The Parkz Update: Sea World's dormant beast: up close with the Leviathan wooden roller coaster
Sea World's Leviathan is looking more and more like a fully realised roller coaster as it inches closer and closer to its delayed 2022 opening date.
Largely completed yet curiously dormant, Sea World recently answered questions about the Leviathan wooden roller coaster when they confirmed they had pushed its opening back until Easter 2022.
The ride's delays have meant that the pace of work on the site has also slowed, which includes final structural work on the roller coaster, commissioning and testing as well as the construction of theming, landscaping and infrastructure.
Meanwhile Trident – the other ride due to open alongside Leviathan – sits ready for the relatively simple task of bolting the tower segments together once Leviathan is at a stage where the two projects won't obstruct each other.
The sections for Trident sit ready for installation.
Due to its very close proximity to Leviathan, Trident's installation will take place once all works are completed on Leviathan.
The ride was custom built for Sea World by SBF in Italy. To the right covered in bubble wrap are the forks for its namesake trident, which will sit atop the tower.
Leviathan is effectively completed as a structure, though final commissioning has been delayed until Easter 2022.
Where once there were upwards of 70 tradespeople working on Leviathan a few months ago, currently only a few are left to keep the project ticking along until it ramps up again early next year.
The first camel back hill has been affectionately nicknamed Humpty Dumpty by construction crews.
The station will be located along this flat section of track immediately before the lift hill.
The station will be fully enclosed, to facilitate the ride's ambitious theme.
The area to the right of the concrete slab for the station will be back of house.
The main entrance and exit for the ride passes straight through the structure. Signage and theming will surround this pathway.
The track winds around the queue three times in total, giving plenty to look at during the wait.
The queue will be located within the ride envelope. A large shade structure will be suspended from the central footing, giving a relatively unobstructed view of the ride from the queue.
Incredible, near-vertical banking on these twists and turns give an idea of just how fast you'll be traveling along these low sections of track.
The queue will be themed, but not in such a way that it'll obstruct the view of the ride.
An incredible lattice structure supports the track and braces it for the heavy g-forces it will be subjected to as the train races by.
There's a total of ten crossover points where riders will experience a close call 'head-chopper' moment.
The first drop is nice and straight, allowing riders to get a great sense of the building speed.
It's straight into this sharply banked turn to the right after the first drop.
Trying to make sense of the twisted mess of track is a testament to just how tightly packed its course is.
The steel rails that the trains will run are installed, with a bit of surface rust that will quickly disappear once the ride is operational.
Leviathan is one of the first wooden coasters in the world to feature a single concrete slab for the entire ride.
Stainless steel anchors are a unique investment that ensure the ride can withstand decades of weather and the salty air at Sea World.
Each beam is numbered for ease of identification during construction as well as maintenance and repairs in years to come.
The sheer amount of timber supporting the lift hill is impressive up close.
From within the structure is this unique view, affectionately dubbed 'The Cathedral'. Unfortunately it won't be accessible when the ride is operational.
The track on wooden coasters is assembled from layers of southern yellow pine. It's incredibly simple yet effective in its design, which is why it's essentially unchanged in a century.
Out of the station comes a gentle downward twist into the lift hill.
The first crossover point happens just metres into the ride, with track narrowly passing overhead on the lift hill.
Spacers run along much of the ride's course. This is to ensure the track keeps its shape and retains its tight tolerances as the timber settles.
The bracing is just an interim step while the ride sits dormant. And they're not needed everywhere – just in spots where there might be too much expansion of the woods.
The bottom of the first drop.
This sweeping turn into the ride's largest camel back hills is one of the few moments where there's not a jumbled mess of track criss-crossing.
Many of the ride's twists and turns don't even become apparent until you're well within the ride's structure.
The close calls from the surrounding beams will be unlike anything ever before seen on an Australian coaster.
The ride's many airtime hills and moments of negative g-forces – around 20 in total – will be second to only DC Rivals HyperCoaster in Australia.
Twisted turns like this will offer a bit of a lateral 'pop' of airtime.
It's hard to imagine a more fitting roller coaster for Sea World.
Though it's being billed as a family thrill ride, emphasis is definitely on the thrills.
There isn't a straight section of track to be seen on Leviathan.
Moments of airtime can be identified by the presence of steel rails for the upstop wheels. Because wooden roller coasters have a bit of give between the guide and upstop wheels, there's no need to have running rails unless there's a moment of negative g forces. The row of bolts jutting out the top of the track along the left here hold in place a steel rail like that found on top of the track.
Leviathan pushes modern wooden roller coaster design to its limits.
That's not hyperbole: it is believed that Leviathan is the most twisted, compact wooden roller coaster ever designed by Gravity Group, or constructed by Martin & Vleminckx.
The airtime moments continue on Leviathan.
This will eventually become a viewing area for non-riders. Sans water, of course.
The first drop in all its glory.
Leviathan's sleek 'Timberliner' trains come from Gravitykraft, a division of the ride's designer Gravity Group.
Wooden roller coasters feature steel wheels to navigate the constantly expanding, contracting and changing wooden track
The train features a hand-painted scale effect.
Like most modern roller coasters, Leviathan will have very secure yet very open restraints.
The Timberliners are every bit as modern, complex and lightweight as any steel roller coaster train. The way they will navigate the track is worlds ahead of older wooden roller coasters, which will help keep the ride comfortable for years to come.
Leviathan has dramatically changed the skyline at Sea World.
It's in theming where Sea World really hopes to make an impact with Leviathan. It's all tightly under wraps – they hope to keep it this way until the ride opens – but the goals are lofty, and if there's one thing that the delays will ensure, it's that the budgets for theming and finishing touches aren't cut from what they're promising today.
The final themed ride will be vastly different from the initial artists impressions. And much more fully realised than the Atlantis-lite vibe of Vortex. It will continue the mood set with Vortex with water features and many more imposing statues and sculptures, though there will be a whole lot more greenery and atmosphere than we've seen thus far.
Leviathan and Trident are due to open at Sea World in early 2022.