Making good on SeaWorld’s promise to add more thrill-oriented rides, the San Diego theme park is announcing plans Tuesday for what it is calling its tallest and fastest roller coaster. Plans for the Electric Eel coaster — which would open in early summer 2018 — come on the heels of already announced attractions as the park and its parent company struggle to boost attendance and revenue. Business has slumped over the last two years amid harsh criticism of the marine parks’ captive breeding and treatment of killer whales.
SeaWorld boasts that taken together the four attractions represent the highest level of investment since the park’s opening more than half a century ago. SeaWorld Chief Executive Joel Manby and President Marilyn Hannes have hinted in recent months that the San Diego park could expect a thrill-focused ride in 2018. “This is what Joel and Marilyn promised, which is investing in SeaWorld San Diego and changing this park,” said Brian Morrow, vice president of theme park design for SeaWorld Entertainment. “This is the end of that process, which is the biggest capital investment over a two-year period at this park, and it’s a big deal financially and time-wise.” Morrow and Hannes declined to divulge the expected cost of the roller coaster.