My recent visit to Florida re-established my love of roller-coasters. My youngest has inherited the coaster-gene, so looks like I’ll have a coaster-buddy for some time to come.
As a result, I thought I would perhaps do a series of mini-reviews of coasters/rides I’ve been on over the years.
I’ll start with the newest coaster at Orlando at time of writing; Manta, at SeaWorld Orlando, which opened on 21 May 2009.
I rode this coaster on 6 July 2009, less than 2 months after opening. Unfortunately the height requirement ruled out my new buddy, so as a single rider, I braved the 40 minute queue in the baking sun.
The queuing was reasonably pleasant with a large part of it indoors in a sea-themed cavern with a very impressive built-in aquarium to keep you occupied while you wait. As seems to be common these days, the queue separated into ‘front row’ and ‘other’. At the risk of starting a heated debate I, in common with lots of other coaster-freaks, will opt for the back seat most of the time. You guys waiting an extra twenty minutes for a front seat? I laugh at you. In this instance, being a single-rider it was fairly simple to get to the back seat row and eagerly wait my turn.
Manta Vital Statistics
- Type of ride: Steel ‘flying’ coaster
- Height: 140 feet
- First drop: 113 feet
- Top speed: 56 mph
- Track length: 3359 feet
- Riders: 96 (3x trains, each with 8 rows of 4 seats)
- Ride time: 2:35 minutes**
- Inversions: 4
- Height requirement: 54 inches
- Opened: 21/05/2009
- Manufacturer: Bolliger and Mabillard, Monthey, Switzerland
For the uninitiated, a ‘flying’ coaster requires you to sit in a moulded seat, pull a fixed harness down over your front and clip it to the seat using a small belt/buckle. Your legs are then clamped in place using ankle cuffs, a bit like those seats where James Bond gets caught by the baddie. Before the coaster starts, the whole seat-row ensembles are rotated though 90 degrees and locked parallel to the track so you are facing the ground. The ‘Air’ coaster at Alton Towers, UK was my first ‘flying’ coaster some years ago.
The ride starts off with the usual ratchety climb to the impressive 140 feet peak and, as you climb you of course wave to the watching gallery below, since you’re facing downwards. The view of the park is as impressive as it is brief when the clacking sound stops and the weight of the coaster takes you over the apex of the climb. With a twist and a glide, the coaster hurtles down towards top speed and into the the first and main inversion, a full vertical loop with the trains on the inside, exerting substantial g-forces, pushing you back into your seat. At this point, you realise this ride is a bit special.
There are then a variety of twists and turns, including the next two inversions, both in an anti-clockwise corkscrew style before a mini-respite and a touch of brakes to slow us down for the more ‘scenic’ phase of the ride.
So, into a couple of twists, followed by a swoop over the pond where a wing-dip is simulated with a spray from the surface of the water and we head into our final clockwise corkscrew inversion to finish.
** The ‘official’ ride time includes the initial climb and final trail round to the start again, neither of which I think really count. Actual ride time, from the end of the climb to the ‘brakes on’ at the end is approx 1 minute.