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SeaWorld – North End: Journey to Atlantis

Rating: * * * +
Type: Combination flume ride and roller coaster
Time: About 6 minutes
Kelly says: Wet and wild

It just goes to show you: always heed the warnings of crusty old Greek fishermen, no matter how crazy they seem. Of course, the tourist hordes ignore Stavros’ sage advice and set sail on a tour of the ancient city of Atlantis which has mysteriously risen from the Aegean.

Rising some ten stories, Atlantis looks gaudily out of place at SeaWorld, but it sure looks pretty in the golden glow of the setting sun. But it’s not the architecture that draws us here. It’s the dizzyingly steep water flume emerging from the city walls and the happy screams of those plunging to a watery splashdown. Wend your way through the Greek-village-themed waiting line and be entertained by the news coverage of the eerie reappearance of Atlantis as you wait for your boat.

The voyage gets off to a peaceful start, but after a benign and quite lovely interlude, the boat is seized by the evil Allura, who I gather is a vengeful ancient spirit of some sort. You are winched higher and higher before being sent on a hair-raising journey that combines the scariest elements of a flume ride and a roller coaster. It’s a nifty engineering feat but most people probably won’t care as they plunge down the 60-foot flume into a tidal wave of water. Another slow ascent gives you a chance to catch your breath before you zip through a fiendishly hidden mini roller coaster to another splashdown, as Allura cackles gleefully. It’s all over quickly — too quickly for my taste — but you can always head immediately for the end of the inevitably long line for another go.

It must be said that the storyline for this ride is a bit confusing and hard to follow, which bothers some purists. Most people don't seem to care.

Tip: This is a very wet ride, especially if you are in the front row of the eight-passenger boat that serves as the ride vehicle. An inexpensive poncho (which you can get at any of the theme parks) provides pretty good protection. Expensive cameras and other items that might not survive a soaking can be checked as you enter the boat, but they are placed in unlocked lockers and no guarantees are provided. Pay lockers are available near the entrance to the waiting line; they cost 50 cents and if you don’t have the change you will have to walk over to the nearby lockers for Kraken, where a change machine is available.

As you exit the ride, don’t miss the lovely Jewels of the Sea Aquarium, just off the inevitable gift shop. Hammerhead sharks and stingrays swim above you in a domed aquarium, while angelfish inhabit the aquarium beneath your feet. Around the walls, don’t miss the moon jellyfish that glow enchantingly when you press the light button. Just outside the aquarium and gift shop, playful hidden fountains await to soak the unwary.

Photo Op: Just outside the Jewels of the Sea Aquarium is a plaza with a splendid view of the 60-foot flume plunge. If you don’t want to take your own pictures, shots of every boatload of happily terrified cruisers are on sale at the ride exit.

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