Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Things To Do

SeaWorld to revamp Kraken coaster with virtual reality headsets

As if plunging 150 feet down a floorless coaster isn't scary enough, SeaWorld has announced that its Kraken roller coaster will be retrofitted next year with virtual reality headsets to make riders feel like they are undersea being chased by mythical monsters.

It was part of an announcement from SeaWorld Entertainment about upgrades at parks across the country as the company continues to struggle with attendance and backlash from the documentary Blackfish.

Kraken will be Florida's first digitally-enhanced ride experience by the summer of 2017, the Orlando theme park announced.

"Guests will embark on a deep sea mission alongside sea creatures inspired by extinct and legendary animals of the past, including the mighty Kraken," a SeaWorld news release said.

Riders on Kraken will have the option of putting on the virtual reality headsets, which will be attached to the roller coaster and cover eyes and ears. Riders will hear music composed for the ride and see specially prepared images of the fictional Kraken and other animals.

Virtual reality has been popping up in theme parks across the country recently. Universal Orlando added a virtual reality attraction for Halloween Horror Nights as a separate ticket called "The Repository."

SeaWorld Entertainment said the company is spending $175 million on new attractions in the next year as it battles to stem a decline in attendance brought about by a backlash from killer whale shows. The company has seen a more than 33 percent drop in stock prices and last week announced it would stop paying dividends.

Other changes coming to the Orlando theme park are:

• SeaWorld's Dolphin Nursery will become more interactive in summer 2017, giving visitors up-close views of mother and baby dolphins at multiple levels. New digital displays will allow educators to share information on dolphin behavior, biology and conservation with guests through interactive video.

• Seven Seas Festival: The park's music and food events will expand to 14 weekends in 2017, featuring new culinary offerings inspired by street foods from Asia, the Caribbean, South America and the Mediterranean.

• Flamecraft Bar: This new bar will feature 16 seasonal craft brews and a new menu.

• Electric Ocean: A new, end-of-the-day event will offer guests a different kind of fun after dark. As the sun goes down, the ocean will come to life with bioluminescent lighting, music and pathway entertainment.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] Follow @SharonKWn.

Comments
Performances, songwriting get ‘Waitress’ from serviceable to filling — plus, there’s actually pie

Performances, songwriting get ‘Waitress’ from serviceable to filling — plus, there’s actually pie

TAMPA — A lonely and changeable sky illuminates the top of the stage through most of Waitress, running this week at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The neon lettering of Joe’s Diner reflects days and nights that don’t differ en...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Yelp search results reflect racist stereotype that Asian restaurants serve cat and dog

Yelp search results reflect racist stereotype that Asian restaurants serve cat and dog

A strange thing happened when typing "dog menu" into the restaurant ratings website and app Yelp. It automatically generated suggested searches. There were dog massage, hot dogs, pet groomers. Also: "dog meat." But it got more disturbing. Take Yelp...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Top things to do this week in Tampa Bay: Jeff Dunham, Victor Wooten and Sinbad perform jazz

Top things to do this week in Tampa Bay: Jeff Dunham, Victor Wooten and Sinbad perform jazz

PUPPET MASTER: Jeff DunhamCelebrated ventriloquist Jeff Dunham is no dummy. The record-breaking comedy superstar sells out arenas around the world, bringing along his ill-behaved puppets including grouchy Walter, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, redneck Bu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

NOW OPEN: TEX-MEX CHAIN CHUY’SThe Austin, Texas-based Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opened its first Tampa restaurant on Tuesday, giving away free Chuy’s for two for a year to the first 50 customers. I know, we missed it, it’s a bummer, but we can still visit...
Updated: 1 hour ago
We tried the new restaurants at Tampa International Airport, and we're full

We tried the new restaurants at Tampa International Airport, and we're full

When Tampa International Airport debuted in 1971, each terminal had a newsstand and a snack bar, called something kicky like Snack Bar.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Fleetwood Mac coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Fleetwood Mac coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Before Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham came to Ruth Eckerd Hall last fall, Buckingham said Fleetwood Mac was mapping out a tour for 2018 and beyond. And he fully expected to be a part of it."Fleetwood Mac is absolutely a dysfunctional family, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
This week’s best concerts: Flo Rida, Queens of the Stone Age, Bay 2 Beach Festival and more

This week’s best concerts: Flo Rida, Queens of the Stone Age, Bay 2 Beach Festival and more

ROCK ROYALTY: Queens of the Stone AgeWhen Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme got in trouble recently for kicking a photographer at a show, local fans might have seen it coming. During a gig here in 2014, a fan got up on stage and tried to gree...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jobsite cues up ‘1984,’ ‘50 Shades’ parody’s Danielle Trzcinski premieres ‘Little Black Dress’

Jobsite cues up ‘1984,’ ‘50 Shades’ parody’s Danielle Trzcinski premieres ‘Little Black Dress’

MINISTRY OF JOBSITE: 1984When selecting an adaptation for George Orwell’s 1984 (there have been a few of them), Jobsite Theater had to strike the most controversial one off the list. That version by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan ran for 125 perfor...
Updated: 1 hour ago
B-52s’ 40th anniversary tour includes Tampa stop

B-52s’ 40th anniversary tour includes Tampa stop

The B-52s are celebrating the band's 40th anniversary with a summer tour alongside Boy Culture and Culture Club as well as Tom Bailey of The Thompson Twins. The tour includes a June 30 stop at Tampa's USF Sun Dome.That's a pretty strong bill for anyt...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Meet the man who wrote ‘Conjunction Junction’ and other ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ songs that stick in your head

Meet the man who wrote ‘Conjunction Junction’ and other ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ songs that stick in your head

Anyone whose childhood began in or after the early 1970s probably knows at least one or two Schoolhouse Rock! songs, the ones that taught children multiplication tables, civics lessons and basic grammar. In fact, reading that sentence probably has yo...
Updated: 3 hours ago