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BGWFans Leaks SeaWorld Orlando's Project Penguin

Sibling Gossip So Juicy We Just Had to Share

Sibling Gossip So Juicy We Just Had to Share

Hey you—yeah, you. I know you’re probably planning to skip past all this text as you go lookin’ for photos and videos. Though I’d certainly prefer that you read the whole piece, I know it’s fairly likely that you won’t. With that in mind, before you get goin’, could I ask for just a couple small things?

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Here at BGWFans, we typically try to mind our own business—focusing entirely on SeaWorld Entertainment’s Virginia parks. If we have something to share about a non-Virginia property, we typically do it in shorter form via our partner site, (as we did recently when we published plans for Dollywood’s 2023 multi-launch family coaster).

That said, as we first mentioned in our last post, we have recently come across a real goldmine of information relating to yet-to-be-announced SEAS projects. Though we are, of course, most interested in the Busch Gardens Williamsburg-related content, there was something else in that smorgasbord of secrets that was just way too juicy to let slide across our desks unreported.

While we could have quickly tossed some of the documentation you’ll see below on ParkFans and called it a day, we figured that, given the weight of the news involved, if we were going to report it, we should do it right. Hence, the enormous, comprehensive, article before you today.

So, as we continue work on an absolute blockbuster of a BGWFans story about Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s 2023 DarKastle replacement, enjoy this appetizer: SeaWorld Orlando’s Project Penguin.

SeaWorld Orlando’s Project Penguin

Thanks to excellent public records reporting from CoasterKings, we’ve known since January 2020 that SeaWorld Orlando was plotting a large construction project—codenamed Project Penguin—right near the front of the park. More specifically, this project was intended to utilize the largely vacant festival pathway along the lake between Bayside Stadium and Seafire Grill. Work on Project Penguin seemed to have been progressing swimmingly until COVID-19 rocked the United States in March of 2020. Just as occurred with all other capital expenditures chain-wide, work on SeaWorld Orlando’s festival pathway project screeched to a halt.

Though Project Penguin progress entirely stagnated, information about the ride didn’t stop leaking out. At the end of April 2020, one of CoasterKings’ writers, u/theNick_C, posted to the /r/RollerCoasters subreddit about a curious detail on a bill of landing that suggested that SeaWorld’s Project Penguin may actually be a first-of-its-kind “Surf Coaster” from the prestigious Swiss ride manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard. By the end of June, CoasterKings had broken even more Project Penguin news: According to liens filed against SeaWorld Orlando, this mystery project was, in fact, a new roller coaster—a “custom launch coaster.”

Since COVID derailed Project Penguin in March of 2020, indicators of new progress on the attraction have been few and far between though. There was a glimmer of hope in the form of some permit movement in January of this year, but other than that, buzz around Project Penguin has fizzled pretty severely.

Today, we intend to reignite the Project Penguin hype train in one of the only ways we know how: By leaking a ton of never-before-reported information gleaned from an incredible selection of internal documents provided to us by an anonymous source. Before that though, two warnings:

WE DO NOT KNOW IF PROJECT PENGUIN WILL EVER BE BUILT! This article exists to share what SeaWorld Orlando was planning pre-COVID—not to predict whether or not the project is or will ever actually come to fruition.

Even if new signs of life emerge suggesting that Project Penguin is, in fact, moving forward in the years ahead, the plans presented below should not be taken as gospel. They are a reflection of what Project Penguin was planned to entail in early 2020. Even if work happens to resume tomorrow, it’s tremendously unlikely that the final product would be identical to the pre-COVID version presented below.

Project Penguin Overview

As of early 2020, as hypothesized by CoasterKings, SeaWorld Orlando’s Project Penguin was an effort to bring a Bolliger & Mabillard launch coaster (believed to be the prototype surf coaster) to SeaWorld Orlando’s festival pathway area. A general overview of the project can be found below. Slide the control point in the middle of the image to compare the before and after. If you don’t see the interactive feature below, try disabling any adblockers and/or switching to another browser.

Project Penguin Before & After

For anyone who wants to take a closer look at the composite map above (or is on a device which won’t display the slider), you can find the full version of the same image below.

As you can see, SeaWorld Orlando’s Project Penguin was planned to encompass almost every inch of the festival pathway area of the park. Coaster track was slated to directly border Bayside Stadium, Ports of Call, the parking lot, the park entry area, Seafire Grill, and the park’s lagoon with hardly a yard to spare.

Alongside the coaster itself, Project Penguin also involved reworking many guest pathways and plazas throughout the festival pathway area. Additionally, the plans called for the the demolition of nearly all of the special event infrastructure currently housed throughout this region of the park.

The Coaster’s Layout

Depicted below is the full layout of SeaWorld Orlando’s originally-planned-for-2021, launched, Bolliger & Mabillard roller coaster, Project Penguin.

Not only are the foundations and ride course visible in the document above, but, if you look closely, you can see the actual planned location of the track rails and ride envelope (the space which passing coaster train would occupy). Taken together, these details make estimating ride elements in the layout fairly trivial. We don’t have track elevations, but we really don’t need them to be able to work out a ton about this coaster.

In the past, as with articles like our Pantheon or Project Drachen Spire leaks, we’ve often been able to show you actual, three dimensional, track schematics. Because those images depicted physical coaster track, we suspect that they were generally more accessible to folks without much site plan experience. Unfortunately, with Project Penguin, we don’t have track schematics to share. With that in mind, we’re taking a bit of a different approach this time around.

In addition to the black and white site plan images for each element, we’ve also done our best to recreate each element being referenced in the NoLimits roller roaster simulator. In order to do this, we have had to make a number of assessments, assumptions, and, at times, total shot-in-the-dark guesses about specific aspects of the attraction. While each section below will attempt to outline the potential element-specific shortcomings of our interpretation of the segment at hand, I thought it worthwhile to go over a basic warning right up front.

The section below includes approximate 3D interpretations of the track elements we hypothesize are present on Project Penguin. The coaster trains and colors featured are only placeholders. The track locations and rotational information displayed here should be very close to accurate. That said, while our recreation should be quite close as per the planned size and shape of these elements from a 2D, top-down viewpoint, the exact heights of these elements are entirely conjecture. We discuss the height point in much more detail later in this article.

With that out of the way, first, allow me to offer a little guide to where we’re headed. The map below has been numbered with each of the Project Penguin track sections we’re going to break down. If you ever lose track of where in the layout you are, scroll back up to the map below to get your bearings again.

1: Launch

Upon leaving the station, it appears trains would immediately roll out onto the launch track depicted above. Though far from the most visually-interesting aspect of the layout we’re going to look at, there is really neat detail about Project Penguin’s launch that we should cover: It features a mid-launch hill. This is strongly hinted at by the footer pairs that begin to appear about halfway through the track pictured above. That said, this fact is far more obvious in this handy cross-section of an area in which the hill in the launch crosses over the attraction’s queue pathway.

An approximate NoLimits rendering of Project Penguin’s launch track can be found below. Note that the size of the mid-launch hill is vague in the plans we have, but, judging by the foundations, something close to what’s depicted is probably not far off. Additionally, though not depicted below, we also know that a catwalk was planned to be featured throughout much of the left side of this launch track section.

2: Large Hammerhead Turn

Following Project Penguin’s launch, the coaster would throw riders directly into a large hammerhead turn adjacent to Seafire Grill. Given its placement in the layout and the support structure depicted for this element, this hammerhead is almost certainly the coaster’s highest point. Looking closely, we can also see that the track is overbanked at the element’s apex.

For a closer look at hammerhead turns, you can check out this explainer video from CoasterForce:

As covered previously, the actual height of this element is unknown, but otherwise, this is a pretty straightforward track section to interpret. Some images from our model can be found below.

3: Twisted Airtime Hill

Following the valley after Project Penguin’s large hammerhead, the plans show the coaster banking and turning left as it ascends up and over the coaster’s launch. Around halfway through the element, the coaster would then bank and turn right as it descends back towards ground level. Taken together, this is very likely a sizable, twisted airtime hill. The 3D rendering below should help convey what we see here.

4: Corkscrew

Now here’s a nice, simple one. We can say with essentially 100% certainty that the element depicted above is a large corkscrew inversion. The image below also reveals a really neat feature of this element—it was designed to cross a circular plaza directly below its apex.

Given this element’s placement over a plaza along the lake, this corkscrew would almost certainly have been one of Project Penguin’s signature elements from an off-ride visuals standpoint. A little sample of its grandeur can be found in our NoLimits model below.

5: Downward Helix

After nearing ground level with the exit from Project Penguin’s large corkscrew, it appears riders would be taken right back up a large incline before diving down and to the right into a dramatic downward helix next to the Ports of Call building. The heights throughout this segment of the layout are a little hard to estimate, but we don’t think our rendering below is likely to be too terribly far off.

6: Smaller Hammerhead Turn

Having exited the downward helix near ground level, Project Penguin was designed throw riders directly into the coaster’s second hammerhead turn. Thought slightly less dramatic-looking than the first hammerhead, the placement of this element would make it a significant off-ride focal point. A sample of what we mean can be found in the images below.

7: S-Hill

Upon exiting the hammerhead near Bayside Stadium, the coaster was designed to make a slight turn to the right and up into what appears to be another airtime hill—this time over a pair of park paths. After cresting this hill somewhere between the two paths (see below), the track then banks and turns to the left setting up for the next element.

Our 3D recreation of this element can be found in the photos below.

8: Station-Adjacent Fan Turn/Downward Helix

Sometimes it’s harder to figure out what a coaster manufacturer or a park would likely call an element than it is to actually figure out said element’s shaping. This turn is one of those times. Some folks would likely call it a 270-ishº downward helix because the entry point crosses over the exit and there’s a heavily-banked, nearly circular turn in the middle. That said, the highest point of this element isn’t the entrance to the helix (a la element #5)—it’s actually around 1/3rd of the way through the turn—making this element’s classification more complicated. Anyway, trying to shove every turn into a specifically branding box seems a bit silly so we’ll move onto this element’s other interesting properties.

The positioning of this element—directly next to the coaster’s station—makes this a very prominent feature of the attraction. That may explain why, according to the detailed project site plan below, some sort of wave-esque thematic feature appears to have been planned directly below this turn. Also notable is the pathway out into the middle of this helix. We’re not sure whether or not this would be guest-accessible, but it could be a very cool angle for photos if it were.

Another really interesting thing about this turn? We actually have a partial 3D schematic of the track and support structures involved here. Though there’s not really any information contained in it beyond what we could already tell from the top-down site plans above, it’s still a really neat thing to see regardless.

We still like our rendering a little more though if we’re being honest. In fact, we’re particularly fond of our recreation of this feature. Why? We’re pretty sure the height of this element as depicted in our model is quite close to what was actually planned. We’re get to that in a bit though.

9: S-Hill 2

Once again at ground level, it appears that Project Penguin would have then ascended a second, smaller S-hill. There’s some chance that this element is lower than we’re envisioning and it’s actually an S-bend, but given the increasing and then decreasing footer spacing, a hill seems far more likely. A photo from our NoLimits prediction is included below.

10: Upward Half-Helix

Another nice, simple element here. The exit to the previously mentioned S-hill flows directly into a tight, heavily-banked, upward, half-helix. This element is followed by a quick transition that void the track’s rotation and sends trains directly into the final brake run. A screengrab from our model is included below.

11: Brake Run & Transfer Track

Here we are—we’ve arrived at the final element before riders are welcomed back to the station. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the brake run or transfer track beyond the fact that it will likely act as the end of the main layout’s block zone. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a block zone is a section of ride that only one train may occupy. At the end of a block zone is a method to stop the train in case the block zone ahead is still occupied. This is the safety system that prevents roller coaster trains from colliding with one another. Ok, with that out of the way, lets move on to the next element.

… Wait. Where’s the station section…?! It’s numbered in the element map and everything! Zachary just straight-up missed #12, didn’t he? Unbelievable. Can’t stand this guy. Whatever. Deep breaths. 132… Ok, lets get the rest of this article over with.”

The Bolliger & Mabillard Surf Coaster

Typically, when we leak a coaster, I can just link to a manufacturer’s product page or embed a video of another similar instillation to give people an idea of what to expect. That said, SeaWorld Orlando’s Project Penguin is a first for me—I’ve never leaked an unannounced prototype attraction model before. If I had a schematic of Project Penguin’s train, I could break it down for everyone like I did the coaster’s layout above. Unfortunately, I don’t have any depictions of Project Penguin’s trains at all.

I hear you now: “So, wait. If you haven’t seen a surf coaster ride vehicle in these documents, do we even know if Project Penguin was actually a surf coaster at all?” Technically speaking, no, we don’t know that Project Penguin was a surf coaster. That said, given CoasterKings’ reporting paired with the fact that this coaster looks to be unlike anything Bolliger & Mabillard has ever built previously, the hypothesis that this is the first-ever surf coaster seems like a pretty safe bet to me.

That naturally leads to another question: “So, then, what the hell is a B&M surf coaster then?” Well, until we see a train, we really won’t know the full extent of the model. That said, via context clues in Project Penguin’s plans, we can make far and away the most informed guesses yet as per what the Bolliger & Mabillard surf coaster model likely entails.

First up, lets talk about this specific surf coaster’s layout. It appears to be a relatively compact, relatively fast-paced, launch coaster focused on turns and transitions. Also notable is that it features a hill in its launch (a first for B&M) as well as a single inversion (a corkscrew). Taken together, on the surface at least, this essentially looks like Bolliger & Mabillard’s answer to the popular launch coaster models from Intamin and Mack. Yes, this layout certainly looks more tame than what those companies are currently building, but keep in mind that we believe this to be a prototype. B&M has a long history of playing it safe with their first iterations of a new concept.

Digging a little deeper, Project Penguin’s station plans suggest some additional interesting information about this planned B&M coaster as well. As you’ll see below, Project Penguin’s station is setup to accommodate trains with twelve rows. Fourteen total station gates are present on the load side of the platform, but both the front-most and the back-most are for ride operator booths—only twelve air gates actually lead back to the queue.

We’re no where near done with our station gate analysis here though. First off, if you look at the spacing between each queue row in the station, you’ll notice they’re not all equal distant from one another. There are clearly pairs of two rows with a smaller gap between them and then larger gaps between these row pairs. This pattern repeats 6 times. This strongly suggests that between every other row, there’s a larger gap in the trains as well. Though there may be some novel seat/restraint configurations that could justify a spacing pattern like this, the most obvious is that each larger gap is a gap between coaster cars. If we assume that is the case, it follows that the B&M surf coaster almost certainly features cars designed to accommodate two rows of guests each.

Secondly, a B&M coaster that features 12 total rows in any configuration is tremendously uncommon. The only frequent exceptions to this are the various Bolliger & Mabillard hyper coasters that feature staggered seating (see below).

Behemoth for example (pictured above), features 16 rows of station queue lines to load its 8 staggered seating cars (with two guests from one line filling the front two seats of the car and two guests from the next line filling the back two seats of the car).

Given that the only B&M coasters thus far to reach a similar number of station gates as Project Penguin are also some of the only B&M coasters to feature two-abreast seating, it seems reasonable to assume that the Bolliger & Mabillard surf coaster model will likely also run two-abreast trains of some sort. These could be staggered like the hyper train pictured above, inline akin to the custom designed train B&M made for Steel Dragon 2000 (pictured below), or maybe even something entirely new that we’ve never seen before.

You may have noticed that I have tried very hard to avoid using the word “seat” to describe the rider restraint device featured on these theoretical Project Penguin trains. This is because many people have speculated that the B&M surf coaster could be some sort of next-generation Bolliger & Mabillard stand-up coaster. I want to be clear: I have seen nothing in these documents to prove or disprove the next-gen stand-up theory.

That said, the basis of the stand-up theory seems to rely solely on two points:

  • B&M filed a patent for a new stand-up coaster restraint
  • “Surf Coaster” could be a reference to standing (a la surfing)
Surf Coaster Trademark (Submitted May 28th, 2019)

Though, on the surface, the first point seems compelling, I do worry about the timelines involved. Bolliger & Mabillard trademarked the Surf Coaster in May of 2019 (see above). By the start of 2020, we now know that the the site plans for Project Penguin—believed to be the first surf coaster—had already been finalized. Presumably, Project Penguin’s layout had already been “sold” to SeaWorld Orlando well before that point. So what about that “Passenger Restraint System for [Stand-Up] Roller Coasters” patent? B&M didn’t even file it until March of 2020 (see below).

Next-Gen Stand-Up Coaster Restraint Patent (Submitted March 20th, 2020)

Again, this should not be read as any sort of silver bullet for the stand-up theory. There are plenty of reasons the patent could have been filed as late as it was. That said, anyone who tells you the surf coaster is a stand-up based on the patent above should be doubted at this point. It just isn’t the “proof” many have attempted to sell it as.

Secondly, the idea that the surf coaster could be named for the standing position assumed by surfers. Again, like the previous point, this seems plausible on its face. That said, once again, I want to play devil’s advocate and provide an alternative explanation. In my mind, “surf coaster” could be a reference to the heavy focus on twists, turns, heavy banking, and “flow” evident throughout the Project Penguin layout. Hell, it could even be a reference to the narrower, more agile trains we suspect Project Penguin was slated to run. Again, this is not and is not meant to be a silver bullet against the stand-up theory. The goal is just to show that there is a relatively compelling argument against the typical stand-up theory talking points.

In closing, I feel like I should reiterate:

While we believe Project Penguin was almost certainly slated to be the first B&M surf coaster, we do not know what all that would have entailed. Though these documents suggest to us that the surf coaster is likely Bolliger & Mabillard’s take on a relatively compact LSM launch coaster product featuring new, slimmer and lighter trains, we can’t rule out the stand-up theory. It is possible that both could be true.

To take a bit of a harder line here: A lot of the buzz around B&M’s surf coaster product has been sloppy, misleading, and even, at times, blatantly wrong. Anyone trying to sell you on “the surf coaster is __________” based on currently available information should be doubted—they likely don’t know anywhere near as much as they claim to. By our assessment, even after today, there’s just not nearly enough publicly-available evidence to draw a reasonable conclusion from thus far.

The Project Penguin Ride Area

With the coaster hardware associated with Project Penguin having been planned to take up such a huge majority of the site, there really isn’t a ton of land left over for other amenities. That said, we’ll still take a few moments to review the coaster’s queue, station, exit pathway, and maintenance bay alongside the planned path setup and a handful of other odds and ends.

Path & Landscaping Plan

The image below shows the full path and landscaping plan for Project Penguin. The main Festival Pathway walkway was slated to see some realignment, but all of the previous path connections still exist in this new plan.

Much of the site was planned to be covered in pine mulch with some modest planting along some of the pathways. There were also a number of tree additions planned throughout the area—both of the canopy and palm varieties.

Queue & Exit Paths

The image below shows the queue that was planned for Project Penguin. The regular queue is in blue and the QuickQueue line is depicted in green. If you look closely, there’s an area allocated for a test seat right near the start of the queue. Throughout the queue there are a few semi-permanent square umbrellas to provide a little shade. Aside from that, we’re basically looking at some light poles and queue fans here.

In addition to the main queue area shown above, the plans called for an extended queue which could be deployed via chains and temporary stanchions. A layout for that removable extended queue can be found below.

The exit pathway descends a ramp from the station adjacent to the coaster’s second downward helix and past that mysterious wave theming we mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, the Project Penguin plans called for the exit pathway to be used for handicap access to the coaster station as well (as the queue has stairs). Anyway, a flow-through of the exit pathway can be found below.

Coaster Station

I included the station layout image in the previous section, but I’ll post it again here for more convenient reference. In addition to the floorplan, the gallery below also includes a handful of more detailed station building schematics as well.

The station is a pretty simple, prefab-looking ordeal. Thankfully, the artitecture is spiced up slightly thanks to the addition of a seemingly fairly lightly themed tower which would have enclosed the control booth. In the last image, you can even see the coaster supports for element #9—that weird downward helix-like element that we struggled to name earlier. As you can see, from that last image above, that bit of the layout was slated to get quite close to the station building.

Maintenance Bay

Far simpler than Project Penguin’s station is its maintenance bay. In fact, calling it a maintenance bay is probably a bit of a misnomer—train storage bay is probably a more accurate description given the building’s size and shape.

Though we don’t have enough information to predict how many trains Project Penguin was intended to run, it’s not impossible that two trains could fit sequentially on this building’s incredibly long storage track. This isn’t without precedent for B&M either—Shambhala’s train storage is setup very similarly to what’s depicted here.

Ride Lockers & Photo Sales

Another small building on the Project Penguin site is the ride’s locker and photo sales structure. Again, this is a very simple, functional, pretty self-explanatory building.

Odds & Ends

Though the vast majority of the current use of the Festival Pathway area was clearly slated to be deprecated with Project Penguin, the plan does appear to have possibly preserved a small area in the coaster’s in-field for that use. Off the main pathway that traverses the Project Penguin site, there’s a fenced-off plaza with two “shade structures” present. We can’t be sure of their purpose of course, but it doesn’t seem unlikely that they would be used to retain some of the area’s previous use case.

Pssst. Non-readers, pause here for a moment. The cliff notes version of everything above is directly below. You’re welcome.

What We Do & Don’t Know

By this point, the length of this article is already reaching record-setting territory for BGWFans. With that in mind, lets take a moment to recap what we know, what we think we may know, and what we definitely do not know.

Project Penguin was…

  • Very deep into development by early 2020
  • Originally planned for a 2021 debut
  • Designed to dramatically overhaul the Festival Pathway area
  • A unique-looking Bolliger & Mabillard roller coaster featuring…
    • One launch with a mid-launch hill
    • A single inversion (corkscrew)
    • A focus on heavily-banked turns and transitions

Project Penguin was likely…

  • Put on hold because of COVID-19
  • Slated to have been the world’s first B&M surf coaster
  • Designed to run six car trains with two rows of passengers per car
  • Utilizing a new two-abreast B&M ride vehicle

We Don’t Know Project Penguin’s…

  • Current development status
  • Height
  • Speed
  • Restraint design
  • Name
  • Theme

And now, for the big, flashy finish…

EVERYTHING BELOW THIS POINT SHOULD BE VIEWED AS HIGHLY SPECULATIVE. We have just recapped the important bits of what we do and don’t know about this project above. To create the content beyond this point, we have had to make a lot of assumptions and assessments about the coaster for which there is limited to no evidence.

Examples: The coaster’s speed? An estimation of what the layout would realistically run at. The trains? Placeholders. The colors? Completely made up out of thin air.

The point? If you only want facts, turn back now—we’re entering the land of guesstimation. If I see one more person say “BGWFans said [project] was going to be [color],” I swear I’ll have a goddamn conniption.

Our Best Guess

As you know from the element-by-element breakdown, utilizing the track layout and rotation information presented above, we created an estimation of the final Project Penguin layout in NoLimits. Though we have advised a lot of caution regarding our element height estimates, we did also say earlier that there is some relatively solid basis for the height of one specific element: #8—that helix thing we don’t have a name for.

Now, before we go any further, I want to be clear: Even if our estimate of the highest point of this helix were to somehow be spot-on (it’s not), trying to deduce the heights of an entire coaster based on a single point is always going to be a troublesome proposition. With that in mind, we don’t want to project too much confidence here. Our element heights are wrong. We don’t think they’re probably too terribly far off, but we can assure you that they are not correct.

With that out of the way, how did we estimate the height of that helix without any track height information present in the documents we’ve shared? Well, thanks to the fact that the second downward helix is located right next to the coaster’s station, we have a lot more to work with for that segment of track than with most of the rest of the layout. For instance, in the short section dedicated to this element in our breakdown above, we highlighted the 3D schematic that depicts this helix’s track. This element exists somewhere else in this article as well though—up in the “Coaster Station” section. Below I’ve included each relevant depiction of this track segment with one specific support pair highlighted in each.

See where this is going? If so, bravo! Stick for another puzzle later.

For everyone else though (myself included until it suddenly dawned on me while writing this article), let me explain why we care so much about this one support. In all of the documents I have to share today, this is the only piece of ride hardware between the launch and final brakes for which we have any height information. Unfortunately, as you can see from the third image above, we can’t actually see the track this structure is supporting.

That said, by extending each support in the pair in the third image up to their eventual junction point, we can very roughly estimate the location at which a track connector would likely be mounted on the support in question. Thanks to the height information provided for the station building elements in the third image above, we can then extrapolate the approximate height of this imaginary track connector. For anyone who is curious, I’ve shown my work below.

When everything is said and done, we can estimate that the part of the helix being supported in these plans (seemingly the element’s apex) is in the neighborhood of 35 feet above grade.

More importantly though, we’ve been able to utilize this roughly deduced estimate to normalize the heights of rest of the layout. Basically, now that we “know” every track spec at this specific point (location, direction, height, and banking), we just have to design the height of the rest of the elements to facilitate traversing our “known” point with reasonable speed and forces.

When everything is said and done, where does that normalization get us? We ended up with a highest point in the neighborhood of 110 feet above grade and a track length of around 3,100 feet. Our model’s launch is set right around 60mph. Once again, these stats are estimates—consider them rough, ballpark figures—nothing more.

So what does our final model look like? Take a look for yourself.

In addition to those overview shots, we also have a number of images taken from various interesting, guest-accessible parts of SeaWorld Orlando such as Bayside Stadium and the Sky Tower. Make sure you pay attention to the captions for context.

And then, of course, we have a video depicting of our estimate of the coaster shown in the Project Penguin documents. Because I know a lot of folks have just scrolled down to this point and have ignored all the other warnings, I’m giving one more.

THE VIDEO BELOW IS ONLY AN APPROXIMATION OF PROJECT PENGUIN’S LAYOUT! Before you assume you know ANYTHING about this coaster, PLEASE read the what we do and don’t know about Project Penguin portion of this article.

Anyway, I think that just about wraps things up. Whether this project ultimately comes to fruition or not, I think it was well worth this deep dive. Though not directly related to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Project Penguin is an interesting case study. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Project Drachen Spire—a weird, unique addition originally slated to open a single year after the park’s previous, oddly similar, new coaster. It’s further evidence of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s incredibly aggressive cap-ex strategy pre-COVID. Another thing Project Penguin shares with Drachen Spire? It’s another SEAS project that has been left in limbo for nearly two years now and whose future remains unknown today.

As revealed in our last article, Drachen Spire is currently slated to remain in that state of limbo for a while longer as another addition—a Curse of DarKastle replacement—has taken priority for 2023. Could the same occur at SeaWorld with this prototype B&M? Unknown, but we look forward to the reporting from local folks regarding the future of Project Penguin in the months (and years?) ahead!

Oh, you’re still here? You must have quite a hunger for my secrets…

Well, I’ll tell you three things:

  1. 48
  2. The key to understanding future attractions is often previewed in history—in fact, the past often reveals our (DarK…?) destiny.
  3. The answer at the end of this puzzle? You’ll simply die when you see it. Whoever greenlit this project was clearly never sane to begin with!

Happy hunting! Feel free to collaborate with others in the DarKastle Replacement thread on ParkFans. If people are struggling too much, I’ll probably drop some hints too. If you do solve it (you’ll know if you do—you’ll be dumbstruck), tell us the answer via ParkFans or on Twitter—there may even be an additional prize in it for whomever solves it first!

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  1. Great ride for young and old and even thrill junkies. Not too intense and the goldilocks of coasters. Not a mine train, not a giga.

  2. Note that the U.S. patent being referred to above apparently claims the benefit of an earlier (European ?) filing of March 22, 2019 (see cover page, “Foreign Application Priority Data”). The patent filing can therefore be traced back to March 2019 if I understand this correctly, which is entirely consistent with the launch of the Penguin Project.

  3. There was an awful lot of discourse on the gates allowing for boarding – but would it be worth mentioning the Floorless-style dispatch gates at the head of the station?

    1. Yeah, it likely would have been worth mentioning. I don’t know what it may or may not imply as per the details of the train though. Thought?

  4. Midway Mayhem posted a video on his YT yesterday showing that the land for “Project Penguin” has been cleared for what SWO is calling a “landscaping project”.