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On September 28th, 2023, SeaWorld Orlando officially announced Penguin Trek, a new, prototype, Bolliger & Mabillard-made, multi-launch, indoor/outdoor, family coaster slated to replace the Antartica: Empire of the Penguin darkride in 2024. Official details regarding the stats of this new coaster are in short supply, but we do know that it will feature a darkride segment at the start, two launches during the course, a top speed of 43 miles per hour, and a total track length of 3,020 feet. Per the press release, Penguin Trek will accommodate rider heights between 42 and 77 inches.

Though confirmed layout information is limited, leaked SeaWorld Orlando Project Toboggan site plans from June 2023 have given us a lot of information to work with. An in-depth breakdown of the leaks can be found here.

Official Concept Art​

SWO_Penguin_Trek_1.jpg SWO_Penguin_Trek_2.jpg 383841480_324487100253050_2436261598420530153_n.jpg 750x422-SWO-Rides-Penguin-Trek-Interior-Track-Concept-Art.jpg 750x422-SWO-Rides-Penguin-Trek-Concept-Art.jpg

Press Release​

SeaWorld Orlando Announces the Arrival of The Ultimate Antarctic Adventure: “Penguin Trek” – The New Immersive Family Coaster Coming Spring 2024

· Unique snowmobile styled ride cars transport riders on an unforgettable expedition through the Antarctic wilderness with two launches, a 3,020-foot track that traverses both indoors and outside, and a grand finale arrival at the penguin habitat where riders can experience the enchanting world of these remarkable animals
· Exciting for the whole family, the coaster accommodates rider heights from 42-77 inches
· Become a 2024 Pass Member and be the first to ride before the coaster opens to the public; 2024 passes on sale now

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 28, 2023) – SeaWorld Orlando, already recognized as the Coaster Capital of Orlando with an impressive array of heart-pounding rides, is about to take your breath away once again with its all-new attraction coming in Spring 2024 – “Penguin Trek” – the eagerly awaited eighth coaster to join the park's ever-expanding ride portfolio. Designed as THE ultimate family launch coaster experience, “Penguin Trek” features a unique snowmobile styled ride car where once aboard, riders will embark on an exhilarating journey through the breathtaking vastness of Antarctica as they join a penguin research mission unlike any other.

Featuring two exhilarating launches and a maze of twists and turns, this unforgettable coaster moves at speeds of up to 43 mph across a 3,020-foot track that traverses both indoors and outside. Yet, what sets this experience apart as truly extraordinary is its unparalleled finale: as the coaster comes to a halt, guests find themselves not in a simulated penguin colony, but in the very heart of SeaWorld Orlando’s own penguin habitat. An experience for the whole family, the ride accommodates rider heights from 42-inches to 77-inches. 2024 Annual Pass members can be the first to ride before the public and passes are on sale now.

"We are incredibly excited to unveil our newest addition to SeaWorld Orlando's outstanding coaster lineup in Spring of 2024," said Jon Peterson, President of SeaWorld Orlando. "This family launch coaster embodies the spirit of adventure and exploration, offering an immersive journey through the wonders of Antarctica while further connecting our mission and commitment to our animal care, education and research. We know our guests were ready for a new thrill that the whole family could enjoy, and we’re excited to redefine the family launch coaster experience alongside our longstanding partners at B&M.”

Once aboard, riders will embark on an unforgettable expedition on this one-of-a-kind immersive family launch coaster that catapults them through the Antarctic wilderness at speeds of up to 43 mph across a 3,020-foot track. As they step into the shoes of intrepid researchers, they’ll navigate in a unique snowmobile ride car across the icy expanse, narrowly escaping an ice cave's clutches. This family-friendly adventure intensifies as they burst onto an outdoor coaster track, featuring two exhilarating launches and a maze of twists and turns. With adrenaline pumping, riders navigate this treacherous coaster, emerging from the looming danger of falling ice to finally reach the safety of a penguin colony, a journey that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of adventure and discovery. Yet, what sets this experience apart as truly extraordinary is its unparalleled finale: as the coaster comes to a halt, guests find themselves not in a simulated penguin colony, but in the very heart of SeaWorld Orlando’s own penguin habitat. The exhilaration of the ride seamlessly transitions into a heartwarming encounter with these charming, feathered inhabitants. This unique and immersive blend of family coaster thrills and authentic animal interaction offers an opportunity for the whole family to connect with the enchanting world of these captivating penguins, making it a one-of-a-kind adventure that will forever remain etched in their memories.

This family coaster's engineering prowess and world-class design are credited to Bolliger & Mabillard, the renowned design and manufacturers known for their excellence in roller coaster engineering. With five other remarkable coasters already at SeaWorld Orlando, including the park’s most recent thrill ride, "Pipeline: The Surf Coaster," which opened to rave reviews in May 2023, Penguin Trek is set to tie the park for the record of the most B&M coasters in one location.

SeaWorld Orlando's commitment to providing diverse thrills for all family members is evident in "Penguin Trek's" unique indoor/outdoor coaster experience. This latest addition to the coaster family promises to be another crowning jewel in a park already celebrated for its coaster excellence. Joining the ranks of award-winning rides such as "Mako," voted the #1 Best Roller Coaster by the USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice poll for five consecutive years, and "Ice Breaker," which secured the #1 New Attraction spot in the same poll, "Penguin Trek" is poised to continue SeaWorld Orlando's legacy of pushing the boundaries of coaster innovation for the whole family.

Be Among the First Family to Ride “Penguin Trek” with a SeaWorld Annual Pass

Guests can experience the best of SeaWorld Orlando with a 2024 annual pass including unlimited visits, unbeatable benefits, and the opportunity to be among the first family to experience “Penguin Trek” before it opens to the public. 2024 annual passes are on sale now and start at $14 per month with no down payment. Membership includes unlimited admission, access to vibrant seasonal events, and exclusive Pass Member benefits like FREE guest tickets, FREE parking and special savings on merchandise, and food and beverage. Plus, Pass Members receive special monthly rewards throughout the year such as exclusive Pass Member merchandise, behind-the-scenes animal experiences, festival-exclusive food & beverage deals, and discounts on admission to SeaWorld’s separately ticketed Howl-O-Scream event. The SeaWorld Orlando Annual Pass program features the bronze, silver, gold, and platinum annual pass, which grants access to all 11 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment locations nationwide including, three SeaWorld parks, two Busch Gardens parks, two Sesame Place parks and several award-winning water parks. Annual Pass Members also get exclusive discounts at Discovery Cove. The program is structured in a guest-friendly way that allows visitors to choose the pass, the benefits, and the parks that are the best fit their needs. Restrictions apply.

For more information, park hours and to purchase tickets, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com. Follow SeaWorld Orlando on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news from SeaWorld.

Official Website​


Project Timeline​


Leaked Site Plan​

Site Plan.jpg

Speculative Layout Based on Leaked Plans​

Rough Layout Graphic REDUCED.png

NoLimits Recreation of Speculative Layout​

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Considering Darkoaster is looking to actually be semi-decently executed, I wouldn't mind something like that here. But would the show building be big enough to fit any sort of roller coaster? The exterior demolition makes me worried it's going to be outdoors like Arctic Rescue, which would defeat the idea of gradually adjusting people to the cold, break all the immersion by launching into an unthemed back of house area/parking lot, and turn it into a weather-dependent ride like everything else at the park.
 
Considering Darkoaster is looking to actually be semi-decently executed, I wouldn't mind something like that here. But would the show building be big enough to fit any sort of roller coaster? The exterior demolition makes me worried it's going to be outdoors like Arctic Rescue, which would defeat the idea of gradually adjusting people to the cold, break all the immersion by launching into an unthemed back of house area/parking lot, and turn it into a weather-dependent ride like everything else at the park.
Unless they are demolishing to expand the show building?
 
Unless they are demolishing to expand the show building?
That would be my hope, though I'm guessing there's like a 10% chance they'll fork over the money to build an actual building... The last ride building they constructed was literally this one that they're now partially demolishing lol. It's actually fascinating going back and seeing how few new enclosed buildings the chain has built in the last decade despite how many new additions they've made--pretty much just the Sesame Street gift shops (probably due to contractual obligations with Sesame Workshop) and the new corporate office building. Everything else has been repurposed from existing structures.

A fully enclosed Antarctica roller coaster would give me hope though. We'd finally have an indoor ride again, and there's a small chance it'd even be themed!
 
I rode DarKoaster last week and I hope that is not the direction they are going as the ride was terrible with very low capacity.
 
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I personally do not think it will be a straddle coaster - I firmly believe that if SWO will get one, they'll do a future Wave Breaker-style ride going over the lake. It made sense in SD to do it over land since the park doesn't have a huge lake like the other parks.
 
I personally do not think it will be a straddle coaster - I firmly believe that if SWO will get one, they'll do a future Wave Breaker-style ride going over the lake. It made sense in SD to do it over land since the park doesn't have a huge lake like the other parks.
I would be inclined to agree but building over water is just plain expensive, and unless we see a pivot from corporate we don't really have Manby-era Mako/Infinity Falls/Wave Breaker budgets to play with anymore.
 
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Thanks to some named and unnamed friends, we have obtained and, hopefully, at least mostly-accurately deciphered, the site plan for SeaWorld Orlando's Project Toboggan, the 2024 family coaster slated to replace the shuttered Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin dark ride.

Sometimes when I leak a coaster like this, I'll painstakingly break down every element section-by-section, sometimes I'll try to weave an entertaining and easy-to-read narrative, and other times I'll just share the broad strokes of what we've found. This time around, I want to get into the weeds on the process a bit more than normal. If I simply dumped the site plan alongside @CoasterMac and my "best guess" on everyone in one go, I suspect a lot of people would have some extreme doubt. What we believe we've found is certainly unconventional, but I do firmly believe it's the best explanation we have thus far.

So, with that explanation of the approach here out of the way, let's go back to the beginning.

As @intim305 and I were deep into our efforts attempting to solve Universal Studios Hollywood's Intamin multi-launch, a friend passed me something fascinating—a full site plan for SeaWorld Orlando's 2024 coaster, codenamed Project Toboggan. Thanks to some earlier reporting by Behind the Thrills, we knew the codename for the project, that it would utilize at least part of the previous Empire of the Penguin ride area, and that it would be a roller coaster. Beyond that though, very little was publicly known about Project Toboggan.

Initially, upon seeing the station plan published by Behind the Thrills back in March, I figured Project Toboggan would almost certainly be a sister coaster to Busch Gardens Williamsburg's DarKoaster or SeaWorld San Diego's Arctic Rescue. The station depicted air gates spaced well apart from one another at an equal interval—strongly suggesting relatively large, single-row coaster cars much like those that run on the previously-mentioned Intamin straddle coasters. Hell, even the snowmobile theme utilized on both of those recent SEAS additions would be a simple plug-and-play solution for SeaWorld Orlando's Antartica area.

Site Plan.png

With that preconception in mind, I dove into the site plan (above) intent on proving or disproving the Intamin straddle coaster theory. In parallel, I had also sent the plan out to a handful of folks better at this than myself including @CoasterMac, @intim305, and a handful of others who, unfortunately, I can't credit here.

The first step in my Intamin straddle quest was to try to get some measurements of the station plan first published by Behind the Thrills. I was able to overlay that station plan onto this new site plan and use the known dimensions in this new plan to calculate the proportions of the planned station. This certainly wasn't an exact science, but in the end I worked out that the gaps between each air gate in the Toboggan plan were about 2.6 feet and the length of Toboggan's station platform was slated to be about 52 feet.

Now, thankfully, I have leaked a few coasters over the years, and among those were both DarKoaster and Arctic Rescue. Utilizing the plans I had from those attractions, I found that the normal station gate interval for an Intamin straddle should be about 3.8 feet—notably longer than what was shown in the Toboggan plans. Furthermore, those previous leaks gave me accurate dimensions for Intamin's straddle ride vehicles. Each car, tip to tail, on Arctic Rescue and DarKoaster is about 7 feet long. We know from the Toboggan plans that SeaWorld Orlando's next coaster will feature 9 row trains. Even ignoring the train's zero car, if Toboggan were an Intamin straddle, the trains would already be roughly 63 feet long. Given the known station length outlined above of 52 feet, this is an obvious nonstarter.

With an Intamin straddle ruled out both by station air gate interval and station length, the quest began for other single-row, family coaster alternatives. Around this same time is when I realized I had another detail to work with. Below is a previously unreported partial floorplan of the planned interior for the Project Toboggan attraction.

Partial Interior Plan.png

If you look closely, you can see a snake-like shape formed by dashed lines within the darkened area. Those lines denote the anticipated ride envelope of the coaster—the area which must be kept clear so that trains and riders can safely pass through it. Measuring the width of this ride path revealed a ride envelope width of between 10 and 11 feet. This width is perfectly in-line with the ride envelopes of other two-across coaster trains.

In other words, we're now looking for a coaster model that runs at least 9 car long trains with 2 riders per row seated 2 abreast. These trains also have to have a notable gap between each car to justify that not-small 2.6 foot air gate interval.

Meanwhile, both @intim305, who had only taken a brief look over the site plan, and @CoasterMac, who had already started drafting possible solutions in NoLimits, both came to the same conclusion: The unsupported track spans depicted throughout the layout likely ruled out many of the normal family coaster model suspects. If you look over photos of Intamin and Vekoma or even Gerstlauer and Zierer family coaster models, you'll see frequent supports standing atop dense footer layouts. Sometimes, those manufacturers will use spined track to allow for larger spans, but they basically always still use spineless track near ground level necessitating much denser supports and footers.

In the case of Toboggan, there seems to be notable spans throughout the entirety of the layout—suggesting the consistent use of an oddly-robust track design for a family coaster.

Anywho, at this point, I started digging through photos of coaster stations trying to find a family coaster with large enough gaps between rows to justify the 2.6 foot air gate interval I wrote about previously. Turns out, that's a hard thing to match. Most of the family coasters I could find have notably smaller gaps between trains. Even a relatively large family coaster vehicle like Zierer's Elevated Seating Coaster train (example: Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Verbolten) lack the air gate spacing shown in the Toboggan plans. So, I started measuring air gates in coaster plans I had previously leaked over the years. The closest I found? The gap between trains on SeaWorld Orlando's new Bolliger & Mabillard Surf Coaster, Pipeline, with a gap of just under 3 feet.

I wasn't the only one running into something intriguing involving Bolliger & Mabillard though. Working on the coaster layout, @CoasterMac began to notice a lot of similarities between Toboggan's footer plan and the plans I had leaked for DorneyPark's 2024 Bolliger & Mabillard Dive Machine and, previously, SeaWorld Orlando's Project Penguin (read: Pipeline).

Examples? Toboggan and Penguin/Pipeline both use identical footer numbering syntax. At first, we thought this could simply be the result of the same contractor drafting up plans for both of these SeaWorld Orlando projects, but then we discovered that the Bolliger & Mabillard Wing Coaster at Holiday World, Thunderbird, uses the exact same numbering scheme as well. Then, we noticed an odd, right-angle, triple-legged support after the conclusion of the main coaster layout at the entrance to the final brakes. Pipeline shares a support exactly like this at the start of its brake run.

Looking even closer yet, throughout the site plan for Toboggan, three types of coaster footers can be seen marked by different shapes: circles, rounded squares/rectangles, and right-angled squares and rectangles. Comparing this to the documents I revealed for Pipeline and Dorney's dive, the same three types of footers are depicted in each and, in each case, they all seem to be used in identical ways: circles representing larger footers with primary coaster supports, rounded squares/rectangles representing footers for smaller, oftentimes secondary, bracing columns, and sharp-cornered squares/rectangles representing low-to-the-ground areas of the layout where track connectors mate directly with foundations or where Bolliger & Mabillard tends to use the occasional I-beam support.

So, the footer plan is FULL of what look to be Bolliger & Mabillard "tells" to me, but does B&M even make a coaster model that could fit the bill? Though B&M is very well known for their four abreast coaster trains, they have dabbled in two abreast trains recently. Pipeline is the obvious example, but it runs two across coaster cars with two rows per car. There is another example though that uses single-row trains with two abreast seating. Over in China, Bolliger & Mabillard has built two Family Coasters, both clones of the same inverted layout. The Toboggan plans are clearly not for an inverted coaster but, as @CoasterMac first pointed out to me, B&M states the following on their Family Coaster webpage: "The Family Coaster can be designed with vehicles running above or below the track."

Since an above-track Bolliger & Mabillard family coaster has yet to be built, we can't say for sure that it would fit the station requirements laid out previously. That said, if it is simply an above-the-track version of their family invert train, it should fit the bill perfectly. The inverts in China run two-across, 1-row-per-car, 10-car-long trains and feature relatively large, full-size-coaster-style gaps between each row. Sounds very similar to our requirements here with Toboggan.

So finally, with a model and manufacturer theorized, lets get to the layout.

If you took a close look at the site plan I included earlier in this post, you'll see that each footer is labeled with a few details. First, an identifier. Each footer ID consists of a prefix letter, a number, and, sometimes a suffix of either, L, R, or very rarely, something else. Assuming this system is consistent with Pipeline and Thunderbird, the prefix denotes something about the track being supported, the number provides the ride order in which the footer is utilized, and the suffix indicates whether or not it's part of a group of footers calumniating in a single support.

Marking all of the footers (gray dots) and connecting any footer pairs (blue lines) we get a little somethin' like this:

Footer and Support Layout.png

Since we know the order in which all of these support/support groups are experienced, it's trivial to start drawing lines between them to represent the track. Plus, if we assume the footer prefixes on this plan mean the same as they do on Pipeline and Thunderbird, we can predict things like brakes, launches, and maintenance switch tracks too. A rough approximation of SeaWorld Orlando's Project Toboggan layout can be found below.

Rough Layout Graphic.png

While estimating the layout in two dimensions is pretty easy this time around, things always get far harder and far less certain when trying to theorize the layout in a 3D environment. Thankfully, that's @CoasterMac's problem this time around, not mine! Something else to be thankful for? @CoasterMac is really damn good at this.

Based on our estimations that...
  1. Project Toboggan is a never-before-seen, above-the-track, Bolliger & Mabillard family coaster
  2. "L-" prefixed footers support launch segments as is true on Pipeline and Thunderbird
  3. This is a relatively small family coaster as evidenced by the compact, seemingly inversion-free, swoopy layout
This is what we came up with:

Poster.jpg

Obviously, element heights, track shaping, colors, etc. are very much approximations. While the footers are all perfectly placed and everything is set precisely within the existing park's features, a lot of deductions and assumptions had to be made make this mockup. It will not be perfect, but it should hopefully be close. In the absolute worst-case scenario, it should be a solid, fully viable, realistic, potential solution for the puzzle presented.

Anyway, are some additional photos of @CoasterMac's mockup too for good measure:

screenshot-2023-06-28-20-27-03.png screenshot-2023-06-28-20-27-12.png screenshot-2023-06-28-22-07-23.png screenshot-2023-06-28-22-07-34.png

And of course, there's an on-ride POV too:

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Before I close, I want to highlight again that the content above is full of assumptions. Most of those assumptions are based on facts we know from the site plan, but they're still, ultimately, assumptions. I think we've done a really good job with this one, but our analysis can never be bulletproof. Maybe our Bolliger & Mabillard theory is completely wrong. Maybe the "L-" prefixed footers actually support lift hills on this layout. Maybe all of our track shaping is completely incorrect. Maybe the elements in question are actually, somehow, enormous. Any of that is possible.

Ultimately, our goal with these "best guess" solutions is simply to identify what we think is probably the most likely explanation that fits with the data we have. In this case, I honestly believe that most likely explanation is actually prototype, never-before-seen, Bolliger & Mabillard-made, sit-down family coaster with multiple launches and a relatively slow-moving dark ride section. You see why I said no one would believe me if I just dropped the site plan on you with that as our best guess? It's a pretty wild hypothesis unless you see how we got there.
 
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I love seeing B&M try new stuff, and I’m excited to see what the final product looks like.

That being said, I think it’s pretty wacky that (if true) SWO will have 5 B&Ms, a Premiere coaster, and a Mack water coaster.
 
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