Brian Morrow, design director, talks about Manta-shaped coaster cars (left) as SeaWorld officials and media tour the construction site of the 'Manta' roller coaster at SeaWorld Orlando, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Currently strapped into the seats of the cars are the white, plastic test-ride dummies. The coaster is scheduled to open in May and will feature a Manta-ray theme coaster in which guests wil fly face-down in horizontal position.
SeaWorld Orlando guests might catch their first glimpses of the new Manta roller coaster in action next week when its three trains are tested on the rails already snaking through the theme park.
By midweek, the safety tests would get under way after 3 p.m. The trains, which seat 32 passengers apiece and are fronted by a 12-foot manta design overhead, are tucked away in a maintenance building on the site. Construction of Manta, an inverted flying roller coaster that incorporates an enormous aquarium in its queue at SeaWorld, is on track for its official opening May 22.
"It's like the homestretch for us; we're about 2½ months away from wrapping it up," said Brian Morrow, director of design and engineering, during a walk-through of the area Wednesday. The sea life — including 3,000 animals — will be moved into the aquarium in about three weeks, Morrow said. "We're putting in landscaping, so that's an indication that we're very far along in our attraction," he said.
Manta, very visible from the park entrance, will be a major addition just before a peak tourism season threatened by difficult economic times. The ride has been planned for years. "We just keep trucking ahead because we're really looking for this ride to be an important asset to SeaWorld Orlando," Morrow said.