SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Florida, USA
I confess, this may as well just be a ride review of Mako seeing as it and Kraken were the only rides I rode, with one lap apiece, but hopefully you'll still find this worth reading.
My fiancée and I were invited to join another couple who are good friends of ours for a few hours at SeaWorld during the passholder bring-a-friend-free promotion. We've talked about getting passes of our own, but with the wedding coming up and her and I hitting up Disney regularly (she's a Cast Member and I'm a passholder), we decided to hold off until we get a better idea of how much use we'd actually get out of the passes. Our friends were really sweet to offer though and my fiancée and our friends all knew I'd been itching to finally ride Mako, and so the chance finally came.
A very brief closure due to lightning in the area led us to walk through the shark exhibit beforehand, but soon enough, Mako was back up and running. The wait was a bit lengthy (maybe a little over half an hour?), but soon enough, we found ourselves getting ready to ride in the front row, which was what all my coaster geek friends down here told me was the money spot.
I have to say that if I could only ride one style of coaster for the rest of my life, I'd probably pick the B&M speed coaster. While some of them tend toward the mild side, others are among the best, if not the best, coasters I've ever ridden. Mako itself was a solid addition to that lineup. I tend to group the speed coasters in tiers in terms of my view on their quality, from the mild (Apollo's Chariot, Raging Bull) to the good (Diamondback, Behemoth), the great (Intimidator, Goliath OG, Nitro), and finally, the legendary (Silver Star, Leviathan, and my all-time favorite coaster, Fury 325). I'd put Mako either towards the top of the good or the bottom of the great. It felt like the design was built around the concept of taking the rider through a history of B&M speed coaster design. The first turn was sort of a combination of Nitro's dive-bomber drop in terms of hang-time and the kind of overbank seen on the gigas as far shaping. The far turnaround was very similar to Silver Star's, which was a plus because those turns are pretty much about speed and not much else and Silver Star's turnaround allowed the train to hold a higher speed throughout than the more prevalent hammerheads do. There was also a great speed hill right before the midcourse (like Leviathan's, only without the turn), and that was easily the highlight moment of the ride for me. The last sort of throwback maneuver was a turn designed to behave like an airtime hill similar to those experienced on Fury 325, with a nice burst of air while the train banked off to the right. Interspersed were a number of other airtime hills which delivered the standard floater air we've all come to know and love from B&Ms.
The combination of elements was definitely interesting, feeling both familiar on an individual basis while feeling a bit evolved when combined together. The ride is really quite good and a nice reprieve from the inversion powerhouses of the other two B&Ms at the park, but if I must find fault with the ride, it was that, at least based on my one lap, it wasn't overly intense. It seems that intensity with B&M speed coasters comes and goes with the phases of their design, and while the gigas seemed to herald an era of B&M pushing things to the limit with their gigas like they did in the good old days of their looping coasters, Mako was more of a throwback to the Cedar Fair trilogy in terms of intensity, even if the layout was more interesting. It also felt like the airtime turn after the midcourse was pretty much the last burst of energy the ride had, although it isn't like it had much track left to go. Essentially, the ride didn't end at the midcourse, which was nice.
To wrap up my thoughts on Mako, it's a great decision and it's awesome to have a ride like that in this town. Inversions have been the name of the game for years on all the really major steel coasters in this state, so Mako filled an excellent niche. I have to wonder if maybe adding the weight of another car or two to the train (it's an uncommonly short seven-car train) might have given it the oomph it needed to become the stuff of legends, but even with its shortcomings, it's still a fantastic ride.
Figuring we only had time for one more ride, we decided on Kraken. We took the back row on this one. Kraken is probably the only floorless coaster I've ridden where I prefer the back to the front. I suppose it's because the ride is really built around its inversions which tend to be very vertical in nature with little in the way of transitional maneuvers between them and the only two drops coming after the lift hill and the midcourse which, given that it's preceded by a swooping turn instead of just a hill, has no airtime on the way into it, thereby meaning that the only way to get air is to start working one's way back in the train. It's certainly a solid ride and one of Orlando's best coasters.
As it turned out, we could've made it into the line for Manta shortly before the park closed, but we opted to just call it a day. It was nice visit, and I think that as SeaWorld continues to add attractions (the VR is going to be a giant step in the wrong direction, though, at least in my opinion), they should hopefully be able to make more of a name for themselves than arguably a tag-on park for visitors to Disney and Universal. As it is, I could visit once in a blue moon and still be plenty satisfied even with their quality B&M lineup.
I had a really nice time, but I feel like I should like the park more. On top of being a really nice place, it's one of the easiest parks in town to get into and out of quickly. As silly as it probably is of me, though, I think it's their poor operations that turn me off from the place. The park isn't obligated to give me the chance to power-ride their coasters by any means, but my issue is that a ride like Kraken shouldn't have a wait reaching ten minutes when only waiting maybe three trains, especially when loose articles like bags are already in lockers. There were two people checking trains, with the one on the load side curiously being the one responsible for going over to the exit to check the Quick Queue paperwork. Both coasters were running two trains, and quite honestly, that was the only reason Mako didn't stack every single time, but still, they're just painfully slow at that park. Even my fiancée noticed that the trains should've been moving quick. Shoot, Fury 325 often hits interval with three trains, and that's with items being left in the station, seatbelts on the trains, and an extra car on each train. For parks as high-end as the Busch Gardens/SeaWorld parks (slow ops have been a staple of the four I've visited), I'm amazed that they aren't more efficient at capacity. I've just noticed that when I go places with really bad ride crews, it makes me less inclined to want to go back because it makes what should be quick on-and-off experiences seem labored. A thirty-minute wait with trains getting cranked out is fine. A thirty-minute wait that should be half of that is a turnoff in my eyes, though.
In summation, despite poor operations, SeaWorld is blessed with a great roller coaster collection, and Mako was a simply brilliant addition to the park's lineup. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go back and sample more parts of the train to form a more informed opinion on it, but it's still a very good ride that's worth checking out on your next Orlando visit!
Nice report. I have driven down Central Florida Parkway many times this summer and can't wait to get there and get some laps on Mako. I have been waiting for the weather to break just enough so I can at least get through an hour before I start to sweat. We should be there soon!
As for operations, your thoughts are the exact same reason why I don't enjoy my trips to Busch Gardens Tampa more. Beautiful park, stellar rides, but operations bad enough that have made me not invest in passes for many, many years.
It's funny you mention all the drives by it. I hated driving down 528 for the sole reason that I didn't want to keep looking over at it, knowing I wouldn't be sure when I'd finally get around to it. Honestly, if B&M speed coasters weren't my favorite type of coaster, I doubt I'd have even minded that much, but it's just such an enticing ride.
I too have been up very close to this coaster. From the wrong side of the fence. I stay at the Doubletree Seaworld occasionally for work and have twice walked out to watch the ride from the sidewalk by the small lake. It looks amazing and I'd love to ride it.
Why haven't I gone in? The problem is I'm only ever at the hotel for maybe 17-18 hours or so, so I cannot justify the cost of entry for only 5 hours or so. I'm probably there enough to justify a low tier season pass, but so far the days I've been have either been steady downpour, or Labor Day.
Thanks for the TR though, it just makes me appreciate the view from my hotel room that much more.
I hung on the fence for part of a day last November. I parked at a Friday's? Applebees? something... across the street and walked along. The ride was only partially built, but I could see it was going to be good.
The weird thing was being on that side of the fence. When you're in the park there's an environment planned and built for the coaster and you feel like your immersed (somewhat). During the bulk of the ride, however, you're along side a road and if you look you can see a strip with a gas station. (And Tommy's hotel). I noticed the road when I road Kraken years ago, but now that area is even more built up.
I guess you'll have that in Orlando where every time I visit things seem to have gotten closer and tighter. More things.
"Suburban" Kissimmee astounded me with how many subdivisions and strip malls have appeared since I was last that way.
If you're gonna stay on that block, at least go to Mellow Mushroom, instead of Microwave Friday's. The Thai Dye pizza will change your life.
Mako is likely my favorite of the B&M hypers I've been on, and easily the best coaster in Florida. Lots of fun, for sure. Perfect ride for the park.
I had never heard of Mellow Mushroom until a few months ago and now I feel like I am the only one in town who has never tried it. I did recently try Lazy Moon Pizza for the first time, which is out by UCF, and it was pretty fantastic.
We have one or two here in Columbus, but I never tried it until I was in Pigeon Forge last spring. It was late, I was one of a handful of customers, and I didn't think it was all that good. Maybe I should give it another try, a lot of people swear by it.
You must be logged in to post