The Journey to Atlantis attraction was installed in Sea World Orlando while I lived in Florida but I never got the opportunity to check it out. I heard that it had unique ride systems and the reviews were mixed. However, I never let anybody that had ridden it tell me much. I honestly wanted it to be a surprise and I've been excited to see it for a long time.
Years later, I live in Vegas but this past week, Danny and I took a trip to Sea World San Diego where I was pleased to discover the ride existed there too. Finally! Due various boring logistics, we didn't get to ride it until the very end of the day... twice. Now I understand the mixed reviews.
This ride has a great deal of potential. The ride systems are technologically very interesting. It switches between a traditional water flume ride and a simple roller coaster. It also has a cool tilting elevator. Really neat. I must say that Atlantis is one of my favorite mythological themes and the architecture of the structure is pretty cool. Finally, as an element that is very unique to Sea World, the attraction has a large, nicely themed aquarium housing Commerson's Dolphins. These small black and white dolphins are very energetic, interactive, and amusing. They spend about 50% of their time swimming around upside-down. They are the best part of the attraction and you don't have to get in line or ride the ride to see them.
However, this attraction is very disappointing in some respects. It is almost entirely devoid of any recognizable story. They did put some effort into a storyline in the form of a disembodied female voice that talks to you from great big obvious speakers sitting on the sides of the track. She says something about talking to dolphins and "redemption for Atlantis". The implication is that the ride is a series of challenges to survive. The dolphin element is tied in via some CGI versions of them that appear on a video screen in the elevator. I think they saved us or something. My personal opinion is NEVER use a CGI animal when riders have just seen the real thing up close mere minutes before. Finally, this ride lasts what feels like about 30 seconds.
So close! Honestly, I think this same ride system (and even the theme) would be best served in an indoor attraction. Perhaps a dark ride that has a surprising and sudden thrill ride element that you don't see coming. I'm thinking of something like a Splash Mountain 2.0. From what I've read, the Orlando version of this ride does have more dark ride-like elements to it but I can't really judge that version yet.
Anyway, I'm glad I finally got to do this. There were great elements that I enjoyed immensely but as an entire attraction it felt unfinished. Now they just need to build a Kraken and Manta in San Diego so I can try that out.
Click here for more pictures from our Sea World visit...