Photo Trip Report

March 6, 2013

Like Islands of Adventure and Busch Gardens Tampa, I hadn't visited SeaWorld Orlando since 2001, so I was really excited about riding Kraken again and my second B&M flyer, Manta. Kraken was my No. 1 floorless coaster, but it had been so long, I barely remembered it.

I parked (for free with my pass) and entered the park a little after 1 p.m. I put my camera in a locker, headed straight for Kraken and got in line for the back seat. The park was pretty empty, and I only waited for two trains to board. I sat in the far left seat. This coaster is perfect. It's one of the smoothest B&Ms I've ever been on, but it's also got good, high G-forces. The first drop is fun, and the tight dive loop is great in the back. The back of the train glides into it before quickly whipping over and down. The zero-G roll actually lifted me out of my seat slightly. The cobra roll is typical of newer B&Ms without the snap like Raptor, but I don't mind. It's so smooth.

Kraken's brakes weren't on at all, so the dive to the left out of them into the trench and second loop caught me by surprise. That second loop has good G's and is really tight. There's a swooping turn and dive under a trench and into a corkscrew at the end of the ride. Kraken's running superb for a coaster that opened in 2000. But I do think it's slipped a spot to my No. 2 floorless coaster. Superman - Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas has the huge diving drop and the cliff interactions going for it.

Next I went to Manta. Again, there was no wait for this coaster, and I went to the back seat. I was the only person in the row, and I sat on the right side. The sensation of moving from seated to prone is fun, and the lift hill's great facing down. The first drop dives to the right and is intense, and it immediately rises into the pretzel loop. WHOA! This was the most intense element on the ride. By far. It made me shout in excitement just entering it. The bottom of the pretzel has some heavy G's. It's disorienting.

After the pretzel is a corkscrew, a turn and a second corkscrew. I was so disoriented, I'd forgotten there was a second corkscrew, so it surprised me to flip around again. There's a short breather in the block brake, and the brakes slow the train down slightly. Then there's a dive to the right just above the water and water splash. There's another corkscrew, and the ride ends. Amazing. Extremely intense. There are heavy G-forces in every single turn, and the pretzel loop is the craziest element I've experienced in a long time. This park definitely has a winner here. 9/10

I got my camera and walked around to take picture. I shot Journey to Atlantis and an eel in a "Kraken egg" at the Kraken's exit. Then, by chance, I ran into my friend Michael. We went into the aquarium at Journey to Atlantis and walked around the park taking pictures. SeaWorld is beautiful.

Next we went to the dolphin exhibit. It was just before feeding time, and the dolphins knew it. They were playful and splashing around. We went to a small area looking over the dolphins for photos where it wasn't crowded.

We went to the sea lions and seals exhibit next. People also were feeding them, and birds lingered to steal the fish from the people or catch them as they were tossed to the seals.

We stopped at Shark Encounter, which has a cool glass tunnel with sharks and other fish in it. Next we stopped at Wild Arctic. There are two parts of this attraction: a simulator and a stationary theater. Michael told me the simulator's jerky and doesn't add much, so we went to the normal seats. The show is just shots of the arctic as you fly above snow, through canyons and under the water. After that, there's a long hall that leads to rooms with the animals. Inside there's a walrus that was swimming back and forth in the same pattern the whole time. There also were some belugas in another tank.

Next we went to the Shamu show, "One Ocean." I really liked it. The killer whales swim around, do lots of tricks and splash the audience. It's a great show.

It was getting chilly, and Michael had to leave to take pictures at Disney World, so we parted. I wanted more rides on Kraken, so I put my camera back in the locker and got four more rides. Kraken's really good, and it was running better as the sun set.

SeaWorld is an outstanding park, and I'll definitely be making several visits this year. I'm really excited about the new penguin exhibit that is scheduled to open in May. 9/10