SeaWorld takes a stand with 2023 coaster
Pipeline: The Surf Coaster coming to Orlando park
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The SeaWorld chain continues to bring new coasters and thrill rides to its parks, even as it downplays its marine exhibits. I’ve already shared news about the coasters coming to SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld San Antonio next season. (Although, the Texas ride isn’t exactly a coaster.) Recently, SeaWorld Orlando confirmed what had been rumored: It will be introducing the next generation of stand-up coasters in 2023, which it is calling Pipeline: The Surf Coaster.
It will be SeaWorld’s seventh coaster, boosting its status as the park in the Orlando area with the most thrill machines. It is capitalizing on its growing arsenal by declaring itself the “Coaster Capital of Orlando.” Only sister park Busch Gardens Tampa offers more coasters (10) in Florida. Just how thrilling will SeaWorld’s newest ride be? And what will make it the next generation of stand-up coasters? Let’s break it down.
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Pipeline’s trains will look mighty strange. Resembling a really long surfboard, each car will have little more than a floor and two rows of two, well, not seats exactly, but contraptions that will allow passengers to sort of stand/sit/crouch for the ride experience. It’ll really be more of a yoga pose than a standing position.
The assemblies will have some vertical give, so that as the coaster goes through its paces, riders will be able to slightly move up and down. SeaWorld says that the sensation will be like riding on a wave. The park is promising five airtime moments which should feel quite unusual given the seats’ freedom of movement and the newfangled way that passengers will be tethered to the seats.
Using a magnetic LSM launch system, the train will forego a lift hill and leave the station on a straightaway. It will accelerate to 60 mph and catapult up 110 feet into a turnaround. The layout will include one inversion, a corkscrew, which, again, should be odd to experience while crouched and bobbing up and down. Pipeline will also offer two helixes and an over-banked curve. Spanning just shy of 3,000 feet of track, the ride will last 1:50 (which is fairly long considering it will not include a poky lift hill).
As for identifying the new ride a “surf coaster,” let’s state the obvious: Surfers do not face forward. Their torsos are at a 90-degree angle to their boards, and their arms are generally outstretched to balance themselves. This ain’t that. Nonetheless, surfing is a great theme, especially for a marine life park.
The coaster will be manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, which developed its first generation of stand-up coasters starting in 1990 with Iron Wolf at Six Flags Great America in Illinois. Notably, it was the Swiss-based company’s very first coaster. (Other ride manufacturers have also produced stand-up models.)
In the earlier versions, riders stood and mounted bicycle-like seats. Once the seats were adjusted to accommodate passengers’ heights in the station, they were locked in place for the duration of the ride. This precarious arrangement sometimes delivered uncomfortable ride experiences–especially for males, if you catch my drift. Actually, catching the drift was essentially the, er, nut of the problem. Negative G-forces would lift passengers in the air only to send them crashing down into the immovable seats they were straddling. Ouch!
Some of B&M’s earlier stand-up coasters have been converted to sit-down models. Others, such as Green Lantern at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, are still operating.
The moveable seat assemblies would appear to be a clever way to solve the discomfort problem while allowing passengers to (sort of) stand. The over-the-shoulder restraints and seats will be one unit. Since they will move up and down with riders, there should be no jarring moments.
2023 will mark the second year in a row that SeaWorld Orlando will launch a new coaster. Earlier this year, the park debuted Ice Breaker, which had been delayed due to the pandemic.
Have you experienced any stand-up coasters? What do you make of B&M’s new moveable seat and restraint assemblies? Are you looking forward to riding Pipeline?