Kraken Unleashed Debuts at SeaWorld Orlando
The Kraken has finally been unleashed at SeaWorld Orlando! Kraken Unleashed, the highly anticipated virtual reality addition to SeaWorld’s first coaster, opened to the public on Friday.
From the press release:
“Just in time for summer vacation, one of the fiercest underwater legends has come to life in an entirely new way. SeaWorld Orlando’s original roller coaster offers an adventure for thrill-seeking guests unlike any other when Kraken Unleashed opens to the public June 16.
Kraken Unleashed is a first-of-its-kind virtual reality roller coaster in the United States, with fully integrated headsets. The completely immersive experience takes riders on an exploratory journey under the sea. As they sail along the powerful coaster track, complete with deep dives, steep turns and seven complete inversions, a fully integrated story unfolds. The result is a fantastical voyage past gigantic sea monsters, and an unexpected, unforgettable encounter with the legendary Kraken sea monster.”
The VR addition to Kraken was provided by a company called Figment Productions. Figment Productions is a graphic design, film-making, and software development company based in the UK. They are the developers of the Vector VR motion synchronization and control platform for virtual reality. Figment was behind the VR conversion of Air, a B&M flying coaster at Alton Towers, to Galactica. Below are some shots of the VR world created for Kraken Unleashed!
Kraken Unleashed Filming
On this past Monday, I was lucky enough to be invited to Kraken Unleashed filming for media day. I was part of one of the first groups that got to experience the ride first hand. Kraken has long been one of my favorite rides in Central Florida. I also just so happen to work in the modeling and simulation industry here in Orlando. So, as you can imagine, Kraken Unleashed has easily been one of my most anticipated rides. This would also be my first time experiencing a VR coaster, so I had no idea what to expect.
I immediately noticed there were a few additions to the ride queue. There were monitors placed throughout the queue and ride stations. They would be needed since the addition of the VR headsets adds time to the queuing process. Large fans were also added to the ride stations. The fans spun quietly and are a welcome addition in the Florida summer heat!
Putting on the Headsets
The staff went over the process of putting on the VR headsets while the film crew set up. The headsets are located in a pouch attached to a bar connected to the restraints. Riders can adjust the headset straps to their correct fit. Additionally, the headset speakers can slide back and forth so they can be properly set over the rider’s ears. Finally, there is a knob on the top of the headset that riders can use their fingers on to adjust the focus of the headsets. Of course, whether you choose to wear the headsets on the ride are entirely optional. However, for filming we were naturally all encouraged to wear the headsets.
When I put on the headsets, my modeling and simulation experience immediately kicked in. The VR visuals allow you to look completely to your left and right. They also allow you to see everything as you look straight up and straight down. If you turn your head behind you, you can see where the visuals end. However, I’d imagine that would be a fairly uncomfortable thing to do while riding the coaster! I also notice that there was little to no lag between the visuals and my head movement. While everyone else was probably taking in the views, I probably looked like a madman as I violently swung my head back and forth and up and down trying to catch any lag in the visual. Safe to say, I was impressed!
Kraken Unleashed Ride Experience
I won’t go into too much detail on the ride, since Kraken Unleashed is something I definitely recommend experiencing in person. A POV of the ride (courtesy of Attractions Magazine) is located below for readers that can’t help themselves.
When it came time for us to ride, I chose my favorite seats in the back row of the train (you can feel the drops and inversions best in the back!). After I adjusted my headset, the ride attendant had me look forward so she could reset the visuals. The VR experience has you starting in an undersea exploration submarine base (feel free to look at all of the details of the sub base while people are queuing!). As the ride begins and dips down to the start of the lift hill, your submarine “drops” into the ocean. The ride premise is that you are exploring an underwater volcano and checking for “anomalies”. But suddenly the volcano erupts and you are sucked into a deep sea chasm!
Without spoiling too much, I have to say that the VR makes the already great first drop of Kraken even better! The VR completely syncs with the movements and inversions of the ride. Throughout the ride, you face all sorts of deep sea creatures and eventually encounter the Kraken herself. One cool aspect of the ride visuals was the incorporation of Atlantis towards the end of the ride. Journey to Atlantis is located directly next to Kraken Unleashed. The second half of the ride actually takes you towards Journey to Atlantis, so I thought the way the ride visuals tied the two rides together was incredibly well done.
I ended up riding the ride 3 times. I do have to say that after my second ride, I started to feel slightly out of it. After the third time, my body was done, so Kraken Unleashed definitely isn’t something I can ride all day. However, the teens sitting in the front of the train rode it six times straight so it all depends on your tolerance for motion. I also have to add to make sure that you tighten your headset straps as much as possible. On my second ride, the headset started to slip off my head towards the second half of the ride (which probably led to my feeling out of it!).
Kraken Unleashed isn’t the only new thing SeaWorld Orlando has to offer. Starting Saturday, June 17, park guests will be treated to the all-new evening extravaganza, Electric Ocean! Electric Ocean will feature dancers, a dazzling light and sound show, glowing sea creatures, and a DJ to keep guests entertained. The event will cap off each night with a display of fireworks and lasers. SeaWorld has really stepped its game up this summer to offer guests enough attractions and entertainment to want to spend the entire day at the park!
Have you gotten the chance to experience Kraken Unleashed yet? Or are you planning on taking a trip to SeaWorld Orlando anytime soon? Feel free to leave your comments below! For more information on Kraken Unleashed and SeaWorld Orlando, please click here.