SeaWorld Orlando is rounding the bend on its construction of Pipeline, a surfing-inspired roller coaster going up near the entrance of the theme park. No opening date has been announced, but SeaWorld says it will be ready for riders sometime this spring.
Members of the media were invited on a hard-hat tour of the Pipeline site this week. It was hosted by Clint Brinker, vice president of design and engineering for SeaWorld attractions in Orlando. Here are five impressions from beyond the wall.
Pipeline riders start off strong with a straightaway that moves up into the peak of the coaster — a segment called the Hammerhead wave turn — at 60 mph, Brinker says. That’s followed by a water encounter and inversion. Remember, passengers aren’t seated for this attraction.
“There are a lot of thrills right off the bat,” Brinker says.
The site had a big crew of workers during the walk-through, and there’s plenty of unfinished business still to do. But standing amid the rails, it was easy to imagine the future. Visitors use the walkway beneath Pipeline, which runs from the entrance near Flamecraft Bar and connects to Bayside Stadium. (Workers were installing netting during the hard-hat tour.)
This area, before the construction phase, was used for festivals and seasonal events such as Halloween Spooktacular. But some days it has been closed off altogether or shut down in the mornings.
“This is a much better activation of the space in the park” and it will be open all day, all year, Brinker says. “We do continue to have our temporary events and festivals. so this will get utilized for that as well.”
Here’s how Brinker describes the coaster’s travels.
“You launch out of the station immediately with an airtime moment, up to 60 miles an hour. We’ll go over Hammerhead wave turn at 110 feet, all the way in the back. And your car [goes] left and right as you plunge down into our water feature here, which will splash up with lighting effects. You curl right into our one inversion here at the wave curl. After that, we’ll have cutbacks, making figure-eights all the way back to the station,” he says.
The ride experience takes 110 seconds and includes five airtime moments, SeaWorld says.
Surfing and beach culture pervade the area, even while on the ride. The trains are designed to look like big, wide surfboards, and riders will be in upright positions while in motion.
This sort of bent-knee/bouncing sensation will be achieved through the “seat,” which adjusts up and down to match individual passengers. There are overhead restraints for each person.
“The ride is personalized to your height. You stand in your neutral natural position, and our operators will set the ride to your height,” Brinker says. “That will give you a little bit of up-and-down free motion as you ride the ride.”
The height requirement for Pipeline is 54 inches.
The coaster was announced in October, and the ride vehicle was unveiled during IAAPA Expo in November.
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So, when we think of a coaster’s airtime, we usually think of being lifted up out of our seats. With Pipeline, the air will be underfoot.
“The dynamics of the ride are going to dictate that you will kind of float up and down a little bit,” Brinker says. “But you have a nice amount of freedom, both in the up and the down limits. So every rider will have some freedom.”
That freedom also means ride experiences should vary on every trip, he says.
Could passengers lift their knees and go fetal or do a one-legged flamingo-style stance in keeping with a beachy theme?
“I imagine some riders will lift their feet, while it’s not encouraged,” Brinker says.
“This is such a unique, one-of-a-kind roller coaster. I can’t wait to experience it because even I don’t know what it’s going to feel like,” he says.
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