SeaWorld Orlando launches a new version of its 17-year-old roller coaster Friday with a new name and the option to use virtual reality headgear or ride old school.

Kraken Unleashed begins at a mythological seabase and rises up 149 feet as riders experience near misses with giant sea creatures.

Orlando’s only floorless roller coaster is themed after a massive, mythological underwater beast unleashed from the depths of the sea. Riders strap on headsets that cover their eyes and ears to see and hear the bioluminescent-colored creatures with tentacles that seem to reach out and grab them.

The original Kraken looked like a giant eel but Kraken Unleashed is a combination of a vampire, alien, and other legendary sea creatures that guard Atlantis.

SeaWorld workers sanitize the virtual reality face masks after every ride.

The coaster, with seven inversions and two vertical loops, was the tallest and longest in Florida when it opened in 2000. It held that distinction until 2006, when Disney’s Expedition Everest opened at nearly 200 feet.

Kraken has been closed since April for the re-theming. SeaWorld passholders took the first ride on Kraken Unleashed Tuesday. It is the second virtual reality coaster in Central Florida, following Fun Spot America’s Freedom Flyer, which debuted in December.

The makeover is part of the $175 million in new and upgraded attractions CEO Joel Manby announced last September for SeaWorld’s American parks.

About The Author

The youngest of seven children, Terry O. Roen followed two older brothers into journalism. Her career started as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, where she wrote stories on city and county government, schools, courts and religion. She has also reported for the Associated Press, where she covered the Casey Anthony and Trayvon Martin trials along with the Pulse massacre. Married to her husband, Hal, they have two children and live in Winter Park. A lifelong tourist in her own state, she writes about Central Florida’s growing tourism industry for Florida Politics and Orlando Rising.

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