Rollercoaster Manta soars above a teeming saltwater aquarium

As part of its marketing for its newest attraction -- the flying rollercoaster called Manta -- SeaWorld Orlando provided these facts about the ride and the grotto/aquarium that is part of it. The thrill ride's grand opening is scheduled May 24, just in time for Memorial Day.

THE ROLLERCOASTER

• In the flying coaster, the seats rotate horizontally, putting riders in a soaring, face-down position.

• Manta speeds riders through four showcase inversions, including two in-line spins, one flat spin and one pretzel loop. Specially crafted rails make Manta one of the world's smoothest coasters.

• Manta's speeding train and guests in the queue line are separated only by a waterfall -- Manta on one side, and waiting guests on the other. In line, visitors will feel the punch of air as the train flies past at highway speeds. On the ride, guests will gasp as they dart within 2.5 feet of the gushing water.

• Manta's height requirement is 54 inches. In comparison, the biggest manta ray ever seen measured nearly 20 feet across.

• If Manta's track was flat — with no loops, twists, turns or brakes — a single train would probably coast for nearly 2 miles after its initial 113-foot drop.

• Vehicle wing span: 12 feet

• Length of train: 72 feet, 2 inches

• Weight per train: 33,100 pounds when empty

• Wiring per train: 2,524 feet

• Number of trains: 3

• Track length: 3,350 feet

• Maximum height: 140 feet

• Maximum drop: 113 feet

• Top speed: 56 miles per hour

• Weight of steel used: 2,772,600 pounds

• Number of bolts used: 12,186

• Manta's first drop provides all the power the flying coaster needs to speed for the next 3,000-plus feet, even through multiple loops, inversions and twists.

• All of Manta's track was forged and created in Ohio and trucked to SeaWorld on 18-wheelers.

• The final piece of track put into place was numbered 72, and according to SeaWorld's team, it "fit like a glove."

• SeaWorld's experts sought the expertise of Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) of Monthey, Switzerland, to help them create the Manta experience. Known as the best coaster crafters in the world, B&M also have helped to create several other Worlds of Discovery coasters: Kraken at SeaWorld; SheiKra, Montu and Kumba at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay; and Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

• According to a recent poll from Amusement Today, 20 of the top 50 steel roller coasters were created by B&M, and four in the top 10.

• The company currently has more than 70 coasters rolling throughout the world.

THE AQUARIUM

• Total number of aquariums: 10

• Size: Nearly 250,000 gallons, more than 2,800 square feet

• Water temperature: 45 to 78 degrees

• A pop-up aquarium allows smaller guests to "pop up" in the middle of this aquarium, surrounding themselves with hundreds of fish.

• Overhead aquariums, part of the massive ray habitat, features a 220-square-foot viewing panel where guests will find hundreds of rays schooling over their heads.

• Viewing panels: Up to 6-inches-thick acrylic

• Total weight of panels: Nearly 55,000 pounds

• Weight of largest panel: Nearly 16,000 (overhead aquarium)

• 71,000 pounds of salt are in the clear water of Manta's fish habitats. That's about equal to 586,000 2-ounce salt shakers you might find on your dinner table.

• The total weight of the water in Manta's habitats is about 2,125,000 pounds, as much as 150 killer whales or about as much as an empty space shuttle.

• Manta's 3,000 fish and rays eat almost 300 pounds of food each day. In comparison, Shamu eats close to that each day, too.

THE MARINE LIFE

• 300 rays can be found in Manta's huge all-around-you aquarium.

• While there are more than 400 species of rays found throughout the world, eight species are showcased at Manta. They include cownose, spotted eagle, roughtail, southern, shark ray, giant guitarfish, white blotched river ray and ocellate river rays.

• Rays are found in waters all over the world, including both saltwater and freshwater.

• A school of rays is called a "fever."

• Most rays bear live young in litters of five to 15 rays.

• Leafy and weedy sea dragons have built-in camouflage — "leafies" have long, leaf-like protrusions that cover their body while "weedies" have less flamboyant appendages and are red with yellow spots.

• Sea dragons also have an unusual method of travel, propelling themselves using tiny pectoral fins on the ridges of their necks and a dorsal fin on their backs.

• Sea dragons and seahorses differ in the way they carry their young. Male sea dragons carry up to 250 eggs on the underside of their tail, while male seahorses rear their young in a pouch.

• More than 2,500 exotic fish dart through crystal-clear waters, creating a whirlpool of color inside Manta's immense aquariums. Manta's aquariums are teeming with angelfish, cardinalfish, butterflyfish, clownfish, pipefish and damselfish, to name a few.

• Clownfish have the ability to switch gender. If a reproducing female dies, the mating male switches gender to ensure a reproductive partner for the community.

• A giant Pacific octopus creeps along the interior of Manta's saltwater habitat, staking its claim as the ambassador for the largest octopus species in the world.

• Pacific octopuses are generally reddish-brown in color, though they can use skin pigment cells to change color and texture, sometimes quite quickly.

• Giant octopuses have highly developed brains and are rather skilled at puzzles, opening jars and even leaving their enclosures to look for food.

• Giant octopuses' arms and suckers are very strong. It's been estimated that 40 pounds of force is needed to release the grip of a 3-pound octopus.

• The female can lay up to 100,000 eggs at a time. Very few survive to maturity.

Rollercoaster Manta soars above a teeming saltwater aquarium 05/18/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 18, 2009 12:12pm]

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