Time to ride the tide on SeaWorld San Diego's Tidal Twister

May 21, 2019, 2:05 PM · So what is Tidal Twister, the new Skywarp Horizon ride at SeaWorld San Diego? Is it a roller coaster, a track ride, or something else?

The only sure way to know what this unique experience is? To ride it. So I did, in advance of the ride's official opening to the public on Friday.

Perhaps the best way to describe the ride is as a figure-eight Himalaya, but with some airtime moments at its apex. As for whether this is actually a roller coaster, even though both trains are connected, there are moments when the drive wheels are not pushing the trains, so it does technically coast. But the experience hugging the ground is much more like a next-gen Himalaya than what I would consider a proper coaster. Debate away.

Nevertheless, it's fun and definitely unique. My biggest question after riding is how long will this ride hold up? It's not exactly smooth at the start and there's already noticeable wear on the track from the trains' vibration. I've been doing this for a long time, and I have yet to find a ride that got smoother after its media day. Watching this ride, though, can be a moment of Zen, especially from the adjacent sea star touch pool.

Across from that touch pool, fans can enjoy some time in the shade watching the fish in the renovated Aquaria. Every SeaWorld attraction comes with a message about conservation, so Dr. Judy St. Leger of Rising Tide Conservation was at the media event this morning to talk about the importance of supporting aquaculture over ocean harvesting.

For discounted tickets to SeaWorld San Diego, as well as ticket packages with other Southern California theme parks, please visit our SeaWorld San Diego tickets page.

Replies (12)

May 21, 2019 at 3:15 PM

Looks like a fun ride and I'm looking forward to riding this soon. It's always great when a new attraction replaces....nothing! Sure some small restrooms and such but nothing had to be removed attraction wise to include this new ride. My only concern for this is capacity. It doesn't seem like it can move guests at a fast rate. I also wonder how the queue looks for this? Theming and such.

Regardless it seems like an awesome addition to Sea World San Diego.

May 21, 2019 at 11:39 PM

Sea World pandering to the lowest common denominator - cheap, generic coaster, no themeing, paint it purple and call it something remotely marine life-esq.


May 21, 2019 at 4:56 PM

I want to rise to the defense of SeaWorld based on comments made by @AndrewMciveR.
I will never consider a ride like this to be a Roller Coaster. What makes a coaster a coaster has changed over the years. To me, this is a flat ride - one that looks like a lot of fun. Parks that install rides like this or the Larson SuperLoop and call them Roller Coasters are misrepresenting their offerings to the public.
I will however defend a park's decision to add rides like this.
Every ride in a park does not need to be an E-Ticket. In fact, a park with nothing but E-Tickets would be a disaster. Parks need to have a variety. There is demand for rides like this. Perhaps it's not the ride those of us who frequent on-line theme park fan sites want, but the general public wants variety. SeaWorld San Diego is obviously ramping up their ride offerings. They also face some restrictions on what they can install based on their location. That does not mean this ride is pathetic. It's just another attraction that will absolutely serve a purpose in the park.
Now - if you want to talk about pathetic SeaWorld attractions, we can rehash the topic of a particular above ground submarine that involved no water. That was pathetic.

May 21, 2019 at 5:18 PM

Nice review, Robert! I'll be going back down in early June to check this one out, and I'm curious to see how it is. That said, this statement concerns me:

"It's not exactly smooth at the start and there's already noticeable wear on the track from the trains' vibration. I've been doing this for a long time, and I have yet to find a ride that got smoother after its media day."

I rode Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster about a month after it opened last year, and the ride experience was about equal in discomfort to a Vekoma SLC. If that ends up being the case here as well, I wouldn't be surprised if popularity drops to zero within a couple years.

As for the coaster debate, this falls into a class I call pseudocoasters...flat rides with roller coaster-like qualities but not enough to make them true roller coasters (such as Disk'O Coasters and Larson Loops). No, I wouldn't count these rides as a coaster credit, but they are more legitimate roller coasters than the Krakatau Aqua Coaster.

May 21, 2019 at 5:41 PM

Oooh, you hurt me there, AJ. :^) But I don't count credits, so hey, I don't care what is or is not a "coaster," ultimately.

One more thing I should note, though, is the seating on this. Rows are seated back-to-back, so that you are facing the two riders in front of you. That makes leg room a real issue if you're facing another adult. I didn't have to deal with that today, as there was a camera rig across from me, but I could see the issue on other rows.

May 22, 2019 at 9:07 AM

Question - are there two loading stations for this one? If not, how was the loading experience? That would eat at the capacity, which wouldn't be bueno.

May 22, 2019 at 10:13 AM

Nice report but the ride looks too repetitive for my taste.

May 22, 2019 at 10:41 AM

I'm right there with you Rob. Parks needs rides like this to bring balance to their lineup. Not every attraction can be a headliner, but that doesn't mean parks should always reach for the lowest common denominator when adding lower tier rides. However, considering Electric Eel was pretty much a flat-ride roller coaster, I'm not sure why this was needed right now.

FWIW, I believe this attraction is accompanied by the renovation of nearby aquariums, so to say it stands alone in contrast to Sea World's base mission is erroneous.

My biggest concern about this attraction aside from the wear and tear leading to a rapid degradation of ride quality is the overall ride cycle times. Not only must ride ops coordinate two separate loading platforms that appear to be over a hundred feet apart, but the time it takes for this ride to get up to speed and then decelerate at the end of the cycle seems to be rather lengthy. The video shows a full ride cycle time of just over 2 minutes, which doesn't even include a full-speed reverse section through the course to give riders a "complete" experience like you would get on a Larsen Loop. Even without a reverse portion to the ride cycle, you still need to consider another 2 minutes (or more) for loading/unloading, meaning you're looking at nearly 5 minutes per full-ride cycle. That's simply unacceptable in a modern theme park, even for a flat ride.

It's nice to see Sea World trying to attract more thrill seekers to their park, but they should leave rides like this to the carnies.

May 22, 2019 at 11:19 AM

Yes, Clayton. There are two loading stations for this one.

May 22, 2019 at 12:12 PM

Good review yet I have to agree with @AndrewMciveR. I went to Sea World in Summer 2018, last time was in the 90's. I know I won't be back for another decade or more. This place needs more attractions. Why even keep the killer whales locked up? I'm obviously spoiled with LA spacious theme parks with more to offer. They need to build a parking structure and expand more coasters over a parking lot that they can convert to an expansion of the park. They just need 40 million dollars for that miracle.

May 22, 2019 at 12:54 PM

frank32 - Why even keep the killer whales locked up?

Because they would perish in the wild. Thus you'll see them in Sea World parks in some attraction or another until the last captive whale passes away from old age.

May 25, 2019 at 2:07 AM

I'm all for flat rides but lets be real this thing is junk (along with the Harley Quinn ride at SFDK) and the only reason it was built is because it was cheap and came across as kind of marketable.

If it's already rough and uncomfortable on it's opening day it probably won't last very long. Skyline isn't starting off on a good foot i'd be surprised if they last as well.

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