Who wants a thrill ride? Two new projects win local approval

August 10, 2017, 10:44 AM · The California Coastal Commission has approved SeaWorld San Diego's proposal to build a new roller coaster next year. Electric Eel will be a Premier Rides Sky Rocket II coaster, featuring zero-to-60 mph launches, a heartline roll and a twisting loop. The coaster's 150-foot height required approval from the Coastal Commission, as the San Diego park stands on the shore of Mission Bay, right next to the Pacific Ocean.

Coast Commission oversight restricts what developers can do with properties on California's Pacific coast, somewhat limiting SeaWorld's ability to offer all of the same types of attractions that it can develop in its other parks across the country. But that's the trade-off in having a SeaWorld park that's actually next to, well, a sea.

"This was great day and we thank the Coastal Commission for their support," SeaWorld San Diego's Park President Marilyn Hannes said in a statement. "We remain committed to long-term investment in the park and will continue to strive to provide new reasons to visit SeaWorld by giving our guests experiences that matter. We know our guests are going to love Electric Eel."

The California approval follows a decision earlier this week to allow sister park Busch Gardens Williamsburg to build a 315-foot-tall attraction, codenamed "Madrid."

The Virginia park earlier had announced that it would develop a new virtual reality motion theater attraction to replace the Europe in the Air show in 2018. Busch Gardens Williamsburg has not yet officially announced what the "Madrid" ride will be or when it will open, though the codename suggests that it might anchor a new Spain-themed land in the European-themed park. Current lands are themed to Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, and England.

The tallest ride in the park at this point is the 245-foot Mach Tower. Given that the park already has a drop tower attraction, one is left to wonder if the new, 315-foot ride might be some model of mega/hyper/gigacoaster. The park currently has eight coasters, including the 210-foot Bolliger & Mabillard hyper Apollo's Chariot. For what it is worth, Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Tempesto is the same model of coaster as SeaWorld San Diego's upcoming Electric Eel.

The news comes a week before many other parks around the country will reveal their plans for 2018 attractions, on August 16th's National Roller Coaster Day.

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Replies (7)

August 10, 2017 at 11:05 AM · Well, Sea World needs all the boost they can get.
August 10, 2017 at 11:16 AM · I didn't realize Sea World hadn't received CCC approval before announcing the new coaster. Usually parks don't release trademarked names and designs until they know for sure they can execute them. There's nothing Earth shattering about Electric Eel (clone of Tempesto at BGW), but should be a solid addition for the height-challenged park.

The Busch Gardens Williamsburg project has been on the radar for a while. The park was flying test balloons behind the backstage stables in May that were reportedly well over 300'. The park has been long rumored to be designing a new country/land for over 15 years since Drachen Fire was torn down. One of the reasons cited for Drachen Fire's demise (aside from the head-banging) was the fact that the coaster was positioned on a dead end, and that the park always sought to connect the coaster plaza in Oktoberfest to Festa Italia with an additional bridge across the Rhine River, with walking flow paralleling the train tracks.

The early rumors for this "Madrid" project put the build in 2 stages with the first being the installation of a giga-coaster with the second stage being the completion of the land, restaurants, and shops around the coaster. For those wondering if a hyper-coaster like Apollo's Chariot and giga-coaster can co-exist, look at Carowinds (Intimidator and Fury 325) and Canada's Wonderland (Behemoth and Leviathan) to see that two B&M airtime machines can work together in the same park. Spain has always been a logical choice for a future country/land at Busch Gardens, and the reference to Madrid only confirms what has been rumored for years.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg typically makes their new attraction announcements during their passholder appreciation day in September. At that point, I would expect them to announce more details regarding the Ireland VR simulator attraction for a 2018 debut, and to lay the groundwork for Spain. Stage 1 (giga-coaster) probably won't be ready until 2019.

August 10, 2017 at 9:43 PM · "You Get a Coaster!! You get a Coaster!! You get a Coaster!!"
"Except you Michigan's Adventure"
August 11, 2017 at 9:46 AM · ^La Ronde
August 11, 2017 at 6:51 PM · Can BGW afford a giga coaster given the current financial situation of Seaworld Parks and Entertainment especially now with the rumors that now Merlin Entertainment is interested in the Busch Gardens parks in addition to Herschend and Six Flags,

315 feet could also mean a starflyer or windseeker.

BGT are supposedly enclosing Sand Serpent in Tampa to create a dark ride. It appears that they can't even afford right now to work with Sally Corporation or Triotech to create a decent dark ride like Six Flags, Cedar Fair and Merlin have.

BGT also doesnt seem to be able to afford to work with RMC to RMC Gwazi even?? How is it possible for BGW to afford a giga coaster now??

August 11, 2017 at 9:41 PM · SW Parks ain't what they used to be, but they still draw more on an individual basis than Six Flags and most Cedar Fair parks.
August 14, 2017 at 11:30 AM · I'd also note that Manby has consistently noted that per-guest spending continues to rise even as attendance sags. From what I've seen at BGW, the park is still doing strong business, and the rumored addition of a new land (the first expansion of the park's overall footprint since Festa Italia was opened 30 years ago), would present the best avenue for the park to further increase revenue. The park has grown smartly over its first 42 years, keeping areas of the park fresh while preserving its history.

If you've ever visited on a summer Saturday, you will see very crowded paths, so an expansion in total area would help alleviate some of the strain, while a record breaking attraction (the first since Griffon opened 10 years ago), would draw thrill seekers back to the park. No to downplay Vebolten, Tempesto, and InvadR, but the three most recent coaster additions have been more geared towards a wider audience and lacking the "destination attraction" draw that previous coasters had enjoyed. It has been time for the park to up the ante, and get back into the coaster wars, a battle the park completed in with strong additions for the better park of 15 years. The money for investment is there, and has always been there for the right project. My guess is that BGW has been waiting to pull the trigger on this for a long time, and after smaller additions over the past 5+ years, is finally ready to make its biggest splash in a long time.

The delay to RMC Gwazi may not be a function of money, but instead the fact that RMC has a huge backlog of projects that were signed years ago, or has exclusivity deals with other park (like Dollywood for the first launcher). It's very possible that the Gwazi project is on the horizon, but cannot be started until RMC's backlog is cleared.

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