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Manta Roller Coaster Coming to SeaWorld San Diego in 2012

A Ray of Flight

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Manta coaster coming to SeaWorld San Diego.

The ray-themed Manta coaster is coming to SeaWorld San Diego.

SeaWorld, 2011. Used with permission.
Back before the park adopted its trendy spelling (when there was a space between "Sea" and "World"), the most thrilling rides--really the only rides--at SeaWorld San Diego were the Skytower and the Skyride (gondolas). The gentle rides are still taking guests high above Shamu and his marine life pals, but over the past few years, the park has been adding more--and more thrilling--rides to go along with the animal exhibits and shows.

In 2012, SeaWorld San Diego will up the thrill quotient with Manta, a themed ride and the park's first true coaster. (Journey to Atlantis is a combination coaster/flume that is more of a splashdown ride than a coaster.) The high-tech coaster will feature a magnetic launch system and whimsical coaster trains in the shape of manta rays.

Manta is one of many new, fabulous roller coasters opening in 2012. In addition to all the great things going on at SeaWorld San Diego, you can find out about other exciting developments in what's new at California theme parks for 2012.

Manta Stats

  • Type of coaster: Launched steel coaster
  • Height: 30 feet
  • First drop: 54 feet
  • Top speed: 43 mph
  • Track length: 2835 feet
  • Ride time: 1:56 minutes
  • Height requirement: 48 inches

More Manta Info

A Bat Ray Out of Hell

Because of height restrictions at SeaWorld San Diego, Manta will be built at the maximum allowable height of 30 feet. How can a coaster that can climb the relatively short height of 30 feet reach the relatively zippy speed of 43 mph? Instead of a traditional coaster, which uses a lift hill and gravity to set its pace (the higher the hill, the faster the coaster), Manta will use linear synchronous motors to magnetically launch its trains. They will reach 43 mph shortly after leaving the station on a straight section of track.

And what a station! The launch tunnel for the themed coaster will incorporate wraparound screens onto which SeaWorld will project huge high-def images of rays in flight. Like a bat ray out of hell, Manta will soar through a course that will include graceful swoops and acrobatic maneuvers--but no inversions. The trains will navigate through a lushly landscaped course, and it appears Manta will include a second launch to amp up the action about halfway through the ride. At one point, the coaster will make a graceful dive down over a pool of water onto which the wings of the manta-shaped cars will pierce the water's surface. It should be as wild to watch as it will be to ride.

Straddling the line between family coaster and thrill ride, but hewing closer to a family coaster, Manta should be accessible to all but moderately to severely wimpy riders. With no inversions, no big drops, and a compelling theme, even mildly wimpy park visitors will probably want to give Manta a whirl--although the magnetic launches may make them think twice. The 48-foot height requirement will allow shorter coaster fans to ride Manta.

Even non-riders will want to check Manta out. In addition to the coaster, Sea World San Diego will incorporate an expanded marine life exhibit at the attraction that will include dozens of California bat rays as well as many other fish species. An underwater viewing area will give guests the opportunity to see the fish in action. Above the tank, guests will be able to touch and feed the bat rays.

While it bears the same name and has similar ray-shaped cars, the Manta coaster at SeaWorld Orlando, which opened in 2009, is an entirely different species of coaster. It uses a traditional lift hill instead of a magnetic launch, is considerably taller and faster, and places riders in a prone position for a "flying coaster" experience.

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