Now that the ride has opened, I have no problem posting my opinion as I was able to ride quite a few times the past week or so. The ride flat out rocks. I've been on all 3 Superman clones plus the 2 Vekoma models. I had an idea of what to expect from Manta, much to my surprise the ride absolutely exceeded my expectations. The backseat is most certainly more intense than the front seat. I gotta admit though, being in the front and watching the Manta Lead Car spiraling ahead of you is pretty awesome.
The backseat is fantastic. It starts with a nice pull over the lift and a quick whip around to the right.....the drop honestly has some bite to it and much more than what one would expect. As any of us could have anticipated, the Pretzel Loop is fantastic....it is WAY more intense than Superman's.....but I have yet to ride Tatsu but can't compare. i will tell you that a few employees that I was talking to one night HAVE been on Tatsu and they actually preferred Manta.
The rest of the ride is just fun. The first inline twist is relatively slow in the back seat, but very graceful as you watch the sky spin around. The downward spiral picks up the speed VERY quick and you pull some nice g's going through it. I do want to note that before entering this element, you do appear to glide over the tree tops below. The flat spin is a lot of fun as well! Its taken pretty fast and I love the dip upon exiting it as you are facedown over the crowd on the walkway below.
The block brake trims VERY little speed off the ride and the drop whips the backseat over it. I will say that the second half of the ride doesn't have so much intensity, but stands out and is INCREDIBLY effective with all the visuals in play. While riding, as the train banks out of the block brake drop, you see the wall of water that sprays in front of you for the splashdown. The climb up and turn into the waterfall turn is quick and fun. Backseat, left side is the money seat.....the waterfall is VERY VERY close and you do get wet from it on the ride. The next inversion is smooth and taken pretty fast, but the last turn on the ride is where it seems like you are just inches from the water surface on the left side of the train.
Overall, the ride is AWESOME and it most certainly exceeded my expectations for it.....which doesn't happen to often to me. I know some may think I'm biased because I work there, but I am a seasoned rider and have been on plenty of coasters to make fair judgement. Definitely a backseat ride.
The non-rider side of the aquarium is not open as of yet. The queue for the ride is absolutely beautiful inside, even has hidden rays engraved into the rockwork. As of now, there are rays in the main tank however it isn't anywhere near what will ultimately be in there. Even with this not being complete, the experience is wonderful. For guests not knowing anything about the attraction, it really is immersive in how they have it set up. There are multiple smaller aquariums along the way as well, some of which have yet to have their occupants move in. Once you reach the end of the aquarium building there is a greeter where the line splits to go to each of the two stations. At this point, everything is heavily lit in deep blues, given the impression of being under the sea.....and I gotta say much more effectively than the queue for Nemo at Epcot.
There is a wonderful soundtrack that not only accompanies the queue line and station, but also the entire area. The Park did a wonderful job at bringing everything together, its all very cohesive. One of the coolest "little touches" that I like is the sound effect that accompanies each train as they are dispatch. A very loud thunderous type roar sounds, followed by a mix of the music from the promo video that was released back in March.
The ride opend around 230 today as others have stated. The queue was filled, but not quite to the entrance. After I got off work, I walked over and decided to wait just to get the rest of the experience with the queue. Wait time was only 30 minutes. KUDOS to the crew! Fantastic job running all three trains, very impressive dispatching given its the first day of operation with guests. As you are waiting on the bridge that leads from the waterfall to the showbuilding, you will get splashed. As the last car of the train passes the waterfall, water is flung all the way over to the bridge which was unexpected, but cool
This attraction has elevated the standards for BEC Parks and I feel has set the bar even higher for the SeaWorld.. Comparing the final product (well, not quite final, yet) to the artist renderings.....you won't find all that much difference. The aquarium is almost completely hidden behind the foilage that the Park has planted. The entire area is absolutely gorgeous and the ride fits in seamlessly. Its very interactive with guests and people were absolutely loving every second of it today.