In The News November 19, 2019

SeaWorld names its new dive roller coaster after the Emperor penguin

Source: San Diego Union Tribune

Rendering depicts the planned Emperor roller coaster that SeaWorld is saying will be the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in California. It is expected to debut in 2020. (Courtesy of SeaWorld)
SeaWorld’s new attraction for 2020, a 153-foot-tall dive coaster, will be called Emperor, a nod to the Emperor penguin that can dive to a depth of 1,800 feet, the park announced Tuesday.

While the coaster, currently under construction, will fall far short of the penguin’s deep-diving capabilities, the attraction is being designed to still give passengers the thrill of a very steep fall — 143 feet to be exact.

Named for the world’s largest penguin, the Emperor coaster was originally to be called Mako when SeaWorld announced plans in January for what would be its third coaster in three years. At the time, the thinking was that the ride would be tied to an update of its Shark Encounter exhibit, but now SeaWorld says it will be linked to a new animal conservation effort in partnership with Penguins International.

The theme park, already known for its conservation and rescue efforts, is making a commitment to donate a portion of the proceeds from sales of penguin merchandise to Penguins International to support its education and research efforts.

The name change also was made, presumably, to help differentiate the San Diego park’s new coaster from the 3-year-old Mako coaster at SeaWorld’s Orlando park. That ride, though, has a different layout and has faster speeds approaching 73 mph, minus the kind of dangling drops that will define the Emperor ride, once completed.

SeaWorld San Diego President Marilyn Hannes boasts that “There will be no other coaster experience like this in California. Emperor will both thrill our coaster enthusiasts and also serve as an attraction that educates guests about the importance of animal and conservation issues.”

Designed to climb 153 feet, the Emperor’s cars will be suspended on a 45-degree angle at the crown of the ride before plunging down a 143-foot vertical drop that will accelerate to more than 60 miles per hour. Built by Switzerland-based Bolliger & Mabillard, the ride will feature a barrel roll and a sweeping Immelmann loop named after a German pilot who used the distinctive flying maneuver in World War II. Each of the floorless ride cars will hold 18 riders in three, six-person rows.

The new coaster will be located adjacent to Journey to Atlantis in the southeast corner of the park in an area that is currently a parking lot.

Earlier this year, the California Coastal Commission granted SeaWorld permission to move forward with the project. While the coaster far exceeds San Diego’s 30-foot coastal height restriction, SeaWorld’s master plan allows for a limited number of exemptions. The Emperor qualified as one of those exceptions as did the Electric Eel coaster, which debuted last year.

Yet another coaster, Tidal Twister, debuted earlier this year, part of SeaWorld’s efforts in recent years to introduce more thrill rides at its larger parks. The strategy appears to working, as SeaWorld Entertainment has seen attendance rising across its 12 parks over the last year.

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