On June 9th, Orlando United were guests of SeaWorld to experience Mako, Orlando’s tallest, fastest, and first hyper coaster. Designed by Bolliger & Mabillard of Switzerland, SeaWorld’s newest coaster stands 200 feet tall and reaches speeds of up to 73mph. B&M have designed the best coasters in Orlando, including Manta and Kraken located right at SeaWorld.
…And what is a hyper coaster? They are known for high speeds and steep drops and hills that create a feeling of weightlessness or “air time.”
Mako is named after the shortfin mako shark, the fastest species of shark. According to Brian Morrow, VP of Theme Park Experience and Creative, the idea, conception and design of Mako only took 3 weeks before approaching the higher-ups for the O.K. to move ahead and get to work. The idea of the coaster is to simulate the speed of the shark as he hunts for his prey, as the Mako’s hunting style is very streamlined and fast.
The shark theme starts with the entrance where guests pass by large shark sculptures and a destroyed ship bow. The queue switchbacks as if we were the Mako shark itself, searching for food under a dock and the shipwreck. The last parts of the queue and station building take place in the shipwreck, with the boarding area featuring projections of mako sharks passing overhead. A short musical score blasts as each Mako train sets off to go up the lifthill. Simple and it gets the work done, but we hope they add some more cooling elements to help us land lubbers beat the Florida heat.
The coaster itself is an out and back B&M hyper-coaster with clam shell restraints similar to those featured on Diamondback at Kings Island and Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Garden’s Williamsburg. The ride experience itself is smooth and airtime driven; and the clamshell restraints allow for more movement than a traditional lap bar or over the shoulder restraints (like those featured on Kraken). If you want to maximize airtime, the back row is definitely where it’s at. For speed junkies, front row will be more to your liking. We personally felt that Mako is SeaWorld’s best coaster and a great addition to their already stellar coaster line-up – especially since it brings a hyper coaster to Orlando finally.
With the addition of Mako, SeaWorld took the opportunity to also expand and re-design the rest of the surrounding areas, including the Shark Encounter and the shops. Shark Underwater Grill still offers the same great ambiance and menu as before, but now features a more prominent marquee sign. Shark Encounter now features a more direct entrance, and SeaWorld has updated the tanks and lighting inside. To our understanding, there are more plans to revitalize this area down the road. Guy Harvey fans will fall in love with Mako’s shops as much of the merchandise is based on several of his artwork pieces that tie-in with Mako.
SeaWorld’s partnership with Guy Harvey goes beyond merchandise however, as Mako is not just for thrills – but an opportunity to promote conservation and shark awareness. In addition, SeaWorld has also partnered with The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) and Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) to raise awareness of these important issues, and collaborate on science and research to increase understanding of how to better protect these critical predators and their habitats. One of the neat features of Mako is while you’re waiting in the queue, a live feed is connected to GHOF data that keeps stats of tagged Mako sharks – such as showing their travel patterns.
To further their message of Shark conservation, the new Shark Wreck Reef realm features various set pieces themed to coral and shipwrecks that contain several interactive learning stations so guests can discover how different species are classified and what sharks like to eat. The exhibits dispel myths about sharks, including how few people are killed each year in shark attacks compared to other natural dangers. The stations also explain how human behaviors are threatening some sharks to the point of extinction. Sharks are hunted for their fins — considered a delicacy in certain countries — and thousands are accidentally caught by long fishing lines and in commercial nets.
“As we designed and built this new realm, the educational component was a top priority,” said SeaWorld President Donnie Mills. “We want guests to leave excited and exhilarated by what they experienced here, and we also want them to leave inspired by what they learned here. Sharks are in peril throughout the world and we can all do something about that — that’s our message.”
With SeaWorld offering great admission deals, live entertainment, a new manatee exhibit, fireworks, and Mako – we believe SeaWorld is a must-hit this summer, especially with Summer of Mako just getting started! Check out our images from our visit below!
Shark Wreck Reef: