MANTA At Sea World San Diego

Recently we had a chance to check out the brand-new manta exhibit at Sea World San Diego. The attraction combines the new interactive area for live manta rays with a state-of-the-art roller coaster. The interactive area allows riders and non-riders alike to enjoy the graceful beauty of bat rays and fishes. The new 100,000-gallon aquarium lets you see the rays through eight large acrylic windows, as well as touch and feed bat rays at the attraction’s shallow touch-pool. If seeing and touching isn’t’ enough, the new Manta roller coaster allows riders to get a sense of what it’s like to be one of these fascinating creatures as it twists, soars and dives.

On entering the attraction, guests are given the option to proceed to the ride or to make their way to the viewing area. Navigating a very nicely landscaped environment, we were soon waiting for our turn to board. The line moved very quickly and even though it was a recently opened attraction, our wait was less than 15 minutes. One of the first things I noticed was the ample room provided in the seat. At 6’4”, I’m often forced to cram myself into various rides but that was not the case with manta. The restraining system pulled down comfortably over me, and gave me ample room for my legs which I did not even have to cross. My wife sat next me and it made me appreciate that we were not crammed right on top of one another as we have been for many rides in the past.

The ride begins in a dark tunnel that soon comes to life on a 270-degree enveloping screen, showing mantas swimming in the sea. Just as this calm and peaceful setting sinks in riders shoot forward at an impressive rate of speed as you accelerate down the track. While you never get extremely high off the ground, there are some impressive twist and turns along the way as you twist, and turn through the tracks. One impressive segment had as briefly turning sharply to the left and then sharply to the right before doing a dip and a very tight turn and drop. While I wouldn’t call it scary it was certainly exhilarating and the feel of the wind in your hair as you were whisked along the track in the gorgeous San Diego weather was worth the thrill.

Upon returning to the station many of the riders erupted in applause to show their enjoyment for the ride. One of the things I found very interesting was the now common industry-standard of taking a photo during a dynamic moment of the ride has been given a new twist with Manta. They do not wait until you’re right in the middle of a dropper high-speed turns take the photo, rather they take it right at the start as you accelerate from a stationary position to the maximum ride speed. The look of shock and exhilaration on the riders’ faces was truly humorous as we got to see several of the photos after we’ve completed the ride.

A very short walk leads riders to the interactive exhibit with mantas and while it is not my first time being up close the remarkable creatures I found that I’ve had a newfound appreciation for their grace and agility after experiencing the exhibit.

SeaWorld continues to blaze new paths and offering thrilling rides while maintaining their primary mission as a conservation park that educates the guests. It not only produced a top-level coaster attraction but greatly complemented their existing rides such a Shipwreck Rapids and Journey to Atlantis without compromising the focus on the magnificent creatures within.