Today Theme Park Review was invited to SeaWorld Orlando to participate in a media preview and Ridercam session on Mako. With Robb and Elissa currently in Europe, Maddy and I stood in to brave the newest coaster at the park. Mako is the latest addition to SeaWorld Orlando, a park that has received consistent investment for the last few years including TurtleTrek, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, the new guest-facing Manatee care facility, Mama's Pretzel Kitchen and the Annual Passholder Lounge.
This new coaster is intended to push the thrill envelope for SeaWorld Orlando and Central Florida while still providing a coaster experience that is accessible to families (the minimum height requirement is 54 inches) and with B&M as the ride manufacturer, you know that is exactly what this park has received. Now the tallest (200 ft) and fastest (73 mph top speed) rollercoaster in Orlando (a title it will presumably hold until the opening of the Skyscraper rollercoaster at Skyplex), the ride features nearly a mile of track with nine airtime hills with almost forty percent of the track located directly over water. The ride's enveloping realm, Shark Wreck Reef plays host to many sunken ships (including the ride station) for Mako to cut across and a new intelligent surround sound system fills the area with sound that reacts and follows the coaster trains as they move throughout the space.
With the Summer of Mako set to begin with the debut of the coaster, the park is also offering limited time food and beverage options including a honey vanilla mako shark cookie; a SeaWorld exclusive Coca-Cola Freestyle mix, Mako Blast (coming June 14); a specialty alcoholic beverage only available at Shark’s Underwater Grill; and Mako American Red Ale, a SeaWorld exclusive brew available in several locations around SeaWorld. Joined by the existing staples Shark Encounter and Sharks Underwater Grill, Shark Wreck Reef is a revitalized corner of SeaWorld livened by the presence of the dynamic new coaster crossing its path twice overhead of guests during its ride path.
As someone that has ridden several B&M hyper coasters, I found Mako to be pure fun but comparable to those I've experienced. This isn't necessarily going to be a top ten coaster for anyone that has ridden any major coasters outside of Central Florida, but it does stand out in the local market as the coaster with the largest amount of airtime to be experience in one ride. The coaster barrels at its top speed in the first half of the ride but does slow in the latter half of the ride--something that may catch some riders off guard, but the floater airtime is not lessened much despite the changed pace. The ride is not incredibly forceful like some B&M coasters of yore (like Montu or Kumba), nor is the the airtime "ejector air" but thanks to B&M's awesome lap bar-esque restraints, your rear will spend little time on the seat during the quick out and back journey of Mako--though you'll never feel unsafe as the restraints keep your legs (and thus, body) pinned tightly.
Some coaster enthusiasts may find that Mako doesn't push the envelope, but at the end of the day it doesn't have to. The dosage of airtime this ride delivers is going to be extremely hard to scoff at, even if it isn't as violent or quick as you might find on an Intamin-made airtime machine. This ride delivers in exactly the ways that SeaWorld Orlando needs--a highly visible coaster (that can be seen from far outside of the park limits to draw guests in) that fills a niche that Orlando/Central Florida did not already have satisfied (an airtime-focused coaster) while delivering a memorable, thrilling experience for guests of most ages (again, the minimum height requirement being 54 inches).
Mako is an incredibly fun coaster--one that some may consider among the finest, depending on your tastes and exposure to similar rides. It is certainly worth the visit to SeaWorld Orlando, especially when you consider how many other great rides and shows are already at this park. As SeaWorld Orlando continues to evolve in the coming years, Mako will take its place along the park's already powerful skyline, thrilling guests for many, many years to come.
Shark Wreck Reef is the new realm, encompassing the existing Shark Encounter, Sharks Underwater Grill and Fins gift shop while adding several new merchandise options and lots of shipwreck theming.
Sharks have been embedded into the pavement throughout the new realm, adding to the underwater feel of the area.
SeaWorld continues to educate even when adding new thrill rides with the addition of new, interactive displays that share facts about sharks and how to help protect them.
I do love sharks!
The entrance of Shark Encounter has been plussed to fit into the rebranded Shark Wreck Reef.
Meet Finn, a shark made entirely from non-biodegradable trash.
More educational displays in Shark Wreck Reef.
Mako's lift towers over Shark Encounter.
Mako is unique in that it crosses the guest path twice during the course of its layout.
Sharks Underwater Grill also received new signage to match the rest of the area.
A new caricature and face painting station has been added as a part of the retiming of the realm.
This is definitely a very different view than we saw standing here a year ago.
As part of the recently announced partnership between Guy Harvey and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Guy Harvey himself hand painted this mural (over the course of three days) near the entrance of Mako for guests to admire within Shark Wreck Reef.
Mako cuts across the remains of several sunken vessels during the course of the ride.
There are many neat details in the theming to see up close.
Lots of Guy Harvey merchandise available for purchase...
Including this shirt feature artwork from Harvey and Mako.
The coaster zooms over the ride's marquee in a fun and unique way.
I do it for Larry.
I could get used to seeing this.
The new Mako gift shop has some awesome shark merchandise for you shark lovers.
It is really neat to see Mako trains wrap around you as they finish out the remainder of their course.
We had the chance to interview Brian Morrow (VP Theme Park Experience and Design), the creative lead for so many of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment's many projects.
Don't get used to seeing the wait time this low...
Much of the queue for Mako is outside.
But the ride does fly by all around it.
It will be fun to see the ride fly by while waiting to move inside.
Mako's ride station is modeled after a sunken ship (presumably a cargo vessel)...
And of course, you can purchase your on-ride photo after you ride.
The partnership with Guy Harvey is heavily emphasized in the new gift shop at the exit of Mako.
Similar to Busch Gardens Tampa, SeaWorld Orlando has begun featuring merchandise highlighting their signature coasters.
Opening crowds are expected to be huge... With this in mind, the Nautilus Theatre may be used as an air conditioned overflow queue while the crowds are at their peak.
Even the coaster's supports have been themed to fit into the Shark Wreck Reef realm.
The coaster looks perfectly curved.
There are no water effects currently as the train grazes the water's edge...
But the realm's surround sound music kicks in with a triggered series of sounds as the train navigates through this final section of track.
A temporary Coca-Cola Freestyle truck has been set up just past the Nautilus Theatre to help keep the huge crowds hydrated in the coming Summer months. SeaWorld will also feature a custom Coca-Cola Freestyle flavor, Mako Blast for guests to enjoy during the Summer of Mako.
Directional signage throughout the park ensures that guests clearly know which direction to move in if they wish to ride Mako.
Mako looks incredible from the water's edge!
One of the last airtime hills of the ride flies past the ride's exit...
Where much of the ride's first half can be seen.
The largest airtime hill of the coaster.
Making the return journey...
Lots of floater air coming from Mako.
A headchoppper moment takes place when the train dips under the lift hill to head out towards the water's edge for its final turnaround maneuvers.
The inside of the ride station features these neat screens that show the silhouettes of sharks and rays swimming overhead.
Bring it around town...
We also had the chance to interview Mike Denninger (VP Theme Park Development and Design) who shared insight as to why the trains were one row shorter than most hyper coasters, along with some thoughts on his favorite elements of the coaster and the genesis of Mako coming to SeaWorld Orlando.
We've got shark swag!
It wouldn't be a Shark Wreck Reef without actual sharks!
Screens in the Mako queue feature footage from the Guy Harvey Foundation that shares information on how scientists track sharks as they migrate great lengths annually.
This one's coming home!
This really gives a good feel for how Shark Wreck Reef is...
Shark Encounter even received a few upgrades including these new projections of shark silhouettes swimming by...
Still a classic SeaWorld experience after all these years!
Mako is incredible to watch from the water's edge.
As mentioned earlier, a new Coca-Cola Freestyle flavor has been developed exclusively for SeaWorld Orlando... And it even comes in a Diet Mako Blast variation!
This carbonated fruit punch soda is quite tasty! And resembles blood in the water... So it fits!
It is time to start!
Flying down the first drop!
Quite a view from here!
You can tell from the look on our faces that we're getting plenty of air...
And if that isn't proof enough, take a look at Maddy's hair.
Here we are entering the overbooked turn to make our return trip towards the end of the ride...
A neat view.
You even get airtime entering the mid-course brake run!
There's some really great curves to this coaster!
From this angle you can see just how big Mako really is!
This is Mike Denninger's favorite element--one that he specifically pushed to have included in the ride's layout... A low, drawn out airtime hill taken at a high speed for an airtime experience different from the other 8 airtime hills.
Diving between the Nautilus Theatre and the Mako ride station...
Almost 90 degrees!
We're in the home stretch!
Apparently Mako is also a great hair stylist!
Mako is such a fun coaster--a great addition to an already incredible park!
Thanks again to SeaWorld Orlando for hosting us today--we really love Mako and can't wait to see what is next in store for this incredible park!
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
DILinator wrote:Something to consider regarding your comparison of B&M to RMC... Parks build their coasters with GP in mind, not coaster enthusiasts, or intensity snobs (hey, a new term!). As much as I personally love a coaster like Storm Chaser, or The Voyage (not an RMC, but a very intense coaster), a ride of that intensity is not going to be as popular, particularly for repeated riding, as a smooth, if unimaginative B&M. Heck, one of my recent trips to Cedar Point with some co-workers, they ended up bailing on me in line for Maverick, for multiple reasons, but one of which was its intensity being more than they were willing to take at that point in the day (it was towards the end of the day.) For a thrill park like Six Flags, or even hopefully Cedar Point, an RMC is a nice addition to their lineup of coaster experiences! For a park like Sea World, however, where the coasters are secondary to the main attraction of the animals, reliability, smoothness, and an easy to digest re-ride for the GP is what they're going to go for, and their repeated choice to go with B&M is evidence of that!
Now this makes a lot of sense - good comments and totally agree. Well Said.
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