Catch a Wave on SeaWorld's Next-Gen Stand-Up Coaster

May 11, 2023, 3:24 PM · For roller coaster fans, Pipeline The Surf Coaster represents a potential revival of the stand-up roller coaster. But for most visitors to SeaWorld Orlando, the park's sixth non-kiddie coaster is supposed to represent a chance to ride the waves like an expert surfer.

SeaWorld has leaned into the theme of what it is calling the world's first surf coaster. White sand gives the ride's entrance the look of walking onto a welcoming beach. The roller coaster trains are styled as giant surfboards. The station queue spiel voice sounds like a graduate of the Jeff Spicoli School of Tasty Talking.

Of course, if this were a true surfing experience, most of us would fall off the board the moment we stood up to ride our first wave. So that's where Pipeline's restraint system comes into play.

One of the reasons why Bolliger & Mabillard's stand-up coasters fell from favor was because of their system for keeping people from falling off a high-speed train that's diving and curving and looping. Sure, you are standing, but your torso is stapled between an over-the-shoulder harness up top and a banana seat down below. The lack of give in those nether regions caused many cis-male riders to feel like they might be deceased-male riders by the time the experience was over.

What do stand-up coasters and Tchaikovsky have in common? They're both known for their Nutcrackers. Ba-ding-TISS.

Pipeline tries to address that issue with a spring-like mechanism that will allow each of the coasters' "seats" to bounce with the motion of the ocean, if you will. Couple that with a track design featuring what SeaWorld is calling a "wave curl" inversion, and yeah, Pipeline feels like what I imagine surfing the waves might feel like if someone strapped me up on a board and made it impossible for me to fall.

You can see the seat motion better on the reverse point of view video.

So did Pipeline feel any more comfortable that an old-school B&M stand-up, such as Six Flags Magic Mountain's Riddler's Revenge? (Which I love, by the way.)

Eh. The vest restraint felt like it was cutting into my clavicles once the ride op locked me in, which is not something I have felt with vest restraints before. Fortunately, the discomfort went away as soon as the coaster launched and momentum pushed me forward into the vest a bit. But the discomfort came back as soon as the ride hit the brake block returning to the station.

As for the bottom half of the restraint system, the springing of the seats means that whatever adjustment you gentlemen might have done on the loading platform will become useless as your seat moves up and down during the ride. The high G load approaching the ride's one inversion caught me, forcing some scooching that continued throughout the ride.

Pipeline The Surf Coaster

But my big take-away from Pipeline was its airtime. Pipeline's seats threaten to do to roller coaster airtime stats what steroids did to the Olympics. There's some definite artificial enhancement happening here. Whether that becomes the welcome next step in the coaster wars or the cause of the next flame war backlash we will discover in the weeks ahead. But having a little pop of airtime turn into a literal jump surprised me the first time it happened on Pipeline and offers the most compelling reason I took away to entice me to turn around and try this coaster again.

Pipeline The Surf Coaster opens officially to all SeaWorld Orlando visitors on May 27. In the meantime, preview rides may be available to SeaWorld passholders. For discounted tickets to the park, please visit our partner's SeaWorld Orlando tickets page.

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Replies (8)

May 11, 2023 at 4:30 PM

Hold my jewels, as I'll be definitely swinging pass next weekend to hopefully land a passholders ride. Thanx for the review Robert, but I've never been a fan of the B&M vest, although they've seem to have made better adjustments with Banshee and Gatekeeper. Since the announcement of the spring-like seating, I kind of figured it would increase the on ride airtime so that is a plus.

May 11, 2023 at 6:26 PM

I should note the 54-inch height minimum and 78-inch height maximum on Pipeline, too.

May 11, 2023 at 6:45 PM

Bring a cup heard

May 11, 2023 at 6:51 PM

And shoulder pads?

May 11, 2023 at 8:08 PM

Lol, yup. Basically cosplay as a football player

May 12, 2023 at 10:52 AM

It does seem like the reviews consistently point out the same critiques (and praise) noted here. I do think this is a complementary collection for Sea World's lineup, and while it might not be the "big one" a lot of fans wanted, it will help draw thrill seekers to the park. I do think whatever they do with Antarctica will be really telling. Do they put yet another mid-sized "family" coaster (rumored to be another Intamin straddle coaster), or do they finally go big after the medium-sized additions of Ice Breaker and Pipeline? If Sea World really wants to plant their flag as Orlando's coaster destination, they need to hit a home run, instead of the singles/doubles they've hit with their last 2 installations.

May 12, 2023 at 7:47 PM

Big problem today with the restraints ... some poor soul was stuck 30-45mins. They almost had to take the seat apart. But hey, that's what previews are for, to iron out the kinks.

Load/unload was an absolute shocker. 4-5mins almost every time. But again, hopefully they'll become better as the previews go on.

I actually liked it, pity I only got to ride it the once. (My time contraints), but I'll have plenty of other chances. The vest is hard, and certainly digs in. I'm sure Gatekeeper/Banshee vests are on the softer side.

All in all, not a bad addition, but not in the class of Mako, Kraken and Manta.

It'll keep the tourists happy ... :)

May 14, 2023 at 1:31 PM

Agree with @Makorider. Fun ride, but it didn't blow my mind the way that many other Orlando/Tampa coasters have in the last 5 years when I rode them for the 1st time.

Also agree that the restraint vest is much harder than expected. And yes, it really digs into your clavicles.

I'm not sure how I feel about bionic-assist airtime. It felt a little strange and unnatural. I only got to ride Pipeline once, thanks to extended downtime throughout the day. I'll wait to render judgement on the airtime until I ride again.

Def felt some B&M rattle from Row 7. Nothing bad at all, just notable. Likely will get trimmed out in early maintenance.

On-ride photo is trash. Looks like something from the 90's.

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