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SeaWorld San Diego

Discussion in 'Other California Parks' started by Bonkers, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. Freak

    Freak Veteran Member

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    Apparently, management is pursuing a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the ride. According to Screamscape, they have to keep the ride in SBNO to use as evidence for their claim. Definitely going to be closed for a while.

    Once is all said and done, if they can still operate the ride, maybe they can enclose the ride and make it a proper dark ride.....like it should've been in the first place.
     
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  2. anihilnation

    anihilnation Veteran Member

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    Maybe they are suing because the manufacturer said this ride would be great and super well-received :)
     
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  3. markb

    markb Newcomer

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    Hard to believe that the SeaWorld execs didn't know what they were getting. They either weren't paying attention, in which they should get fired, or they were paying attention and thought this would work, in which case they should also get fired.
     
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  4. Rideguy70

    Rideguy70 Member

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    I believe the execs who made this decision have already left the company, so that's a prophesy already fulfilled. Still, current management has to deal with the mess.
     
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  5. Ryan

    Ryan Staff Member Moderator

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    Trip Report time, this will have to be in two posts since the forum will not let me post it all in one.

    PART ONE:

    So I haven't been to SeaWorld San Diego since I was nine years old. I have vague memories of Wild Arctic and the Shamu show, but that's about it. In 2016 I visited SeaWorld Orlando for the first time. It was empty, and I adored the coasters and many of the exhibits. (not to mention the killer dining plan) Naturally as SWSD was debuting a third coaster, I decided this would be the best time to view the park through adult eyes. I was especially interested to see which park fares better.

    I got there bright early, about 30 minutes before open. The park held its standard rope drop, allowing the entrance area to be roamed. The Explorer's Reef entrance is gorgeous and captivating, themed to the tee making for a beautiful opener. The Orlando location is sorely missing this introduction. I loved the little touch pools at the front, making an immediate statement on how up-close and interactive the experience will be. After visiting guest services and getting my dining plan, quick queue and free souvenir photo queued up (it was part of an all-inclusive $109 ticket, not bad!), I headed to wait for Electric Eel as it was not included for quick queue.

    It was a smart move, and I was on the second train. (side note: I traveled thru Ocean Explorer and cringed at the now SBNO Submarine Quest, hope SeaWorld doesn't sit on that for years) This was my first SkyRocket, and I can see the appeal. The ride is quick, smooth and delivers ample thrills for such a small layout. It's just really fun, and I love that zero-g stall at the top. The ride had a 35 minute wait all-day, and this was not a light day so I have to give SeaWorld's operators props for having efficient operations for a low-capacity coaster. Of course, a sad aspect was that while the queue had some nice beach outcroppings, the station was not themed. At all. Some blue paint and that was about it. The coaster also has zero lighting package, not even floodlights to showcase the coaster during the night hours. An unfortunate budget cut.

    What was nice was SeaWorld making sure that kids had somewhere to go, not only in the Ocean Explorer area, but with fun interactive games and an eel aquarium next to Electric Eel's lockers. Tons of kids were having a blast playing them.

    Next door was Journey To Atlantis, the Mack water coaster that is essentially a budget version of the original Orlando one. Of course, it's probably all for the better in the end. This one cuts the BS and includes a fun elevator lift and a slightly longer coaster. Unfortunately the coaster is entirely outdoors, not only giving away the surprise but subjecting the track to the harsh seawater elements. It doesn't fare well and as a result is far bumpier than Orlando's. However, you still get drenched and this one uses the original JTA soundtrack which is fun.

    I chose to continue to make my way through the park naturally, opting to check out Wild Arctic next. WA in Orlando I abhorred... one of the worst simulators ever. The CA version uses slightly newer simulator cabins, so I figured I might see if this was better. I was wrong. It's just as rocky, poorly simulated and awful as Orlando's. Do not ride. The exhibit is similar to Orl without polar bears, but with the standard Arctic creatures.

    I then zipped across the path to the Penguin Encounter. Now say what you will about the Antarctica dark ride, but as flawed as that attraction is, it still leads to an incredibly well-done, up-close exhibit letting guests come face-to-face with the penguins. The same can not be said here. Not only is the exhibit behind a glass that is constantly either frosted, smudged or blurred in areas, but the lighting was dim to recreate an Arctic summer. I can't fault SeaWorld for the latter, as that's what the penguins are accustomed to. But due to this, I had better luck seeing the penguins thru my camera lens that could adjust quicker than with my own eyes. You mostly got the sense of penguins in a shadowy, blurry darkness. They're adorable, but you're not able to see them in their glory up-close as you can in Orlando. I don't think San Diego necessarily should get the ride, but if they were at one point it's a shame because I would've loved to see that experience recreated again. I hope SD chooses to give this exhibit the next big refurb to create a more memorable experience.

    Thankfully, there were non-Arctic penguins outside and some puffins on display in nice bright daylight, but it wasn't quite the same.

    From here I moved past their Sesame Street and midway areas. Some nice games and a play area, not to mention a couple more flats for kids. I think after so many thrill coasters, SWSD needs to add either a Vekoma roller skater or at least a Zamperla kiddie coaster to give children that sort of option. There's definitely some room... (eyes Submarine Quest)

    I chose to go up the SkyTower which was $5, which is ridiculous since even the Orlando version is $3. The attraction despite this was surprisingly popular (and barely anybody had an AP either), but I felt weirdly ripped-off. Yes, the view is great but there was not much in the way of narration like in Orlando.

    Finally, it was time to ride Manta. This was a ride I've heard about for years, and the hype was definitely met. Everything about it was perfect: the theme, the layout, the queue, the station, the trains... I'm stunned that Manta only goes up to 43 MPH because it packs an incredible punch. The first launch is surprisingly intense, there's much more airtime than you would think, and it slices into those curves in a way that reminded me of Maverick at CP. While Electric Eel is faster, taller and has inversions, Manta felt much more intense and thrilling. I was stunned that this was considered a family coaster... it does not feel like one. And it's just great. I had something to attend to, but I was sure I would ride it many, many more times.

    I did come off Manta a bit woozy, however, and most likely since I was hungry and slightly dehydrated. I headed back to Ocean Explorer to the Explorer's Cafe since I had something to do there. (more on that in a second) I got there around 12:10 to see that there were two long, long lines waiting at registers, with three left unattended. I was certain that they would grab another cashier... but nope. It took forever, and I finally got my first meal of the day around 12:40. That was 30 minutes with about six groups ahead of me. And in that time not a single third cashier was brought in despite the lines literally snaking out the door. Really sad stuff, especially in relation to something I'll talk about in a minute. The food was fine, I got a chicken tenders basket with a side of baked mac and cheese, and a cake cup as dessert. I only had 10 minutes to eat, so I went as quick as possible. The tenders and fries were nice and hot, the mac and cheese had a nice crusty top with the usual creamy lower layer. The cake cup was a bit mushy, but tasted fine. I dashed my food off to head for my appointment to experience DeepSea VR in the adjacent gift shop.
     
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  6. Ryan

    Ryan Staff Member Moderator

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    PART TWO:

    Since I work in VR, I figured the $10 upcharge was not too bad to see what SeaWorld was offering, especially since it wasn't the common "VR on a coaster" that most theme parks throw out. The synopsis said it was "an up-close under-the-sea experience". So I'm expecting to experience some undersea footage in VR. I was wrong... really really wrong. Even from the start nothing seemed quite right.

    I headed to the gift shop... which was boarded up. On the walls were some signage referring to DeepSea VR and said the next expedition was at 1PM, the time I booked for. There are some coat hangers, but otherwise this was just the area next to the restrooms that should lead into the gift shop. The hallway next door was clearly the entry path for SeaWorld team members to enter their own employee facilities. The instructions said to sign in at the gift shop, but that was closed. So I headed to guest services a short walk away, and this is what they told me: "Oh, well we can't afford to have enough employees to staff both the gift shop and DeepSea, so the gift shop is closed, just wait by the employee entrance." Yes, you heard right, SeaWorld is admitting that in the summer their financial woes are so bad they can't afford to staff a gift shop. Woof.

    So I went back and awkwardly waited by the entrance, as several TMs go back and forth. Finally, around 12:59, a perky TM comes out of a side door wearing a labcoat and holding a clipboard. She asks my name and checks, and tells me to sign in. I get the clipboard and cringe. There's timeslots dotted along with guests who signed up. In the past several, only one or two names maximum appear. I'm the only person on the list for my appointment time. I sign in, and she leads me into a round room that looks kind of like a doctor's waiting office. There's a raised desk in the center, flanked by four flat screen TVs. Surrounding this are many egg-shaped chairs, similar to the ones from Men In Black. She climbs up to the desk and offers me to sit in the chair. I'm assuming at this point this is just the preshow, but it comes abundantly clear that this is where the experience takes place. A short safety video plays beforehand, and she shows me the VR equipment and how to use it. It's standard and rudimentary, pretty homegrown instead of an HTC or an Oculus. She tells me that the chair will be able to be swiveled around in when the experience starts, and I adjust the focal length and put on the headphones which are clumsily attached to the viewer.

    The experience begins, and the pod unlocks. Immediately I'm thrown into... a SeaWorld educational video in VR. It's filmed at Shamu Stadium in Orlando, and I saw Mako visible in my peripheral. This trainer is teaching me about Orcas, ok, whatever... I go to turn and the pod is more resistant than I expected. I have to use my legs and push against the floor to swivel the pod, and then it cuts abruptly to Orca undersea footage. So I think that this will be the bulk of the experience... no. There are more quick cuts, to almost a nauseating factor. Even worse was spending a full minute watching a VR scene inside of the room where they keep the fish guts for more education.

    ...who thought this was a good idea?! There are numerous quick cuts and barely anytime to enjoy your environment before it changes to something else. The only animal you get to see in VR are Orcas, and way too much time is watching a trainer in VR teach you things. I was baffled and frustrated by the end of it, not to mention almost embarrassed that I wasted a TM's time by even bothering. To her credit, she was very nice and attentive, but I just felt bad. This is almost as much of a misfire as Submarine Quest, but kind of like a secret since nobody is doing it, and nobody should do it. The best thing was that I finally got my legs to swivel the chair to see Mako for a bit, and pretending I was in Orlando and able to ride one of my all-time favorite coasters was a little nice.

    It was the afternoon, so I decided to check out the next Sea Lions Live show after a stop at the Shark Encounter and Turtle Reef exhibits (not much to say, similar to Orlando's and well done). Got to pick up some Seaberry Splash Dippin Dots, SeaWorld's amazing exclusive flavor featuring blue raspberry and vanilla yogurt with chocolate Shamu chunks. The show was fine and cute, but not as good as the Sea Lion High show at Orlando. Weirdly enough, the main host stole the show whereas the attention should be placed more on Clyde, Seymour and the otters. The end featured a horrifically dated Gangnam Style dance that should've been taken out of the show years ago.

    After, I went and attended the Orca Encounter show. While I definitely think the whole controversy is not black-and-white, I do think it's rather unfortunate that SeaWorld was not entirely honest with their critics when they said they would "end theatrical Orca shows". While Orca Encounter is more focused on education rather than having Orcas participate in song and dance, these are still killer whales performing tricks for fish. They are still trained to do choreographed flips, make the audience ooh and aah and get splashed. The core principles are still there and while seeing whales do spectacular stunts is neat because it's just natural that would be neat, I think SeaWorld needs to just cut these things all together and focus on observing the whales in a natural habitat as an exhibit rather than a show. It would appear much better on paper and everything just seems like them wanting to have their cake and eat it too.

    I did enjoy the adjacent viewing exhibit where you get to see the Orcas swimming. That's something which I'd be more interested in and I think they should explore more.

    My last new (free) attraction of the day was Shipwreck Rapids, which had a stunning 70 minute wait, which Quick Queue thankfully whittled down to 15. The entire area is beyond gorgeous, reminding me a lot of Popeye at Toon Lagoon, especially considering the restaurant that is in the middle, with play areas and even a turtle exhibit. In addition, the ride is exquisitely themed, well-paced and not too short. There's a ton of great sight gags and set pieces along the way, and I love the ending in the cavern that leads to another shipwreck. This ride is insanely under-the-radar but this was Disney-levels of good. Easily the most well-themed attraction I've seen at either SeaWorld park.

    I did get a second meal (since I only ate half of the Explorer's Cafe one) of some orange chicken and rice, nicely comped at Shipwreck Cafe, and I got to explore more of this fantastic area.

    The Bayside SkyRide was another $5 and I love these sorts of attractions so I quickly paid for it. It was an idyllic trip across the bay and over the marina.

    That was it for new experiences, and I spent the rest of the day exploring other exhibits and riding Manta (got in the back and damn, it was insane) and some other attractions again. Spent a good while watching the dolphins interact and petting some manta rays, doing some light shopping here and there. After dinner (an astonishing 40-minute wait at Calypso Bay smokehouse for a well-rounded rib sampler platter, including with the dining plan of course), Electric Ocean started and I headed back to Manta for two more rides as it was "Manta Re-Charged", a nighttime version with special lighting and a weird techno rave sequence in the initial tunnel portion before the launch. The ride, of course, was still fantastic. Ended up scoring 5 rides in total by the end of the day.

    Enjoyed some more nighttime activities and headed over to Atlantis to watch their projection mapping show. Nobody knew about it despite the signage, as there was absolutely nobody on the benches overlooking the tower even 5 minutes before it started. Sure enough, it was a neat and enjoyable use of the technology, though a bit more haphazard than Universal's Potter shows. The park in general looked great at night, especially Explorer's Reef.

    So that was my day at SeaWorld, and the question goes: which do I prefer? (and no, I don't plan on going to San Antonio) This was a tough one, as there are many things that the one does well that the other does better or worse. At the end of the day, for me it comes down to the coasters. Manta, JTA and Electric Eel vs Kraken, Manta (flying), Mako and JTA. Both are strong lineups, but I adored Mako and Orlando's Penguin exhibit so much that it breaks it for me. Still, I really enjoyed SWSD and while the Coastal Commission would have a heart attack if they tried to bring Mako over, I could see them trying to seduce me back if they upgraded their penguin exhibit.
     
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  7. Rideguy70

    Rideguy70 Member

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    I personally think Manta is a very underrated coaster. Very enjoyable for what it is. It's a family coaster with a bit of kick, and rides pretty smooth. My only minor complaint about it is that the restraints tend to come down during the ride, to the point where it can be uncomfortable sometimes.

    And I'm generally not a big rapids ride fan, but Shipwreck Rapids is a good one. If you go again, I recommend you eat (or at least stop by) the Shipwreck Rapids Cafe. Not only is the seating area beautifully themed, but you can catch many views of the rapids ride, including the dive into the waterfall cave. It's a fun viewing spot.

    I didn't even know they have any sort of VR experience. Based on what you said, now maybe I know why not. ;) Also, I always skip the Wild Arctic simulator. :)

    I've only been to Orlando's Sea World once, and maybe I'm bias, but I prefer the SD one better. It's not as much the rides, but that coaster location with those views along the bay on the entire north side of the park, as well as that scenic and relaxing skyway ride across the bay (which, if you look carefully, you can see the Giant Dipper at Belmont Park in the distance). It may lose a bit in terms of thrill rides, but heck, we got a lot of other parks in SoCal for that, so I don't miss it as much.
     
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  8. Ron101

    Ron101 Rookie

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    Did SkyRide cost $5? I went this summer and it was free
     
  9. Ryan

    Ryan Staff Member Moderator

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    I did, I actually mention it in my TR. Loved it.

    Also I did go to the night prior to Belmont Park and rode the Giant Dipper. Wonderful classic ride.

    Yes. Per Screamscape, the fee was added a couple weeks back.
     
  10. GAcoaster

    GAcoaster Veteran Member

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    Manta is just a really fun coaster! I'd love to see them add a clone of it to Orlando.
     
  11. Rideguy70

    Rideguy70 Member

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    ^Ah, I missed it. Did you get to watch rafts float by? :)

    One other thing I like about Manta is that generally, the ops are very good. And if the line is very short, they do allow you to go from the exit directly back on to the loading platform for a quick reride. Happens more in the beginning or end of the day.

    On a side note, the Skytower and Skyride have always historically been an upcharge. But when the construction of Manta disrupted a huge section of the park, they made them free to make up for the inconvenience. Somehow, it remained that way for sometime even after Manta finally got complete (although maybe they were also counting the entrance construction and Electric Eel construction). I imagine that since most major construction seems to be done for a while, they're returned to the upchage. FWIW, at least at Skytower, they state much (maybe all, don't remember) of that fee goes to conservation groups.
     
  12. Red Carpet

    Red Carpet Member

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    Your theme park ticket should include ALL rides with the price of admission. This move effectively drops Sea Worlds ride count by two. A trip to SeaWorld is now a little less attractive. This is a boneheaded move for a park that is struggling with attendance.
     
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  13. GAcoaster

    GAcoaster Veteran Member

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    The Sky Tower and Skyride were always upcharge rides until recently, then they dropped the upcharge (and tried to monetize them in other ways with things like photos). Since they are lower capacity rides they got long lines. Now they dropped the photo thing and just turned them back into upcharges. If it's like Orlando, they're free for passholders.
     
  14. Rideguy70

    Rideguy70 Member

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    I don't know of any parks that include Skycoasters in the price of admission. Or go-karts. Or Ejection Seats.

    I know you could argue many other parks have Skytowers included, but let's face it... most of them are in pretty terrible shape because of general abuse from GP (scratched seats, windows, gum, trash, etc.). SW keeps their pretty immaculate, with individual cushioned seats. It's a first class version, while all the rest are coach.

    And as stated by myself and GAcoaster, at SWSD, the Skytower and Skyway were generally always considered upcharge attractions. The exception is when they temporarily stopped charging due to construction.

    It's always a trade off... the Skyway was great when it was free, but it also had insanely long lines. While I'm not a fan of the upchage, it does typically keep the lines down. And yes, I do believe they are included if you have an AP.
     
  15. GAcoaster

    GAcoaster Veteran Member

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    Especially since the Sky Tower and Skyride are no longer manufactured rides and the cost of upkeep is higher than the other attractions. The small fee keeps them going. If it's a choice of paying a little extra or not having it, I'll pay a couple of bucks to keep them running.
     
  16. Freak

    Freak Veteran Member

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    Looks like Sea World may have something up their sleeves for 2019 after all.

    SeaWorld California

    I know they're really restricted on what they can build, but it would be nice to see a more significant coaster down the line if they get in better shape. Intamin Blitz? Mini hyper? Megalite? At least this will pull some people in. Adding more thrill seems to be their winning formula.
     
  17. LintemuthStudios

    LintemuthStudios Veteran Member

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    The permits. I was going to post the info, but @Freak beat me to it.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. AlexanderMBush

    AlexanderMBush Legendary Member

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    Huh, so SW would potentially be the second in the world to receive a Skyline "Skywarp", as SFDK is expected to open one soon.

    I have..some concerns over this.

    Not because it's a bad idea, as it's an interesting idea for a thrill-flat (I consider these more of a Thrill-Flat, similar to my feelings of Larson Loop's), but because SFDK has seemed to be having technical issues with the ride they're getting.

    Interested to see the final product, but I am concerned.
     
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  19. SOCAL110

    SOCAL110 Rookie

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    This is just a glorified Larson Loop, so I'm not excited about it.

    Definitely not a coaster, more of a flat ride. It's a good fit for SW SD though.

    I feel like SW needs at least 1 more good coaster/thrill ride to make it a complete experience. An enclosed coaster in the dark would be cool.
     
  20. Rideguy70

    Rideguy70 Member

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    Actually, it's a fairly different design from a typical Larson loop. It's not a Sky Warp, but a Sky Horizon. Different model. To me, it's a bit more reminiscent of a Bayern Kurve, with a twist (and possible inversion, though there is some discussion as to whether SW will remove the inversion part).

    I don't know if it really counts as a coaster either, maybe more of a flat ride... but I am intrigued.

    SFDK sure is having trouble with their Sky Warp, though. Anyone know what the issue is?
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018

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