Florida Guide > Sea World
Kraken - Sea World, Orlando
Sea World is a great place to start off a theme park holiday, since it is less busy and intense than the others and has a more relaxed feel about it. It is a celebration of aquatic life – mainly of the largest varieties – and is, effectively, a zoo with added attractions.
One of these, the newest, is one of Sea World’s only two thrill rides. A rollercoaster known as Kraken. Our first visit to Florida thus began with Sea World.
So there we were, an early start having avoided the queues that are such a feature of theme park Florida, mingling in one of Kraken's loading bays.
Feeling like a cartridge in a rifle magazine I conjured up uncomfortable statistics.
- ‘Speeds up to eighty miles an hours.’
- ‘Seven inverse loops.’
- ‘Highest/longest/steepest/fastest . . .’
No! I wasn’t really that keen. So why do it?
Well, I knew I’d like it, but . . .
So I called up more stats.
‘If you go to a theme park and experience ten rollercoaster rides in two hours, you are safer than remaining at home for the same length of time.’
Also. ‘Driving to a park for the above experience is seven times more dangerous than the rides themselves.’
Hadn’t we already done something more dangerous in travelling here? Better!
But . . .
‘Severe fright can cause a catastrophic drop in blood pressure, leading to a heart attack.’
Um. Not so good.
‘We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.’ That was Roosevelt, and he was a sensible chap. Wasn’t he?
A whoosh heralded the arrival of our car, automatic gates opening to allow us in.
Pulling down overhead shoulder restraints, I locked mine in place and checked my unconcerned children as they did the same. Clipping the belt from the seat to the restraint provided a double measure of security, which I tested by wriggling and pushing upwards. No. It didn’t shift, so, I wasn’t going to fall out. That only left the risk of the car coming off the rails; a midair collision. And coronary thrombosis.
I tried to remember the comforting stats again as an attendant yanked on my belt to check its security. I smiled nervously, wanting comfort. ‘Hope you ain’t eaten a big breakfast, hon!’ With that she winked at me and was gone. I checked out the rest of my group. All were aboard. Looking okay. Not nervous at all. Then a jerk and we were off. A chain and ratchet mechanism clattered as we were pulled up a steep slope. These things rely totally on gravity, on the principle that what went up must, eventually, come back down again.
All the technology of rail and car design, the modern materials, the computer-designed routes and loops and flips and whirls depended on a simple device with a track record going back to the Roman Empire. I found that comforting. The Romans had been a reliable, methodical lot.
So, the stats. I knew they were good. On my side, if you like. G-forces were relevant too. They could be pretty extreme, but nothing like enough to cause so much as a nosebleed . . . let alone blackouts. I tried to remember the details of the sign I had ignored at the entrance. In case there was something I should remember. The one saying which medical conditions made it inadvisable for a sufferer to ride. What were they? Come on. Got ‘em! Pregnant (no), heart trouble (don’t think so. What do you mean, ‘don’t think so!’ Okay, no!), What else? Extra large upper body dimensions (no). Back trouble (Oh heck!) We’re really high now. I can’t see the others.
Peering ahead I could see the track disappearing, leaving only blue sky to ride on. Nearer and nearer we crept. Someone screamed. Already? Must be in the front row. They must be mad. What could they see? Clackclackclackclack . . . silence.
A momentary pause, then WAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH – pause for breath, then WAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH – OOOOHHHHH – OOOOOPPP . . . and so on. Was that me? Must be everyone else as well. My God, what a drop! After the initial plummet, lasting no more than five seconds, I suppose, we went up and around and down, and looped and corkscrewed and dove into tunnels and out again and wow! Yes! So smooth! Then we headed at top speed towards the platform, brakes kicking in to stop us dead on target in a few more breathless seconds.
Total length of experience . . . about a minute.
Unclip the belt, up with the restraints, out the other side to make room for the next shift, down the ramp to the outside.
Fantastic. Let’s go again.
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Page added on: 30 August 2004
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