The Jet Ski-style Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster will open at SeaWorld San Antonio in 2017. // © 2016 SeaWorld Parks
Feature image (above): The virtual reality Kraken coaster will thrill guests at SeaWorld Orlando in 2017. // © 2016 SeaWorld Parks
2017 will be one of the largest new attraction years in SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s 50 plus-year history, with brand new rides, shows and events at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks from coast to coast.
“We are extremely excited with the scope and depth of the new attractions and events coming to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks in 2017,” said Joel Manby, president and CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “In developing new experiences, we want guests to have fun but also be inspired, and our parks are uniquely suited to create meaningful and fun vacations.”
The first wooden coaster will open at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in the spring of 2017, bringing the park’s collection of coasters to eight. InvadR will take riders through a wooded terrain and underground tunnel and will feature a more than 70-foot drop and nine airtime hills. The ride features a theme of a battle between a band of invading Vikings and villagers.
Kraken Virtual Reality Roller Coaster
SeaWorld will introduce its first digitally enhanced ride experience, as the legendary Kraken roller coaster at SeaWorld Orlando is transformed into a virtual reality (VR) experience, the only VR coaster in Florida. Guests will embark on a one-of-a-kind adventure alongside sea creatures — including the mythological kraken, of course — and the use of new VR headsets that are integrated mechanically and electronically into the coaster train will elevate this fan-favorite attraction to a whole new level of excitement.
In summer 2017, SeaWorld San Diego will debut Ocean Explorer, a 3-acre land that combines aquariums, rides and digital technologies. The area’s theme will focus on exploration and adventure and is intended to engage guests in an interactive experience while inspiring them to help protect our oceans. Ocean Explorer will offer five family-friendly rides, including a wave swing ride through thousands of real bubbles, and the area’s signature attraction: Submarine Quest, a global expedition to protect undersea animals onboard mini-submarines. At the heart of Ocean Explorer will be specially designed aquariums with interactive displays to showcase unique ocean animals such as giant octopuses and moray eels, as well as two crab species that are new to SeaWorld San Diego — huge spider crabs and spiny king crabs.
Also at SeaWorld San Diego next summer, and followed by SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio by 2019, the company will introduce new orca encounters to replace the previous theatrical orca shows. As part of an ongoing commitment to educate guests about marine animals, these live documentaries will focus on orca behavior in the wild to inspire and educate guests about these complex creatures.
Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster
In the summer of 2017, visitors to SeaWorld San Antonio can experience the thrilling Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster, where riders will race alongside SeaWorld’s animal care team as they rescue animals in distress. Most of the coaster’s 2,600-foot-long track will be directly over water, creating the sensation that guests are speeding across the ocean. In addition, the coaster’s unique Jet Ski-style cars — the first of their kind in North America — will allow riders to lean into curves and experience two high-acceleration launches. While the new coaster is sure to thrill, it is also intended to bring awareness to SeaWorld’s efforts to help ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned animals, so the queue experience will tell the story of SeaWorld’s rescue efforts around the world.
A few of the exciting events that SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks also have planned for 2017 include Lunar New Year and Wild Days at SeaWorld San Diego; Just for Kids and Summer Nights at SeaWorld San Antonio; and Food & Wine Festival and Bier Fest at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. In addition, Seven Seas, the already popular music and food event at SeaWorld in San Diego and San Antonio, will be coming to SeaWorld Orlando in 2017.