2017 IAAPA Attractions Expo Recap - Seaworld Rolls Out New Coasters for 2018

ARTIST ILLUSTRATION 2017 ©SEAWORLD PARKS

SeaWorld to Roll Out Several New Attractions in 2018, Including Intamin’s ‘Infinity Falls’ Raft Ride in Orlando

by Scott Fais

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment made a splash with Intamin during IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017 when debuting the ride vehicle for “Infinity Falls.” Members of the press stood shoulder to shoulder for a front-row spot as the curtain dropped on the next generation of raft ride.

“There has been nothing else like this,” said Mike Denninger, vice president of theme park development for SeaWorld. He said “Infinity Falls” will inspire guests to “play with purpose” at the park and then make earth-friendly choices following their visits. The mantra is at the heart of the new “Park to Planet” initiative SeaWorld will roll out nationwide in 2018. 

“We are on a mission, and it’s big—but not impossible,” says the announcer in the “Park to Planet” commercial. The new initiative ends with the messaging, “See it here. Save it there.” Already, SeaWorld Chief Marketing Officer Denise Godreau said the message is seeing traction from its limited release in Southern California. Ace Metrix named “Park to Planet” the “Breakthrough Ad” for the third quarter in 2017. The ad outperformed every other from a hospitality company since 2010.

“Infinity Falls” will play a role in “Park to Planet.” Denninger said: “It’s more than just coming to the park and doing some rides and shows. There’s a purpose behind your visit—we’re going to connect you with our world.”

SeaWorld worked with Intamin to establish a 42-inch height requirement, allowing younger children to ride. The new vehicle sits eight riders in a new seating configuration, while maintaining flush loading like that found on a roller coaster. With a capacity of 1,200 riders an hour, the 15 rafts feature a smaller circumference than other Intamin river raft rides.

“The smaller rafts deliver a more dynamic experience,” said Intamin’s Sandor Kernacs.

The ride begins with rafts slowly navigating a channel, passing live flamingos living nearby, before heading under a rain curtain and navigating rapids of increasing size. Kernacs estimated his company has made nearly 100 rapids rides since AstroWorld built the first rapids ride, “Thunder River,” in 1980. In 2018, Kernacs believes “Infinity Falls” will include the most elements ever.

Of the three lifts on the ride, the vertical elevator-style lift will be the most visible before riders plunge down a 40-foot incline and into a channel 15 feet below grade. 

“We are committed to delivering fun and meaningful experiences,” said Godreau.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will open seven attractions and two parades in 2018, along with expanding events like the “Electric Ocean” nightly party and adding a Three Kings Day celebration at SeaWorld Orlando in January.

ARTIST ILLUSTRATION 2017 ©SEAWORLD PARKS

"Oscar's Wacky Taxi," a new family wooden coaster debuting at Sesame Place, is one of seven attractions SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will open in 2018. (Credit: SeaWorld Parks)

Besides “Infinity Falls,” “Oscar’s Wacky Taxi,” a new family wooden coaster from The Gravity Group will debut at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Busch Gardens Williamsburg will open “Battle For Eire—Action VR Ride.” The attraction from Falcon’s Creative Group blends a motion-based theater simulator with 360-degree virtual reality headsets. “Electric Eel,” a 150-foot-tall launched coaster from Premier Rides, is headed to SeaWorld San Diego. Aquatica Orlando will open “Ray Rush” next year; the water slide from WhiteWater will stand nearly 60 feet tall and include launched portions, an elevated translucent sphere, and an open-air halfpipe. In the meantime, Aquatica in San Diego will debut “Taumata Racer,” a six-lane, mat-racing slide. “Vantage Point” is already under construction at Adventure Island in Tampa, Florida. The floor under guests in this pair of SkyBox slides from ProSlide will disappear, sending riders almost straight down along a 455-foot-long drop. 

Anthony Esparza, chief creative officer for SeaWorld, confirmed a new “realm” headed to the Orlando park based on the characters of Sesame Street. The children’s area will replace Shamu’s Happy Harbor at an undisclosed date.

www.seaworldentertainment.com