As soon as SeaWorld Orlando announced Manta last winter coaster enthusiasts began comparing it to Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Tatsu. The two B&M flying roller coasters have interesting custom layouts and their the largest flying roller coasters in the World. So, let’s pit the flying dragon against the flying manta ray and see who comes out on top.

Manta Exhibit - SeaWorld OrlandoManta’s theming is on another level. The station was integrated with a really cool manta ray exhibit. The exhibit was accessible to guests without having to enter the ride’s queue. If you’ve never seen a manta or sting ray in person, they’re quite unforgettable. They look like they’re flying as they swim hence the tag line for the coaster, “Ride the Flying Ray”. Tatsu has some light Asian theming that goes well with the flying dragon theme. It’s decent for a Six Flags park, but doesn’t begin to compare to Manta’s theming. There’s a clear winner on theming.
Edge: Manta

For some reason I have always thought of Tatsu as a much larger flying coaster than Manta, but their nearly the same length. Manta is 3,359 feet long and Tatsu 3,602 feet long. Tatsu is taller at 170′ with Manta at only 140′. But, the drops are nearly the same with Manta edging out Tatsu by 2′, with a 113′ drop. While the stats are surprisingly similar, I’ll give the win to Tatsu. Even thought its track is only 9% longer it feels a good bit more than that.
Slight Edge: Tatsu

Layouts – Sky vs Water
Tatsu's Layout - Six Flags Magic MountainTatsu boasts a terrain layout that spends much of its time skyward. While in a superman-like position, the climb to the top of the lofty lift feels like it takes forever. The view at the top is one of the most unnerving things I’ve ever experienced. There you are, looking at the tall trees far down below and the only thing between you and a 17-story plunge are the ride’s trusty harnesses. With Tatsu being situated on top of the large hill at the center of Magic Moutain, it flies above the treeline twisting and turning its riders some hundred feet in the air for the majority of the ride. Tatsu features a corkscrew, zero-g roll, pretzel loop, and an in-line twist.

Manta, on the other hand, flies much closer to the ground. In fact, Manta’s coup de grâce is a short dive to a pond that puts riders only a few feet from the water below. Manta gains a lot of points for the innovative Manta's Signature Dive to the Waterdive. As the train passes over the water a fountain-like splash is triggered which sprays the riders a little. After Manta’s signature move the ride has one more trick up it’s wing. The train swoops right past a rocky wall with a water fall. If you sit on the far left side of the train you feel as if you’ll certainly hit the wall. I have no idea how close the train actually is, but it was very surprising and my favorite part of the ride. Manta also features a pretzel loop, in-line twist, and two corkscrews.

While I generally like flying high through the air (hence my preference to Alpengeist over Montu), I’d have to say Manta’s layout is more interesting. The dive to the water is unique and passing by the rock wall is awesome.
Edge: Manta

Battle of the Pretzel Loops
Tatsu's Pretzel LoopAs I wrote in my Tatsu review, Tatsu’s pretzel loop may be one of the most intense inversions on the planet. During the pretzel loop the train dives into an upside down vertical loop. The train dives until the riders backs are on the ground. The g-forces on the bottom of the loop are very intense. Tatsu’s pretzel loop is massive, as pretzel loops go, at 124′ tall. In contrast, the pretzel loops found on the Superman – Ultimate Flight coasters (found at Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags Great America,& Six Flags Over Georgia,) is only 78′ tall.
Manta's Pretzel Loop
Meanwhile, Manta’s pretzel loop falls in between at 98′ tall in terms of size. But, Manta stands out by offering a surprising moment of airtime. Where other B&M flyers flatten out or gradually climb before entering this inside-downward loop, Manta makes a pretty sharp climb up into it. This causes what may possibly be the World’s first moment of airtime on a flying roller coaster. It’s brief, but noticeable and it’s the reason why I prefer Manta in the front more than in the back. For me, airtime wins over intensity. Besides, Manta’s loop is still pretty intense.
Edge: Manta

I thought this roller coaster showdown would be much closer, but I picked Manta in 3 out of the 4 categories. Manta wins easily. For the record, I rated them both as 9’s (Excellent) so you really can’t go wrong with either roller coaster.

Read my full Manta at SeaWorld Orlando review.
Read my full Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain review.
Read other Roller Coaster Showdowns.

What’s Your Take?
Which do you pick in the flying coaster showdown? Do you prefer Tatsu’s aerial maneuvers or Manta’s marine course. Leave a comment below.

About The Author

Founder of My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

20 Responses

  1. JaMeS


    It is me JaMeS, and not some fake thingy. My computer just lost memory for reasons unknown.

    Manta is one of the best coasters I have ever ridden, but I cant say ive ridden both.

    On Rip Ride Rockit, Im trying a hidden song this time, and Ill experiment if I can still make a vid, but they just dont want you to know that you can

  2. TheRealRideWarrior

    I haven't ridden either of these coasters yet. They both look amazing!! I'm not sure which I will enjoy more. I hope these two coasters can restore my faith in the "flying" department because the superman flyers are not all that fun to me. Has anyone ridden both a superman clone and one of these give me some differences??

    • Tomes

      I know this is like 2 years old…

      But yeah I've ridden all 3 (A superman, Manta and Tatsu) and they are far superior.

      I'd really personally have to go with Manta for the moment of air time before the pretzel loop if you seat in the front, and the amazing air right after the breaks, if you're all the way in the back, as the train dives into the pond right before "crashing" into the waterfall.

      But it's also unfair because I rode Manta maybe 10 times and Tatsu only once.. So I'd need to experiment different seats to familiarize myself with the ride. Regardless, for any roller coaster with stats that are not that impressive as far as height, speed and number of inversions – Manta is amazing. For sure.

    • Dillon

      I have ridden Manta and Superman and I must say, Manta is the ultimate cure for your Superman problems.

  3. CFC

    Hey, Coaster Critic, have you heard of ring racer at Nurburgring Race Track in Germany? If you haven't, look into it because the world record for world's fastest roller coaster is about to have a new holder, with ring racer going into a 134 m.p.h. launch.

  4. QB3

    CFC, the coaster critic has a full article about it just check new for 2009, your sure to find it.

    back on topic, i cant stand flying oasters, actually, scatch that, i can , i just dont like the way they hold you. i love flying loops but i HATE fly ing twists. they`re just to dissorientingfor me.

    PS – im going to ride Bizzaro for the second time today, hopefully if the sound is on, it will be quiet enough so that i can still enjoy the ride.

  5. CFC

    Okay, okay, okay! No need to be all assertive and pushy just because I was a dingbat!

    BTW, I saw the article about 3-4 days after posting that idiotic comment back on 10/3/09.

  6. JackandBlood

    I agree with The Coaster Critic. Even though I haven't ridden Manta (just seen POV videos). I was never really impressed with Tatsu. I think a flying coaster's best asset is racing close to the ground, truly giving a sense of speed and emphasis on the feeling of there being no track and thus a sense of free-flying. Tatsu is in high up in the air most of the time. If I was a bird I think I would enjoy dive-bombing manuevers, skimming the ground, more than just being up in the sky.

  7. a

    How does manta win easily? Sure Manta has better theming, but the pretzel loop is NOT better on Manta. Tatsu's inversions are all just more intense – I also really like the landscaping on Tatsu, as it feels like your flying rather than (In manta's case) flying very close to the ground.

  8. Prof.BAM

    I haven't been anywhere near California in my life as of yet. I rode Manta ten times in One day at SeaWorld. I have to say that I prefer the back more than the front. I loved the gs back there. My family prefered the front. If we get a B&M flyer up here, I'm buying an auction seat for the back row.

    • Quil

      I'm usualy a back row person, but I have little expeirience on flying coasters.

  9. Mark

    I've ridden a "superman" clone (Illinois) and Tatsu. Tatsu is far better. I haven't been on Manta and probably never will, it looks nice in the pictures and video.

    I found the pretzel loop on Tatsu more enjoyable and tolerable than the Superman equivalent, although I liked the corkscrews more (Tatsu).

    I'm not a fan of the Vekoma Flyers (Batwing at Six Flags in Maryland), but Tatsu is nice. And I like the experience of being far up in the air, the views are incredible.

  10. hi

    I never rode Manta, but Tatsu is the best roller coaster I have been on in my life. I liked the flying around. It was absolutely beautiful at the top, and the heights didn't scare me. Just a really fun and beautiful ride =]

  11. Nicholas

    Tatsu really impressed me. I mean, of all the roller coasters I've ridden only X2 defeats Tatsu. Eventhough I've never ridden Manta. I'm planning on riding it this summer. i hope it really impresses me. You know Tatsu is way better than Crystal Wings, on everything except the theming. I really like you showdown thing coaster critic. I never could've figured out if which was better Montu or Alpengeist.

  12. Rosie

    we went to 6 flags yesterday and I got to do Tatsu for the first time. the restraints were more comfortable then i thought and the ride was so smooth! I felt like a jetfighter! the diving loop is phenomenal. Tatsu FTW!

  13. Joshua hall

    Hey! Tutsu should have won manta is one of the worst rides ever and Tutsu is one of the best!


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