Photo Trip Report

Aug. 9, 2015

I drove to San Diego for a weekend to see my friend JP. On Sunday we went to SeaWorld, the only SeaWorld park I hadn't been to (I'd visited SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio).

We entered the park and explored the entrance plaza, where there are fish you can interact with. I stuck my hand in a tank with fish that nibble on the dead skin on your hands. It felt strange. We also saw little sharks. They've got rubbery skin. We walked to check out some attractions. People stopped and watched a group of flamingos being marched down the midway.

We went to the Wild Arctic attraction, which is a simulator. It portrays a helicopter than flies over the Arctic, under the water, on the ice and through dangerous ice canyons. It's cheesy and dated. After the ride, we looked at animals such as belugas, seals and some kind of trout.

Next we checked out the Penguin Encounter, where we saw a penguin slip and fall backward like a doofus.

But now it was time to get my fix. I love roller coasters, and I hadn't been on one in nearly a year. I know, I'm slipping. We went to Manta, a 2012 launched coaster by Mack. We put our things in a free locker and got in the short line. We waited under 10 minutes for the back seat. This would be my first Mack launch coaster. The intro is interesting, though it's a bit of a wait before the launch. The train enters a tunnel, where a 3-D underwater view is projected on the walls. The train rocks back and forth with the waves, then some giant mantas swim around and over the train. The doors in front open, and the train launches down the track. The photo is taken at the end of the launch track, which is a bad spot for it when the sun is out. The dark tunnel ending in bright sunlight makes everyone squint or close their eyes, so the on-ride photo is people with their eyes closed.

Manta contains a series of low hills and overbanked turns. It's got some nice airtime and dives under paths. It has two launches and ends with some fast, low turns and a helix. It's got some positive G's in the helix, and the airtime is surprising in areas. It's an enjoyable coaster. We got back in line and went to the front seat this time. The wait was short again. I like the back more than the front.

We went to the dolphin encounter, which I really enjoyed at the other parks. I love dolphins. The trainers interacted with them, and people fed them and pet them. One trainer surfed on a dolphin for a few feet before falling.

Next we went to the sea lions. It was feeding time, so birds were stalking the area trying to grab fish from people who held them too far out or missed the sea lions' mouths. Below is a video I got of a bird snatching a fish from a girl's hand.

Next we went to Shark Encounter, which features a clear tunnel with sharks all around. We went around the aquarium area and saw a hilarious turtle licking a rock and see-through fish.

We went to Manta again and rode in the middle seat. This was the shortest wait of the day. It wasn't even five minutes. The middle had decent airtime, but I prefer the back.

SeaWorld has a second coaster, which we headed to next. Journey to Atlantis is a Mack water coaster. Most of it is on a track, but it's got a little bit of flume action. We got a locker for $1 (the only money I spent all day at the park. My friend's wife works at the San Diego Zoo and gave us comp tickets.) and got in line. The wait wasn't long either, maybe 15 minutes. We rode in a middle row of the single-car vehicle. The ride starts with the lift hill and big drop. There's an elevator lift inside the tower, and it ends with some drops on the coaster track and a splashdown next to the station. It's enjoyable. We got a bit of a soaking.

I finished the day on Bench: The Ride.

I'm glad I got to go to this SeaWorld park. I've now been to all three and have enjoyed every one. The rides here aren't that outstanding, though Manta stands out. It's nothing like SeaWorld Orlando, which has Kraken and the B&M flying Manta, two superior coasters. But it's a fun park and heavily emphasises the animals and the care and rehab the park staff does for them. This was a fun trip and a good way to break the coaster dry spell. 7/10.