Is SeaWorld A Drunken Sailor On Shore Leave?
For the last several seasons SeaWorld has been making waves in the amusement industry. However, it isn’t their signature sea life exhibits that have been leading the brand it is the attractions that have been added and planned. They have gone through a number of leadership changes during this time and the rides have been added more aggressively during these last few years. They started out with a series of Skyrocket II models from Premier, a junior wooden coaster from Gravity Group, a small GCI woodie, a Skywarp from Skyline attractions, and a smaller scale launch coaster from Intamin. None of these additions by themselves are that impressive, however as a group they represent a significant change. They have also earmarked 2020 as a major construction year building much larger rides at all major parks. They are building a full size GCI woodie, a large multi launch coaster from Intamin, a larger Premier multi launch coaster, a B&M dive coaster, and an RMC Iron Horse conversion. Some parks are even getting back to back coasters. The real question is if this is the exclamation point on their building boom or are they just getting warmed up?
It is starting to look like their may be more construction planned across the chain from planning documents that are being revealed for 2021 and perhaps even beyond. Let us look at the left coast first. SeaWorld San Diego is one of the parks getting back to back coasters. In 2019 they got Tidal Twister from Skyline and next year they will be adding Emperor from B&M. The rumors are already starting to churn for a possibility of a third coaster in as many years. Behind The Thrills have uncovered planning documents and a preliminary layout that they have published on their site. The rumor suggests an arctic themed multi launched family coaster where the Wild Arctic simulator ride currently is. Their information suggests the ride will be about thirty feet tall, have four launches and a top speed of around 42 MPH. SeaWorld San Diego is currently building their fifth coaster so another one would be more than welcome, but I was initially confused when I saw the stats. Manta was installed in 2012 by Mach Rides and is a multi launch coaster with a thirty foot height and a max speed of 43 MPH. These similarities make me feel that something is missing with this rumor that will better differentiate these two coasters or has SeaWorld gone off the deep end? Maybe let’s head over to Busch Gardens Williamsburg next.
BGWfans has long been tracking another large project they feel is in the works at Busch Gardens Williamsburg for 2021 as well. They have a drawing and a very detailed article on their site. The 2020 coaster for BGW is a multi launch coaster called Pantheon, their 3rd, that looks very exciting. The 2021 rumor right now points to a launch coaster as well. So on the surface this 2021 rumor seems redundant as well. Since we know limited details of both coasters and the plans could change, and the information could be incorrect it is hard to say but the fact that they both have me scratching my head is a funny coincidence. The BGW project is rumored to reuse the old Drachen Fire station, it has an FAA height clearance of 355 feet, and it will be placed in an area too small for a traditional lift hill.
So how could these two rumored coasters differentiate themselves? The other similar coasters at the parks could be clouding our perspective. In San Diego they have a building to start with, perhaps this could be a ride more similar to Verbolten at BGW than Manta that they currently have. The ride could feature dark ride portions at the beginning, maybe even going in and out of a new show building at the far side of the layout. With four launches the ride can also be slowed to look at show elements during the ride and then the speed can be restored the same way Hagrid’s at Universal handled show scenes. At Williamsburg they have to get a train over 300 feet, so perhaps the launch will be the central element like Kingda Ka or Red Force. While they do have several launch coasters none of them focus on the launch. If it isn’t a launch coaster perhaps it is a new generation of vertical lift coasters. If the manufacturer is Intamin they have said that it could be done with LIM instead of a traditional chain. While we have not seen this technology used in this fashion yet it would be consistent with their claims from the polar coaster concept.
It is fun to think that with all of the construction planned for 2020 it may be the beginning of a larger plan. The fact that we are again seeing rumors very far in advance, it shows that they are working on projects that require more than one season to plan out and complete. I don’t know about you, but I have my fingers crossed that Sesame Place builds a Giga in 2022. Big Bird deserves it.