those are classified as a secondary restraint because their primary purpose is not securing riders in the train and they do not have any locking mechanism. However, they still do serve several purposes:

1. Preventing larger guests from riding by limiting the maximum closing position of the lapbar.
2. Acting as a failsafe in the extremely unlikely event the ratcheting mechanism were to fail.
3. Providing reassurance to guests that they are secure, as many who aren't particularly coaster savvy consider rides unsafe if you come out of your seat and aren't restrained by a full body harness
4. Reduce insurance premiums for the operator due to an increase in the number of failures required for a catastrophic event to occur.

Premier's Sky Rocket trains were originally designed to utilize only a lap bar. However, Six Flags insisted on adding after-market seatbelts to the trains as a secondary restraint, which significantly slowed dispatch times as they cannot be checked effectively once the lapbar is lowered. When SeaWorld ordered Tempesto, they requested a secondary restraint device that didn't have the operational issues of the seatbelts, which led to the development of the comfort collar. Initially, Premier offered these as an option on their Sky Rocket models, but as of a few years ago they have apparently become standard (Six Flags didn't want them on West Coast Racers's trains, but Premier refused to sell them trains without the collars).

February 22, 2022 at 9:01 PM

I hope they can come up with a safe solution. If not they really missed the boat on this one. This park badly needs a real family coaster and they marketed this as that ride (even on opening day). I still can’t figure out why they didn’t go with a jet ski type coaster themed to snowmobiles. It would have fit the areas theming, ensured a 48” height limit and would have generated the longest lines in the park.
It’s like not having a Cookie Monster bakery, some times the most obvious options really are the best solutions.

February 22, 2022 at 9:45 PM

Thanks AJ, great information as always. I will check the photos, but I’m at Busch on Monday, so I’ll take a look at the restraints 1st hand, then most probably I’ll go over to SeaWorld later in the week.

The only niggling doubt I have about the comfort collars acting as a secondary restraint is ….. if, and let’s all hope it never happens, but if the primary restraints failed, those collars are so loose, I just don’t see them holding you in place. Maybe on Ice Breaker, as it doesn't go upside down, you’d be OK, but I don’t think you’d stay in the seat if the primary failed on Tigris.

Just a gut feeling from a retired engineer … :)

February 22, 2022 at 11:05 PM

It would take multiple simultaneous ratchet failures for the lapbars to fail so the chance of it happening is negligible, but in the extremely unlikely scenario that such did happen, the comfort collar would prevent it from opening far enough for someone to fall out. It would not be comfortable, but you'd stay in the train through a combination of the lapbar holding your legs in place and the collar holding your shoulders. Fortunately, to my knowledge there has never been an ejection accident due to mechanical failure of a restraint (at least on a ride built to modern standards), but parks, guests, and insurance companies always have a tendency to weigh the "what if?" way higher than data shows it should be.

February 23, 2022 at 8:36 AM

Ah yes, the “what if” scenario. That was my life for the last 15yrs in my design job. FMEA ….Failure mode and effects analysis … DOH !! Would be interesting to see one for a roller coaster though. Thanks again for the info, AJ.

February 24, 2022 at 6:34 AM

Well, at least the family can ride Antartica: Empire of the Penguin. Oh wait ...

February 24, 2022 at 6:35 AM

Well, at least the family can ride Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. Oh wait ...

February 24, 2022 at 8:32 AM

I was at the park on Sunday, and missed the reports of the height restriction change. Ice Breaker was up and down for the beginning of the day, so we rode the other coasters before returning to it in the early evening. When we approached the entrance, we were shocked to see the 54" height requirement. In fact, my son was pretty furious that they changed the height restriction even though the change did not affect him anymore (he's @58" now).

We eventually did some research to find out about the change, and were shocked that it was made so suddenly. This reminds me a lot about what happened at BGW with Verbolten, which was advertised as a "family coaster" to replace Big Bad Wolf that had a 42" height restriction. Verbolten opened with a 48" height restriction (same as Loch Ness Monster), and many were upset that BGW had essentially alienated a pretty big percentage of their audience by creating a big gap between their kiddie coaster (Grover's Alpine Express) and the "big" rides. Eventually, BGW filled the gap with Invadr, so my guess is that if SWO and Premier cannot come up with at workable solution to bring the height restriction for Ice Breaker back down to 48", it will significantly impact the rumored Project Penguin as SWO couldn't possibly install another adult coaster without giving younger thrill seekers something to do.

February 25, 2022 at 2:13 AM

I agree with jeremygary, I rode it for the first time yesterday, in the front row, and thought the transitions were jarring combined with the small/uncomfortable seats and restraints were not a good combination. I only rode it once but that was enough for one day.

Also Sea World's operations yesterday were absolutely atrocious, at one point Mako was the only coaster open and it was only running 1 train. Ice Breaker (and that entire side of the park) isn't scheduled to open until 11, Manta, JTA, and Sky Tower down for "refurb." Manta I can understand it just got repainted and was having some issues after it re-opened, but JTA is down for like half the year every year TBH I think this more of a budget thing than a real refurb, and I can't even remember the last time the Sky Tower was open. Is that thing just permanently SBNO? Kraken went down at like 10:15am for something so it and its 1 train was useless for a while as well, Ice Breaker not scheduled to open until yea only 1 coaster operating and one train running on that one coaster. Absolutely pathetic Sea World is a major destination park and that's the kind of operation they are running.

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