SeaWorld San Diego will add a manta ray-themed family roller coaster on May 26 that marks the U.S. debut of a highly anticipated prototype ride.
Paired with a 100,000-gallon aquarium and outdoor ray pool, the Manta coaster will twist and turn over low terrain in the relatively unused back corner of the marine park near the Skyride and Flamingo Cove, SeaWorld officials said.
The 30-foot-tall Manta will feature dual launch zones, a 54-foot drop into a subterranean trench and a dramatic wing dip into a shallow lake over a 2,800-foot-long track. Launched from a tunnel filled with manta ray projections, the inversion-less family coaster will reach a top speed of 43 mph and pull 4 Gs during the two-minute trip. Work is currently underway on the new SeaWorld coaster.
The electromagnetic-launched mega-coaster, which has coaster enthusiasts salivating, will deliver a much-needed dose of thrills to a park habitually light on rides. I can't wait to take my first spin.
SeaWorld San Diego's Manta represents a significantly more compact version of the 125-foot-tall, 3,500-foot-long Blue Fire coaster in Germany, which features heart rate monitors, video screens for each rider and lap bar-only restraints. The prototype Mack coaster can be found only at the company-owned Europa-Park, which serves as a proving ground for the manufacturer's newest rides.
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.
Note: A similar version of this story ran in February 2011.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun