"It's critical that this is a home run," Dan Brown, general manager of SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica, told the Orlando Sentinel. "And we think it's going to be."
Although SeaWorld executives won't reveal how much the new ride cost, they have described it as the most expensive attraction ever constructed by Busch Entertainment Corp.
Manta, which officially opens Friday, combines a 56-mph inverted roller coaster with a walk-through aquarium filled with 300 species of rays, the Sentinel said.
"It's a good little insurance policy," Steve Baker, president of Baker Leisure Group and a former Walt Disney World executive, said of the new roller coaster. "It gives (SeaWorld marketers) a little bit of leverage. If they had nothing to talk about, plus the economy is bad, they'd be scratching their heads."