SeaWorld Wants to Add Another Roller Coaster With 150 Foot Ascent

by on January 6, 2017 · 16 comments

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

SeaWorld in San Diego wants to add another roller coaster ride to its array of thrillers at the aquatic theme park.  This one, called the Electric Eel, would have a 150-foot high ascent with loops, an inverted roll and twists. SeaWorld management hopes to open the ride in the early summer of 2018.

If built, it would be the fastest and tallest roller coaster on the SeaWorld site in Mission Bay, and is planned for an area to the west of another ride, Journey to Atlantis. Its other ride is the  Manta, which opened in 2012. Manta’s fastest speed is 42 mph, whereas Electric Eel would reach 62 mph.

Management hopes that by adding this additional coaster, the park can build its appeal back up among younger people, teens and young adults. This effort obviously follows years of declining revenues and park attendance due to the backlash against SeaWorld’s treatment of its Orcas.

And, by the way, SeaWorld’s controversial Orca circus show ends for good this Sunday, January 8th.

One of the first questions that jumps out about this endeavor is – what about the 30 foot height limit? Here’s the San Diego U-T’s make on it:

Although San Diego maintains a 30-foot height limit in the coastal zone, SeaWorld’s approved master plan allows for an exception of up to 160 feet on four designated sites. The coaster location is one of those sites, SeaWorld San Diego spokesman David Koontz said. Approval by the California Coastal Commission will be needed before the project can move forward.

San Diego Union-Tribune

In other news, Tilikum the orca, one of SeaWorld Orlando’s most famous and controversial attractions, died overnight after a year-long illness. SeaWorld said while the official cause of death will not be determined until a necropsy is completed, veterinarians had been treating a “persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection.” CBS

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris January 6, 2017 at 11:53 am

I suppose this is better than live orca shows. As you stated, SW is going to find ways to re-coup lost revenue.


Richard January 8, 2017 at 8:24 am

Just say No Chris! Sea world in effect is a bad neighbor. The exploitation of animals for profit, the noise from fireworks waking and frightening sleeping dogs and people, the screaming nemmies from already existing rides to be heard miles away is not acceptable neighborly behavior. It’s seems your more concerned w profit than ethical business and social behaviors that are acceptable to all. How about we close the amusement park of SW and put that the land to better public use. Just say no to another rollercoaster!


Chris January 8, 2017 at 6:00 pm

“It’s seems your more concerned w profit than ethical business and social behaviors that are acceptable to all. ”

How do you know what I’m more concerned with? Clutch at straws much? All I said was at least now there will be more more orca shows doing stupid pet trick. That’s a good thing no?
As far as the fireworks I agree, but I’ve never heard anyone who lives in the surrounding area (let alone “miles” away) complain about the screaming noises.


John January 15, 2017 at 11:27 am

Chris I am pretty sure his reply was to the article and subject in general, not your comment.
That said his toxic position suggests he is one of those types who opposes all commerce and industry. He seems oblivious to all the good things Seaworld does, like the rescues of literally hundreds of thousands of marine mammals in its history, and sparking the interests of millions of children in conserving life in our oceans.
Yes at the end of the year their financial report sometimes shows they turned a profit. What do you do for a living?
On one point I don’t disagree with, the fireworks are getting a little old. Isn’t it time for something a little higher tech, like lasers?


triggerfinger January 9, 2017 at 10:03 am

Yeah let’s bulldoze it and build 2000 condos and some more hotels instead. That would be so much better for the surrounding community.

It seems some prefer it be returned to the swampland it once was, but that ain’t gonna happen.


Frank Gormlie January 9, 2017 at 10:23 am

We all need to keep reminding ourselves that SeaWorld is on PUBLIC Land, and leases it out from the City. Nothing “permanent” is supposed to be built. And beneath it and right next to it are the remains of a major landfill used by the Navy and aircraft industries right up into the 1950s.


Marc Snelling January 10, 2017 at 7:32 am

So SeaWorld wants more exemptions to the 30-foot coastal height limit and their educational mandate? Or are they going to call it something else – like when the GM in 2004 said “It’s not a roller coaster” about the ‘splashdown ride’. Failing that maybe they will claim it’s an ‘educational’ roller coaster like Manta.

I still remember the community meetings around 2000 where they said roller coasters were not part of the park’s long-term plans. Perhaps the attendance/profit issues (has dropped nearly 20% last year in San Diego) are based on something more than the number of roller coasters at the park? Like people’s conscience… when people from Steve-O to Bob Barker are telling people not to visit you know you have a problem.

Like spending $15 million in PR to counter the movie Blackfish (that had a budget under $100,000). For the money they spent, their social media campaign was amateurish. Like when the Orlando Business Journal ran a poll asking readers if Blackfish had changed their view of SeaWorld – and 55% of the votes came from an IP address at SeaWorld. Or the PR generating by taking legal action against California’s captive breeding ban. Or the lawsuit about the Kathy Najimy SeaWorld ad the San Diego Airport refused to post at first – generating even more attention.

The SeaWorld execs may not care about animal welfare but they care about the bottom line. Since 2013 their shares are worth 2/3rds of what they were before the release of Blackfish. Their stock hit an all-time low in September and they suspended dividend payments. In the end they had to answer to their shareholders. And it isn’t over yet. Even if this weekend is the ‘final’ orca show.


John January 15, 2017 at 11:46 am

In 2000 the parks long term plans would not have predicted a hit piece masquerading as a documentary causing enough public backlash to shut down their biggest attraction.
Echoing a point Chris mentioned above, I remember most of the people demanding the end of the Orca shows explaining that Seaworld could make it up in other ways like expanding other attractions, rides and such.
As for the height limit let’s get real here. The reasons for that height limit are irrelevent toward Seaworld and their rides. They address concerns about overpopulation, gentrification, views and scale of structures in beach communities where we live. Anything Seaworld has on the table is dwarfed by their tower anyway.
Compared to theme parks like Six Flags and Disney, Seaworld is a great thing with positive benefits for the planet and we would be pretty stupid to drive them and the jobs they provide out of the community.
If we did we would probably be stuck having to clean up at least some of that toxic soup under the east side of their facility. Those who know what is down there know what a nightmare that would be.


Marc Snelling February 3, 2017 at 9:56 am

What about SeaWorld makes the height limit not apply to them?

Some low budget documentary is hardly to blame. And SeaWorld amplified its effect with their clumsy PR and attacks on activists. Public opinion on animal captivity has been shifting for decades. Blackfish tapped into something that was already there, it didn’t create it.

And if toxic waste was really an issue they wouldn’t be breaking ground on more.

Nobody is driving them away, people are just choosing not to buy as many tickets. It’s a for-profit business first and anything else they do is secondary to that.

San Diego doesn’t need SeaWorld to bring in tourists. The beaches and weather do that all on their own.


John February 3, 2017 at 8:35 pm

“anything else they do is secondary to that”.

I suppose you apply this damning attitide when you go to a hospital? School teachers profit from educating your children. Does that make them evil?
You go on to authoritatively declare what the city does or does not need to attract tourists but your unrealistic anti capitalist attitude suggests you wouldn’t care if the city went bankrupt and we all starved.
The fact is SeaWorld has rescued marine mammals in the hundreds of thousands, educated and sparked interest in children, and contributed to the body of research on these animals which helps conservation in the wild. It took an investment of capital to build the facility just as it would if it were a hospital, a school, or an orphanage. The investors need to feed their children just as you do. Why does this bother you?


Frank Gormlie January 10, 2017 at 11:14 am

Donna Frye told me in an email :

“As you recall, in 1998 SeaWorld went to the voters to allow them to build things up to 160 feet. SeaWorld is limited to a percentage of land area within their leasehold that can go that high. They will need to get approval from the Coastal Commission.


retired botanist January 10, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Aarrgh- its infuriating the way SW is spinning this new Orca exhibit/natural behaviors baloney, and wanting to educate folks about moray eels by building a roller coaster called the eel! Shameless is all I can think of… worse, the Orcas will remain incarcerated–oh wait– supposedly they’ll be happy now since they’ll be performing ‘natural behaviors’ in incredibly small, enclosed ‘pools’ instead of doing performance tricks in incredibly small, enclosed tanks.
Its a theme park, just like any other…. Monterey Bay Aquarium its not, and never will be. New ride? I sincerely hope not. :-(


K. Raleigh January 11, 2017 at 9:13 am

I am glad the Orca shows are going away, and the roller coaster is always a good alternative. I am torn because I am not fond about the animals being held captive, but it is nice to learn about the animals when you see them up close.


Debbie February 3, 2017 at 9:30 am
Christo February 3, 2017 at 10:40 am

If they are going to build all these rides and stuff… How about a water park?


Debbie August 9, 2017 at 6:16 pm

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