What hasn’t one already heard about SeaWorld Parks. The park in Orlando has been one of the most famous amusement parks in the world since the 1970s, and the park in San Diego, California, has been offering a successful – albeit still rather critical – mixture of animal and amusement park since 1964. The most exotic park in 1970 was the one in Ohio, which, in agreement with the nearby amusement park Geauga Lake, only featured marine animal shows. Shortly before the takeover by Anheuser-Busch, the fourth and last SeaWorld Park in San Antonio followed in 1988.
First of all, it is important to note that only people who come to the park especially for the marine animals will be satisfied. Thanks to the current expansion offensive on the part of the amusement park, this may change at some point, but without the shows, SeaWorld San Antonio undoubtedly offers far too little for the extremely high admission price.
Now that that has been cleared up let’s start our tour through the theme park. Right at the beginning we come across the large children’s area Sesame Street Bay of Play. Here you’ll find an oversized playground and a handful of selected children’s rides, including the Super Grover’s Box Car Derby roller coaster. Known as the Shamu Express until 2018, it featured an orca-shaped train. After the recent rebranding, Grover guides us in his soapboxes through the oval-shaped layout by the manufacturer Zierer.
Since some areas of the park were closed for annual ticket holders, I was forced to head for the park’s biggest roller coaster, the Steel Eel.
This roller coaster from Morgan has been in the park since 1999 and features the typical out & back layout of the manufacturer. The Steel Eel is the smallest representative of its kind – which fortunately doesn’t mean anything, because the steel eel knows how to entertain its riders very well.
After a short dip out of the station, the train immediately enters a curve, which releases the train into the lift. Arriving at a starting height of 46m, you immediately rush down the increasingly steep first shot. With a speed of65 mph and a good pinch of positive G-forces, the train goes straight through the valley. On the following camelback hills we are lifted out of our seats twice in the most beautiful floating airtime manner, before we head for another valley close to the ground. Immediately afterwards we are already approaching the intermediate brake. With noticeably reduced speed we turn into a steep turn, which serves as a prelude for the brilliant bunnyhop finale. The speed rush takes us over several smaller and smaller hills, which can tear you out of your seat. Last but not least we cross a supply track in a wide S-curve before we reach the braking track of the layout.
The Steel Eel is a great roller coaster with a good amount of floating airtime, which probably gets even more when the coaster is run in and under the (more normal) Texan temperatures. At least I had a lot of fun on this ride, but unfortunately the dispatch was very slow, because first the seatbelt and then the bar are checked, which means you only saw the train rolling over the track every 5-10 minutes.
At the nearby Wave Breaker, fortunately, things looked a bit different and after a short wait, it was possible to go on a rescue mission sitting in the first row. After a short turn you get your mission briefing in a hangar, before you accelerate via a friction wheel launch. Immediately you go up a hill in a slight turn, which you leave in a wide steep turn. After two ground-near swings, you’ll make a right turn, followed by some ground-near maneuvers. A steep left turn leads us to the second launch section, which presses you into the backrest as usual. This is also followed by a high hill, which you leave in a steep left turn. Once again on the ground, we whizz across the lake in slight swings before we make our way back after a left turn. This takes us over a multitude of very flat hills and pressure-laden passages before we even reach the braking section of the layout.
Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster is a very cool roller coaster with a beautiful pacing and a good flow. It is a lot of fun to ride over the high hills and ground level passages. Of course the ride is not comparable to Djurs Sommerland’s Juvelen or Le Pal’s Yukon Quad, but this roller coaster is an excellent and welcome addition to the otherwise rather meager portfolio of the amusement park.
A good nine years after the amusement park opened its doors for the first time, SeaWorld San Antonio presented its first roller coaster to visitors. The Great White is the seventh delivery of the popular Batman layout from the manufacturer B&M and at that time the only ride of its kind in Texas. Compared to the rides at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Six Flags Over Texas, the Great White is the one where the park took the most effort and adapted the terrain to the ride’s layout. The result is a wonderful ride, which even after more than 20 years of operation is largely without any parallel. The ride through the two loops, the Zero-G Roll and the two corkscrews is simply timeless and mercilessly intense.
An equally timeless classic are rapid rides. The ride through the rapids is always a refreshing experience, especially since there is also a waterfall here that catches everyone in the boat. The Rio Loco was my first rafting ride through a waterfall and is therefore especially memorable. As well as the Arab family, who entered here with a big suitcase. I have seen a lot of things in amusement parks, and it remains a mystery to me that the employees let them ride.
This year, a new area is being created with Turtle Reef, where the rescue of sea turtles will probably be the theme. However, the aquarium was still under construction. The two associated rides Sea Swinger and Riptide Rescue could already be tested. These are a Zamperla Discovery and a HUSS Airboat.
The last attraction on our trail along the central lake is the Mack Rides SuperSplash Journey to Atlantis. The water roller coaster is similar to the Atlantika SuperSplash from Europa Park, but does without the small hill during the final descent, making the ride more like a classic Shoot the Chute. The wetness level of the ride is however very manageable.
In the end, all that remains is the animal shows and show feeding. Since the combined entrance ticket with the water park Aquatica San Antonio was a little bit cheaper online than the regular entrance ticket, I was drawn to the neighboring water park until the show One Ocean.
Just in time for One Ocean I got myself a tasty beer at the Food & Wine Festival and then watched the orca show. Generally I’m glad to have seen a whale up close, but the show itself was a waste of time and largely consists of soaking the visitors in the front rows with salt water. This was well received, after all it has been part of the concept since the 70s, but honestly, you don’t have to see the show.
SeaWorld San Antonio is a huge theme park, but it lacks attractions. Fortunately, the original concept has been heavily criticized nowadays, forcing the park to expand massively in order to survive at all. The animal shows will give way to another range of attractions over time, so you can look forward to the future of the amusement park with great anticipation.
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