When SeaWorld’s Mako roller-coaster has its grand opening on June 10, it will mark the debut of Florida’s first hypercoaster. Tall, fast and smooth, its silhouette is distinctive for its series of very high hills and very simple turns — no loops, no inversions, no knots.
A hypercoaster is known for its air time, those moments of weightlessness, usually when the car is cresting a hill, that lift the rider out of the seat. Mako has nine such hills, the first a stomach-clenching 200 feet high, plus several other elements that will cause the same sensation of floating. Mike Denninger, senior director of rides and engineering for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, calls it “relentless air time.”
“We were looking for something new … and we quickly got to hypercoaster,” Denninger said, recounting a series of conversation deciding what SeaWorld’s next big attraction would be. “A hypercoaster has these great characteristics of speed and air time … We felt it would deliver something the park doesn’t have.”
I like to think of it as the purest ride coaster experience because it’s all about speed and air time.
Mike Denninger, senior director of rides and engineering for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, speaking about Mako
It’s a ride of superlatives, and that’s how SeaWorld is promoting it: as the fastest, tallest and longest roller coaster in Orlando (on Twitter, it’s #nothingfaster). Vital statistics: Mako is 200 feet tall; the track is 4,760 feet long (nine-tenths of a mile); and its speed tops out at 73 mph. Mako is named for one of the world’s fastest sharks.
Education also figured into the attraction. SeaWorld already has a walk-through shark aquarium, and the company’s zoologists and planners saw this as a teaching opportunity. “We said, ‘Sharks really are important, let’s find a way to connect people to sharks,’ ” Denninger said.
The new ride, the aquarium and an existing shark-themed restaurant are all tied together in what’s now called Shark Wreck Reef, where visitors will also learn about the plight of sharks and the risks that they face.
SeaWorld partnered with Guy Harvey, marine artist and conservationist, to educate the public about sharks through Mako and Shark Wreck Reef.
SeaWorld partnered with Guy Harvey, marine artist and conservationist, to educate the public about sharks through Mako and Shark Wreck Reef, and Harvey will paint a Mako mural for the attraction’s launch.
Manatee rehab: Last month, SeaWorld opened part of its manatee rehabilitation area for park guests to see. The behind-the-scenes wildlife rehab center, where manatees are a major part of the patient population, has long been available on a $29 tour, but now, viewing of the manatee area is included in park admission. A few permanent residents, too badly injured to survive in the wild, as well as temporary patients, can be viewed in big pools. Guests can also see their digital medical charts, interactive exhibits, an underwater viewing camera and videos of the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team in action.