& Aquatica California
San Diego, CA
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Attraction Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Sea Lion & Otter Stadium - Sept. 4 through Sept. 13
Riptide Rescue - Sept. 12 through Sept. 23
Dolphin Stadium - Sept 14 through Sept 22
Shipwreck Rapids - Nov. 6 through Nov. 17
Park News - (6/10/17) SeaWorld San Diego has announced that they will still hold an actual 15-minute fireworks show on July 4th at 9:40pm. As previously mentioned, the once nightly fireworks for the rest of the summer have now been retired in favor of the new Electric Ocean nighttime display running now through Sept. 4th.
(4/20/17) According to a report from the local newspaper, Szenja, a polar bear at SeaWorld's Wild Arctic attraction, passed away unexpectly on Tuesday. The bear's death followed a week of puzzling symptoms as the park's animal care staff had noticed a loss of appetite and energy, though the official cause of death has not been determined.
Szenja was one of two polar bears at SeaWorld San Diego, but unfortunately the park's other bear, Snowflake, left on a temporary breeding loan to the Pittsburgh Zoo in late February and currently has no set return date, leaving the Wild Arctic attraction without any of the attraction's signature Polar Bears on display at all. (Note: The Orlando park's own Wild Arctic attraction has also been without any signature Polar Bears since their last bear passed away unexpectedly back in 2014.)
There was some protesting earlier this year from PETA about sending Snowflake to Pittsburgh, as it would leave Szenja (her 20-year companion at SeaWorld) entirely alone, and now PETA is claiming that Szenja has "died of a broken heart".
(2/22/17) I had originally heard this awhile back, but I kinda forgot to mention it at the time… probably because I was in a little bit of denial. Anyhoo… in a move sure to disappoint many, SeaWorld San Diego has put their nightly summertime fireworks tradition on hold indefinitely. Yes, the annual summer evening traditional that could be seen for miles and so on schedule you could set your clock to it, is now grinding to a sudden halt, with SeaWorld now no longer planning on having any fireworks at all except for the July 4th holiday period.
While I’m sure the park will try to spin off any complaints about this being a more “green” move, the pyro is being set aside to focus on the park’s new Electric Ocean night/light display instead. However, should this falter and fail to impress, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a backup plan to bring back the pyro once again. I’m told that the fireworks barge that resides in the bay just off-shore from the park is still in place “just in case”, as well as to help shoot off the July 4th show which comes from the barge and from temporary launch locations on Fiesta Island.
The timing of this is a little odd as well, as 2017 will also mark the first summer that the park won’t have a traditional day Shamu show that upgrades itself to a more wild “Light Up The Night” style version in the evening to help keep guests in the park longer. Back in the days of yore, the nightly fireworks mixed with a night Shamu show, a special night Sea Lion & Otter show, and usually one other unique summer spectacular show (often an ice show) was the key to keeping the park open late and guests still in the park long after dark. It should prove interesting to see just what happens this summer, though I’ve also heard early rumors that they may try to move the Cirque de la Mer to a night-time spot for help fill the gap for this very reason.
(1/25/17) I missed this part myself, but according to Behind the Thrills, SeaWorld's Brian Morrow seemed to confirm that a new VR style killer whale experience was being worked on to bring guests face to face with the animals in the near future... possibly as early as later this year as part of SeaWorld San Diego's new Orca Encounter attraction.
2017 - Ocean Explorer Realm / Submaine Quest, Five New Rides and Orca Encounter and More-
(6/19/17) Seaworld San Diego’s new summer attractions are open! Our local guy on the spot, Steve, dropped into SeaWorld to check out the park’s new offerings for Summer 2017. You can read his comments below:
Seaworld San Diego premiered it’s new “Orca Encounter” replacing the “One Ocean” Shamu Show with great reception and a host of new rides for smaller kids called the Ocean Explorer area. It’s clear that these new attractions will get visitors excited and talking. The new Ocean Explorer area consists of five rides, two new aquariums and a popular skill game.
As you enter the Ocean Explorer area you immediately notice the Submarine Quest Interactive submarine ride. This is an elevated ride with 6 passenger submarines that glide in and out of virtual aquariums. When seated inside the sub there are three rows of double seats. Each row has a control touch panel that acts as an interface that Seaworld calls “Smart Play technology“ to present the passenger with options and choices along the ride. This three-minute interactive adventure is intended to encourage guests to explore and act to protect wildlife in the future. During the ride the submarine dips into small interactive rooms with screens that respond to your control panel choices and back out onto the open ride track. The ride is a first of it’s kind for Seaworld.
Some of the other fun rides inside Ocean Explorer are Tentacle Twirl and miniaturized Wave Swinger ride for both kids and adults; Sea Dragon Drop a classic bench row mini drop “Family Tower”; Octarock a Happy Swing, rocking style ride and Aqua Scout a circular jump around ride with mini subs that bounce as the go around.
The new Orca Encounter is located inside what was previously known as Shamu Stadium. The entire “stage area” has been replaced with an Infinity Screen that spans the entire 140 foot backdrop of the pool. This screen made by Panasonic, is an impressive 3 stories tall and features rich HD imagery from the pacific northwest where killer whales are found in the wild. In addition, the surrounding edges of the massive screen are dressed with large rocks, waterfalls and Douglas fir trees. Did I say the screen was impressive! When you look at the pool in front of you your mind really is immersed into the visual scenery. With such a large area to work with the show takes advantage of the digital pallet with stunning, modern graphics to display facts about the whales and their habitat. Seaworld fans will not be disappointed with the new “encounter” as it is exciting, new and action packed. Having seen many renditions of the killer whale shows over the past 20 years this is my favorite thus far. When we hear a show is more educational and documentary like, we assume the fun factor is missing but the way the new show is produced is truly spectacular! I left knowing more about Orcas than I’ve ever known, saw the whales do new behaviors I’ve never seen before and learned how we are connected to our ocean. I was thoroughly entertained, impressed and educated all at the same time!
With the park staying open late into the night for summer, guests will be treated to a new night time experience called Electric Ocean. Rick Schuiteman, Vice President of Entertainment, said they wanted to step outside the box on night time entertainment and do something new and fresh. There will not be fireworks but rather a visually stunning “under the sea” glow experience in various locations throughout the park. “Lasers and lights will create a fantastical simulated underwater experience, inspired by the sea with ‘bioluminescent’ animals floating through the sky. This unique nighttime event will transform the park into a canvas painted with light. It’s a reinvention of what a night time experience in a theme park can be.” From entertainment like the heart-pounding dance club to special dining experiences and unique foods, to breathtaking laser displays from the park’s landmark 20-story Skytower and an all-new electric soundtrack, Electric
Ocean will do just that ... electrify.
(5/31/17) A reader was able to snap up a sneak preview picture of the new Orca Encounter stadium scenery at SeaWorld San Diego taken last week and posted it to Twitter. The giant video screen background behind the practical rockwork scenic piece is quite nice looking, though from the photo, it looked like they were still working on the technical side of the screen display when this was taken.
(5/29/17) While the new Ocean Explorer area at SeaWorld San Diego has set their Media Day event for May 31st, it seems they have already Soft Opened up much of the area already to guests, though the Submarine Quest attraction was not yet running. They also sent in pictures of the area for everyone to see, so enjoy!
(5/22/17) According to a report at Behind The Thrills, SeaWorld San Diego has begun the process of rebranding the former "Shamu Stadium" section of the park into the new Orca Encounter name. A screen is up outside the stadium showing off some looks at what is going on inside the stadium, which inlcudes the installation of a single huge video screen to serve as a backdrop across the entire stage area, with three dimensional scenery and rock-work in front along the bottom edge. They also got a picture of a sign promoting the former Dine with Shamu eatery which will be coming back as Dine with Orcas.
(5/2/17) One of our readers was able to get an aerial view of the new Submarine Quest attraction construction site and sent it in. As we had heard before, the picture confirms that the majority of the ride experience is entirely outdoors, with one small section of it that passes through a building for a brief indoor experience, and it is fun to note that they have repurposed the former Clydesdale barn building to now serve as the load/unload station for the new ride as well. It is interesting to note that from the air, the attraction layout does look reminiscent of the old Peoplemover aerial track platforms from Disneyland.
(4/14/17) SeaWorld San Diego unveiled one of their new Submarine themed vehicles for the Submarine Quest ride at the park on Thursday. You can see video of the new ride car in a local news report here.
(4/11/17) Want to know more about the Ocean Explorer's Submarine Quest attraction? While SeaWorld San Diego still isn't showing off much about the actual track layout, I'm told that there will be at least one enclosed dark-ride section to it, while the rest will be outdoors. Meanwhile the park posted a video preview of what the on-ride experience will be like from a mock-up of the touch-screen console / interactive system it looks like they set up temporarily inside one of the Wild Arctic briefing rooms. You can see an animated track simulation in the background at times, but I didn't see much worth noting.
Again though... we are seeing in this video the exact kind of thing I've been worried about all along... that the ride experience seems to be expect the riders to completely ignore the fact that they are on a moving ride, and instead they expect the riders to focus entirely on the touch screen building into the dashboard.
It's like the are building a simulator to recreate the experience of a kid wandering, bored through the park, who is more interested in playing on their cell phone rather than look up at the sights all around them.
(1/26/17) SeaWorld San Diego has posted a video showing off the progress on Ocean Explorer and the new Submarine Quest ride, including a look inside the subs themselves sitting inside the Chance Rides plant. Check it out below.
(11/16/16) I haven't found a picture of the interior yet, but one of the new ride vehicles coming to SeaWorld San Diego’s Submarine Quest ride was on display at IAAPA on Tuesday which you can see here.
(10/26/16) SeaWorld has released a teaser video for the park's new Ocean Explorer area which you can see below. Meanwhile documents were sent to me details two items that the park will bring before the California Coastal Commission's Nov. 4th meeting regarding the new Orca Experience renovations.
The first one, listed as Item F20c will detail the park's plan to remove the existing "above-water theatrical screens and show set" in order to install new set and stage pieces for the new educational Orca Experience show. According to the concept art released thus far, the set will still feature a large video-wall, but it looks like the current moving/spinning screen system will soon be scrapped.
While those changes were expected, some interesting new information can be found in Item F21a which sounds as if some of the expansion concepts of the retired Blue World project may be finding new life once again. According to the description the item requests to "Replace and expand existing orca facility with a new 43 ft. by 75 ft., 450,000 gallon (Pool E) and a 250 ft. by 350 ft. 5.2 million gallon (Pool F); demolish an existing 5,500 sq. ft. bathroom and food facility and construction a new 2,900 sq. ft. bathroom facility; manage the orca facility consistent with applicant's proposal that the facility will not house any orcas taken from the wild after January 1, 2012, or the descendants of any orcas taken from the wild after January 1, 2012, or their descendants, and that the orca population will be capped at 15 individuals."
(9/29/16) As suspected, the new Submarine Quest attraction coming to SeaWorld San Diego is more of an aerial track adventure than a dark ride. "Embarking on these mini subs, visitors will become researchers on a mission to collect data and learn how they can help protect animals. This three-minute experience will include an onboard digital navigation dashboard, as well as a few other surprises along the journey, enhancing the riders’ understanding of our fragile ocean ecosystem."
Also new in Summer 2017 for the San Diego park is Electric Ocean, a new end-of-day spectacle. " As the sun goes down, the lights and energy go up, offering guests a different kind of fun after dark. The ocean comes to life with bioluminescent lighting, music and pathway entertainment, immersing guests in a glowing sea of wonder."
(9/21/16) A new piece of concept art showing off the 2017 addition (see thumbnail) has been put on the construction wall in the park now. It shows off the new flat rides and I guess we now know why that submarine themed ride will now have interactive touch screens. Based on the air, it now looks more like an aerial car ride, almost entirely built outside in the sun instead of the dark ride it was first promoted to be. You can see the large structure running around the land on elevated tracks as if it were trying to mimic Disney's old Peoplemover, and I assume it will no longer run through any aquariums as well.
(9/3/16) According to the local news construction work on the new Ocean Explorer faux-submarine themed ride has begun on SeaWorld San Diego. According to the article and what we've seen mentioned so far it looks like a nice dark ride that will travel through several aquariums along the route that will show off giant octopuses, those giant creepy spider crabs as well as moray eels. From the sound of things it will be built near the circle of flags area near what was once the old Budweiser Hospitality Center building I believe.
What is disturbing however is how SeaWorld is promoting this attraction as something that will mainly appeal to just "younger children" with just a 3 minute ride time in the subs that will feature "digital navigation dashboards customized for different age levels" that will apparently ask the riders questions during the journey.
Forgive me if I'm wrong here, but isn't this the equivalent taking a child to a movie or show and handing them an iPad to play with if they get bored? If I'm on a dark ride, or even just walking through an aquarium, I'm looking at everything around me, especially the live animals, and couldn't give a flying hoot about answering trivia questions on a touch-screen. Nope... scrub that... and kids normally go nutzoid over seeing real animals, so what's the deal?
Of course this begs the question... what is wrong with this planned attraction that they felt the need to try to enhance the experience with these digital dashboards? Looking over my past updates on the attraction they also mentioned way back in February that the Ocean Explorer ride will feature both indoor and outdoor sections... but I fail to see how this works with the theme of the ride being a submarine going underwater and look into aquarium environments, unless it is just the station that is outdoor, but from the look at the concept artwork, the station seems to be indoor. Hmmm...
The article does go on to confirm that the area will feature a total of "five rides" and in addition to the sub ride one will be a small Wave Swinger themed as a jellyfish that will have riders soaring through a field of real life bubbles. (Ok, that's unique and very cool sounding!) Unfortunately it sounds like many of these rides may be too small for adults, taking away the shared family experience appeal.
(3/17/16) SeaWorld has announced that starting today they will end their Orca / Killer Whale breeding program, and that the animals currently in the park’s care will be the last generation of orcas at the SeaWorld parks. They did note that at least one of the whales, Takara, is currently pregnant, so there will be at least one more baby to be born, keeping in mind that they have a gestation cycle of 17-18 months.
SeaWorld also announced that their new “Orca Encounter” program that will see the park’s current theatrical style show in San Diego transformed in 2017 into an educational experience focused on enrichment, exercise, education and conservation, will be followed by similar updates of the facilities at the San Antonio park (assuming in 2018) and then the Orlando park by 2019.
SeaWorld also announced today a broad new partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to protect our oceans and the animals that call them home. The company is committing to educating its more than 20 million annual visitors on animal welfare and conservation issues through interpretative programs at the parks and expanded advocacy for wild whales, seals, and other marine creatures.
“We are pleased to join with HSUS on the significant issues facing marine mammals and their ocean homes,” said Joel Manby. “The work done by zoological facilities like SeaWorld is critical for the protection of animals in the wild, especially marine mammals. To that end, SeaWorld has committed $50 million over the next five years to be the world’s leading marine animal rescue organization, to advocate for an end to the commercial killing of whales and seals and an end to shark finning.”
(2/17/16) SeaWorld San Diego announced the park's new plans for 2017, which will add five new attractions to the park. The biggest of which will be Ocean Explorer, a new three-minute long (Yes, that is kinda short...) dark ride style experience that will actually be both indoor and outdoor. Guests will climb into mini submarine style vehicles that will take them on a simulated journey through the ocean depths where they will encounter interactive "sea-base stations" that are actually aquariums featuring different kinds of sea life such as giant Spider Crabs, Jellyfish and a Giant Octopi. The dark ride will also somehow incorporate digital technology also on board the subs, such as digital navigation, dashboards, and displays that will show educational information about each of the animal species encountered along the way.
The other attractions coming to the land will be new flat rides, such as a Wave Swinger themed as a giant jellyfish that swings riders around through fields of bubbles. The other three flat rides were not described, though I'm told they will likely be smaller sized kiddie rides and not full scale family friendly attractions, which would be unfortunately as the park has enough kiddie only rides.
(11/11/15) SeaWorld finally tells us a little bit more about what they have planned for Shamu and friends in 2017. According to what's posted here they back up what we have been told, that the new experience will be a new educational presentation that will take the place of the old "theatrical show" experience and current One Ocean show. "The new orca experience will also include conservation messaging and tips that guests can take home, so that they can join SeaWorld’s efforts to make a difference for orcas in the wild." The article also confirms that while the One Ocean show will come to an end in 2016 in San Diego, the new orca experience replacing it is only planned for SeaWorld San Diego.
(11/10/15) The latest updates from the SeaWorld presentation go into more detail about what they have planned to happen at SeaWorld San Diego. For starters they have teamed with the Evans hotel company to both look into ideas to build hotels as well as buy existing properties and have Evans manage it for them at their various parks. In the case of San Diego, it is most likely they will look into acquiring an existing nearby property.
Panasonic has also signed on to be a major corporate sponsor with the parks going forward. Another deal was also signed to bring the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer characters to the parks starting by Christmas 2016.
As for the existing Shamu Show... look for it to come to an end sometime in 2016 while they work on the new 2017 Killer Whale attraction. From what I'm hearing, there may still actually be a show... but it will be a purely educational show only. Now... one note on this is, there hasn't been any mention of if they will totally phase out the special Christmas or Summer night Shamu shows as well, or if they are still planning to offer these more theatrical shows during the busy Summer and Winter seasons.
A Sea Rescue "dark ride" experience is also planned to open somewhere in the park in 2017 as well. No details on what this is were given just yet.
(11/9/15) BREAKING - According to the local news SeaWorld San Diego will phase out the park's popular Shamu Killer Whale show in favor of a "new orca experience" that will open in 2017. The new attraction is only described as having a more natual setting that would carry forward a message of conservation. Funding that was being held for the Blue World habitat expansion is being redirected into this new 2017 project, which essentilly on the surface sounds more like "Blue World Light", which would a similar but smaller style attraction built as a transformation of the existing stadium show facility, and thus avoiding the Blue World restrictions from the California Coastal Comission. Hopefully we'll find out more about what is being planned soon.
2018 - Electric Eel / New Roller Coaster - Planned - (5/30/17) Good news for SeaWorld San Diego for once as the park’s plan to add the Electric Eel coaster in 2018 won an easy vote of approval from the city’s Planning Commission. Now the City Council must vote on it as well, and then it will go to the California Coastal Commission for final approval.
(1/4/17) SeaWorld San Diego has confirmed that their 2018 coaster plans are indeed a Premier Rides Sky Rocket II design that they will call the Electric Eel. The plans still have to get final approval from the California Coastal Commission, but the site chosen for the coaster is already placed on one of four locations in the park already approved for attractions up to 160 feet in height.
(3/6/17) A few new pieces of concept art for the new Electric Eel coaster have been posted to OrcaAction, showing off how the new ride will be colored to be less obtrusive in the sky near the park, as well as a piece of art showing off what the ride would look like from outside the park from a nearby road where it only looks a little taller than the park's Journey To Atlantis structures.
(12/24/16) So what is SeaWorld San Diego planing to build for their 2018 coaster? New evidence released by the city in the form of an email from Morris E. Dye (Development Project Manage for the City of San Diego) sent to one of our readers confirms new details that might unlock the mystery. The email confirms that it will be a compact coaster design standing 150 feet tall, featuring inversions, twists, turns and would be visible from outside the park. The ride would also be painted in colors, above the 60 foot level, that would either blend with the skyline or be more muted than the colors used at the bottom, and use an "open and airy track and support structure" to help it increase transparency on a site taking up only 2 acres of space.
So what new coaster has SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment built recently that stands exactly 150 feet in height and would fit perfectly into a small 2-acre site? How about Tempesto, a Premier Rides SkyRocket II coaster clone? You can actually see the layout much better if you look at the Phobia Phear Coaster version installed at Lake Compounce a few months ago. The ride features a unique launch experience where it launches forward, then backwards, and then forwards once again, each time gaining more speed, before launching the riders up through the entire ride course.
This theory also matches up perfectly with the confirmation from Premier Rides (see our story here) that they would open a new Sky Rocket II coaster in the USA in 2018, thus bringing the first steel looping coaster to San Diego.
(12/22/16) One of our readers who lives very close to SeaWorld San Diego received an interesting item in the mail today. It was a public notice from the City of San Diego regarding a new building application files by SeaWorld San Diego to "remove existing shade structure and construct a new roller coaster ride, site improvements and ancillary buildings" such as an aquarium, a retail area, food service areas and a maintenance building for the new coaster. The project name is 'Sea World 2018 Attraction".
(5/16/16) In an interview with Joel Manby, he mentions some details about future plans for the San Diego park this week. For starters, while he says that while the Ocean Explorer attraction coming in 2017 is really "more for smaller children", the park is planning something "for teenagers with more of a thrill factor" for the 2018 season season.