SeaWorld Plans New Roller Coaster – Requires Excavation of 24 Feet

by on February 9, 2011 · 11 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Health, History, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

"X" marks the spot - the approximate location of SeaWorld's new Manta roller coaster ride, as best as we could estimate. (Screen capture of google maps.)

SeaWorld in San Diego is announcing today, according to the San Diego U-T, that it plans a real roller coaster at the park for next year, 2012. The ride will include a 54-foot drop which will require an excavation of 24 feet because of the 30-foot height limit. And SeaWorld says its new “Manta” ride will be constructed just north of its current Rocky Point Preserve exhibit, and construction is supposed to begin within a month from now.

The 30-foot high roller coaster will transport riders in a 20-car train designed to look like a giant manta ray.

Today’s article in the Business Section of the U-T reports:

The California Coastal Commission is scheduled to review the project on Friday [Feb.11th], and its staff has recommended approval. So far, no opposition has surfaced, the commission said.

“No opposition has surfaced”. Apart from the issue on its merits, we have to ask how can opposition surface if no one knows about it. Up to today, there has been no mainstream media news report of the new roller coaster ride, except in a U-T article from January 13, 2011, where no real details were offered.

But apparently, Coastal Commission staff have recommended approval, according to the San Diego Business Journal on Feb 1:

California Coastal Commission staff has recommended conditional approval of plans for a new “Manta Ray” roller coaster ride at SeaWorld San Diego, apparently modeled on a similar ride at the company’s Orlando theme park.

SeaWorld certainly knows about “opposition” to its plans and rides. Why, Donna Frye herself rode to fame by leading the opposition to the current splash down ride years ago. Plus, there has been active opposition to other plans for expansion. One of the sources of the opposition have been folks extremely concerned about the theme park or the City building over an old 1950’s-era waste dump that was centered just to the east of today’s SeaWorld.

In fact, the City spent $500,000 in 2004-05 to study the current effects of any toxicity remaining from the old dump, which the Navy and other aircraft industries used for years. The Ocean Beach Grassroots Organization, along with other environmental allies, led efforts to have the City ensure that nothing toxic was leaking.  The result of the study was that nothing was leaking, but its conclusions warned against any excavations in the area.

The Manta ride will resemble the Orlando Florida SeaWorld ride.

Here is today’s U-T article:

SeaWorld to get roller coaster with 54-foot drop

by Lori Weisberg / SignOnSanDiego / February 9, 2011

A new roller coaster meant to mimic the sensation of a manta ray gliding through the water — complete with a 54-foot plunge — will debut next year at SeaWorld San Diego, the theme park is announcing today.

Described as the park’s first “pure” roller coaster, the Manta ride was inspired by a similar attraction at the Orlando park but will have its own unique features, including a launch station where huge images of manta rays will be visible on a giant, 270-degree screen via a state-of-the-art projection system.

Although the San Diego park already has one coaster ride, Journey to Atlantis, SeaWorld officials describe it more as a water ride with a drop element than a conventional roller coaster.

Construction on the attraction, to be located in the northwest corner of the park just north of Rocky Point Preserve, is expected to get under way within a month.

For the remainder of this article, please go here.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar barbara February 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I lived in Mission Valley when the first rides went in at Sea World. We had quite a lively group protesting. Many retired educators attended city council meetings. (they later went on to form FRIENDS OF OLD TOWN) trying to stop the monstrosity that happened there. Sadly, as usual, the monied interests won out. No care to traffic, aesthetics, unnecessary, detracts form what Sea World was supposed to be about.


avatar Frank Gormlie February 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I had to correct the initial version: I had said incorrectly that Donna Frye gained her fame by leading the fight against the SkyTower – Not So! The Tower has been up there for decades. It was the splash-down ride that went to a special election to bypass the 30 foot limit, and she did lead the opposition.


avatar Robert Burns February 9, 2011 at 8:00 pm

This project is a surpise to me. And, so was the excavation of the large swath of daisy land. I go by the site nearly daily to use the Mission Valley YMCA and would think that I’d have learned about it by now. I used to be on the Coastal Commission’s mailing list; I never asked to be deleted. What happens to the Mission Beach roller coaster? Is the City getting its fair share of revenues or is this to be yet another Shitty of San Diego giveaway? I think that the Coastal Commission staff person recommending approval should be investigated.


avatar bodysurferbob February 9, 2011 at 9:17 pm

hey! how did seaworld get this project so far along the process of approval without letting the rest of us know anything about it? they snuck it past us. ‘no opposition’? i agree here – how can there be opponents when it’s all kept hush-hush? is the coastal commission in kahoots here?


avatar OB Joe February 9, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I have to agree with the tenor of these comments. What is SeaWorld doing? SeaWorld has not been a good neighbor to the other beach communities. SeaWorld representatives consistently misrepresented what is being called the “splash down ride” to local area planning committees when they were going around trying to tamp down opposition to that project. City officials supported the misrepresentations by Sea World reps. In fact at the Peninsula planning committee meeting about the splash down ride, one City design person helping to get that committee to approve it, tried to have an OBGO member arrested.


avatar Ruth Weston February 9, 2011 at 9:58 pm

It is about time they added something new with as much as it costs to enter the park.


avatar Sarah February 10, 2011 at 9:55 am

If you can watch “The Cove” and still not be nauseated when you drive past SeaWorld there is something wrong with your heart.

I used to think that the good that came from having people see the orcas and dolphins up close would negate the damage done by keeping them prisoner. I no longer believe that.


avatar Ruth Weston February 11, 2011 at 9:32 am

The Cove was a rough and gritty film. That aspect is terrible when it comes to animal treatment.

Don’t blame Sea World though. Blame folks that pay to be entertained.

Super Bowl Sunday is the largest day for domestic violence (so I have heard), but we are not rallying with torches and pitchforks outside the NFL offices.

No, we love our overpaid sports star druggies and rapists that exploit their status during crimes and during trials. We barely get upset when they cannot run, throw, or catch a ball when they are paid more per year than most third world country’s GNP.


avatar Sarah February 11, 2011 at 10:57 am

I don’t “blame” Sea World. I know they would be there if “we” didn’t pay the ticket price.

I urge you to keep in mind the fact that the marine mammals at Sea World did not sign a contract nor did they consent to a life in a big bowl instead of a life of freedom in the ocean.

I’m not a radical animal rights person. (I’m not a radical anything) I just don’t have to think too hard to see the wrong here….


avatar Frank Gormlie February 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Today, Friday Feb 11th, the Coastal Commission approved this project of SeaWorld’s.
See North County Times :


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