Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

The Porpoise of Manta (and other fishy tales)

by Paul Ruben

SeaWorld San Diego’s new Manta rollercoaster stalled on its second day of operation. SeaWorld said not to worry, they’d call in a manta fix it.

They had a ray of hope it would work, but instead it stung them where it hurts. But what’s the porpoise of a rollercoaster at SeaWorld? There’s so much otter stuff to sea.

I will not take credit for any this lame humour. The so-called honour goes to my shameless friend (anyone who knows me has no shame), Tony Gonzalez Jnr. His puns that were simply too bad to ignore. But I will take credit for making my way to SeaWorld San Diego to ride Manta; it was an exhilarating experience.

From Mack Rides, it’s the perfect attraction for SeaWorld as it immerses you into the world of rays. The double-launch ride begins in a tunnel with a 270º screen. Rays are projected all around you. The music builds, the train starts to rock back and forth, making you feel like you’re in the ocean. More and more rays surround you, and then you blast out into sunlight and reach maximum speed within two seconds. It’s one of the most stunning beginnings to a coaster I’ve ever experienced. The rest of the 2,835ft-long ride isn’t shabby either. You feel like you’re a giant manta, gliding, twisting and diving through the ocean.

Adjacent to Manta, more than 60 rays and hundreds of fish are on display in a reef-themed aquarium, animal encounters being a hallmark of the SeaWorld experience. Manta’s 100,000-gallon aquarium is filled with three species of rays (California bat rays, diamond stingrays and shovelnose guitarfish) and hundreds of fish native to the California coast. There was even a fish with no eyes, a fsh.

So why, you may ask, am I not pictured by Manta, but rather in front of the Giant Dipper at the nearby Belmont Park? Because I was thirsty. After riding Manta a few times I was suffering beer depravation, so headed to Belmont down at Mission Beach, less than a mile from SeaWorld.

There, in the Coaster Saloon across the street from the Giant Dipper, I went in search of an adult beverage. The Dipper, I’m happy to report, was wonderful as always, and the park never looked better. General manager Wendy Crain is justifiably proud of her Dipper, and her new Chance Rides’ Unicoaster, too.

Yet I was still in a Manta mood. The Coaster Saloon is a real dive, but the place was rockin’ with a very popular tuna, Salmon Chanted Evening. And the stage was surrounded by screaming groupers. Probably there to see the bass player.

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