SeaWorld's latest Journey to Atlantis debuts in San Antonio (Video)

May 12, 2007, 10:54 AM · [Edited to add video link to main post.--Ed.] On Friday Sea World San Antonio invited members of the media to try out their latest ride and I was there to cover it for Theme Park Insider.

The new Journey to Atlantis water coaster is the chain's third with the title, but, again, a different design than its predecessors. This Mack GMBH of Germany and Guido Brothers Construction design is first of its kind in the United States and only the second in the world.

The ride is similar to other water coasters with a few twists. There are two towers 100 ft high which rotate the boats to give the passengers a 360 degree view of San Antonio. Between the two towers the riders experience a camelback drop backwards. Finally each 16 passenger boat plummets 100 ft down into 400,000 gallons of water. After the main drop, riders will enjoy a leisure boat ride back to the loading station to complete the 3 and half minute ride.

This ride is a great addition to a family oriented park such as Sea World. Thrill seekers will walk away dissatisfied, however families with younger children will be eager to ride it again. The ride has a 42” height requirement and a low intensity which will allow younger family members to participate.

Journey to Atlantis, although fun for the family, could do a better job of story-telling. The entire ride is out-doors and lacks enough props and special effects to create the Atlantis theme. However Dan Decker, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Sea World of San Antonio, expects this to change. According to Decker, Sea World’s primary goal was to open the ride as soon as possible. Decker said that guests can expect more Atlantis themed props to appear in the coming seasons. Other possible additions include water jets and geysers to ensure that the riders will come off the ride soaking wet.

Along with any new ride comes a great deal of testing. Hutchinson “Hutch” Huey is the Maintenance Unit Supervisor and knows first hand what it takes to ensure that a ride like this is safe for the guests. Hutch was involved in testing each boat which must go through at least 24 hours of test time using 174 pound water dummies, which exceeds ASTM testing standards. Hutch and his team spent over 2 months performing fault scenario testing which tested over 2,000 fault cases. In addition, each morning before the park opens, over 8 man hours of inspection and testing are required before the ride is deemed safe for the guests.

Decker outlined three main reasons the park created Journey to Atlantis: Sea World wanted a unique ride, a wet ride (whether you are a rider or a spectator), and a family friendly ride. Journey to Atlantis delivers on all three of these aspects and will be sure the pack the park with families this summer.

Replies (23)

May 12, 2007 at 11:13 AM · The original is located in Europa Park, Germany,named 'Atlantica SuperSplash.' Hopefully Sea World will theme theirs to the same extent. I do have to say, the one in Germany had a little bunny hill at the bottom of the drop for some sweet looking air time.
May 12, 2007 at 11:16 AM · Wow this ride looks lame.
May 12, 2007 at 1:14 PM · It looks rather disspointing compared to the other two.
May 12, 2007 at 1:43 PM · First off, nice write-up, Michael.

Secondly, wow. Previous posters hit it right on the head. This looks lame. I'm not a huge fan of the one at SWO, but compared to this it's now up there with Splash Mountain...

May 12, 2007 at 1:57 PM · Who wants a leisurely boat ride after coming down the main flume and assumingly getting wet at that point? Most folks want to get the hell out of the "vehicle" in order to dry off.
May 12, 2007 at 2:43 PM · Here is link to a youtube POV video of the ride with me attempting to provide some interesting commentary if anybody is interested.
May 12, 2007 at 3:13 PM · the one in orlando looks way better.
May 12, 2007 at 7:34 PM · Did you hear the nauseating & twice repeated recording of, "Let me hear you screeeeeam!?" I doubt it unless you're screaming from sheer boredom as you slowly turn on those funky turnstiles. Is the theme of the ride suppose to be the view of San Antonio? You can get a much better of San Antonio from the Tower of the Americas assuming you actually have any desire to see it. I'm sure they'll spruce up the ride in time though - a few cardboard drawings of Atlantis should do the trick but it's still an expensive kiddie ride.
May 12, 2007 at 8:12 PM · Is there even the least bit of storytelling or theme on this ride at all?
May 12, 2007 at 11:55 PM · Heh... I'll bet they put food coloring in that water. They did that, decades ago, with one of the artificial ponds at San Diego. It was pretty obvious after a while, because the pool concrete was painted white and the coloring could be seen leaching into the concrete above the waterline.

Anyway... Storytelling? At Sea World? The only "story" they're any good at telling is the myth of how great they are.

Keep the peace(es).

May 13, 2007 at 5:06 AM · The one in Orlando has a little bit of a story, and had a better one. Back in the day it was amazing....but for some reason they didnt see fit to keep it up to its opening day operations.
This looks......lame..very much so.
May 13, 2007 at 2:52 PM · Michael; Thanks for coming out and taking the ride, it was great to meet you. We will certainly keep your comments in mind as the ride evolves. A couple of things in response to everyone else: first, after riding, I have consistently heard the comment, "It was more than I expected;" second, it is meant to have enough thrill to keep the adults happy while allowing younger riders the chance to get on board (you only have to be 42 inches to ride - not to mention that the onlookers have a blast with this ride! In response to Bruce, there isn't food coloring in the water (lol), in fact, the water is cleaned and recycled every 4 hours and the color comes from the reflection at the bottom of the pool through very clean water. Finally, there are some world-class thrill coasters at the park, including Steel Eel and The Great White. Additionally, water rides include Rio Loco and Texas Splashdown -- Journey to Atlantis rounds out the offerings. Did I mention it is hot in the summer in Texas? Getting wet is an attraction all in itself, and the view IS outstanding, you can see SA and the Hill Country. I hope you judge the ride for what it is rather than what it isn't, better yet, come out and give it a try.
May 13, 2007 at 4:29 PM · Wow, this ride sucks. Thank god I'm close to San Diego!
May 13, 2007 at 6:13 PM · If they added more scenery, it would get a C- instead of a D- on my scale =P
May 13, 2007 at 7:13 PM · I think this actually might be a better ride without the turntables; they seem rather pointless. It also would be more of a thrill to ride the "big splash" portion backwards. Still, this will be popular with families, and the big drop does look like fun.

The presence of the turntables, though, suggests that there may have been a larger concept in mind. (Budget cuts, perhaps?)

May 13, 2007 at 10:42 PM · Hi, Kami. Thank you. I was uncertain if the coloring trick was being repeated, and am happy to hear that it's not.

However... No matter how hard I look, I continue to wonder why any oceanarium, places that supposedly exist to educate as well as entertain, even needs rides, "thrill" or otherwise. While I certainly understand (and enjoy!) the idea of getting soaked during hot weather, there are plenty of other ways to do so.

As for coming out to try the ride itself -- No, thank you, I'll pass on that. It would take far more than a new ride to convince myself or my wife to set foot inside the gate of ANY Sea World park again, or to recommend such to friends or family as a viable stop.

If you are curious to know why (I know that you may find such a reaction surprising), please feel free to contact me in private. I do not feel that this is the forum to go into such things in detail. You can, however, get a strong clue by reading my trip report on Discovery Cove.

Thanks again for responding.

May 14, 2007 at 7:23 AM · I am definetely greatful I only live 150 miles away from Sea World Orlando. The one thing that i just didnt understand was why they didnt put in more theming...i know they might add it later, but a lot of it is needed now.

I know that the Sea World chain is supposed to be all about education and I believe even the JTA is Orlando is more educational then JTA San Antonio. There's actually a story to tell over there.

I like the fact that my four year old niece can enjoy this new ride, but no one else in my family will. :(

May 14, 2007 at 4:46 PM · Where is the Journey?? Go to the real one in Orlando.
May 15, 2007 at 7:17 AM · Iris; Actually, the ride is designed so everyone in the family can enjoy it. And based on the feedback from the ACE group (who ride roller coasters around the country), they really liked it. Some rode nearly 50 times, which to me doesn't denote boredom. You really need to ride it to appreciate its virtues.
May 15, 2007 at 12:54 PM · To me it seems like it would be a better ride with a different name. By calling it "Journey to Atlantis" people are going to assume it is the same ride in Orlando or San Diego when it is in fact quite different. Either that or they should have waited to open it until all of the Atlantis scenery and props were added.
May 15, 2007 at 4:07 PM · IMO JTA at SWO is the best water coaster/flume ride that I been on; Am I the only one to think that Splash Mtn. is overrated? The big drop is bone dry; That being said, it certainly looks alot better than JTA at SWSA.
May 16, 2007 at 8:34 AM · Nice shades Michael!
May 16, 2007 at 11:27 AM · This will be a bit long, so I hope you guys will bear with me... I have a lot to say!! lol.

I am one of the ACErs who participated in media day May 11, and we had a fantastic time. So first, I want to say thank you to Dan Decker, Fran Stephenson, Kami Huyse, and the entire Sea World San Antonio staff for giving us a day that went beyond exceptional! It was an honor and a privilege to participate.

I am not ordinarily a fan of water rides (only because I don't care to walk around wet afterwards), but JTA will be high on my list of "must do's" when we are at the SWSA park! Although I love 'thrill' rides, a ride doesn't have to go 80mph, turn me upside down, or exceed 3,000 feet in length to thrill me. And JTA did NOT disappoint.

I personally love the turntables, for the same reason I'm not disappointed that the ride isn't enclosed... the view is breathtaking. Yes, the view from the Tower of the Americas is wonderful, but what catches the eye from there is the main city itself. From JTA you can not only see the "city" (not the "buildings"), but the views of the park and the hill country are exceptional. I kept saying "I sure wish I could bring my camera up here!!"

We were amazed at how quiet the ride is as well. The lift is very quiet, and the turntables are SILENT. All you hear is the sound of the wind. The journey across the 'bridge' is very smooth, and I love the feeling of dropping into the "inverted" camelback in reverse.

For me, the tilt going over the "plunge" drop is what got my heart racing, and the trip down was a blast. What I really enjoyed too was looking around after the splashdown to see how wet everyone got!

I also love the "leisurely" journey around the lake back to the station. As someone who grew up around the ocean and spent a great deal her childhood on a boat, one of my favorite things is to simply coast along the waterways enjoying the breeze, the view, and the ride. And the ride back after splashdown brought that experience back for me.

I have ridden a lot of different rides, but I try not to compare one to another because they're all different in some way. No two rides will be absolutely identical and I prefer to judge a ride on its own merit... to go deeper than the 'outer appearance'... and in doing so, I can't say there are many rides I don't like. But I do have my favorites, and JTA is definitely one of them!

And Kami, my son and daughter-in-law were the ones who got close to the 50-ride mark... they clocked 47! They both really enjoyed the ride as well and I never saw them come back from a cycle without smiles and laughter.

I can't wait until we get our grandson for the summer in two weeks. He's 6 yrs old, and about 45" tall. He loves big rides but isn't tall enough yet for most of them. I was so excited to see the 42" height requirement on JTA and can't wait to take him on his first ride!

So thanks again for a wonderful day!

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