The mantra of Manta

The title of this post was suggested by one of those Spoonerisms (I think that’s what it is, but will stand corrected) which occur in any situation. The occasion – our visit to Sea World yesterday. The ride – Manta –  a roller-coaster on which you travel face forwards. That is, you get into a seat suspended beneath the roller-coaster track. Then you strap yourself in to a very elaborate harness, which also involves leg restraints. Then they tilt the whole seat 90 degrees so that you are looking down at the floor and your head is leading the way as the coaster sets off up the first LOOOOOONNNNGGGGG and HHHIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGHHHHHH incline. That was where the mantra came in and it mostly involved me repeating ‘Oh My God !’ a number of times plus other expletives as we got higher and higher. I’m not at my best with heights. Usually on coasters this is ok  as the initial climb is up a ramp, so you can’t actually see the ground beneath you (on rides like The Hulk it is even easier as you get shot out of the launch tube so get no time whatsoever to contemplate the dizziness of your situation). But with Manta there is no floor, there is no ramp and you are looking straight downwards at the (substantial and getting more so) drop. In that situation, prayer seemed like the obvious course. My wife reckons that, on her ride, she distinctly heard a very English “F*ck !!” as the ride neared the top of the first ramp – but I was nowhere around then….

This was a ride I was keen not to show myself up on. After wimping out of Sheikra a few days previously, my reputation for derring do was very much at stake. Even more so since the wife had done Manta earlier in the day, whilst I selflessly child-minded our younger grandson who was unable to ride. So no backing out.

Actually, the ride was awesome – the different perspective provided by the head-first travel was genuinely very much like flying, although it’s unlikely you would choose to fly straight down towards the ground and then back up into a tight and quite slow loop. Skimming the water in the small lagoon at the park was also fun, and it was a hell of a lot less rattly than the usual above the track coasters. Which was good for my back and neck, as well as my morale. This will give you an idea of what was involved.

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 15.13.04

If anything, I’ve enjoyed the ‘dangly’ coasters most this trip – Montu, Mantand  Dragon Challenge – and I think that’s because there seems to be less vibration up through the tail-bone and onwards through spine and neck. To be sure, you still get the G-force and acceleration, along with the twists and turns – it’s just that suspended seems to make it easier on the body. I know my last ride on the Rip Ride Rockit gave me a violent headache, which I put down to neck strain. But there we go.

If there’s been a theme to our park visits this time, it’s been something of a conservation one. I’ve already spoken of this but it has been very noticeable. Not only Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but also Busch Gardens, Sea World and Discovery Cove (of more later) have a strong wildlife theme and make a genuine effort to inform you about the animals etc as part of their work. Indeed, Busch Gardens, Sea World and Discovery are all linked and it shows – their staff seem better informed and qualified (Disney people are good but you always suspect it comes from a script and if you ask anything off script…..) and there does seem to be some serious scientific work going on as well as fun, fun, fun.

We watched the Shamu Show (killer whales), Dolphin Show (eponymous), as well as swimming with the latter, and all the shows and displays were immensely entertaining and enjoyable. And I can’t imagine that people didn’t go away feeling a little but more protective about the natural world, however sentimentally the message was packaged. Think Michael Jackson ‘Earth Song’ if that isn’t too much of a leap of faith. Good tune.

I’m a bit short on photos for this part of the trip. Mostly, I took video footage as well as a lot of ‘official’ pics which we won’t have until back in GB. This is particularly true of yesterday’s visit to Discovery Cove, and our one-on-ones with dolphins. But I think I’ll leave that for another day.

It’s now Sunday afternoon, just after 3.00 pm and we have 2 full days left. We spent today mopping up a few leftovers at Universal – SpiderMan, Dragon Challenge – as well as saying goodbye to favourites like  The Hulk, Rip Ride Rockit and The Mummy. Also buying souvenirs, most of which will probably not last the journey back. I seem to have come away with a lot more ‘tat’ than last time – t-shirts and bric-a-brac like Harry Potter notebooks and Universal clapperboards (wanted one for years). And we are on our way out now to Downtown Disney for some shopping and probably dinner at Planet Hollywood. I’m aware that the holiday is coming to a close, but don’t want to rush through the last two days trying to get everything in. I have managed to persuade myself that everything comes to an end and that impermanence is the basis of all life. But I will still want  to jump ship on the way to the airport and abscond into the great American wilderness.

Clevedon is nice, but it’s not really the same. Sorry. More on Discovery Cove later.


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