Florida Travel

SeaWorld goes virtual with a coaster ride among mythical sea creatures

On their virtual reality adventure, Kraken riders will encounter mythical creatures of the deep, including the ride’s namesake.
On their virtual reality adventure, Kraken riders will encounter mythical creatures of the deep, including the ride’s namesake. SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando has several vantage points where you can see the twists and loops of Kraken, a roller coaster named for a mythological creature of the deep. But imagine not being able to see any of that while you’re riding the coaster.

Instead of seeing Kraken’s loops and dives, the taller coaster nearby or the retention ponds below, it looks like you’re about to dive into … Is that a giant crack in the ocean floor?

In the spring, SeaWorld will retrofit the coaster with a virtual reality overlay. Kraken will have the same ride vehicles and follow the same course — a track that climbs to 150 feet and turns you upside down seven times — but guests will be wearing virtual reality headsets that will cut off their vision of the real world and immerse them in a scary tale of the deep that will last about 2 1/2 minutes. They might not even realize it when they’re upside down.

We are a lot smaller than the animals in this ocean, so we are the prey.

Brian Morrow, SeaWorld’s Deep Blue Creative

Kraken, SeaWorld’s oldest roller coaster, will become the first virtual reality coaster in Florida.

“You’ll go through a wormhole back in time,” exploring a prehistoric ocean beneath the roller coaster, said Brian Morrow, vice president of theme park experience and design at SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.

SeaWorld’s creative team, Deep Blue Creative, has already outfitted four seats on one of Kraken’s trains with the headsets, which are attached to a computer under the seat. The headset substitutes a 3-D vision of the world under the sea and cuts off some of the outside sound, but not so much that you won’t hear the person seated next to you scream, said Morrow, who rode it this month.

“What I didn’t expect is about halfway through, you forget you’re on a roller coaster,” he said. “You don’t know what’s coming up next.

Kraken, SeaWorld’s oldest roller coaster, will become the first virtual reality coaster in Florida.

“The idea is that when you put the headset on, it’s going to be like you’re on a submarine base on the edge of the ocean. You hear from the submarine commander … that there’s seismic activity under water.

“A crack opens in the sea floor,” Morrow says. “We’re going to go through it. We dive into the prehistoric ocean.” The coaster encounters prehistoric creatures including Kraken, the coaster’s namesake. It’s not a reassuring sight, Morrow says.

“We are a lot smaller than the animals in this ocean, so we are the prey.”

The transformed ride will debut next summer, 17 years after Kraken first opened. SeaWorld has not announced a specific date. The show is still being tweaked, then installation of the equipment will take four to six weeks.

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