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    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2016
    During my family's' annual trip to Tampa, FL, I was fortunate enough to do a last minute credit run at SeaWorld, Fun Spot America, and BGT before the end of 2016. As an added bonus, I was able to bring my good camera to a couple parks to get some photos for a review.

    SeaWorld Orlando

    For years and years I have wanted to go to SWO. Finally, I made a trip to ride Manta, Kraken, and Mako.

    We went on December 27th and arrived shortly before opening at 9am. The weather was nice and the park was too busy, which made for a pleasant experience.
    (As a note to anyone who is looking to hit up the SeaWorld parks in Florida, check out the multi park pass. The two day option gets you admission to SWO and BGT for about $55 each.)


    Manta is a very good B&M flyer. The theming around the coaster and queue was really cool to look at (even though it was a station wait). The splashdown was also really cool to watch as the train swoops down over the water. The coaster itself was smooth and graceful through every element. I rank manta as between Tatsu and the Superman Ultimate Flight clones in my experience. The ops were pretty swift and both sides of the station were operating shortly after opening.

    I absolutely love the way Manta's lift dominates this area of the park. You'll see that I went a little crazy with lift pictures.

    Also couldn't forget some nerd pics while I was there.

    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2016
    Of course I also got a shot with a train in it.

    Cool shot of the drop.

    I also love the way pretzel loops look. Especially the way Manta's peek over the trees.

    Also continuing the theme of Manta's lift, later in the day, I went to re ride Manta before heading out of the park. Unfortunately, Manta was down. I had a sinking feeling when I hadn't seen the ride cycle on the walk over from the Shamu Theater. My fears were confirmed when I rounded the corner and was greeted with this sight:

    Since I'm a coaster nerd like many of you, I decided to persuade the family to wait around and watch what was going on. While waiting, one of the mechanics happened to be watching from the ground. I asked what the deal was and he told me that while the ride was cycling empty trains, the chain dog did not fully engage with the chain and triggered a lift stop. As you will see in the photos below, the mechanics attached a pair of straps and chains to the train and ratcheted it up the lift by hand until the chain dog was fully engaged. Once that was complete, they put the evac elevator away and started cycling again. Not too long after that, the ride reopened and I was able to get another ride in.

    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2016


    Since The rest of my time at the park was a bit more busy, I only managed to snap a couple photos of Kraken. Overall, Kraken was a fun B&M floorless. I'd say that is one of the better floorless coasters I've been on. The layout is pretty cool with a nice arrangement of elements. Since Kraken is built over several service roads, the supports get pretty crazy. Unfortunately, Kraken had the worst ops of the day. I got in line just after the ride was coming up from some down time (protein spill) and made it to the station very quickly. The use of Quick Queue was the biggest source of slow ops. SeaWorld's Quick Queue works like Six Flags where there are certain rows dedicated to QQ only. (I hate this method with a passion). To add insult to injury, there were no groupers so seats were going empty left and right. Often pairs of seats right next to each other. A single rider line would help a lot in the case. On top of all that, the two attendants checking seats were moving slow and wasted time doing their visual scan.

    If anything in the park could have been improved, it was the ops by far.


    Last but certainly not least, Mako. Excellent, excellent, B&M hyper. Very smooth, strong air, and fun twisty sections. The drop is fantastic from the front and back rows, the overbank is really cool. The trim does grab a bit harder than anyone want's but certainly does not make the ride bad. The twisty finale section took me by surprise as well. The trains are even more beautiful in person, along with the excellent theming. One nerdy thing I noted was that there are no feed tires at the base of the lift like most modern B&M's have. Overall, I would put Mako just outside my top 10 at #11.

    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2016

    Fun Spot America

    I've also been wanting to go to Fun Spot and this trip provided an excellent opportunity to do so. Fun Spot is only about 20 minutes north of SWO. Since the park is a tiny family entertainment center, parking and admission are free. Fun Spot features two small coasters. Freedom Flyer, a Vekoma junior hang 'n' bang and White Lightning, a 70 foot GCI hybrid woodie. Of course White Lightning is the better ride, but since it only cost me $18 to ride both, I obliged.

    Freedom Flyer

    As I said above, Freedom Flyer is a Vekoma suspended family coaster. Knowing how Vekoma's older coasters ride, I was expecting to get beat up a bit. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The trains use lap bars which eliminate any headbanging. The seats themselves are comfortable as well. The ride is pretty simple, as to be expected of a family coaster, but still enjoyable. The best thing is the fact that the coaster goes right over the midway with no netting below. However, there was one issue I noted that wasn't the fault of Vekoma, VR. Fun Spot recently picked up the VR option for Freedom Flyer. Of course this slowed the ops way down. Even though only two rows were designated for VR, the goggles made dispatch cycles take forever. Other than that, the experience was good.

    Nerd shot once again.

    White Lightning

    What a fun little GCI this is. It's only 70ft tall, but still packs a punch. Nice air and wild turns. Also very smooth like most typical GCI's. The mini trains are also really cool and pretty comfy. The lighting along the railings also looks nice from outside the park.

    I liked this double up / double down hill.

    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2016

    Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

    Really the only reason I went back to BGT this year was to pick up the credit on Cobra's Curse. Having ridden everything else in the park, it was a pretty standard trip. Also, since it was a quick trip, I didn't take any pictures while I was there. Oh well.

    One big tip I would give to anyone visiting BGT on a busy day is to get to the park for rope drop. Since the park allows you to park and enter 30 minutes before actual opening, you can be in the park waiting at the rope for opening time. This means that you can set off for the coasters before a majority of other guests and catch the coasters in the front of the park while they are walk ons. Since the park is also laid out in a big loop, 98% of guests stay in the front end of the park for quite a while. Every time I've gone for opening, I get Cheetah Hunt, Montu, and (now) Cobra's Curse done all in about half an hour. Then, I suggest heading straight to the back of the park. When I got to Kumba, I had a private front row ride as literally the only person on the train. Then, work your way over to Sheikra. Since this dive coaster has good capacity, it handles the light crowds with ease. (I was the only person in the back row of the train).

    Cobra's Curse

    This Mack spinner is pretty straightforward. Nothing crazy or exceptional, but still a neat little ride. The elevator lift was cool as well as the backwards portion. The free spinning section was meh for me and kinda made me dizzy. The theming around the ride is exceptional and really fills out the Egypt section of the park. The continuous loading platform was also really cool. The trains never stop (unless there is a slow guest) and you step onto a moving conveyor belt to get into the train. Overall, a good addition to the park, but I'm still waiting for the next big thing.


    Here are a couple bonus photos of some downtown Orlando buildings.

    If you have any questions about the trip, feel free to ask away.
    • CommentAuthorBlaseRhine
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2016
    Funny to hear you were down here... Ill be down in Orlando till the 2nd with the girlfriend at Disney. Glad to hear you had fun and of course great pictures!
    Good trip report. Nice shot of Krakens drop, I hadn't really seen it from that angle before. I'm glad Manta reopened for you, when I was there last Manta wasn't even a thing!
    • CommentAuthorarktic2
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2016
    i live here in fl. lol. was at bgt lasdt wnedsday for 2 hours rode everything.
    When i went last late August Manta was only running the left station even with a ~40min wait. I don't think you rode JtA because you didn't include it here--i actually didn't ride it bc no time
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2017
    ^ I was going to ride Atlantis, but it's closed for the season.
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2017
    Just got back from a trip down there, picked up the Mako and CC creds as well! Interesting thing with manta, didn't know how they dealt with stuff like that