SeaWorld Orlando welcomed Mako, the park’s brand-new roller coaster, earlier this year, and now one of its older rides is slated for a modern make-over as part of a broader park upgrade strategy for 2017. The Orlando theme park just announced that Kraken, built in 2000 by the same company that designed Mako, will be retrofitted with virtual reality headsets to transform it from a normal spring along a metal track to an underseas adventure.

SeaWorld guests will encounter the Kraken

The new version of Kraken is set to open in 2017, and it will be Orlando’s only virtual reality roller coaster.

SeaWorld is overlaying a storyline that sends riders on a deep sea mission where they encounter legendary creatures, including the roller coaster’s namesake. It will be a markedly different experience from Mako, which was built to thrill riders with maximum air time and speeds over 70 miles per hour as it comes off a 200-foot-tall lift hill. The thrills for future Kraken riders will be centered in the virtual world that they experience in tandem with the physical ride. Learn more about it from Brian Morrow, Vice-President of Theme Park Experience Design, in the video below:

More food and fun coming to SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld is rolling out the virtual reality Kraken makeover as part of a number of new experiences rolling out in 2017 that go far beyond the Orlando park's rides. They include the Seven Seas Festival, a feast featuring street food from around Asia, the Mediterranean, South America, and the Caribbean, coupled with a variety of craft beers The festival is slated to start in February and to run for 14 weekends, followed by the grand opening of the Flamecraft Bar in the summer.

This new libation station will have a fresh menu and over a dozen seasonal craft brews. Summer will also bring Electric Ocean, a nighttime event lit up with glowing bioluminescence as music and other entertainment takes over park pathways. Chef Hector Colon talks about the food festival in the video below:

SeaWorld will spotlight dolphin families

The Dolphin Nursery at SeaWorld Orlando is getting a makeover, too.

Visitors will get to watch the moms and babies through massive acrylic windows at multiple levels so kids get a great view, too. Digital displays will add to the experience, letting the park’s educators teach guests about dolphin biology and the importance of conservation. If you want to get an up-close look at the theme park’s dolphins before 2017, head over to the underwater viewing area in Dolphin Cove.

There’s also a large underwater viewing area where you can watch the park’s orcas hanging out and playing between shows. If you’d an overview of all the new SeaWorld Orlando experiences, they’re summarized in this video:

SeaWorld Orlando has one more new experience on tap for 2017, but the park hasn’t released any details yet. Be on the lookout for a new show in the Nautilus Theater, slated to debut Memorial Day weekend. The indoor theater was previously home to A’Lure: The Call of the Ocean. If you want a bit of nostalgia, check out highlights from that show in the video below:

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