Discovery Cove and Aquatica
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(5/18/18) SeaWorld Orlando To Offer Free Beer, Infinity Falls Update and a Ray Rush POV
(5/16/18) Aquatica’s Ray Rush Review (MORE...)
(5/12/18) Infinity Falls Progress Update (MORE...)
(5/9/18) Aquatica Ray Rush and Sesame Street Land
Park News - (5/18/18) Just like Busch Gardens Tampa, SeaWorld Orlando announced that Free Beer samples will return to the park starting this Friday through to Sept. 2. Each guest of age can receive up to two free 7oz beer samples between 10:30 and until an hour before park close at Mama's Pretzel Kitchen Patio. Like in Tampa, the kinds of beer offered will rotate throughout the summer, but will start off this week with SeaWorld's own Mako Red Ale.
SeaWorld will also put on an official "Happy Hour" event at 4pm daily with buy one, get one free offers on all food and drink items at Flamecraft Bar and Sharks Underwater Grill Bar.
(4/20/18) SeaWorld Orlando will launch an all new special event for two weekends next month (May 5-6, May 12-13) called “Just For Kids”. The events will include special concerts for kids (Choo Coo Soul on May 5-6 and Shopkins Live on May 12-13), an Elmo Rocks show, a Kids Dance Party, Beakfast with Elmo & Friends and more.
(3/28/18) SeaWorld Orlando has announced that they will extend the run of their Seven Seas Food Festival now through to April 29th, adding in two extra weekends to experience the fun, music, food and beverages. New concert performers will be announced soon for the two additional weekend dates.
(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...
(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!
2018 - Infinity Falls - (5/18/18) The latest update to OrlandoParksNews gives us a look at the Infinity Falls construction site from within the park, showing off what can be seen through the walls around the site, along with the widening of the pathway just outside the attraction area. Getting a good boots on the ground look has finally given us a look at some of the themeing starting to appear in the attraction and queue areas.
(5/12/18) Some great new aerial photos of Infinity Falls have been posted to Twitter, showing off the complete layout of the new ride. Unfortunately... you'll be quick to notice that while the trough is complete much of the hardware has been installed for the ride itself, the area is completely unlandscaped and no where even close to being ready to open as a new lush jungle themed river adventure. Since it is now mid-May one has to wonder just when SeaWorld is planning on opening this new ride, as my best guess wouldn't see it being ready to roll until at least another 6-8 weeks, and that's barring any issues or setbacks.
As we near the typical Orlando "summer" style weather, you know the kind... like where there is a daily thunderstorm that will pass through around 3-5pm each day and just dumps water by the buckets, well... that kind of thing isn't going to help things either. But having worked in the industry myself for so many years, I can also tell you that the last 6-8 weeks of construction on any new attraction is where the magic really happens, where you can see incredible transformations begin to take place daily as you near the end as the whole thing comes together, so this will be one to keep an eye on.
(4/30/18) The flume for the final drop on Infinity Falls has now been put into place, while the crews finish up the last section of the river rapids trough located closest to the old Hospitality building. Take a peek in the pictures below, and if you are wondering about that huge concrete pool area outside of the rapids path, that's the water reservoir for the attraction, the place where all the water on the ride flows down into when the ride shuts down, the water pumps turn off and the river goes dry.
Every rapids ride has one... just some are more hidden than others. For examples the reservoir on Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom is hidden entirely backstage, but easy to find just an aerial images just North of the ride's lift hill. Popeye and Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges at Islands of Adventure has a pretty slick system of actually just using the park's central lagoon. Congo River Rapids at Busch Gardens hides their reservoir in the center of the ride's layout, mostly hidden from view but you can spot it to the right as the ride ends and you go up the lift conveyor into the station. One of my favorites is actually the one at SeaWorld San Diego, Shipwreck Rapids, where the reservoir is hidden almost entirely from view inside a massive underground chamber beneath the Shipwreck Reef Cafe restaurant.
Ok, I know that is far more than the average person ever wanted to know about river rapids rides, but the location is interesting here, as it does appear to be rather close to the guest pathway nearby, which makes me wonder how they will block it from view.
(4/15/18) A few really good aerial pictures showing off the layout of the Infinity Falls attraction perfectly were posted to Twitter yesterday, and I’ve embedded three of them below. These images really show off the compact layout of this rapids ride that appears to fold over itself a few times. Most of the concrete trough appears to be finished except for one area closest to the former Hospitality Center building.
From what I can tell from the photo this rapids ride will not feature a round turntable style station, like Popeye does at Islands of Adventure, but instead looks to have a long conveyor belt style station, much like the old rapids ride at Busch Gardens Tampa, with the station being the structure lying half-way between the former Hospitality building and the former Clydesdale stable building The rafts will exit and move towards a 180º turn and pass under what looks to be a multi-level structure under construction that I can only assume will serve as part of the queue. You can then follow the trough towards and alongside the park pathway where it will make a left turn and go up a converyor-lift.
From here it looks like it slowly drops into a very tight leftward u-turn and down a small straight away until you hit the area of the ride still unbuilt, but next to it is the return trough area which looks to be a good bit lower than where the rafts are when they exit the lift, so there could be an exciting mini drop of some kind yet to be built here. This final lower tough portion returns towards the location of that last lift, where it looks to simply dead-end into a concrete wall, but this is where our steel ride tower is going up, which should house the hardware for the vertical elevator style lift that will raise the rafts up and over the previous lift and into position for the promised giant flume-style drop into a splashdown straight away and back towards a final conveyor-lift up into the station once again.
Take a look at the aerial photos posted to Twitter below for a better visual aid of what I am talking about.
(4/4/18) The latest video report from Infinity Falls finally shows off some vertical construction at last as par of what looks like the mechanical portion of the vertical lift tower is going into place, complete with the counterweight already in place.
(3/21/18) A new construction video from SeaWorld showing off the lastest Infinity Falls progress, including the arrival of a bunch of new parts. Then a trip up the Skytower to look down into the construction pit which is full of activity. Oh, and for anyone wondering, Kraken is still running VR free.
(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 - (5/18/18) For a fun POV video of what Aquatica's new Ray Rush slide is like, check out the video below from Midway Mayhem.
(5/16/18) Screamscape was invited down to take a test ride on the new Ray Rush slide at Aquatica last week and while I couldn't come myself, I was able to send my friend Keith to check it out for me and give us a quick review:
First of all, Ray Rush is a great ride for anyone to enjoy from thrill seekers to those who are a little timid when it comes to waterslides. Ray Rush is great fun and provides plenty of thrills, but it's not scary at all. After climbing to the top of the tower, you will board a yellow raft that seats 2 to 4 riders, up to 700 pounds total. You start by sliding down a brief drop when several strong jets propel your raft briskly towards the first tunnel. With the speed you've built up, your raft rides high and steep on the first curve. If you are facing backwards, get ready for a big surprise! From there you float briskly into a large sphere where you hit a shallow pool of water which provides you with your first big splash! You twirl around and head down another tunnel with translucent manta's overhead before you shoot down into the huge half-pipe. Your total weight will determine how high you go and how many times you go back and forth, but I can tell you my raft went back and forth at least four times!!
It was really fun. After that you finish off by going down another tunnel with natural light ring effects that give you the sensation of going much faster than you really are before you slide down the last portion of the tunnel and splash into the shallow pool. All in all, it's lot's of fun, and as long as you can climb the tower, it's certainly a ride that anyone in the family can enjoy.
(5/9/18) Aquatica Orlando has confirmed that their new huge Ray Rush waterslide will open to the public on May 12th.
(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.”
2019?? - Sesame Street Land - Announced - (5/9/18) SeaWorld Orlando confirmed that the rumored Sesame Street Land will be coming to the park in Spring 2019. Based on the concept artwork released, it looks like they will be building some of the iconic Sesame Street looking buildings in the land, allowing guests to visit Abby's garden, visit Mr. Hooper's store as well as encounter many of their favorite characters. The land will also feature a small collection of rides as well as wet and dry interactive play areas.
(4/30/18) With the center of Happy Harbor now walled off for construction and work to take down most of the attractions within begun, the latest park map from SeaWorld Orlando also reflect this along with the text, "New Attraction Coming in 2019". So while they have yet to mention the Sesame Street name along with this project, the timeline is now clear.
(4/10/18) The latest news from SeaWorld Orlando posted over the weekend was that the operators working the Shamu Express family coaster on Sunday were telling all guests as they unloaded that Sunday was the last day for the ride. According to the plans uncovered back in February, the coaster didn't look like it was going anywhere, but I imagine they are closing it down to have the trains re-themed as something Sesame Street themed along time to add some Sesame themeing to the area. We also heard an unconfirmed report that the Sunday may have also been the last day for the kiddie train ride, which looked like it may be getting expanded on those same plans.
With the coaster closing now, rather than wait until the busy summer season is over, I can only guess that perhaps the timeline to add this new Sesame Street themed land may have jumped ahead for a Summer 2019 opening date, which means the rest of Shamu's Happy Harbor will likely begin to close down to allow work to begin over the next couple months... with all of it likely to close by early August.
(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.