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May 31, 2000

SeaWorld Smashes Records With Orlando's Dominant Coaster

Orlando, Fla -- Imagine a roller coaster that suspends you in mid-air, as high as a 15-story building. You have no one to hold on to, nothing in front of you, nothing below you - and only sky above. The world will be watching on June 1 when Kraken, a state-of-the-art roller coaster, so incredible that it defines a new thrill-ride category, opens in Orlando at SeaWorld.

Named after a legendary sea monster long feared by sailors, this wickedly fast serpent coaster will corkscrew SeaWorld guests through the ride of their lives, lifting them higher, dropping them longer and spiraling them faster than any other coaster in Orlando.

When Kraken is unleashed later this year, it will raise the stakes in the vacation capital of the world, where a battle to build the biggest and best thrill ride has emerged. In a race filled with superlatives, Kraken smashes all records in Orlando. Count 'em: Tallest. Fastest. Longest. Wildest.

Paul Ruben, noted roller coaster historian and editor of Park World magazine, adds two more: most innovative and most unusual. Ruben, who has ridden every roller coaster in North America, describes Kraken's extreme design as "an easy chair run amok."

"Imagine sitting in your favorite chair, a bit reclined, with your feet dangling," he said. "But on this chair, you're going 65 mph ... with rails racing beneath your toes ... and you're turning head over heels."

Kraken's cars do not look or feel like traditional roller coaster vehicles. There is no barrier in front of guests' legs or a floor beneath their feet. Above riders' heads is nothing but sky. During each of the coaster's seven high-speed loops, the only thing above is the ground.

It's just you and the monster.

Kraken's sensation of flat-out speed, high G-forces, weightlessness and spiraling loops and turns may be unparalleled in theme park thrill rides, but SeaWorld's designers chose to add a few new twists. A portion of Kraken's 4,000-foot-plus yellow and turquoise track is over water. The coaster plunges underground three times, once where riders unexpectedly dive deep into the lagoon, entering the serpent's underwater lair at full speed, as huge plumes of spray drench bystanders.

Kraken's floorless design defines a new category of mega-coasters. Although the track looks like a traditional extreme coaster, the car design sets it apart. Riders sit four across on open-air, pedestal-like seats with nothing around them except shoulder restraints.

"Designers now have created more than 30 different types of coasters," said Ruben. "Although one would think there are no new ideas in roller coaster design, thrill rides like Kraken prove there is still room for innovation in the roller coaster arms race."

Tim O'Brien, Southeast editor of Amusement Business, says the ride provides a new thrill unique to any other park in the South. "While it is higher and faster than anything else in Orlando, that's only the beginning," he said. "It's not how high, how fast or how many times Kraken will flip you over. The key thrill is the appearance that there's nothing above or below you."

After a scenic, 15-story ascent up the lift hill, riders will get a bird's-eye view of the 218-acre adventure park before coasting over the 149-foot-tall hill. Exceeding speeds of 65 mph, thrill seekers will race through a 119-foot vertical loop, before diving underground and into a dramatic 101-foot diving loop. Riders will feel the sensation of three seconds of weightlessness as they rocket through a zero-gravity roll and into a cobra roll, or double inversion, that resembles the head of the snake.

After soaring through another vertical loop, riders will "plunge" into the monster's lagoon and through a tunnel that is flooded by a nearby waterfall. Speeding out of the tunnel, riders will sail through a flat spin before resting in the load station ... safe from the monster's clutches.

Put in simple terms: Kraken will send SeaWorld guests 149 feet high, upside down seven times, underground three times and through the thrill-ride experience of their lives.

According to legend, the seas were once inhabited by a creature - or creatures - known as kraken. The most infamous of these monsters was the kraken kept restrained under the sea by Poseidon. In Greek mythology, Poseidon's revenge knew no bounds. In many stories, he sent these fearsome sea monsters to ravage the land. Kraken has now been unleashed - and she resides at SeaWorld Orlando, where she is protecting her young.

Guests will have the opportunity to wander Kraken's lair on foot, coming face-to-face with live eels - representing the serpent's young - encased in round see-through "eggs." It's yet another way SeaWorld blends thrills, entertainment and animals.

"Our guests always have told us what thrills and adventures they'd like to see at SeaWorld Orlando," said Thom Stork, vice president of marketing. ''And now, with Kraken, they'll be able to experience the dominant coaster in Orlando - by far the fastest, longest, tallest and wildest. In my opinion, it will be the best coaster on earth."

SeaWorld Orlando burst onto the thrill ride scene in 1998, when the adventure park opened Journey to Atlantis, a water-coaster ride through the mysterious lost city. Journey to Atlantis was chosen by Disney's Adventure magazine as one the nation's scariest thrill rides and by USA Today as one of the nation's top five new attractions for 1998.

"With the great coasters at our Busch Gardens parks and SeaWorld San Antonio, Anheuser-Busch has more than 20 year's experience in designing and building state-of-the-thrill roller coasters," said Stork. "And this will be our best yet. If you're looking for wild coaster rides in Orlando, Kraken will be your first stop."