It's tough to overstate the awesome awesomeness of SeaWorld Orlando's new Manta roller-coaster. The ride, which soft-launched last weekend and will soon be open to the public, has already been declared by the LA Times Travel blog to be the #1 new ride of the year.
There's 3,359 feet of tracks, a top speed of 56 mph, four inversions, and a max drop of 113 feet that all add up to two minutes and 35 seconds of face-down flying adrenaline:
Sometimes zoos and aquariums build less-than-electrifying rides to keep teenagers amused while parents and younger siblings wander around. Ferris wheels, slow-moving trains, bumper cars - these are standard fare. But that's not what's happening here.
The Manta gets as high as 140 feet, giving a great view of Orlando in between hurtling riders backwards, sideways, and upside down. At one point the ride comes within inches of dipping them underwater. This is a legitimate modern roller coaster.
Even the queue is well designed, winding through and underneath the entirely new aquarium that SeaWorld built for Manta. Ride-goers line up underground next to a large tank filled with rays, most of which is obscured and has to be viewed from elsewhere in the aquarium.
The queue line, though, gets to pass by two other tanks that are viewable only to people waiting for the ride. Those two are filled, respectively, with freshwater rays and octopi. That should make going through the inevitably long waits almost a pleasure.