Australia’s Sea World unveils Leviathan; additional rides in New Atlantis Precinct
AT: Tim Baldwin
QUEENSLAND, Australia — On December 2, Sea World debuted a wave of new fun for its visitors. The park, which opened on the Gold Coast in 1971, has created an exciting brand-new area called The New Atlantis Precinct.
“I am incredibly proud and excited to officially open The New Atlantis at Sea World. Our team have done an outstanding job in creating this truly unique precinct,” said Clark Kirby, CEO, Village Roadshow Theme Parks, operator of Sea World.
The new section is across the lake on which the park offers water ski shows. Because the iconic attraction of the Atlantis area is a striking new wooden coaster, it became necessary to fill in a portion of the lake to make the construction of the massive coaster possible.
“Our team worked strategically to reclaim unused land from our ski lake and repurpose back-of-house areas to create the space required to build this world-class precinct,” said Bikash Randhawa, COO, Village Roadshow Theme Parks.
“The Leviathan is a spectacular experience with guests embarking on a journey from the moment they enter the precinct passing by enormous nine-meter warrior statues to enter the ride queue, which features incredible theming and state-of-the-art technology to fully immerse them in an underwater utopia before they brave the wooden coaster,” Kirby said.
Australia has not seen a major, new wooden roller coaster in 37 years, making Leviathan quite noteworthy. It stands 105 feet tall and has a track length of 3,280 feet. Riders rush through the layout in a breathtaking 90 seconds at 50 mph.
Martin & Vleminckx was contracted to build the new coaster.
“The coach on the last seat is facing backward, which is rarely seen,” said Eve Melanson, marketing M&V. “I think the theming is fantastic. People will be able to appreciate the coaster’s design but also all the theming around it, which makes it so special. Wooden coasters are beautiful, but I think we’re starting to see a trend of adding theming."
Towering Atlantean statues serve as sentinels in the area, and two stand guard at Leviathan’s entrance. Rocky walls grace the queue with artistic detailed serpents sculpted within them. The journey to the station leads riders through a mythic cave, with moody lighting setting the theme. Inside the station, video walls show the leviathan swimming past sea portals before visitors.
M&V’s 2021 project also saw theming incorporated into it at Jinan Sunac Land in China.
"This isn’t your average amusement park ride. Leviathan is an intense and thrilling experience from start to finish!” said Chuck Bingham, senior vice president, M&V. “With its combination of speed, height and twists, we know it will appeal to riders young and old alike."
“We have experienced strong attendance figures since the opening of the precinct, and are receiving incredible feedback from our guests,” said Randhawa. “The New Atlantis Precinct has done a wonderful job of complementing our existing attractions and experiences at the park, to provide an even greater experience for all who visit the park.”
The trains for Leviathan were provided by Gravitykraft, a subsidiary of The Gravity Group, which did the engineering on the coaster.
“The trains feature a backward car as the last car, so that will really be awesome for those who want the extra thrill,” said Michael Graham, principal, The Gravity Group, prior to the ride’s opening. “What people don’t realize is that it has a tail on it. It will be the only wood coaster that has a head and a huge tail on it. It’s going to be totally mind-blowing. We’re really stoked.”
The backward car is a revenue stream for the park as it requires an upcharge.
Enthusiasts have praised the ride for its many attributes, which include airtime, numerous banked curves, directional changes and maintained speed. The snarl of tangled trackage dives within and through itself leaving riders questioning what they have just experienced.
Bingham was moved that the Sea World management took it upon themselves to have the names of the important M&V management team pressed into six silver dollars permanently mounted on the coaster, including Kevin Hehn, past president of M&V, who passed last year because of COVID-related issues.
Two other thrill rides opened with the New Atlantis Precinct. The Trident, a swing ride supplied by SBF, is the tallest landmark at the theme park. It stands at 137 feet tall.
“Standing at 42 meters high, the Trident boasts incredible views of the Gold Coast beaches, skyline and Broadwater to offer one of the most visually spectacular ride experiences in Australia,” said Kirby.
The station, queue and signage are beautifully designed with gold arches.
Another new addition is a thrill ride from HUSS called Vortex.
"It fills us with joy and pride that the HUSS Top Spin Suspended is part of the latest park expansion,” said Lars L. Hartmann, international sales manager, HUSS. “We have found the collaboration on this project to be exceptionally pleasant and professional. Regardless of the pandemic, Sea World has created a true masterpiece with the New Atlantis area. We are convinced that this concept will successfully develop into an absolute visitor magnet."
The New Atlantis Precinct has a reported cost of AU$50 million. The new area has been four years in the making. COVID-19 had its impact, as it has around the world. The area was originally planned to open in June of 2021.
“Similar to the entire construction industry in Australia, we experienced delays with the project,” noted Randhawa. “Our team worked diligently with manufacturers, government agencies and relevant partners to combat these delays as efficiently as possible. However, due to the nature of the pandemic, several of the delays were outside of our control.”
“At Village Roadshow Theme Parks, we are committed to providing world-class attractions such as The New Atlantis Precinct and the opening of this precinct is a major drawcard for the Gold Coast as we come into our peak season,” Kirby said at the area’s debut.