ORLANDO, Fla. – The unveiling of SeaWorld Orlando’s new shark-inspired Mako roller coaster is still a month away, but park officials gave the media a behind-the-scenes look at the park’s newest addition Tuesday.
Mako, the park’s first new high-thrill ride in seven years, is being billed as the tallest, longest and fastest roller coaster in Orlando. It opens to park-goers June 10.
Mako, named after one of the fastest and most powerful sharks in the ocean, will be the centerpiece of the park’s Shark Wreck Reef. And it promises to be one of the more thrilling new attractions in the area this summer.
“The thrill ride matches perfectly with the predatory instincts of the shark itself,” said Bill Morrow, vice-president of theme park experience and design at SeaWorld Orlando. “It’s really what fans expect from us, rides that tell stories of the ocean in brand new and inventive ways.”
At its highest point, Mako will drop riders 200 feet from the initial lift and then hit speeds of 73 mph at the bottom of the first drop. The coaster features nearly a mile of steel track (4,760 feet) and has nine hills that give riders that “air time” — a sensation of flying or weightlessness — and numerous vertical curves. And to get the full effect of the coaster, riders will not be held back by shoulder restraints but instead will only have a lap bar to keep them secured in the car.
The idea is for riders to move as Mako moves while going through a habitat made to simulate the ocean with water at the surface of much of the roller coaster and an enclosure that is made to look like a shipwreck.
“It’s going to give our guests relentless air time, just like the Mako shark, up and down, up and down for that great roller coaster feeling,” Morrow said.
In addition to Mako, the educational component of the two-acre shark-themed area has been given an update, with displays offering information on shark conservation.
SeaWorld has been trying to repair its image in the wake of criticism following the 2013 release of the “Blackfish” documentary, about the company’s treatment of orca whales. The company recently entered into a partnership with the Humane Society of the United States and announced an end to orca breeding as part of efforts to repair its image.
The new ride was designed by Bolliger & Mabillard.