SeaWorld begins its post-Shamu business model with Mako, below, the shark-inspired attraction that will be Orlando's highest, fastest and longest coaster when it opens on June 10.
After years of resisting pressures to do away with circus-like orca shows and breeding, SeaWorld made a reversal in March. The orcas living at SeaWorld parks will be the last. Joel Manby, the company's new CEO, pointed to Mako as an example of the kind of attraction this company in transition will feature: a thrill ride with an environmental message.
The coaster will be tall, fast and smooth, with a distinctive series of high hills, but no loops or inversions. The thrill of a hypercoaster is air time, or moments of weightlessness, that lift the rider out of the seat. At 200 feet tall and a top speed of 73 mph, Mako will give riders "relentless air time," said Mike Denninger, senior director of rides and engineering for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.
To fulfill Manby's promise to promote aquatic conservation, SeaWorld is partnering with marine biologist and wildlife artist Guy Harvey, right, to educate visitors in the queue line about shark research and preservation around the world.
The 2-acre realm of the park will now be fully themed around sharks. That includes Mako, the Shark Encounter and Sharks Underwater Grill, an upscale restaurant with underwater views of sharks swimming in their aquarium. Custom surround effects and musical scores will fill the area of the park, changing as the coaster dives through.
At night, specialty lights will accent the coaster trains and track, flickering and shimmering, simulating fish being scattered by a shark on the hunt. Mako sharks — also called "blue pointers" — are known for their top speed, extreme jumps and the ability to quickly change course as they pursue their prey.