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By Alicia Lewis Murray
Countdown to opening of SeaWorld Orlando's new roller coaster, Kraken:
I have a new job and boy, do I love it! One of the perks is that I get to attend roller coaster openings. This may seem great, but I've realized that it's not as easy as it may seem. Last week, SeaWorld held a media event for its' newest attraction -- a roller coaster named Kraken. I attended the event, but was not prepared for how scary the ride looked with its' steep, steep climb upward and seven inversions.
Before they allowed us to ride the coaster we watched a presentation. I was standing near one of the members of the Florida Coaster Club, Jerry Dane. At one point, he leaned over and asked me if I was going to ride the coaster. "Oh, I'm not sure yet," I lied. Of course, I was leaning more toward not riding it, but to admit that to a coaster fanatic wasn't something I felt would help my image within the "coaster critic" circle.
The time came when they let all the media and coaster enthusiasts go on the ride. Should I go? I had convinced myself that instead of writing a review of the ride I would compose a factual article. Next week I will be bringing Go2orlando's ride enthusiast, Joy Ryder, for her expert opinion -- what did I need to ride it for?
At the end of the event, I ran into Jerry again. I asked him how many times he had ridden Kraken. "Nine," he replied. "It's a smooth and fluid ride. You feel like you are hung out there -- open and free."
I left the park and headed back to the office, but remained quiet about my failed attempt to ride Kraken.
One week later -- night of the launch party :
Our photographer, Joy Ryder and I entered the park and walked past an area that was being set up for the party -- celebrating the opening of Kraken. One table had a dolphin ice sculpture surrounded by shrimp and stone crab, another table had a chocolate covered roller coaster. Joy and I made the decision to not eat until we had ridden the coaster.
I was scared enough just entering the line to the ride, but then heard the deep male voice sending out ride warnings. I could tell Joy was excited and wondered if it was obvious that I was petrified. "You can ride in the front if you want to, but I'm going to sit in the middle," I said to her. "The middle is fine," she replied as she nodded her head, the anticipation of the stomach-pitching ride apparent in her voice.
I sat in the cold blue seat, pulled down the blue restraining device, lowered it over my head, and buckled it to the seat. I kept checking to see if it would accidentally pop up. Was it secure enough? Would I be lifted out of my seat? Then, without warning, the floor disappeared and my feet began swinging.
Thumbs-up from the SeaWorld employees, and we were off. Our car began moving toward the steep upward climb -- 15 stories high. I kept wondering if I had made the right decision. Would I make it off of this ride safely? Would I become some screaming maniac that has to be put out of her misery? I had been told that you can see all of downtown Orlando from up there -- probably one of the reasons I decided to go on the ride, but trust me, the only things you see are sky and water. I took a deep breath as the car began its' decent, looping almost immediately. I don't remember much after the upward climb, except that one of the inversions had me so scared I felt like I might be flying out into nowhere. After several more loops and inversions (during most of which I had my eyes closed and my mouth open) the car slowed down on a straight track, but it was not over yet. We looped again and dove into a cave as water splashed on us. Finally, the ride was over. Whew!
Walking off the ride was a great feeling. I did it, I rode the "longest, fastest, tallest, steepest and wildest coaster in Orlando." Now I could save face at the office, my mother would know I'm not a chicken, and I could tell all of you that I had ridden this beast. Will I ride it again? Ask me in a week.
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