Discovery Cove and Aquatica
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(5/19/17) SeaWorld Orlando - Sesame Street Themed Kiddie Land Confirmed As Future Expansion (MORE...)
(5/16/17) Kraken Entrance Changes (MORE...)
(5/11/17) Kraken Unleashed Starts Testing (MORE...)
(5/4/17) New Construction Wall Spotted (MORE...)
Attraction Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Nothing is known at this time...
Park News - (5/4/17) According to a reader, a blue construction wall was seen up around the outside of the Seafire Grill. Could they be preparing to begin work on the Flamecraft Bar addition after all? Anyone know more?
(5/2/17) According to a report at Behind The Thrills, the Pilot Whales that used to live in the park's former Dolphin Stadium have been moved over to Shamu Stadium. While the two species both inhabit the same waters, they are kept apart and there are no plans to put them together. The plan is actually to put the Pilot Whales into the underwater viewing pool at the stadium and be part of a Trainer Talk program.
(4/23/17) In the last construction update from SeaWorld Orlando, a huge blue construction wall has now gone up all around the future Infinity Falls construction site area (formerly the old Clydesdale Barn and AB Hospitality Center... RIP free beer samples...) and Kraken is now closed as well to make the final tweaks to install the VR gear and change out some of the scenery, including the removal of the old Kraken creature statue. Some great pictures of it all, including a look at one of Kraken's trains with the new gear already installed, were posted to WildGravityTravels this week.
(3/30/17) SeaWorld Orlando reopened Journey To Atlantis after a long winter's nap last week... and unfortunately things don't appear to have gone well for the park's dark flume ride. Screamscape sources tell us that on the technical side, much of the ride's control, drive and various sensor systems have been replaced with brand new equipment, improving the technical aspect of the ride. Unfortunately, that is where the good news stops.
When we get to the issue of the ride's themeing and technical support systems for the storytelling side of the attraction's audio and video systems... thing have pretty much been put into a medically induced coma of sorts. Much of the soundtrack music has been changed to what sounds more like a temporary track (old music from the defunct A'Lure The Call of the Ocean show) and while I'm told that the rumors of new storyline elements to tie into Kraken VR are still planned to happen, it seems as if none of the intended new media for the attraction was ready to be installed. Meanwhile much of the old media was still removed anyway, essentially ripping out the storyline and virtual 'soul' of the attraction along with it. No more warning from the old greek fishman (Stavros) before you start your journey, no more videos of the mermaid / siren or Hermes the seahorse.
Though plenty of the sparkly / magic light effects still remain and dancing water fountains bouncing around you, and eagle eyed guests may catch a view of the large evil siren figure above you silent in the dark before you enter the first lift, but that's all that is left. Even the water effects on the outdoor second lift are no longer working.
Want to see what's left for yourself? Our friends at Attractions Magazine posted a new POV video of the ride taken shortly after it opened. Check it out below and prepare to be disapointed. I can only hope they come through with some additional fixes to restore the ride and bring a new story to life, because the state is has been left in is honestly not fitting of an Orlando area theme park attraction.
2017 - Kraken VR and Other New Additions - (5/16/17) A reader sent in a couple of pictures of the Kraken entrance where workers have set up scaffolding along the broken ruins area of the exit, and you can see how the former eel shaped body behind the Kraken logo has been repainted to look more like a giant tentacle, with a new green hue.
(5/11/17) A reader sent in an anonymous photo a bit ago showing off some testing of the new Kraken Unleashed experience by Deep Blue Creative peeps who took the coaster for a few spins with the new headgear.
(4/26/17) Midway Mayhem has posted a new video from SeaWorld Orlando this week showing off the first VR upgraded coaster train on Kraken making test runs. You can also see how they have already tore the head off the old Kraken statue as well.
(4/20/17) According to what I'm hearing, Kraken Unleashed is expected to official open to guests starting June 16th. We'll have to wait until that date gets closer to see if they have a quiet soft-opening of the new technology any earlier than that. Oh... and a final, slightly disappointing bit of news. I'm told that the iconic Kraken monster statue (that looks kind of eel like) that stands at the entrance area to the coaster will be coming down soon (if it hasn't already), to be replaced by something new that is expected to represent the new look of the Kraken monster as shown in the VR attraction. While this could be for the better, it does make me a little sad that the old creature that has stood outside the ride for so long has to go.
(4/17/17) Kraken Unleashed (the new official name) will be opening in Summer 2017, and for anyone wondering, the park did officially give the option that you will be able to ride Kraken Unleashed with or without the new VR headgear.
The park released a bunch of screen captures from the new VR experience where it looks like you go on a submarine adventure down to the depths of the ocean, past volcanic activity and other creatures thought long extinct. From what I’m hearing the rumors of a close tie into Journey To Atlantis are still happening and your virtual adventure will take you into an encounter with the lost sunken city of Atlantis that will apparently look just like the ride next door. It is there you will encounter the Kraken itself (which has not been shown just yet) who is serving as the guardian for the city.
The Kraken becomes alerted to your presence and comes after you, and as things tend to go with theme park rides, things start to go very wrong, and a set of events are put into motion that causes the lost city of Atlantis to rise to the surface (right next door!), along with you making your return back to dry land once again, safe from the Kraken for now.
Now lets hope that they have some added themeing for Journey To Atlantis to tie it into the new Kraken Unleashed story they are creating here to enhance that ride experience as well.
Also, On May 26th SeaWorld Orlando will open a brand new show at the Nautilus Theater called “POP”, staring Fan Yang, “the Bubble Legend” who has traveled the world showing off his unique skills at creating unique live art on stage with bubble. It’s hard to describe what goes on, but he was on hand at SeaWorld to give a brief demonstration of his art.
(3/17/17) Midway Mayhem dropped by SeaWorld Orlando to check on the Journey To Atlantis rehab progress, work on the new Dolphin Nursery, and see what construction markers they could find for the rumored 2018 water ride project in the sea garden area. Check it out below.
(1/31/17) WildGravityTravels checks in with us this week from SeaWorld Orlando , with some new progress photos of the work taking place to the Dolphin Nursery project and a quick look at Journey To Atlantis while under rehab.
(10/14/16) Screamscape sources tell us that they believe SeaWorld may indeed be working with the same group who hard installed the VR system into Galactica at Alton Towers, and the description of the hardware coming to Kraken VR seems to match what they used in the UK. Of course, if the rumors are true, Kraken VR may actually try to add some additional pluses to the experience that will take the form the installation of some basic 4D Theater style effects to enhance the experience even more. I’m not sure exactly what form these will take, but I’d guess it would be difficult to install most of those kind of things on a coaster train, and they may not be effective when speeding along through high-g inversions. Though perhaps mounting some hardware near the track could be effective, especially in those moments when Kraken dives through a trench or into the below-water tunnel near the end. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
(10/10/16) Screamscape has received some good feedback from CWMania about how Alton Tower's hard-installed their VR system on Galactica earlier this year. As noted, the Galactica system includes both audio and visual and was reported to be the best example of a VR enhancement added to a coaster they had seen to date. Best of all, the VR system was contained in a small pouch like bag attached to the bottom of the OTS restraint bar, and there was no problem in leaving it in the pouch if you did not want to use it. With the system already installed onto the coaster itself, it seems to solve many of the extended delay issues other parks have had with their systems so far this year, and the park was able to run 3-trains on Galactica with minimal delays, allowing for staff to perform a quick wipe-down and reset of the units between each ride for the next load of guests.
So if SeaWorld follows this system as their example of how they want to install VR onto Kraken, the transition may be a good one indeed.
(10/6/16) Screamscape has been told that the Kraken VR experience will indeed include audio as part of the experience.
(10/4/16) The concept of having a VR system tethered to a coaster train actually isn't new for the Kraken VR enhancement. Alton Tower's Galactica flying coaster VR system launched this exact same thing earlier this year, and unlike the other systems we've seen so far, it actually includes a custom made strap system that encloses both a Samsung Gear VR headset as well as audio headphones for a complete sight and sound experience. I don't think the subject of audio was touched upon for Kraken VR, but I'm kind of hoping they do go the extra mile and include an on-ride audio, as silent VR just looks kind of weird to me.
(10/1/16) SeaWorld Orlando responded back with some extra information about their new Kraken VR system coming in 2017. When we questioned how they would be handling the issue of cleaning the equipment between riders if it was mounted to the train itself:
“Having the VR headgear integrated into the seat both mechanically and electronically not only provides a more reliable synchronization to the ride experience, but offers our Ambassadors easy access to sanitize the headsets after each and every ride cycle. The Kraken station is also being modified allowing for more ambassador positions to assist guests as they load the train and prepare for the VR experience on Kraken.”
Screamscape also asked about what would happen if a guest did not wish to partake in the VR experience, either because they found it cumbersome, clausterbobic, or just simply wanted to opt for the pure traditional roller coaster experience:
“Guests that do not wish to use the VR Experience can still enjoy Kraken as they always have by simply leaving the VR headset in a secure pouch attached to the coaster seat.”
So there you have it… now we just have to wait and see how this turns out.
(9/29/16) While SeaWorld Orlando confirmed all the rumors about the VR experience being added to their fantastic Kraken roller coaster, there was some extra news that did concern me a bit. In the announcement they mentioned that the plan was to add the VR gear to the Kraken on a full time basis, which has led to many Screamscape readers to question if the option to enjoy the traditional ride experience, minus the VR headgear, would still be possible for those who don’t like, or don’t care for the VR enhancement.
According to the official park description of the Kraken Virtual Reality (VR) Roller Coaster experience, “Guests will embark on a deep sea mission alongside sea creatures inspired by extinct and legendary animals of the past, including the mighty Kraken. A custom digital overlay with uniquely designed headsets, fully integrated both mechanically and electronically into the coaster train delivers a new one-of-a-kind adventure. The addition of VR to this fan-favorite brings a new level of excitement and interest in Kraken, giving guests the opportunity to experience the coaster in a completely new way.”
While the idea of adding the system to the ride sounded good as a way to speed up the loading issues that have been the biggest complaint so far about similar installations at other parks, the simple truth is that the headgear needs to be cleaned and sterilized after each use, plus the units do require recharging as well to keep everything up and running. With that in mind, I’m not sure exactly what SeaWorld was planning on changing or attaching to the trains that could possibly speed up this process. From the sound of things, the hardware being used may not be the same Samsung based VR Gear system we’ve seen before, and perhaps if the headgear is attached to the train, it could perhaps just quick-lock into some kind of head-band the riders can put on and properly fit to their head while in the queue before being loaded onto the train, with power to the headgear coming from a battery built into the train itself.
I’ve reached out to the park for some clarification on these issues, but have not yet heard back.
Also in 2017 some other new experiences and additions are coming soon, including the new Kraken VR Coaster experience, which you can read all about by clicking here. Other new additions include an updated and more interactive Dolphin Nursery attraction. It will offer, “Large-scale acrylic windows will offer up close viewing, including multiple levels to give kids a face-to-face perspective with dolphin calves. New slide out areas and lifting floor will also allow for easier access to mom and baby for the veterinary and animal care teams. The next generation of multi-purpose digital displays will allowSeaWorld educators to share information about dolphin behavior, biology and conservation with our guests by interacting with video from the team’s educational and animal care content.”
Starting in late 2016 however the park will welcome Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer & Friends to the park. “Beloved Christmas character Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends, including Clarice, Bumble, the Abominable Snow Monster and Yukon Cornelius, and Rudolph themed attractions will be making their debut as part of the 2016 Christmas Celebration at SeaWorldOrlando.” Look for them all to return for Christmas 2017 as well, with additional Rudolph themed experiences.
In February 2017 the park will host the Seven Seas Festival, a popular music and food event that will be expanded to run over a total of 14 weekends in 2017, offering food items inspired by the food and of Asia, the Caribbean, South America and the Mediterranean. Plus the beer, offering a variety of international, local and seasonal craft brews on tap.
The park’s popular SeaFire Grill theme will be expanded with the addition to the new Flamecraft Bar in Summer 2017, adding a new dining location along the waterfront area, as well as a place to sit and enjoy a beverage, featuring 16 seasonal craft brews and a new menu.
Also the park will have a new way to end your day in Summer 2017 with the launch of Electric Ocean, a new end-of-day spectacle event. “As the sun goes down, the lights and energy go up, offering guests a different kind of fun after dark. The ocean comes to life with bioluminescent lighting, music and pathway entertainment, immersing guests in a glowing sea of wonder.”
SeaWorld will also offer a new show in the Nautilus Theater for Summer 2017, starting Memorial Day weekend. Details about this new experience will be released at a future date, but I wonder if this has anything to do with that “bubble show” rumor I reported on not too long ago.
(9/27/16) While the SeaWorld parks are set to make official announcements about they have in store for 2017 sometime on Tuesday, most of the information has already been released in the weeks (and months) prior in one form or another, so very little should be surprising. USA Today however looks like they got an early exclusive on the complete run-down, where they confirm that Kraken will be adding VR headgear sometime in 2017 where riders will get a close-up introduction to the legendary Kraken. They also confirm that unlike other VR Coaster installations that we've seen this past year they are attempting to integrate the gear into the trains themselves somehow in order to speed up the load-time issues that have come along with the VR enhancement elsewhere.
They also mention that the Orlando park will also modify the Dolphin Nursery area with bigger windows, slide-outs and underwater camera feeds to help guests see them better.
(9/9/16) Screamscape sources tell us that SeaWorld Orlando may be planning to add their own VR Coaster enhancement experiences sometime in 2017 to the park's Kraken (B&M Floorless) roller coaster. If the rumor is true, the theme of the VR experience will actually be an encounter with the mythical Kraken beast that the ride is themed after which could prove to be a very cool experience.
What else may be new in 2017? I don't know the details but some kind of new show described as a "Bubble Show" may also be in the works. I'm not sure if this is more of a large scale bubble display kind of thing, or just a performer on a stage who can make funny shapes bubbles with smoke in them. Anyone know more?
One more thing work mentioning... and this will affect guests sooner than the rest, but I'm also hearing that Journey to Atlantis will likely close down for an extended rehab in late 2016 and remain closed until sometime in February 2017. Time to get your JTA fix in now while it's still warm.
2018 - Infinity Falls - (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.
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.
(3/6/17) A new photo update from SeaWorld Orlando has been posted to OrlandoParkNews this week, showing off general images from all around the park during the Seven Seas Food Festival, but a few specific images are why I'm calling attention to this. Jump ahead to Page 3 where they venture over to the Sea Garden area half way down the page and have posted photos of those survey markings that I mentioned were now to be found in the area, as it will soon become home to a new river raft ride possible themed to Sea Rescue.
(2/20/17) Screamscape sources tell us that the next major new attraction coming to the park in 2018 may be given a "Sea Rescue" theme. According to the rumor the attraction hardware will be a rapids style ride attraction, and the first survey markers for it are said to be visible near the Passholder Lounge area if you look hard enough. Anyone want to go hunt them down and report back?
2019 - Orca Encounter - Planned - (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.”
Fall 2022 - Sesame Street Land - Announced - (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.