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SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

P. 267: Ice Breaker officially opens on February 18th, 2022!

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Sorry guys, VR Kraken has already been deemed irrelevant before it has even opened. A BABY WALRUS WAS BORN! Walruses have always been my favorite animal and this is the first one born at Seaworld Orlando. I cannot wait to see him/her in person.

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The googles in the bags is a nice touch to hopefully speed things up but I still don't get why you would VR such a stunning B&M that has interesting inversions, tunnels and goes over water.

 

I wish they would do AR (augmented reality) instead where the googles add things to make the ride more interesting, consider a dashboard with speed, height, Gs, you could even add the Kraken but everything is imposed over the real world.

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That's definitely a great idea, though if there's anything I don't love about Sea World (and there's not much I don't love about Sea World) it's how incredibly structured your day has to be and this seems like this has the potential to add to that.

 

When we were there the other day there was a lot of planning involved to figure out how to fit in Dine with Shamu, One Ocean, Clyde & Seamore and Dolphin Days and eventually we just decided to skip the last 2. Since Sea World is such a show heavy park you really have to plan everything out at the beginning the day to make it all fit since you have to plan everything around the daily show schedule. This is further compounded by the fact that the 3 best shows are outside and thunderstorms are a daily occurrence this time of year so you need to have contingency plans also.

 

I love the idea in theory but I'm interested to see how it's plays out. I could see this being anything from incredibly annoying to incredibly awesome depending on how it's implemented. If you go on your phone or the kiosk and reserve Kraken and it spits out a random "next available" return time then that's really annoying if it happens to be in the middle of a show you want to see. If you can choose from a list of available times and figure out how to work it in between shows then that's awesome.

 

I love the idea in theory and I'm optimistic but I'm really curious as to how they're planning to do this because that's going to have a big impact on how it's received. Hopefully it's more like FastPass+ and less like Tapu Tapu.

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The VR looks very solid and fun up until the end part of the ride, at that point im not sure what its doing. However I'm still interested to try it, I know I liked VR on Iron Dragon a lot and my only other experience was on Galatica and that one made me nauseous. So yeah I think VR has a place on smaller family ride coasters but interested to try it on a bigger coaster again.

 

Plus how will the virtual queue work with their Quick Queue option?

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When we were there the other day there was a lot of planning involved to figure out how to fit in Dine with Shamu, One Ocean, Clyde & Seamore and Dolphin Days and eventually we just decided to skip the last 2. Since Sea World is such a show heavy park you really have to plan everything out at the beginning the day to make it all fit since you have to plan everything around the daily show schedule.

 

Are you a platinum pass member? One of the benefits is the reserved seating for the shows, we showed up for the shows 10 mins before and got seats dead center every time. That feature alone was worth the passes.

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^You can have all the reserved seating you want, but it won't be useful if you're stuck in a long queue line for something or reservation for a ride on Kraken Unleashed. Also on busy days, the shows can fill sometimes 20-30 minutes before showtime which puts a snag into any planning you may have done. Basically if you're wanting to see all the shows (since it's a show heavy park), sometimes it's hard to schedule it out just right to be able to mix everything. This is different from parks like Busch Gardens Tampa, SFOG, Cedar Point, ect. (that are ride heavy) where you can just literally go left or right and just ride as you get to them. Even after 10 years of going to the park I find it hard to hit all the shows in one day and still get to ride everything I want with all the crisscrossing you have to do to accomplish it. Timing truly is everything, especially without quick queue.

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Today Theme Park Review was invited to preview Kraken Unleashed, the new virtual reality experience taking over the classic Kraken B&M floorless coaster at SeaWorld Orlando. This new offering brings an added level of story to the otherwise straightforward coaster and manages to retcon the presence of Journey to Atlantis in the park to form a thematic corner in which the two attractions are now more closely connected. The coaster's queue structures have been lightly refreshed to take on a new theming; gone are the Mediterranean architectural influences and in their place are metal and futuristic design elements that indicate that this is a scientific research facility.

 

 

Once inside of the coaster station, the loading and dispatch process has been updated to reflect the updated restraints and most importantly, the securing of the VR headsets. Kraken Unleashed is not a mandatory experience, allowing riders to opt out of the virtual reality in favor of the more traditional coaster experience. At the end of each ride, ride attendants will clean each headset with a sanitation wipe before putting it in the secure box attached to the coaster restraints. It is one of the few VR coaster experiences around the world that does not have an age restriction, rather relying purely on the guest's height to determine if they are eligible to ride based on a 54 inches height restriction. The over the shoulder restraints have been modified to feature a new grip as well as metal bars that hold up the resting container for the VR headsets. At the beginning of each ride, the ride attendants assist riders with securing their headsets and adjusting the lens to ensure that riders get the most visual clarity out of their virtual reality experience. At the end of each ride, ride attendants will clean each headset with a sanitation wipe before putting it in the secure box attached to the coaster restraints.

 

Looking at these processes and the added work required to load, unload and dispatch trains certainly impacts the operation. Kraken has traditionally had multiple trains in operation and has had a solid hourly capacity, but now with the above-mentioned causes for delays, the dispatch times are significantly higher than what most past riders will remember. This will likely present a challenge for SeaWorld, especially during the busy Summer ahead. It has yet to be confirmed if the other trains used by Kraken previous have been/will be updated for this new experience but SeaWorld will be launching a new virtual queueing option with the grand opening of Kraken Unleashed, which will hopefully help the park in reducing wait time for this coaster.

 

From a detail and story standpoint, Kraken Unleashed succeeds in some unexpected ways. It was fitting that my first VR coaster would also be the first major roller coaster I rode as a child growing up. Kraken Unleashed brings a compelling and fast-paced story that synchronizes audio, motion and the maneuvers of the floorless coaster's track layout to bring together an immersive experience that caught me by surprise. There were few moments where the VR shown didn't pair perfectly with the train's movements (those moments came most towards the end of the coaster) but aside from that, the VR film managed to integrate a good number of the coaster's more uniquely-felt moments.

 

Kraken Unleashed ties together two of the park's thrill attractions, built in the heyday of SeaWorld Adventure Park when the focus was on thrill rides and not on theming. With this update, there's a slight increase in theming throughout the queue to help ground the new story. It manages to tell a new and exciting story that explains why Journey to Atlantis is present in the park. With the only other VR coaster experience currently offered in Orlando being Freedom Flyer VR at Fun Spot America, this new experience stands out as a quality plussing of a classic but in some ways tired coaster. If SeaWorld Orlando can nail down their operating procedures to focus on reducing dispatch times, I believe that this could be a big draw for the park, providing an influx of new and repeat guests eager to see the changes to this notable coaster.

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About to head in!

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We visited SeaWorld Orlando this morning to check out Kraken Unleashed!

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We're in the right place!

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The park signage has been updated to highlight Kraken Unleashed!

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The entrance and queue for the attraction have been refreshed to reflect the new story as seen within the VR experience.

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The inside of the station has been given some new tech upgrades as well to help keep the dispatch times down.

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We were pleasantly surprised! Kraken Unleashed is a really good VR experience! And it ties into Journey to Atlantis in a really neat way!

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A look at the side profile of the modified seats on Kraken Unleashed.

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The story of Kraken Unleashed retcons the presence of Journey to Atlantis in SeaWorld by explaining how the city came to the surface during your Kraken Unleashed ride experience.

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Guests have the option to ride Kraken Unleashed without the VR headsets for a more traditional coaster experience.

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The Kraken Unleashed VR experience synchronizes the visuals with the coaster's maneuvers to provide an immersive ride.

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The Kraken Unleashed queue has been updated to feel more like the scientific research facility seen at the start of the VR experience.

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The KRKN Launch Station is where your submarine will depart Launch Bay Alpha to begin your Kraken Unleashed experience.

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The former Mediterranean architectural elements have been covered with research facility design elements to help set the setting for the ride's new story.

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The company behind this expedition appears to have several tours available for guests to enjoy.

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Subtle changes for those that knew the former queue design, but they do make a little bit of difference.

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Noted!

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Also noted!

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Another look at the updated Kraken Unleashed entrance.

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A full rundown of notes for potential riders of Kraken Unleashed...

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This is still the Kraken you know and love, but with even more fun thanks to the new VR experience!

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The old Kraken cave has been updated with the removal of the old eggs but the addition of the Kraken's tentacle.

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The addition of the VR headsets adds a significant amount of effort in getting guests ready for dispatch and as a result, the dispatch times for Kraken will inevitably increase.

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The Kraken Unleashed station has been given some tech upgrades including the same kind of dispatch monitor as found in Mako's station.

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Do you see our Rider Cam POV video? If not, stop what you're doing, scroll to the top of this post and watch it all the way through!

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Signage throughout the park reminds guests that the new experience is now available to enjoy at SeaWorld Orlando.

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Journey to Atlantis and Kraken Unleashed are now more closely tied in story thanks to the new VR experience!

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When Kraken Unleashed was first announced, this image was shared from the ride experience and many assumed that this was the namesake Kraken... But they were wrong.

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Without spoiling anything, this scene is a significant part of the story of how Journey to Atlantis ends up above water.

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Dive! Dive! Dive!

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Special thanks to SeaWorld Orlando for inviting us to try out Kraken Unleashed. With ability to enjoy the classic coaster experience with or without the new VR headsets, this refreshed offering plusses Kraken in many way.

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The Kraken dispatch team manages to ensure that the VR headsets are snug and secure at all times.

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You explore the ocean waters alongside these submarines along your journey.

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A dark and ominous drop off is never a good thing for a story to have... And here it is no different.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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At the beginning of each ride, the ride attendants assist riders with securing their headsets and adjusting the lens to ensure that riders get the most visual clarity out of their virtual reality experience. At the end of each ride, ride attendants will clean each headset with a sanitation wipe before putting it in the secure box attached to the coaster restraints.

This right here is the part that I sort of question...

 

Based on what I've been told, all this happens WHILE YOU'RE SITTING IN YOUR SEAT, correct? On the Six Flags and Europa Park version of VR, all of the "adjustment" and "cleaning" process is done BEFORE and AFTER the guests board the train, which cuts down on the operational part of it significantly. So you can already adjust your VR headset to fit your head BEFORE the airgates even open, and you hand your headset to someone OFF of the ride to clean, so that the next group of people can start boarding without waiting.

 

It would seem to me that having the adjustment and cleaning as part of the actual boarding process of the ride would significantly impact dispatches and I wonder why they didn't try to move this process to being outside of the actual "boarding the train" process as to not slow things down even further. The dispatches are bad enough at Six Flags, I can't image what they would be like there if they had these additional processes on top of that.

Edited by robbalvey
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The new night time show that premiered last night looks really nice for a SeaWorld Production. I approve. They are really trying and stepping up their game in so many ways, unfortunately I don't think it will ever be good enough at this point for the park to really succeed... which is a shame [emoji17]

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It would seem to me that having the adjustment and cleaning as part of the actual boarding process of the ride would significantly impact dispatches and I wonder why they didn't try to move this process to being outside of the actual "boarding the train" process as to not slow things down even further. The dispatches are bad enough at Six Flags, I can't image what they would be like there if they had these additional processes on top of that.

I'll take a shot at it for the sake of discussion -

 

Perhaps they want to eliminate any possibility of the VR animation getting out of sync based on changing seats? With the Kraken setup the correct headset is always in the correct seat. If you had 128 headsets (enough for 3 trains' worth plus another full load being set up before boarding), I'd bet that it would be a chore to keep them all in the correct order, especially if the team on the platform needs to keep moving fast and just plug whichever headset in the nearest charger. If a guest decides at the last minute, "I want to do the VR experience now" the operator would probably have to spend more time setting up the experience for their specific seat, and then spend the time adjusting the lenses anyway. Keeping everything restricted to individual seats that never change eliminates that and the operators only have to focus (ba dum tss) their efforts on focusing the headsets so guests can see.

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It would seem to me that having the adjustment and cleaning as part of the actual boarding process of the ride would significantly impact dispatches and I wonder why they didn't try to move this process to being outside of the actual "boarding the train" process as to not slow things down even further. The dispatches are bad enough at Six Flags, I can't image what they would be like there if they had these additional processes on top of that.

I'll take a shot at it for the sake of discussion -

 

Perhaps they want to eliminate any possibility of the VR animation getting out of sync based on changing seats? With the Kraken setup the correct headset is always in the correct seat. If you had 128 headsets (enough for 3 trains' worth plus another full load being set up before boarding), I'd bet that it would be a chore to keep them all in the correct order, especially if the team on the platform needs to keep moving fast and just plug whichever headset in the nearest charger. If a guest decides at the last minute, "I want to do the VR experience now" the operator would probably have to spend more time setting up the experience for their specific seat, and then spend the time adjusting the lenses anyway. Keeping everything restricted to individual seats that never change eliminates that and the operators only have to focus (ba dum tss) their efforts on focusing the headsets so guests can see.

 

Is this even how this works? I was under the impression with all the other VR coasters I've done that something triggers the VR to start when the ride ops sends the train, and that is what starts the animation and syncs it all up.

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Let me preface by saying I have never done a VR coaster experience and I can't say for sure this is how it works. This is based on what I believe I remember reading about the technology.

 

I have no idea how the Kraken headsets work as they appear to be a completely different system, but for the Six Flags coasters with the Samsung VR headsets, I believe I remember reading that the headsets sync to a 'black box' on the train via Bluetooth, and the box itself knows where it is on the track due to various Sync Points on the track itself which tells the black box controller 'I just passed X point on the track'. This accounts for variations in speed due to weight of the train, weather conditions, or if the train were to say stop on the lift hill, the video could resume when it passes over the next sync point.

 

I'd imagine there is a similar system in place on Kraken with some sort of sync on the track itself to account for variations, and that it wouldn't be a static video length / it would slightly speed up or slow down the video at various points, or jump cut occasionally without the rider really noticing.

 

I could be way off, but having operated Kraken myself on cold windy days vs warm full trains without wind, there is a pretty hefty variation in runtimes, so I'm curious how the system accounts for that, if at all, or if they would get more out of sync (but not enough for the rider to notice) as the ride goes on.

 

Does anyone have more information about the setup of Kraken's VR or can confirm my understanding of the Six Flags VR coasters?

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The Kraken Unleashed station has been given some tech upgrades including the same kind of dispatch monitor as found in Mako's station.

 

The coasters at Busch Gardens Williamsburg have similar monitors now, as well.

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Is this even how this works? I was under the impression with all the other VR coasters I've done that something triggers the VR to start when the ride ops sends the train, and that is what starts the animation and syncs it all up.

The whole "specific seat" thing would probably have to happen because the ride motion is different depending on whether you're in the front or back of the train. I personally am not familiar with how these work. However, based on my own experiences, I would suspect that it functions in a similar manner to NoLimits in that there are 32 (in the case of Kraken) different "viewing points" for the ride, and each seat assigned to its corresponding viewing point. Though, you could argue that you could reduce it to 8, one per row, for the sake of simplicity.

 

I just think that viewing an animation where you're sort of hung over the edge, but in actuality are being yanked over because you're in the back seat, would probably cause a bit of motion sickness. After all, what causes motion sickness is when what you're seeing doesn't match up with what you're feeling.

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Is this even how this works? I was under the impression with all the other VR coasters I've done that something triggers the VR to start when the ride ops sends the train, and that is what starts the animation and syncs it all up.

The whole "specific seat" thing would probably have to happen because the ride motion is different depending on whether you're in the front or back of the train. I personally am not familiar with how these work. However, based on my own experiences, I would suspect that it functions in a similar manner to NoLimits in that there are 32 (in the case of Kraken) different "viewing points" for the ride, and each seat assigned to its corresponding viewing point. Though, you could argue that you could reduce it to 8, one per row, for the sake of simplicity.

 

I just think that viewing an animation where you're sort of hung over the edge, but in actuality are being yanked over because you're in the back seat, would probably cause a bit of motion sickness. After all, what causes motion sickness is when what you're seeing doesn't match up with what you're feeling.

 

Yeah but....the calibration step didn't start on the Six Flags rides until after you were seated either. The difference is you still got your headset and put it almost all the way on before the air gates opened. So when you sat down all you had to do was pull down the restraint, then pull the headset down a tiny bit from the top of your head and there were QR codes on the back of the seats in front of you that calibrated your headset to your specific position.

 

This way head seats are not tied to one seat or row. No sorting required.

 

The cleaning also occurred off ride.

 

I also question the headset staying with the seat. Adds a ton to the actual loading/unloading process.

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I've made my feelings clear on my dislike for reservation only rides when discussing Everland and Volcano Bay, but I've seen some tweets saying Kraken Unleashed is full by noon. Granted, it's new and popular but if it's a case of the VR making capacity that low surely that's not going to go down to well with guests.

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I guess I will see for myself later today. I won't be wearing the VR however if I ride at all. Even with the Spot Saver I don't think it's worth waiting for, at least until they get things more together. I've seen others post elsewhere having to wait an hour or more after their scheduled return time. I'll just get some rides on Manta & Mako and catch the night time shows most likely.

 

UPDATE:

Um..yeah...not happening today as expected...lol Mind you everything outdoors has been shut down at least the last 30 minutes with storms in the area.

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