The Parkz Update: Sea World launches Vortex thrill ride as first part of The New Atlantis

The New Atlantis is finally becoming a reality at Sea World with the opening of Vortex, a Top Spin from renowned German manufacturer Huss.

Image: Parkz. Vortex officially opened on 21 December 2020.
Village Roadshow CEO Clark Kirby and Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate performed the ribbon cutting.
The two then strapped in for the opening spin on Vortex.
The ride's cycle is fairly brief and tame for a Huss Topspin.
And with that the ride was open after an arduous year of delays and setbacks.
Owing to an otherwise quiet and uneventful Monday morning, the first cycles to the public featured only a handful of guests.
The ride's surrounds feature a series of water features that add atmosphere rather than offering a direct addition to the ride experience or theme.
The pools look nice enough, but though the stainless steel fence plonked in the middle of it is a tad imposing.
Riders board on platforms that lower beneath the ground when the cycle commences. This means that there's a very simple loose items procedure of placing items into storage bins at their feet.
The ride's theming consists of several water feature walls and several embellishments such as this Vortex icon.
The light blue trim is an LED lighting strips that glows even in bright daylight, and will surely look impressive at night..
The theming elements are well executed, though do little more than check the "obligatory theme" box rather than advancing a cohesive atmosphere or story.
The artwork is certainly striking and the detail is quite impressive.
This aged and weathered effect comes off really well in some of the water features.
The Vortex area is quite small, which has led to this rather obtrusive sign, rather than a more organic ride exit tucked away behind the attraction that wouldn't be likely to promote loitering or confused guests.
The view from the queue back towards Dockside Tavern is superb.
The soldier statue greeting guests is the first theming element guests see. and the first indication that it's a rather surface-deep concept with no further story or explanation.
While neatly presented, the small area and bare landscaping means shade is scant.
The jarring juxtaposition between the graceful sweeping 'wave wall' and the abrupt stainless steel fences that secure the ride perimeter is somewhat ill-conceived. A solution that combined the requirements for a safe ride envelope with cohesive aesthetics would have been far more welcome.

On the whole, Vortex feels like more catharsis than the culmination of 18 months of hype. A year late thanks to construction delays and COVID-19 related setbacks, getting Vortex over the line comes with a sigh of relief amid ongoing uncertainty with recent border closures, rather than a celebration of one of the largest ever expansion projects ever undertaken at an Australian theme park.

The area the ride is situated in particularly struggles with the current dead-end. As pathways open up with the debut of Leviathan and Trident we'll hopefully see attention directed at much-needed atmosphere, green space and shade.

As it stands, The New Atlantis feels less like wait until you see what's next and more like here's what we've got for now.

Vortex itself is everything you expect from a renowned flat ride manufacturer like Huss. No, its relatively straightforward motion doesn't hold a candle to Wipeout's menacing twists and contortions, but clinging to an attraction that limped through several years of lackluster ride programs and unreliability before its eventual removal is perhaps misdirected disappointment.

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Where Vortex does have the upper hand is certainly in its potential for forceful, disorienting ride cycles that make the most of the ride's potential. The ride is capable of much more than the current brief, middling cycle that Sea World have chosen to operate it with. 

The New Atlantis as a concept certainly faces some expectations vs. reality problems that can hopefully be tweaked or ironed out in the next six months as Leviathan and Trident round out the area.

Taking a step back from the Wipeout comparisons and the New Atlantis shortcomings that can hopefully be rectified with next year's attractions, Vortex ultimately stands on its own two feet as a worthy attraction for Sea World and is a win for variety of experiences at the Gold Coast as a whole. 

Leviathan construction

Leviathan is looking great, with the first drop slowly starting to form.
That glorious first drop.
The twisted mess of wood and steel is coming together to form a roller coaster. Somehow... but it is.
This will undoubtedly become a favourite first drop for many theme park fans.