For those not tracking the theme park tides, Storm is Sea World’s successor to the wildly popular Bermuda Triangle. When Sea World closed Bermuda, it came with good timing – the ride had practically rotted into disrepair. The charm of the ride’s original storyline was eroded away by crackly speakers, safety & efficiency modifications to the station (which meant you’d fly right past show-rooms that would setup the entire premise of the ride) and Jet Rescue’s introduction to the park meant the gas-line to the ride’s iconic volcano flames were severed. To tie it all off, the flames were replaced with red neons, and with that cute yet cheap replacement, the ride’s fate was sealed and eventually gutted after sitting idle nearly a year later.
To say Bermuda Triangle was gutted for Storm is definitely an understatement. All but three walls of the main show building remain of Bermuda Triangle. The new ride’s footprint, an off the shelf Mack Water-Coaster layout, was essentially shoe-horned as best as the park could into the Bermuda’s existing ride envelope and in the process, almost the entirety of Bermuda Triangle disappeared as rubble to make it all fit. It’s an entirely different beast to say the least. Even parts of the Viking’s Revenge (the park’s flume ride) had to be re-routed for the ride to fit.
But for the tight-fit there’s a big payoff – the ride’s visibility (both height and colour) trumps anything else in the park now, including the park’s main roller-coaster, Sea Viper, which has been one of the parks visual icons for over 30 years. As for the ride itself, it’s short and sweet. Perhaps even too short – while there’s some great family fun to be had, I feel that if you were to compare Bermuda Triangle in its heyday, full of Disney-esque quality theming and showpieces to Storm, you’d feel somewhat underwhelmed depending on your initial expectations. Essentially the park has traded a slow, gentle ride with an expansive, animatronically brilliant storyline with speed, adrenaline and core set pieces that depict a rough storyline. It’s not to say what they’ve done with the theming is half-rate, in fact the use of water, smoke and even shipping containers, rubble, broken cars and boats all help to depict the theme of a messed up harbour in the eye of the storm, all of which is done brilliantly. Even the boats you ride in look like Gold Coast Lifesaver rescue boats, a nice touch that’ll become iconic in its own right. For what it’s worth, the theming and landscaping is top notch, but the storytelling just isn’t there. If there was one critique i’d have for Storm it’d be to really build up rider suspense before hitting that lift hill heading into the ride – there’s a great opportunity missed there to really scare the shit out of people and setup the premise of the ride at the same time. Right now it’s just a few video screens showing lightning that’s very easily missed. If I were the park, i’d add a timed tesla coil over the top that create a huge arc every few minutes and match it with a giant waterbucket that would “nearly” saturate riders before they hit the lift hill (similar to what happens on Wild West Falls at Movie World before you hit the lift hill). Perhaps it even would wet riders sometimes. It’d definitely give riders something to tell their friends about, and those waiting in line would get a huge kick out of seeing people wee themselves when a big shot of electricity sounds over the top of riders. It’d be a cheap, low-maintenance series of show tricks that would heighten the overall experience of the ride.
Hell, the park could really earn some brownie parks and suggest on the large video displays that the Storm was caused by something all the way from the Bermuda Triangle (it’d make the nerd in me tingle a little, sad, I know, but awesome none the less when brand’s like Disney pay homage to rides and characters past.)
Overall, it’s a fantastic ride which could be made into something brilliant with some minor tweaks. It’s worth buying a pass for, and if you’ve neglected the park in recent years for its lack of rides, now’s the time to get back down there and experience Sea World. The combination of great roller-coasters, brilliant animal attractions and shows makes for a really fun, unique day you won’t find anywhere else in the country.
You can find the full photostream of Storm on flickr.