Excellence isn't always measured by statistics when it comes to roller coasters. A ride that stands far from being the tallest, fastest, steepest, or longest in its category still can paste a smile on your face and fill your heart with joy.
Just like Emperor does.
SeaWorld San Diego previewed its new Bolliger & Mabillard dive coaster for reporters today. I say "new" because the ride won't open to the public until March 12, but San Diego neighbors have been watching this coaster stand still over Mission Bay for the past two years, while SeaWorld Entertainment held four of its new coasters across the country in reserve during the pandemic. So along with its siblings, these might be the oldest "new" rides in recent coaster history.
Still, Emperor delivers that B&M just-opened buttery smoothness. Unlike the recently opened Ice Breaker and Iron Gwazi, airtime is not the point here. The goals of a B&M Dive Machine are great views, a harrowing pause to look face-down at your towering 90-degree drop, and then a delightful flight through a series of graceful loops and turns on your way home.
Emperor ticks all those boxes.
Yes, at 150 feet, it's a smaller version of this model than Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Griffon, Tampa's SheiKra and the king of B&M dive coasters, Yukon Striker at Canada's Wonderland. It is a touch bigger than Efteling's Baron 1898, but lacks that attraction's thematic elements.
So, no, Emperor isn't the "-est" anything, save for being the first B&M dive coaster on the west coast. But as a west coast resident, that's enough for me. Emperor is a fun addition to the local coaster scene. Enjoy my front-row POV video from today.
A few operation notes. A couple of pieces of fabric above the loading area provide only slight relief from the sun and none from the heat, but since SeaWorld declined to spend any of that nearly-two-year delay building a station for the ride, come with sunscreen if you're riding this spring or summer. A hat won't help you, because all loose items must go into one of the paid lockers at the queue entry. It's a 52-inch height requirement, and SeaWorld does provide a sample seat at queue entry.
For more of my reaction to Emperor, including my thoughts on SeaWorld's attempt to become a better coaster destination, check out my theme park news video today.
And for discounted tickets to the park, please visit our travel partner's SeaWorld San Diego tickets page.
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