Arctic Rescue offers a fun addition to SeaWorld San Diego

June 1, 2023, 3:33 PM · Arctic Rescue is the roller coaster equivalent of a fun run. You don't need to work your way into shape for it and it won't grind you down. It's just a fun run around the backyard of SeaWorld San Diego - a nice addition to help round out the park's growing roller coaster line-up.

The Intamin launch coaster opens to the public Friday, following a media preview today and passholder previews this week. We already have been talking about the coaster, following SeaWorld posting an official POV earlier this week. [See Watch the first look, on ride POV for Arctic Rescue.] So now allow me to join the conversation and add my thoughts.

First, while SeaWorld is promoting this as a "family coaster," it does have a 48-inch height requirement, and I want to push back on the use of the word "family" as an antonym for "extreme." To me, a true family coaster ought not have a height restriction above 40-42 inches - the point at which four-to-five-year-olds can ride. When you go to 48, you're excluding a lot of early-elementary kids who already have had coaster experience at other parks.

That said, Arctic Rescue is about as far from extreme as one can get on the coaster scale, especially coming after my ride last week on sister park SeaWorld Abu Dhabi's Manta, which I have rated as the best new coaster of the year. Yes, there's a launch on Arctic Rescue, but it's a relatively mild 40-mph, tire-propelled launch, and up a slight grade. Beyond that, Manta never rises above 30 feet from the ground and offers no inversions.

Yet the ride allows you to feel its ground-hugging speed and delivers plenty of lateral twists and curves to satisfy even a seasoned coaster fan. At just over a minute, it's not epic, but that minute delivers for what should be a wide range of theme park fans. Like I said, it's... fun.

Take a ride with me.

Update: Just uploaded another perspective, with some wide, off-ride shots of my ride this afternoon. You can see more context with the decoration here, which includes some landscaping, flags of arctic nations, and even the helicopter that was displayed previously at the Wild Arctic ride.

With the fencing around the area, I hope you get my point about this feeling like a run around SeaWorld's back yard. It's nice - and a step up from Emperor - though the views of backstage above the fence are nothing special. At least it was cool and overcast today, to help sell the theme!

This marks my third SeaWorld coaster debut in about as many weeks, following Pipeline the Surf Coaster in Orlando and Manta (and more) at SeaWorld Abu Dhabi last month. Here is my coverage of those openings:

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Replies (7)

June 1, 2023 at 5:02 PM

Seems fun! I'm glad they didn't let the remnants of the Wild Arctic simulator sit empty for so long and they replaced it with a fun ride. I'm starting to notice a few more theming details here and there in the ride and I'm wondering how the actual queue is.

Electric Eel and Emperor are some scary rides for some folks so this one in that area of the park can allow more people to ride together and that's always a good thing. Excited to experience it for myself in the future.

June 1, 2023 at 6:56 PM

Queue is basic outdoor (though some covered) serpentine back and forth. There’s an off ride video coming later tonight that should show the ride decoration better than the POV and its limited peripheral vision.

June 1, 2023 at 8:51 PM

There’s a little more theming around the ride than I expected and, like you said, it’s long enough that you don’t feel cheated. Pleasantly surprised by the POV. That said, I am totally with you on the “family” label and badly wish SeaWorld would stop building coasters that younger kids can’t ride and older kids are ready to move past.

June 2, 2023 at 1:48 AM

I agree that the trend of family coasters having 48" height restrictions is a bit perplexing. In my opinion, a family coaster is a ride the average first grader can ride with their grandparent, and while some may hit that height in first grade, most aren't going to reach it until third to fifth. I suppose not much can be done due to the seating style, but parks really should make it more of a priority to make anything they dub a family coaster 42" if accompanied.

Beyond the height requirement, though, Arctic Rescue does serve as a fun family coaster that's tamer than Manta yet still exciting enough to not bore the teens. While not what I would have personally picked, given the limitations on the project it was a solid option, and I've got a feeling it will be a pretty big hit with the regular audience of visitors to the park.

June 2, 2023 at 9:46 AM

Ordinarily I would chalk this up to the sometimes unpredictable nature of local amusement attraction licensing boards, but Sea World has been "overselling" their coasters as "family" attractions for nearly a decade now. Perhaps you could chalk it up to semantics, but I think it's incredibly disingenuous to market a family attraction that a majority of guests under 7 cannot ride. This isn't new to Sea World, yet they continue to mislabel attractions that leave families with smaller children confused. Having gone through this stage with our now teenager, it was a very frustrating 2-3 year period of visiting parks with kiddie rides that were tame and boring and more thrilling attractions with height restrictions just out of reach. When a park announces a "family" ride, the expectation is that most members of the family would be able to experience it, but for those kids measuring between 42-48" there are fewer and fewer quality rides out there to experience (mostly older rides that are carrying height restrictions established decades ago).

Families want to have rides they can experience TOGETHER without having to trek (and spend thousands) to visit a destination park in California or Florida. I will say that Legoland seems to be doing a good job at trying to do this, but most of the other chains (Cedar Fair, Six Flags, and Sea World) are creating a massive blind spot in their attraction portfolios.

It does appear that the theming here is a bit better than expected, but I still feel like they can do better even with limited resources.

June 2, 2023 at 12:13 PM

I remember my son complaining that he was a "middle-aged kid" during those first elementary school years. That this track has the same height requirement as Wildcat's Revenge is nuts.

Yes, I know that it comes down to trains and restraints, but, man, some engineering that would have allowed five and six year olds to experience this ride would have been greatly appreciated by many families.

June 2, 2023 at 7:22 PM

Agreed that it's nuts for this to have the same height requirement as Wildcat's Revenge, which would be best described as extreme.

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