Episode 5 of the SeaWorld parks tour takes us back to Busch Gardens in Tampa to ride Falcon's Fury.
I must admit I wasn't filled with joy at the thought of riding this at first. Being dropped from a great height face down without a parachute doesn't fit naturally into the self preservation mode we all have inside us. But I am always up for trying new things so with self preservation mode turned off I did it. Twice in fact.
Busch Gardens had arranged for me to ride this before the park opened to guests and also provided a videographer to film my reaction on the ride. My face says it all. I don't think my daughter has stopped laughing yet and she has shown all her friends too.
I was taken on the first ride with Mark Rose, Senior Vice President of Design and Engineering at Busch Gardens, who you might remember from the Cobra's Curse video. Mark is a senior engineering designer at Busch Gardens and has been working on the rides and theming of the park for 35 years.
He explained to me that they gave the whole area a makeover when they built Falcon's Fury. Updating the food outlets and stores and changing the name to Pantopia.
Onto the ride itself. There is the obligatory "test the seat to see if you fit" along with the ride regulations.
The seats are in groups of 4 and pivot backwards (yellow control gear in the picture) at the top to face you straight down to the ground.
It was at that point that my face showed the full extent of the force of gravity trying to push my, not so light, body through the shoulder restraints. You are he'd at this point for a few seconds just to take in the fact that you will be hurtling towards the ground at any second. Remember that self preservation mode I had switched off. I was beginning to think about turning it back on at that point!
I won't spoil things by describing what the drop was like. Watch the video and you can clearly see
The first ride there were there of us on the ride but for my second go I was the only one on the whole thing.
Clearly more composed the second time but the sheer force seemed to play tricks with my face. I don't normally look this weird. Well maybe I do but thanks for not mentioning it before.
Ep1 - Mako
Ep2 - Cobra's Curse
Ep3 - SeaWorld Rescue
Ep4 - SeaVenture at Discovery Cove
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Harry Potter fans will once again unite at the fourth annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter,” hosted by Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. This special weekend event will take place January 27 – 29, 2017 and will be full of exciting experiences that will allow guests to celebrate J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.
All general admission park guests will have the opportunity to:
- Attend Q&A sessions with select film talent (complete talent lineup will be announced at a later date)
- Experience and participate in the interactive and unique exhibits at the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo, featuring brand partners from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World such as Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Pottermore, Scholastic, MinaLima, and Harry Potter: The Exhibition
- Enjoy special panels and demonstrations regarding various aspects of the Harry Potter stories
Guests will also be able to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. Plus, ride the Hogwarts Express between the two lands with a Park-to-Park ticket.
Special vacation packages, including annual passholder packages, are on sale now. On-site hotel packages start at $249 per adult per night, including tax, and include exclusive benefits such as special guest access to the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo, admission to a private evening reception in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and special guest access to panels and demonstrations. Packages also include three-night hotel accommodations, three-day Park-to-Park tickets to both Universal Studios Florida & Universal’s Islands of Adventure and more. Packages are available on a first come, first served basis. For complete package details, visit www.universalorlando.com/celebration.
“A Celebration of Harry Potter” is another magical experience from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.
Episode 4 of theDIBB tour of the four SeaWorld parks takes me to SeaVenture at Discovery Cove.
Discovery Cove is such a tranquil and luxurious haven away from the hustle and bustle of regular theme parks. It is always a day I look forward to while out in Orlando.
This was my 5th visit to Discovery Cove and it was my second time diving at SeaVenture. I last tried it when SeaVenture was added along with the Great Reef back in 2011. It was interesting to see how things had changed and improved over the last 5 years.
I spent many years scuba diving way back in the 90's and although it seems like a lifetime ago it brought back great memories of the time I spent diving in the Caribbean and the Florida Keys. You have an abundance of fish as well as other marine invertebrates to see. Some are behind glass to protect the public and also the animals themselves.
You start off in the registration cabana area where you sign a disclaimer and then move off to the orientation cabana to gain instructions and watch a short video. Then onto the dive area where you will be lined up in family groups so you will stay together underwater. As I was on my own I fitted in between 2 families.
The breathing apparatus are all lined up in order and you are called forward to enter the water. They then put on the helmet. It isn't heavy as once under water it just gives a little weight to keep you down.
The following video will show you more...
SeaVenture is a fantastic way of enhancing your day at Discovery Cove. There isn't anything else like it in Orlando and it is a great experience that I am sure you will talk about for years. I really enjoyed it and thought the whole thing was amazing. But as my wife said in some of the video I obviously forgot to tell my face that The reserved British face I call it
Ep1 - Mako
Ep2 - Cobra's Curse
Ep3 - SeaWorld Rescue
Limited-time, Halloween Horror Nights attraction will blend physical environments, real-life characters and cutting-edge virtual reality into an interactive paranormal experience.
Universal Orlando Resort is unveiling a cutting-edge – and terrifying – interactive experience that will blend custom virtual reality technology with real-life characters and environments to create a whole new generation of psychological horror.
The twisted minds behind Universal Orlando’s award-winning Halloween Horror Nights have combined forces with Universal Creative, the creators of award-winning theme park attractions, to produce a next-level, immersive theatre experience that seamlessly bridges live action and virtual reality (VR).
The Repository is an exclusive, limited-time attraction with an entirely unique storyline that will pave the way for even more brand new, best-in-class experiences across Universal Orlando Resort. Throughout this extended, heart-pounding adventure, guests will explore highly thematic physical environments and interact with real-life characters – all while working in small teams to solve a dark mystery unfolding before them. Universal Orlando is working with VRstudios (VRcade), a Bellevue, Washington company specializing in unique VR experiences. The company designed a first-of-its-kind VR platform to be used inside the experience.
The Repository will be available to guests during select Halloween Horror Nights events, beginning 29th Sept. and running until 31st Oct.. Guests can upgrade their Halloween Horror Nights event ticket to become a part of the ultimate paranormal experience.
This limited-time experience is available to purchase from 23rd August. See www.halloweenhorrornights.com for more information about the event.
WARNING: This is an intense experience not recommended for thrill seekers younger than 13 years old.
Episode 3 of my DIBB tour of the SeaWorld parks takes us behind the scenes talking to John Peterson, JP as he likes to be called, about the animal rescue program known as 'SeaWorld Rescue'.
JP is a long time member of the animal care team at SeaWorld. You can tell by talking to him that he is passionate about his job and the welfare of the animals and in particularly the rescue missions to save stranded and often critically injured marine mammals. It was an easy interview as JP could talk at length about the subject with in depth knowledge and real conviction.
SeaWorld are often criticised, but talking to people like this goes to show that they do a lot of good work outside the park funded by the company. The DIBB isn't the place to discuss the rights and wrongs of animals in captivity, but I am personally proud that some of my park entrance money is being used to fund projects such as this.
I hope you enjoy the interview with JP.
Working in partnership with state, local, and federal agencies, SeaWorld help animals that are orphaned, ill, injured or in need of expert care.
More than 28,000 animal rescued over the last 50 years.
In case you have missed the previous episodes they are Mako and Cobra's Curse.
The Marvel Super Heroes and a crowd of excited guests celebrated the official reopening of the thrilling, smash hit attraction, The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. After a special countdown to the ride’s reopening, the Marvel Super Heroes led guests inside the attraction and became the first official riders on the newly revamped coaster.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster now features thrilling new enhancements that make one of the world’s best roller coasters even more incredible. The newly-enhanced attraction now features:
- A brand-new ride vehicle with a sleek, modern design
- An all-new onboard ride score exclusively produced by Patrick Stump – front man for the internationally-renowned rock band, Fall Out Boy
- An original storyline that places guests at the hands of an experiment led by General “Thunderbolt” Ross, created by the genius minds at Universal Creative
- A completely redesigned queue which appears to guests as a high-tech, scientific facility centered around a massive Gamma Core
For more information about Universal Orlando Resort, visit www.UniversalOrlando.com or check out the official Universal Orlando blog at blog.UniversalOrlando.com
Images Copyright Universal
In case you missed the first article in this series about the four SeaWorld theme parks and the rides and attractions within, I will recap.
I went on a short trip to Florida where theDIBB was given exclusive access to the rides and also members of staff at the various parks to give interviews on video.
There were no scripts. No rehearsed questions and no professional recording equipment. We just used GoPros and a hand-held video camera without external microphones.
Being a reserved British gentleman (although my wife disputes the gentleman part ) I am not your over enthusiastic, arm waving, screaming, hyped up person that you normally see on these videos. But hopefully you will appreciate the time and effort that went into these days.
Busch Gardens - Cobra's Curse
An early start from Orlando in an Uber to Tampa, led us to the staff entrance around 7am. We were met there by Elizabeth, senior PR at Busch Gardens. I must say Elizabeth was absolutely lovely and had organised a whirlwind tour of the park before it opened to the guests that morning and continued to accompany us all day. I had a bit of an entourage following me around along with a photographer to get shots on the rides and arrange POV video on Cobra's Curse and Falcon's Fury. I will cover the other attractions in a separate article later on.
We walked over to Cobra's Curse to see the track layout and theming of the ride area. The sun had barely risen by then so I was treated to some dramatic scenes of the ride being tested with the sun rising in the background.
When I first saw the design for Cobra's Curse I was a bit sceptical about the ride due to the small footprint it sits in. But when you actually see it in reality it works very well in the Egypt park area. Nestled up against Montu at the front of the park, you can't really miss that huge Cobra's head rising 80ft from the ground.
The first thing that intrigued me was the lift element of the ride. To achieve the best ride in the compact footprint they needed to get the cars to the top of the track in the smallest area possible. For this they used an elevator system to load the cars at ground level and then transport them to the top of the track as quickly as possible in the shortest distance.
Using a counter balance, one car is transported up as another car loader returns to pick up the next ride vehicle. It works very well. It is smooth and fast and a fun part of the ride in itself.
From the top you come face to face with the Cobra! This is where you start the first part of the journey forwards, down the first drop. The ride is split into 3 stages. Forwards, backwards and then finally the spinning part where you are free to rotate randomly around the twists and turns of the track.
Reaching speeds of 40mph along the 2,100 feet of track it can whisk up to 1,000 riders per hour in up to 8 cars on track at anyone time. It is a great ride for families too with only a 42" height requirement if the child is accompanied by adults. They can ride alone from 48 inches in height too. There is the usual try before you ride seat outside so you can check you are happy with the fit before queuing.
To borrow a line from a famous movie... Snakes! Why does it have to be snakes?
I know some people have expressed their distaste of snakes saying they will not to be able to ride this because of the queuing area and snake exhibit. But in reality you could quite easily miss seeing the live snakes. There is only one place where you can encounter live snakes. The enclosure is behind glass obviously and you really have to search out the snakes as they do blend into the exhibit. There are 4 snake varieties in there. Angolan Python, Gaboon Viper, Jameson’s Mambas and Rhinoceros Vipers. Once you are safely pass this, non-snake lovers can totally relax and enjoy the experience.
You enter the queue line as if you were entering a dig site in the Egyptian desert. Complete with scaffolding and various props, it does remind you of certain movie scenes.
Onwards into the line you are reminded there might be snakes ahead...
It then darkens down into the main area that holds the snake exhibit. As I mentioned this could easily be missed. If you don't like snakes then just don't look. You would really have to look for them in there anyway.
There are also various other theme elements from the dig site you should stop and take in as someone has put a lot of time and effort into the theming of this attraction.
You now go into another room with a small pre-show with a large screen with a back story about the curse of the cobra.
Exiting the pre-show onto the ride platform to board the cars.
I thought the theming of this area was also well thought out. Take a look around you and notice how they have built it and then distressed it to look old and broken. Some of the wall art has pieces knocked off just as you would see in the ancient Egyptian finds from centuries ago.
I met up with Mark Rose, Senior Vice President of Design and Engineering at Busch Gardens. Who took me on the ride and explained various aspects of the design. Mark has been at Busch Gardens for 35 years and was responsible for a lot of the attractions you now see there. He was also involved with the theming of the gift shops and rest rooms, which complement the whole experience of each land.
I actually loved this ride. There are some great rides at Busch Gardens and this certainly is one of the best. It has elements of the ride that none of the others have and although it could be considered tame by comparison to rides such as SheiKra, it is fun and entertaining. A big thumbs up from me.
Thanks also to Victoria, my traveling companion from the UK PR team, who you will probably see a lot of in the videos. She was an absolute gem during the 5 days I was there. Along with Bradley (SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove PR) and Elizabeth (Busch Gardens PR). Sorry this isn't an Oscar winner's speech but some people do deserve credit in helping arrange the days.