SeaWorld San Diego plans to unveil a $10 million-plus manta-themed ride and animal exhibit for 2012, according to construction documents.
The marine park had been keeping the project under wraps until Web snoops discovered an online bid invitation for a "Sea World Manta Exhibit & Ride Attraction 2012" posted to the McGraw-Hill Construction website. The bid request seeks a general contractor for a "recreational" construction project built from "structural steel" in San Diego. McGraw-Hill's "recreational" category includes casinos, theaters, athletic facilities and -- wait for it -- roller coasters.
SeaWorld San Diego officials declined to comment except to say that they plan to make an announcement in early February about a new attraction for 2012.
The news comes a few days after the Screamscape theme park news website published blueprints and drawings showing a track layout and "Manta-style sting ray" train design for a roller coaster reportedly coming to SeaWorld San Diego in 2012. The plans bear a striking resemblance to a Mack launched megacoaster called BlueFire at Europa Park in Germany, according to Screamscape.
SeaWorld's sister park in Orlando, Fla., opened a similarly themed Manta flying coaster in 2009 that features a wing dip splashdown across a shallow lake. (View a Manta photo gallery by the Orlando Sentinel).
The SeaWorld San Diego ride will likely be located in a relatively unused back corner of the marine park near the Skyride and Flamingo Cove, according to Screamscape.
For 2011, SeaWorld San Diego will install a sea turtle exhibit, add the Riptide Rescue spinning boat ride and update the Shamu killer whale show.