SeaWorld to debut new roller coaster

Published: May 20, 2009 at 11:41 PM

ORLANDO, Fla., May 20 (UPI) -- SeaWorld officials in Orlando, Fla., say they hope their new Manta roller coaster helps attract visitors to the theme park despite the poor economic climate.

"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."

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