Up until 2016, there were many wonderful roller coasters in Florida, representing a wide variety of types—with one glaring exception. Ride fans craving a major hypercoaster had been out of luck. As luck would have it, however, SeaWorld Orlando filled the gap when it unleashed Mako.
The tall and fast shark-themed ride features lots of swoops and dives as well as loads of freaky airtime.
- Height: 200 feet
- First drop: 200 feet
- Top speed: 73 mph
- Track length: 4760 ft.
- Minimum height: 54 inches
- Ride manufacturer: Bolliger & Mabillard
Like most hypercoasters, Mako is built for speed and negative-G-filled, out-of-your-seat, weightless moments. Unlike SeaWorld's other major coasters, Kraken and Manta, the ride does not include any inversions. That makes it more accessible for visitors that find loops, corkscrews, and other upside-down thrills too intimidating.
Then again, the coaster soars to a lofty 200 feet (which makes it tied as one of Florida's two tallest coasters). And it reaches a bone-rattling 73 mph (which secures it a spot as Florida's speediest coaster demon). With 4760 feet of track, it is also the state’s longest coaster. If those stats aren't intimidating enough, its nine airtime hills—which most coaster fans greet with giddy excitement—may be enough to give visitors on the line a serious case of the willies.
Speaking of ride designers, Bolliger & Mabillard, the Swiss-based coaster master that brought Mako to life, has an enviable, um, track record, especially for its portfolio of hypercoasters. B&M nails it with glorious top-10 rides such as Diamondback at Kings Island and Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Sure enough, the company has done it again with the SeaWorld ride. Mako is, in our estimation, the best roller coaster in Florida.
Mako Lives Up to the Hypercoaster Hype
An onboard surround-sound system treats passengers on Mako to a shark-inspired soundtrack. (The entire Sharks Realm area area in which the ride is located plays similar music.) The queue for the ride include a shipwreck theme and simulates an underwriter reef setting. The hypercoaster is designed to make passengers feel as if they are sharks, hunting their prey at predatory speeds.
With an unobtrusive lap bar as their only restraint, passengers feel unencumbered in the coaster’s open cars. They climb the 200-foot lift hill and experience an exhilarating 200-foot first drop that accelerates them to the ride’s top cruising speed. The momentum sends them racing up a second 165-foot hill.
When the train crests the third hill, that’s when Mako delivers its most intense moment of out-of-your-seat floating airtime. That alone is enough to warrant major praise for the coaster. But it still has plenty to offer.
Mako then navigates a hammerhead turn that reverse the direction of the train on the out-and-back course. A series of airtime hills follows, including a relatively small one that looks innocent enough, but offers a surprising wallop.
Before returning to the station, the train takes a victory lap above the park’s midway. With music and lights programmed to follow the train, it makes quite a spectacle, especially at night.
Despite its impressive stats and intense ride experience, Mako is remarkably smooth. That is one of the hallmarks of the ride’s designer, B&M.
Head Underwater to Meet Your Mako
Sharks Realm includes the Shark Encounter attraction. The exhibit features a clear, underwater viewing tunnel through which visitors can see actual sharks. There are also yellow tangs and other tropical fish on display. The land includes Sharks Underwater Grill, a full-service restaurant that offers table-side views of the fearsome creatures.
There are interactive stations available in Sharks Realm at which visitors can learn about the fearsome creatures. It turns out that sharks are not natural predators of humans. As SeaWorld demonstrates, people have been decimating the shark population and may make the animals endangered.