Last week SeaWorld Orlando surprised Coaster Enthusiasts with an announcement of a new Roller Coaster for 2016. This was somewhat of a surprise because there have been no strong rumors of a new Coaster; but after much thought and speculation, this makes sense. Ever since the movie "Blackfish" debuted in 2013, SeaWorld's attendance rates plummeted under water, with many people boycotting the park. For those of you unfamiliar with the film, it is a documentary about Killer Whale captivity and supposedly how SeaWorld treats its whales. To this date, the park still has a bad word and many families would rather go to Disney or Universal. Regardless of ones views on the film, the park still does animal conservation and can not rely solely on animals anymore to stay open. SeaWorld has become desperate and they can not rely on just anti-Blackfish marketing to draw crowds: the only thing that can get people back into the park is a new Coaster.
SeaWorld has stated: "Something is stirring beneath the surface at SeaWorld Orlando, preparing to rise from the ocean depths and soar to thrilling new heights. Get ready for the frenzy of SeaWorld’s new 200-foot-tall coaster. In 2016, this thriller will take its place atop the food chain as Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest coaster. More details on the new addition will surface in late-May. SeaWorld is a one-of-a-kind theme park with a variety of attractions including awe-inspiring animal encounters, thrilling rides and spectacular shows. Follow #nothingfaster as the frenzy starts."
From this announcement, we can assume many things. First, we can guess this will be shark themed, based upon the phrase "atop the food chain." Shaks are obviously the top of the food chain, and it would make way for a great themed Coaster for SeaWorld. What other sea animal could they name the Coaster after? Also, since it will be the tallest, fastest, and longest Coaster in Orlando, this Coaster needs to be over 200 feet tall, over 70 mph, and at least 4,000 feet long. The Coaster will probably be located between the Nautilus theater and Shamu Stadium; and will travel along the water between International Drive and Kraken. This fantastic location will take advantage of the areas scenery and expand that section of the park.
Now, the biggest question arises: what type of Coaster will this be? The initial rumors said it will be a B&M Hyper Coaster, since B&M is premier in making 200+ foot Coasters, and the park used them for Kraken and Manta. However, this might not be 100% true. The latest B&M Hyper/Giga Coasters have been well over 230 feet, so it would be very strange that SeaWorld will receive a B&M hyper at only 200 feet. If they want more crowds, the larger the Coaster, the lager the crowds. Also, since this Coaster was fast-tracked and planned quick, this points away from B&M because they generally plan out their Coasters well in advanced. Also, the park is starting the trend #nothingfaster which totally points to a launch Coaster. When I think of a B&M Hyper or Giga Coaster, I first think of height first, then length, then speed. These two thoughts point away from a B&M Coaster, but what if it is the first B&M Launch Hyper Coaster?... One idea that points to this idea is the park wanting to add a non looping Coaster. Manta and Kraken are both B&M looping Coasters, and another looping Coaster, while it would be great, would take away from park diversity and not get people who do not like inversions. However, if the park still wants a looping Coaster, a B&M, and a Launch Coaster, maybe we can be looking at a B&M Launched Wing Rider with a Launch almost at 100 mph and a huge 200 foot tall Loop right next to International Drive. That would surely become the fiercest Coaster in Florida. Regardless, SeaWorld probably knows B&M is arguably the best Coaster manufacturer (I personally like Intamin a tad more) and if it is a B&M, SeaWorld will have an immediate hit on their hands.
If B&M is not the manufacturer, the next option is a Mack Coaster. SeaWorld has a long history with Mack and worked with them three times with the Journey to Atlantis Water Coasters, San Diego's 2012 Manta, and possibly again for Busch Gardens Tampa's 2016 Coaster (which will probably be a family style Coaster, possibly Spinning). It would make sense to add another Mack as possibly SeaWorld signed a deal for two Mack Coasters in 2016. Mack has been adding a lot of large, looping Coasters in Europe (Helix, blue fire) and maybe it is time for a large launched Mack Coaster for Orlando. If not, maybe we can see a new style launched Mack airtime machine hyper Coaster.
If SeaWorld is going outside the box and we do not see a B&M or Mack Coaster, what could we see? SeaWorld has worked with Zierer for their Shamu Express Family Coasters and the Busch Gardens Grover Family Coasters. Zierer is coming back, and after riding the new Impulse at Knoebels (which was a great, small looper), Zierer could pull off a launch 200 foot Coaster. However, this is unlikely. Another idea is possible a Chance Hyper Coaster. They successfully built Kentucky Kingdom Lightning Run (a mini Hyper Coaster) so maybe we will see another at SeaWorld next year? Or will Intamin will return with a new Coaster? The possibilities are almost endless, but the most likely candidates are a B&M or Mack Launched Hyper Coaster.
We will not find out more details for SeaWorld's 2016 Coaster until late May, so that leaves a lot of time for speculation. What do you want to see next year at SeaWorld? I think the best addition would be a launched B&M Hyper Coaster, but any new Coaster will be awesome for the park. Write your thoughts down below!
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