Discovery Cove and Aquatica
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(2/24/18) Ray Rush and Infinity Falls Construction Updates
(2/18/18) Journey To Atlantis Now Reopen (MORE...)
(2/17/18) Why Kraken VR Was Removed (MORE...)
(2/9/18) SeaWorld Orlando Lists First Concerts for Seven Seas Food Festival (MORE...)
Park News - (2/18/18) Just a quick update, but Journey To Atlantis reopened the other day from off-season maintenance. The early word is nothing was really improved or changed much. So far the only one item I've heard was that the remaining giant medusa looking sea-witch head that has been sitting in the dark above the first indoor lift-hill on the ride has now been covered up completely and rolled back to be almost entirely hidden out of view now.
(2/17/18) Last month it was reported that all the extra Kraken VR gear was removed from the coaster trains and signs put up informing guests that the VR version of the ride was not available for the time being. This is despite the fact that a large shade structure had just been installed over the brake run to keep those riders more comfortable due to the longer than normal loading times that came along with Kraken VR. Despite the fact that the warning sign made the removal sound temporary, all the extra hardware that was added to the trains was removed without a trace, making this look like a more permanent change.
While I can’t say if Kraken VR is gone for good or not, I did hear a good story about WHY it was removed. Bottom line... it seems insurance companies became involved and the park was made to remove the VR gear. Despite running on the ride for about 8-9 months, a few issues came up with the mounting hardware added to the trains that needed to be dealt with. Along the way it was discovered that no engineering firm had ever “signed off” on the mounting system being approved for use on the coaster, and certainly not B&M themselves who had nothing to do with it.
You see, unlike other VR installations on most coasters that just headgear on the riders, Kraken VR was done with the intent of hardwiring most of the gear to the train itself to try and speed up the load/unload process. But unsanctioned mounting hardware would put the park at fault if something bad were to happen, like a mount failing and the VR gear flying off mid-ride, and now you can see why the park's insurance company has became involved. End result... No more Kraken VR. For the time being at least...
(2/9/18) SeaWorld Orlando has announced their first list of concert performers coming to the Seven Seas Food Festival.
Feb. 17 - Bachman & Turner
Feb. 18 - Larry the Cable Guy
Feb. 23 - TBA
Feb. 24 - Jacksons
Mar. 3 - Huey Lewis & the News
Mar. 4 - Chris Young
Mar. 10 - Daughtry
Mar. 11 - TBA
Mar. 17 & 18 - TBA
Mar. 24 - TBA
Mar. 25 - Eli Young Band
Mar. 31 - TBA
Apr. 1 - El Gran Combo
Apr. 7 & 8 - TBA
Apr. 14 & 15 - TBA
(1/31/18) SeaWorld Orlando has announced the return of the Seven Seas Food Festival event, which will run on weekends from Feb. 17 through Apr. 15. Joining the famous global-spanning food flavor markets returning from last year (Gulf Coast, Polynesian, Brazilian, North Atlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Mexican, Asian, etc...) will be two new ones: a German Market and All-American Market.
(1/24/18) I've heard this rumor on and off for awhile now, but according to some on-site reports the big "box" units added to the seats of Kraken when they launched Kraken VR last year now appear to have been removed entirely from the coaster's trains, which is now running VR free, with much of the signage about the VR option having been removed from the area as well. A picture showing off one of the trains, restored back of to the original non-VR state can be found on Twitter (embedded below).
No word on if this is a permanent change, or if they are just upgrading the hardware and will re-launch the experience again later this year. Stay tuned!
(1/17/18) Now through December 31, 2018, Florida kids ages five and younger can enjoy all the excitement of SeaWorld Orlando for free by registering for the SeaWorld Orlando Preschool Card. The card is only available to Florida residents and you have to register online by May 13, 2018.
2018 - Infinity Falls - (2/24/18) Midway Mayhem has tweeted a few photos of the progress being made at the Infinity Falls construction site, and noted that the central frames for the new rafts have already arrived on-site.
(2/7/18) A reader sent in some great new pictures of the Infinity Falls construction site at SeaWorld Orlando this week. Looks like they still have a long ways to go still.
(11/15/17) SeaWorld Orlando unveiled the first raft for the park's new Infinity Falls ride opening in 2018 at the IAAPA Tradeshow taking place in Orlando this week. I believe the custom raft is from Intamin and featuring some light themeing to tie into the ride's theme, and featuring 8 seats, divided into two sections of 4 on each side of an entry point for loading/unloading.
"Aboard the raft, riders will embark on an adventure through a lush rainforest environment inspired by some of the world’s most incredible freshwater ecosystems. The new attraction will feature the world’s tallest drop on a river raft ride and allow visitors to experience the feel of exhilarating rapids. The ride will also feature an innovative elevator lift designed to transport the rafts to the top of the ride’s 40-foot drop."
"The new attraction will be the centerpiece of a newly themed area designed to resemble the basecamp of explorers and scientists. After riding Infinity Falls, the entire family can explore the village and take part in interactive experiences that combine play with education to create a positive impact on freshwater ecosystems, reinforcing “Park to Planet” in real time. SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassadors will also provide up-close encounters with animals native to South America."
(9/30/17) A quick look around SeaWorld Orlando this week was posted by Midway Mayhem, including a look inside the Infinity Falls construction site as some steel is being driven into the ground on the site. The video also looks in on other park projects, like a current rehab taking place to Journey To Atlantis.
(8/21/17) A nice aerial photo of the Infinity Falls construction site was posted to Twitter this weekend.
(6/12/17) Take a careful look at the third picture in this Tweet and you'll see that the site for the park's new Infinity Falls river rapids attraction has been all cleared out, with construction moving into high gear on this 2018 new attraction.
(4/17/17) I obtained a few more facts about the new Infinity Falls ride coming to SeaWorld Orlando in 2018. As suspected, the ride hardware will be coming from Intamin, and it will have a length of 1,520 feet that will take about 4 minutes to travel through on the 8-passenger rafts, with a 42” height restriction. The final drop, which they are listing as the “tallest river raft ride drop in the world” will be 40 feet.
(4/14/17) SeaWorld Orlando announced all the details of their new attraction for 2018... Infinity Falls. As rumored this will be a new river rapids raft ride, themed as a ride through a thick rainforest area, that will feature an elevator style lift at the end followed by the "world's tallest river rapid drop".
"To bring Infinity Falls to life, designers were inspired by the rainforests of South America and the flowing rivers found within. Each raft will twist and turn through a lush jungle environment as guests experience the feel of exhilarating Class IV rapids. A unique vertical elevator will lift each raft for a dramatic launch into the river, 40 feet below."
Infinity Falls will be the centerpiece of a newly themed surrounding area, fully immersing guests in a rainforest canopy. After riding the rapids on Infinity Falls, the entire family can explore the village and take part in interactive experiences that combine play with education to create a positive impact on freshwater ecosystems. SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassadors will also provide up-close encounters with animals native to South America.
2018 - Ray Rush @ Aquatica - (2/24/18) SeaWorld has sent out some images of the giant fiberglass sphere being installed at Aquatica for the new Ray Rush slide along with some construction pictures showing off the rest of the slide already installed currently. While this looks like a unique new element, unfortunately it seems that the concept art previously released was a bit deceptive. The giant sphere is not transparent as it appears in the concept art which is a bit disappointing. The press release still describes the sphere as “translucent”, but based on what was just installed, this really does not seem to be the case at all, as it looks about as solid as the rest of the slide pieces on site and does not look at all like other "translucent" waterslides found elsewhere. For example, click here to see a fine example of some other translucent slides also from Whitewater West in a variety of colors which you can then compare to other pictures of their AquaSphere element.
While some hope that there may be a protective wrap on the sphere that could be peeled away, but based on the photos showing off water spray hoses already connected to the outside, I doubt there is a wrapping on the sphere.
(10/18/17) According to the latest bit of info sent my way I'm told that the new Ray Rush slide coming to Aqautica next year will be from WhiteWater West and feature a combination of three major elements: a Master Blaster style launch at the start, though I'm not sure if this is on an incline or just to gain extra speed in a small space for the launch into the second element, the transparent AquaSphere which is interesting looking, though I don't think you'll spend much time inside, before you move on towards the Manta half-pipe style element which will then lead to back down for the splashdown.
(10/14/17) Aquatica is adding a major new waterslide for 2018 that appears to be unlike anything else in the area. The are calling it Ray Rush and it will take the place of the HooRoo Run slide which will close forever on October 31st. Ray Rush will include three unique slide elements new to Aquatica, packed into a single family-raft slide experience.
First, riders will be launched at 33 feet per second with water jets designed to propel rafts into the first of several enclosed tube sections. Next, riders will swirl into a colossal translucent sphere which spins the raft around the slide walls before entering another enclosed tube section. Finally, riders will drop into an open-air halfpipe that resembles the shape of a manta ray. Rafts will soar back and forth on the wings of the manta before entering the final enclosed tube section that ends with a splash.
2019?? - Orca Encounter - Planned - (1/18/18) I'm told that an Orca Protection Act bill is being worked through the Florida Senate currently that is said to be similar in nature to the one already passed in California and is obviously something being put on the books specifically with SeaWorld in mind.
According to the text of the bill, which hopes to take effect by July 1, 2018, any orca located in the state of Florida as of July 1, 2018 may continue to he held in captivity for entertainment purposes until Dec. 31, 2019... but thereafter it may only be used "for educational presentations only."
While SeaWorld Orlando has yet to put any kind of real timeline down on paper as to when the current Shamu show will end and the new educational only Orca Encounter presentation format will take over, it looks like the state is effectively giving them a deadline to make it happen.
(3/17/16) SeaWorld has announced that starting today they will end their Orca / Killer Whale breeding program, and that the animals currently in the park’s care will be the last generation of orcas at the SeaWorld parks. They did note that at least one of the whales, Takara, is currently pregnant, so there will be at least one more baby to be born, keeping in mind that they have a gestation cycle of 17-18 months.
SeaWorld also announced that their new “Orca Encounter” program that will see the park’s current theatrical style show in San Diego transformed in 2017 into an educational experience focused on enrichment, exercise, education and conservation, will be followed by similar updates of the facilities at the San Antonio park (assuming in 2018) and then the Orlando park by 2019.
SeaWorld also announced today a broad new partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to protect our oceans and the animals that call them home. The company is committing to educating its more than 20 million annual visitors on animal welfare and conservation issues through interpretative programs at the parks and expanded advocacy for wild whales, seals, and other marine creatures.
“We are pleased to join with HSUS on the significant issues facing marine mammals and their ocean homes,” said Joel Manby. “The work done by zoological facilities like SeaWorld is critical for the protection of animals in the wild, especially marine mammals. To that end, SeaWorld has committed $50 million over the next five years to be the world’s leading marine animal rescue organization, to advocate for an end to the commercial killing of whales and seals and an end to shark finning.”
By Fall 2022 - Sesame Street Land - Announced - (2/7/18) Is SeaWorld preparing to move ahead with their plans to convert Shamu’s Happy Harbor into a new Sesame Street themed kids area? Back in mid 2017 the company revealed that this was their long-term goal, claiming it would happen no later Fall 2022. Now a new report posted to Touring Central Florida takes a look at some new planning documents from the park that seem to show a bit about how Shamu’s Happy Harbor will be changed.
From the look of things the giant net climb structure will be removed along with the Fun Ship and water play area. The current kiddie train appears that it may be moved to a new location and possibly given a new layout, and the batch of rides added in the last decade, like the Shamu Express coaster, appears to be staying, though I would imagine it would probably get new themed trains to reflect the Sesame Street theme. Nothing has been updated yet as to when work may begin in the area, but if they plans are being discovered now, this project may be happening sooner than later.
(5/19/17) As part of an announcement about an extended agreement between SeaWorld Entertainment and Sesame Workshop, they revealed that SeaWorld Orlando would become home to a new Sesame Street themed land no later than Fall 2022. No further details were given at this time.