Theme Park of the Day: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Joshua's Orlando Trip Report: SeaWorld Orlando

Sea World Orlando: Ready for thrills, chills and gills? Then let's get Kraken.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted September 17, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Park Opening


Theme park Nazi that I am, I had everyone awake, cleaned, dressed, fed and at the park for opening. I was unsure of how attendance would be, and I wasn't taking any chances.

I bought my tickets online, but failed to take advantage of SeaWorld's Adult at Kid's Prices ticket. Apparently, the ticket must be purchased seven days in advance, though they do not explain why. I suppose it gives them a week's notice to compensate for the discounted tickets by jacking up food and merchandise prices.

My Two Fifty Cents

I'd like to take a moment to thank SeaWorld for its reasonable locker rentals. $0.50 gets you an all-day rental, which I consider to be of great value. Also, the locker system provides you with an actual key, not a finger scanner, making the rental process a breeze for the technologically impaired. A certain nearby resort could learn a thing about locker rentals from SeaWorld. More on that later...


The Only Reason You Read This Report: Manta


Manta is sprawled out right down the center walkway of the park, her glory for all to see. That, and the fact that the coaster is new, made me want to bolt through the crowd, sparing no hapless child or elderly being. Think of Seinfeld's George ploughing through the party when a small fire is discovered in the kitchen.

From Orlando 2009

With two trains running, the wait was about five minutes. It's almost a shame, because SeaWorld did a great job with the queue on this one, though I didn't understand why Danny Elfman's "Edward Scissorhands" score was playing throughout.

SeaWorld really hit the nail on the head with Manta. What it lacks in breakdancing yetis, it makes up for in smooth, sometimes very intense loops and curves. Add a few water hazards and seemingly haphazard trees, and voila: a first rate attraction that not even I could complain about. But I will anyway...

Although we were on the ride twice before 10am rolled around, SeaWorld stopped running the second track in the afternoon, drastically decreasing the loading efficiency. In addition, for most of the day there was no employee to guide parties to their seats, causing coasters to run with some half-empty rows. This is pretty inexcusable for a new attraction.

I give the ride a 9-Outstanding when riding in the back row, and an 8-Commendable in any other row. Until they fix their loading efficiency issues, I cannot award it 10-Perfection. Some of my friends, however, considered it the best attraction on the trip.


Rides of the Non-Coaster Variety


Three rides on Kraken, two Journeys to Atlantis and a disappointing Wild Arctic expedition wrapped up the riding for the day, all with 10 minute or less waits. Kraken remains a solid coaster and I have no complaints there, though the queue line is rather dull and could use some theming.

On SeaWorld's dark rides...

Journey to Atlantis is terribly lame in the storyline department. After two rides, however, I think I've pieced together the plot. You travel via boat through a German Norwegian Hungarian miscellaneous (little help?) village, at which point a local muffles some nondescript gibberish and a flying seahorse begins guiding you through El Rio del Tiempo Pottery Barn Atlantis. An exceedingly happy enchantress welcomes you to explore and enjoy the beauty of her kingdom. Five seconds later, the evidently bipolar queen informs you that you have done something to peeve her off and you will suffer a fate worse than death: a mild drop, followed by a moderate amount of stagnant Orlando water. I suppose the remainder of the ride takes place in the afterlife, as everything is dark and Harry Belafonte's "Beetlejuice" soundtrack blares throughout. Confusing? About as much so as the location of the "real" Atlantis.

For what Atlantis lacks, it somewhat makes up for in thrills, which is more than could be said about Wild Arctic, which makes Star Tours look like The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. The preshow is embarrassing, with Snowman Bob, so cool that he has a self-appointed nickname, droning about the arctic and safety. The simulator itself is of the poorest quality. Despite that you're in a helicopter, the ride brings you within inches of an unsuspecting polar bear family and also dives underwater. The "Snowman" claims the chopper has ultra-quiet and underwater modes, which almost makes the ride self-referentially humorous.

How these two attractions have ratings on this site of 9-Outstanding and 8-Commendable is beyond me. SeaWorld really needs to add a worthwhile dark ride before I consider visiting again. They pulled it off nicely at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, so let's see one here.


Shows and Exhibits


What SeaWorld may lack in dark rides, it more than makes up for in its animal entertainment. Believe and Blue Horizons made big splashes with the group, despite that they are even sappier than the shows found at Disney. Pets Ahoy! was corny, but its cheesy sound effects were met with big laughter from my friends. Also, the show's potbelly pig needs a bigger part.

From Orlando 2009

Animal cruelty, sweetest ride ever, or environmentally friendly transportation alternative?

The exhibits are, for the most part, well done, though crowd control seems to be a problem. Wild Arctic and the Shark and Penguin Encounters were completely overcrowded, both in an out of the cages. The polar bear's domain looked like a Costco freezer. But that's OK, right? I mean, they're just stupid critters and all. I am pretty confident that arctic wildlife love when humans bang on their glass enclosures and shine bright red camera lights in their eyes. It's the circle of life.

You'll also notice I posted no pictures of the exhibits, namely because we could not get close enough to the wildlife to snap any nice shots. Crowd control at the animal exhibits should really be addressed.


Robert Niles vs. Yours Truly


Earlier this summer, our Commander-in-Chief visited SeaWorld Orlando and provided his perspective on the park.

I definitely agree with Robert's take on the coasters of SeaWorld. Manta and Kraken could very well be the best roller coasters in Orlando, or even all of Florida (though Montu and Expedition Everest are right up there, in my books).

Robert hasn't really reviewed the shows or exhibits, so I'll assume that all of my points are 100% valid and non-contradictable. One excerpt I'm going to challenge, however, is this:

"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."

I disagree. I encourage environmental and follow-your-dreams messages, but SeaWorld's shows are so heavily laden with sap that they could give Quebecers a run for their money as the world's largest maple syrup producers. Believing. Following your dreams. It's a damn whale doing tricks for tourists. The show is still very good, but all the downtime in between the acrobatics really kills the momentum. We felt that Blue Horizons was, overall, a better show.

As for dining, I truly wish we could have enjoyed Shark's Underwater Grill. It may be pricey, but so was the mediocre chicken wrap and potato salad entree I picked up from Mango Joe's for nearly $15 (with no drink). I would have gladly paid an extra $15 for personal service, cool ambience and good food.


I'm sure I've upset enough Insiders for today, so tune in next time for my equally infuriating trip to Epcot and Downtown Disney.

Previously on Josh's Orlando Trip Report:

Pre-Planning and Suggestions
Departure and Arrival

From Bruce Lane
Posted September 17, 2009 at 6:46 PM

"I encourage environmental and follow-your-dreams messages, but SeaWorld's shows are so heavily laden with sap that they could give Quebecers a run for their money as the world's largest maple syrup producers..."


You, sir, owe me a fresh can of screen cleaner and some equally fresh rags! ;-)

Honestly, that's one of the best lines I've ever heard about Sea World's current major shows. For my part, it didn't take me long to come up with nicknames for both of them. Specifically, "Blue Delusions" and "Deceive."

Thanks, also, for the comments on the animal enclosures and crowd control. Both are areas where the park needs serious improvement.

Happy travels.

From James Rao
Posted September 17, 2009 at 8:58 PM
" I'll assume that all of my points are 100% valid and non-contradictable."

I PRESUME the same thing whenever I post on TPI. And then I just skip all the feeble replies, knowing smugly that the truths I am extolling are self-evident and irrefutable.

BTW, another great report, Josh.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted September 17, 2009 at 9:24 PM
Thank you for explaining the Atlantis plot. It used to have a plot involving the seahorse and I think its two queens. I also believe its supposed to be Greek. But right on, Atlantis has got to have one of the worst attraction plotlines out there.

I will agree, Busch parks have the best roller coasters of the three in Orlando. They seem to do the best on theming and actual roller coaster thrills. The other two do better on the theming part.

From Nick Markham
Posted September 18, 2009 at 5:26 AM
This wa a very fun trip report to read but how did you bold text, add links to text, and add pictures in your post?

From Joshua Counsil
Posted September 18, 2009 at 11:26 AM
Thanks for the kind responses.

James -
Whoops - reading over the report again, I've noticed a few grammatical errors. We engineers are not well-rounded writers.

Nick -
I read some HTML tutorials to spice up the otherwise drab-looking report. If you search "HTML" in Google, many tutorials appear. Here's a decent one:

From James Rao
Posted September 18, 2009 at 2:56 PM
Josh, I disagree. You are an extremely entertaining and well-rounded writer. I look forward to your trip reports, and enjoy every witty line.

As for grammar, what the heck do I know from good grammar? I can barely spell, let alone compose sentences correctly. But I know funny, and your reports are funny.

[Insert famous "What do you mean, funny?" dialogue from GOOD FELLAS here].

From Joshua Counsil
Posted September 20, 2009 at 11:40 AM
Joe Pesci is the man.

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