Can Electric Eel put SeaWorld San Diego on the coaster map?

May 10, 2018, 9:10 AM · Can SeaWorld attract roller coaster fans?

Fans answered that question with a solid "yes" years ago in Orlando, where that park's trio of Kraken, Manta, and Mako have put SeaWorld Orlando on many coaster fans' to-do list. But SeaWorld's original park in San Diego hasn't earned much love from coaster fans. Restriction put in place by the California Coastal Commission have limited the park's ability to build big thrill rides, forcing it to stay close to the park's roots as an marine mammal showplace instead of branching out to offer the wider mix of rides that SeaWorld's parks in Orlando and San Antonio have offered.

SeaWorld San Diego finally got into the game with its own Manta in 2012. This wasn't the B&M flyer beloved to Orlando visitors, but a Mack Rides terrain coaster that offered some nice airtime and a fun ride. But a single coaster isn't enough to get the attention of more than the most credit-desperate coaster fans. To become a thrill ride destination, you've got to offer quantity as well as quality.

Enter Electric Eel. SeaWorld San Diego's second "proper" coaster offers stats that any park could brag about: a triple launch coaster with a top speed of 62 mph and a height of 150 feet. It's the tallest and fastest coaster in San Diego, and the fastest to open in California this year. SeaWorld? Topping coaster stats in anything? It's a new day for California coaster fans.

So how is the ride? Well, even though this Premier Rides Sky Rocket II coaster is new to Southern California roller coaster fans, it might be familiar to fans of SeaWorld's sister park Busch Gardens Williamsburg, which opened the same design as Tempesto in 2015.

The only difference here is the theme. Instead of playing the role of a circus daredevil, here we ride on the back of a wriggling, electrified knifefish. (Yes, electric eels are fish, not serpents.)

We start with a forward launch out of the station, stalling on the track as gravity drops us back into the station, through which the ride accelerates us with a faster, backward launch. That one drives us up higher, but we stall again for gravity to pull us again into the station, where a third launch finally gets us up to that 62 mph top speed, propelling us all the way to the top of the 150-foot structure.

A relatively slow inline twist follows, affording us a brief view of Mission Bay and the park before gravity pulls us down and into the ride's final element, a non-inverting loop. Then we drop back into the station, overshooting it by just a bit, before gravity gently rolls us backward to unload.

It's all go-go-go from the initial launch, with the only apparent "pause" being that upside-down moment in the inline twist. But that only seems like a pause because you've slowed from that 62 mph rocket launch into a relatively gentle 40 mph scoot across the top of the structure.

The downside? It's one 18-passenger train at a time, so Electric Eel isn't going to set any records for capacity, even if the ride time clocks in at less than a minute. But if Electric Eel attracts enough fans to back up the queue into an hour-plus wait, then it will have done its job for the park, which needs a hit after years of declining attendance under competition from nearby Legoland, not to mention its free-spending rivals to the north in Disneyland and Universal, which now offer The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that bludgeoned SeaWorld's attendance in Orlando when it opened in 2010.

Barring a political revolution in California, SeaWorld's never going to get the green light to build a hyper coaster, so its coaster thrills will need to come from elements such as launches and creative track design. By that standard, Electric Eel succeeds impressively, offering an experience unlike any other coaster in the state.

Yup, at SeaWorld San Diego. Maybe it's time to put it on the roller coaster roadtrip map.

Replies (7)

May 10, 2018 at 10:03 AM ·

I've seen some reports indicating that attendance seems to be up lately (15%?). Hopefully, Seaworld Parks can rebound.

May 10, 2018 at 11:09 AM ·

The installation of Electric Eel should definitely help. I've ridden 2 of the 8 installations of the Skyrocket II model - Tempesto and Phobia Phear (at Lake Compounce, which persists in calling the inline twist a cobra roll despite my suggesting that they might want to change the description on their website) and give them high marks. I'm rather surprised to see that Electric Eel, like Tempesto, has OTS restraints b/c Phobia Phear came after Tempesto and has only a lap bar as a restraint. Because of the lap bar I liked Phobia Phear more than I liked Tempesto. In any case, despite the one-train operation and low rider capacity, I found the loading process on both coasters to be highly efficient. BTW, Robert looks both pleasant and pleased with the ride. Good video.

May 10, 2018 at 10:43 AM ·

Looks like a fun ride. I've only ridden one Skyrocket, Superman Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and loved it.

I'm a bit sad over the use of additional restraints.

May 10, 2018 at 11:06 AM ·

I love the video where you review this monster, great job!

May 10, 2018 at 11:49 AM ·

Having ridden two other Sky Rocket II models (Superman Ultimate Flight and Tempesto), Electric Eel is certainly going to be a fun ride to enjoy on a visit to the park, but no...it won't put SeaWorld San Diego on the coaster map. In fact, a fair share of my enthusiast friends from outside of So Cal have completely forgot that this is being built due to hype for Hangtime and the fact that this is just a stock model. I am genuinely curious to see how it does, however...a new coaster is always good, but this never felt like the right addition for the park given that they've already got a LSM coaster (Manta), don't really attract a thrill-seeking crowd, and the similar but much larger Full Throttle has been operating for 5 years just 150 miles away. That said, great video on this one, and I'm looking forward to checking the ride out for myself next weekend.

May 10, 2018 at 2:02 PM ·

If you like the video, please share that YouTube link all over the known universe. And our other video links, too. I would love to get more YouTube traffic to us! Thanks.

May 11, 2018 at 4:54 AM ·

I think a lot of false hope is going around with Sea World announcing their attendance went up 15% last quarter. Fact is they still lost $60 million.

Unless Sea World were to build a coaster that's a bigger deal than X2 or Kingda Ka or something, no I don't see it having much of an impact. Like the guy above said nobody cares about this ride. People who want to ride coasters here in Southern California will pay $60 or whatever and go ride bigger better coasters at SFMM all year.

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