Photo Trip Report

July 30, 2012

I left Austin and drove south on Interstate 35 to San Antonio to get in one last coaster fix before I moved to a new state, Florida. Parking was $15 and got in line to buy a ticket. I printed a $10 off coupon the night before, and I was glad I did. Admission is $59.99. I passed the nice entrance and grabbed a map, which was just a big, unfolded piece of thick paper. It was a little unwieldy, but I folded it and put it in my pocket.

I started the day with Steel Eeel, a Morgan junior hyper. There wasn't much of a wait for the ejector seat, the third row in the first car. There wasn't a long line, and the only delay was the restraints are manually unlocked. As we climbed the lift, we stopped about halfway up, and a ride op's voice came on over the speakers saying that loose articles must be put away. Someone must have gotten out a cellphone or camera. After about a minute, we started back up.

The coaster slows down drastically at the top of the lift, so much so that I leaned forward when we started heading down the drop. Next are two camelbacks with a dip in between that doesn't go down very far. The airtime in them is spectacular. It's pure floater air practically until the train bottoms out. Then there's the block brake. It slows the train down a little, and then it dives into a big, curving drop to the right. The ground-level turn pulls some heavy G's and then enters another airtime-filled camelback. After that is a series of bunny hops with a lot of airtime. Then there are two quick turns into the brakes.

Steel Eel is a really fun coaster. I hadn't been on a Morgan coaster since Mamba at Worlds of Fun in 2009, so it was nice to get on another. The airtime's really fun, and it's smooth. 8/10. After that ride, I jumped right back in line and got in the back seat. There's more airtime down the first drop than in the front car, but the rest of the airtime's the same.

Next I went to the Batman clone, Great White. On the way there, there's a tiny section of walkable midway between Steel Eel's footers and a flowerbed. It's oddly placed, like the midway was set up before the coaster, and that area wasn't opened up for more than one person to squeeze through.

I rode in the eighth row in the outside right seat on Great White. It's a Batman. Nothing too special. I've been on several of these, so there's not much to review anymore. The high G's are great, and the helix before the first corkscrew made my feet tingle. 8/10.

Since I'm a credit whore, I went to Shamu Express, the kiddy coaster. I rode near the back and was told I had to sit on the right. Odd. It's just a tire-driven lift hill, a turn to the left and a little hill. They cycle it twice. I went over to the dolphin area and looked at the animals, but then it was time to catch the sea lion show.

I walked over to Sea Lion Stadium to watch "Cannery Row Caper," a show about a pair investigating missing fish. The preshow was a guy pantomiming missing his girlfriend. He jumped in the water and swam to the audience, where he walked around joking with audience members. The show started. Someone was stealing fish from the cannery! Two sea lions helped investigate. There were hijinks involving an otter too. Toward the end of the show, one of the sea lions stopped cooperating, so the actor improvised. He said, "Stick to the script!" The sea lion just jumped in the water and swam away. The actor took the time to explain how they work with the animals. If they do right, they give them fish. If they don't, they ignore them.

Eventually the sea lion came back, and the case was solved. It was the shop owner, a giant walrus, the whole time! He was eating his own fish. What a gigantic animal. After the show, I went to my car and grabbed my SLR (I'd been shooting with my point-and-shoot). I took some shots around the park then headed back to the dolphins. It was feeding time, so people paid $6 to feed the dolphins on one side of the pool. I stayed on the other side since I didn't buy food.

Before the food was handed to people, the dolphins would jump out of the water to look at the line. It was really interesting seeing them actually scoping out how many people would be feeding them. They seemed to be getting a little antsy waiting for food. One dolphin would leap out of the water and do flips. That was fun.

I went to the coral reef and shark area next. The fish in this area are beautiful. There are stingrays here too. In the next tank were sharks. It was very cool seeing these things. Then back in the stingray tank, a diver went in and fed the rays and fish. While she was feeding them, another employee stood in the room and talked about rays and fish and their feeding schedule.

I went back to Steel Eel and rode in the ejector seat again. I put my camera and camera bag in a locker, which cost $1. There was only single-train operation, so I could have put it in a bin, but I felt more comfortable with a locker. As before, the airtime was really good.

Then I headed over to the penguin and puffin area. There were tons of penguins in the room. A lot of them were diving in the water and jumping out and swimming all over the place.

Then I rode Bench: The Ride. It was about 4 p.m., so I decided to leave and head to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. SeaWorld is a really fun park with a good lineup of coasters. The sea lion show was a lot of fun and was funny. The animal exhibits were great. 9/10.