SeaWorld San Diego is probably the chain's worst park from a coaster perspective, but it's arguably the chain's best park from an appearance standpoint. This is a gorgeous park.
But SeaWorld San Diego has been on a coaster kick like the entire chain. In 2018, they added Electric Eel. In 2019, they added...something. This year they're adding a shiny new B&M dive coaster. And next year, they're rumored to be adding something else.
But alas, there were zero new credits for me. Emperor wasn't quite ready (totally expected) and Tidal Twister was being its usual unreliable POS self (not surprising).
At least Manta was open unlike last year. That was my top priority.
And I also needed to process my platinum pass that was way cheaper here than SeaWorld Orlando or Busch Gardens.
The day I visited SeaWorld was supposed to be Tidal Twister's first day after its winter rehab, but it had a crane positioned over it. I considered it mercy. Discovery Kingdom's Harley Quinn was brutally rough and by all accounts, Tidal Twister tracks just as poorly.
How did Skyline manage to make RMC track ride so rough?
But I bet Emperor tracks quite well. Every B&M dive machine I've ridden has been smooth as glass and Emperor seems to have a unique, inversion-focused layout. I'm definitely looking forward to trying it on a future visit.
Emperor's drop is almost as impressive as SeaWorld's stock drop when the pandemic struck.
But in all seriousness, it will fill the niche as the park's looper quite nicely.
The best views of Emperor could be had from the queue of Journey to Atlantis. The park's original coaster was closed during my visit last year for an extended rehab. I was hopeful the ride would receive some theming, but the beautiful facade is still as empty as a fortune cookie on the inside. The ride simply got a fresh coat of paint.
As for the ride itself, it's disappointing. It lacks the charm of a log flume, but the lack of theming makes it a naked shell of its Orlando brother. I honestly think I prefer the San Antonio version since it skips the fluff and goes straight to the drop. 4 out of 10
Same empty Journey to Atlantis.
And that's also the reason I like Electric Eel. It may be a clone, but it's non-stop action from start to finish. Solid launches, great hangtime on the barrel roll, and strong ejector airtime cresting and descending the tower. I just wish the ride was pointed towards Mission Bay since the view would be incredible. 7.5 out of 10
Clones aren't necessarily bad. It's just that most clones are bad. Sky Rocket II's are not bad.
Look at those beautiful comfort collars.
Case and point, here's the view from the Bayside Skyride. An upcharge for non-passholders, annual passholders are able to ride this scenic attraction for free. As opposed to most sky rides that travel across the park, this one takes you beyond park boundries alongside Mission Bay.
Enthusiasts probably prefer this view to the bay.
And in case of a ride stoppage, each cabin includes an emergency kit!
But the highlight of the whole visit was getting 15 rides on Manta. I hadn't ridden the coaster in 6 years, but I remembered it packing quite a punch for its size. And that's still the case! Manta is the best coaster in the world no taller than 30 feet. Even the Gravity Group woodies are taller than Manta.
I think the most shocking thing about Manta are the launches. The launches themselves are decent. What shocks me is that these launches have some semblance of force to them while Mack's larger coasters like Helix and Copperhead Strike- that are supposed to be bonafide thrill rides- are bested by this family coaster.
In total, Manta has two launches are two distinct halves. The first half has some nice pops of airtime, but the second half is where Manta really shines. It has two wicked s-hills with a crazy combination of ejector airtime and laterals. And the helices have some force to them as well. This coaster is super reridable and extremely underrated. 8.5 out of 10
Manta is one of those coasters that is just pure fun.
It's glass smooth, surprisingly forceful at spots, and well-landscaped.
Ride the ray!
I also rode the Riptide Rescue flat hoping it would run as fast as the version at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Unfortunately, it did not. That being said, it was still a decent flat, albeit one with a brutally short cycle. 6 out of 10
I only had about 30 seconds to take this photo. That's how short the ride cycle is.
And no visit to SeaWorld would be complete without the animals. So I made sure to visit as many exhibits and shows as possible between my coaster rides. Below is a compilation of the animal shows and exhibits from both this trip and past trips.
SeaWorld San Diego is often overshadowed. It's overshadowed by both its chain and the SoCal market. But it really is a nice park with an improving ride lineup and more animal attractions than most zoos.
Sometimes coaster enthusiasts can cram a few too many parks into a single day. I myself have been guilty of that in the past, but combining SeaWorld San Diego and Belmont Park into one day is a cinch.
The parks are roughly a mile apart, but couldn't be more different. SeaWorld San Diego is a massive chain park with flashy steel coasters, lush landscaping, and animal exhibits galore. Meanwhile, Belmont Park is a small, classic, no frills, seaside park with a historic wooden coaster. And that difference in styles allows them to flawlessly coexist.
The Giant Dipper is Belmont Park.
The park is among the smallest in the country and most of that space is dedicated to the Giant Dipper. The Giant Dipper oozes history. And it looks stunning at night with the chaser lights and picturesque fan turns. But I have to be honest, the Giant Dipper is more of a looker than a rider.
Every hill felt 10-15 feet too tall. There was only one tiny spot of airtime and many moments where I thought the train would valley. But if that wasn't enough, the coaster also has some brutally rough valleys. Really the only redeeming quality are the turnarounds that offer some solid laterals. 3 out of 10
If only it rode as good as it looked.
Because this coaster is gorgeous with those curves and chaser lights.
I'd argue the best ride by far at Belmont Park is Control Freak, this rare flat that is best described as a rider-controlled top spin. I loved this ride back in 2014, but unfortunately it was closed for maintenance.
Does anyone know who manufacturers this ride?
Some of the park's other notable rides are a tilt-a-whirl themed to ice cream cones, a frisbee with a solid cycle, and a Chance unicoaster. I took a lap on each of these attractions, but it took a while since the park was rotating ride operators since it was a quiet weeknight in the offseason.
This ride was sweet.
Beach Blaster was a blast.
Belmont Park is far from the world's best park, but the Giant Dipper is a rite of passage for wooden coaster fans and its an easy stop for anyone going to SeaWorld San Diego.
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