I made a Twitter account for Watch Me Eat (@WatchMeEat) a few months ago. I didn't really understand what all of the buzz with Twitter was about. The whole Twitter thing seemed so pointless to me. I would post something about the blog, but I really don't think any of it was read. Today, that all changed and I found out the purpose of Twitter: To get on new roller coasters for free!
Somehow I found out about Sea World's Twitter account (@RealShamu) and through that, I wound up getting admission into a private after hours event at Sea World called Manta Madness to ride Manta a day before it opens to the public.
We got to Sea World at the instructed time and were lead into the park to the entrance of Manta.
Once at the ride, everyone was free to eat the food and drinks that were supplied. I thought I remembered hearing that when Anheuser Busch was sold, they removed all of the free alcohol from their parks. Apparently that doesn't apply to special events since they had this bar set up serving drinks. I went with an exotic Sierra Mist...
And then there was the table of food. It was filled with vegetable platters, assorted cheeses, tortilla and potato chips, crackers, and a really good artichoke cheese dip. The table of food was constantly getting refilled. It was really nice of Sea World to feed everyone...
While everyone was eating, the park president did a speech, and Manta was opened.
After I finished eating, I entered the line leading to Manta. It traveled under waterfalls:
And eventually the line led into an aquarium. I was kind of disappointed that Sea World didn't have any actual manta rays on display. I saw a few varieties of rays, but no mantas. I've only seen manta rays on display once before (at Atlantis in the Bahamas), and I was hoping for a ride named Manta, there would actually be manta rays on display. I hope this isn't a continuation of the dumbing down of the Orlando theme parks that I've been noticing over the past few years and hopefully Sea World will be getting some mantas to put on display once the ride officially opens. They had a connected aquarium that was closed, so maybe they have some manta rays in there.
And finally, for the ride itself. I've only been on one other flying coaster (Superman at Six Flags Great Adventure), and Manta is definitely a step above that. It starts out with it's unique loading where you get strapped into the very comfortable seats which then get pulled up backwards leaving you dangling. You proceed up the lift hill over a backstage area of the park. It would have been nice if this area was themed a little more, but what could you do. Soon, the train dropped down the first hill into a pretzel loop which started with some great airtime and then went directly into having everyone lying on their backs for a second or two of really intense g-forces. After leaving the pretzel, the ride got much more relaxing with the occasional twist as it zoomed around it's track. After the halfway block brakes, Manta got fun with lots of near misses. If you were on the the right side of the train, you got close enough to reach out and touch water in the ride's splash area. I actually liked the left side of the train as it seemed to come a bit too close to waterfalls, rockwork, and the ground in certain spots.
Manta is definitely a winner. I haven't decided where I would rank it yet in terms of Orlando's other roller coasters, but it does kind of have a monopoly now as the only flying coaster in the area.
I checked out some of the other Manta Madness postings that have popped up on the internet from this event, and I'm disappointed that I left before the T-Shirts were given out. I did get a Manta pin, but I would have loved a shirt.
Thank you Sea World for letting everyone in to ride Manta!