‘This thing is unbelievable looking:’ SeaWorld leaders talk ‘Pipeline’ coaster development

New attraction scheduled to open this spring

SeaWorld Orlando Announces First-Of-Its-Kind Roller Coaster, “Pipeline: The Surf Coaster”, as the Theme Park’s Newest Attraction to Open in 2023 (SeaWorld)

ORLANDO, Fla. – In the near future, guests visiting SeaWorld Orlando will have the opportunity to strap in and feel like they’re riding the waves on “Pipeline: The Surf Coaster.”

The new attraction, first announced last year, is inching closer to construction completion near the theme park’s front entrance gates.

The first-of-its-kind coaster will send riders on a journey reaching max speeds of 60 mph with five different airtime moments and just under 2 minutes of runtime. The ride will also feature a number of thrills as it races up to heights of 110 feet in the air along the 2,950-feet of track.

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During a recent episode on “Sea The World with Cindy Simmons,” SeaWorld’s official podcast, Vice President of Operations Rob McNicholas and Vice President of Rides and Engineering Jonathan Smith sat down to talk about the design process and what it took to bring the attraction to life.

SeaWorld is working hand-in-hand with its Switzerland-based partner B&M Rides to build the attraction.

“It’s a very large vehicle, very impressive. I was able to actually get into the restraint and pull it down just to kind of mimic what you would be like as a rider and you know, we want to make sure that, one, it looks like a surfboard,” McNicholas said during a trip to Switzerland.

See video of the construction below

The ride vehicle made its official debut last year at an International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions trade show in the Orange County Convention Center. Leaders said the ride vehicle will bounce and have jumping motions to give the rider the feeling as if they’re surfing the waves.

SeaWorld unveils ride vehicle for Pipeline Surf Coaster at IAAPA. Nov. 15, 2022 (WKMG)

“So it physically looks like a surfboard and has like a wax look to it like you just kind of waxed your surfboard, but also it needs to be slip resistant. And we want to make sure when you’re on there and you’re getting on or off that that your feet are stable,” explained McNicholas. “If you’re in Florida, there’s a good chance you’re wearing flip flops. You can’t ride this roller coaster wearing flip flops - you would take them off. "

Last month, the surfboard style ride vehicles arrived at the construction site.

Leaders said the next process will be testing the attraction alongside the ride manufacturer.

“So, they do their testing and they are the first ones. We do get a little jealous,“ McNicholas said. “It’s a little sad, but shortly thereafter we go through a commissioning process... where we do everything we can to make sure the ride is 100% safe.”

SeaWorld Orlando’s annual passholders will be among the first riders to access to “Pipeline: The Surf Coaster” when it opens this spring.

If you would like to listen to the entire SeaWorld podcast, click here.

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About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.