A thrilling double-launch roller coaster and a hands-on animal learning experience all rolled into one. Only one amusement park can deliver on that kind of promise. At SeaWorld San Diego, folks young and old are lining up for their chance to fly.
Manta Roller Coaster
I’m not what you would call a roller coaster aficionado, but Manta is different than any ride I’ve ever been on. After being latched in securely in a manta ray shaped train, riders roll into a tunnel with underwater images of rays projected all around them, creating the feel of being underwater. The coaster rocks back and forth, giving you the sense that you’re bobbing below the surface of the waves.
Then the door opens, light floods in and the calming, peaceful part of the ride is engulfed by the adrenaline of a soaring ray. Lasting one minute and 40 seconds, Manta has ½ mile of track, reaches a maximum speed of 43 miles per hour and has a 54-foot drop where you skim a lake and possibly get a sprinkle to get your heart racing even faster.
Manta’s 100,000-Gallon Aquarium
Guests must be 48 inches or taller to ride. For little ones, or those less faint of heart the marine-life exhibit has its own Wow factor. Manta’s 100,000-gallon aquarium contains more than 60 rays and more than 400 fish native to the California coast. There’s also a shallow pool where folks can touch and feed California bat rays.
Manta may be the newest amusement, but animals are still the main attraction at SeaWorld San Diego. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my kids. They’ve always loved SeaWorld, but in the few years since our last visit, they’ve grown from kids to a teen and tween, so the possibilities of how our day would play out were endless.
Everything we did was a hit. When we arrived at the park, my girls plotted out a course that allowed them to see almost every show, but still have time to do things like pet rays, visit sea otters and just stop and stare at beautiful beluga whales. There are things you expect to see when you visit a place like SeaWorld, but sometimes it’s the unexpected that leaves the biggest mark. While sitting and waiting for the Blue Horizons dolphin show to begin, we (and much of our section of the stadium) caught sight of a flock of flamingos being moved within the park. If you didn’t know better you’d have thought they were out for a morning jog.
SeaWorld Animal Shows
There are more than a half-dozen shows to choose from as you plan your day. These are not the same shows parents grew up with. SeaWorld has taken amusement park shows to an entirely different theatrical level, best described as a cross between Cirque du Soleil and Shamu. Some talented trainers now double as acrobats and wetsuits have been successfully converted into colorful costumes.
What has not changed is the park’s emphasis on conservation. Throughout the park, kids are taught (and parents reminded of) the importance of protecting our oceans and environment.
Our day at the park left my 14-year-old daughter inspired and excited to return to SeaWorld to take part in their Career Camp. Just one of the many educational programs run at the park, it’s designed to teach teens what it’s like caring for animals as a career. Think waking up early, learning, cleaning and all the while having fun.
Photos by Dana Rebmann
Dana and her family attended a media event at SeaWorld and received complimentary admission to the park, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.