No more Tidal Twister at SeaWorld San Diego

September 26, 2023, 6:51 PM · It looks like SeaWorld San Diego has thrown in the towel on its Tidal Twister.

The Skyline Skywarp Horizon opened in 2019 but hasn't run for months. Now fans have noticed that SeaWorld has removed the attraction from its website and mobile app.

While SeaWorld San Diego promoted the ride as a roller coaster, it felt more like a next-generation Himalaya/Musik Express-type ride to me. The twisting ride offered a top speed of 30 miles per hour and an inversion, which did distinguish it from your typical amusement park carnival rides. But solid carnival ride spinners should run reliably and soak up crowds spilling out of queues for a park's headline attractions, which Tidal Twister failed to do with its inconsistent - at best - operations.

Here's my first ride on Tidal Twister, from its media preview day back in 2019.

Tidal Twister's closure leaves the San Diego park with five no-one-will-dispute-that-they-are roller coasters, after this spring's opening of Arctic Rescue.

The park is offering a "Kids Free" deal, with free child admission with the purchase of an adult ticket. Our ticket partner also has discounts of up to $40 on single-day tickets. For those are other deals, including Howl-O-Scream tickets, check out their SeaWorld San Diego tickets page.

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Replies (12)

September 26, 2023 at 7:44 PM

Was this similar to that Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster that was a maintenance nightmare and was barely open?

September 26, 2023 at 9:29 PM

Yup. Just placed on its side. Apparently, that did not help.

September 26, 2023 at 10:31 PM

Robert (or any of you other theme park pros), when a park has to permanently close a ride due to its unreliability and on-going maintenance issues, does the park receive any compensation from the manufacturer? Don't these rides come with some sort of warranty?

September 27, 2023 at 1:09 AM

Ouch! Even in the video you look unamused at the beginning.

September 27, 2023 at 8:24 AM

@Beacher - I think it depends on the situation and the timing of the closure. Most attractions go through a break-in period where manufacturers have representatives on site helping park staff and engineers perform a shake down of the new ride's features and systems. At some point, the manufacturer will perform a formal "hand off" of the attraction to the park, but most manufacturers will maintain some level of contact with the park regarding performance, maintenance, and any unusual wear or replacements that are needed (for instance, Ziere has a direct connection from Verbolten to their headquarters in Deggendorf, Germany where they can perform routine system analyses and firmware upgrades to help the park maintain the coaster). In most situations, manufacturers want parks (and the riding public) to be happy, especially since most savvy visitors know the manufacturer in addition to the operator (park), so manufacturers will do what's necessary to address significant issues. Here are some examples...

Maverick was originally built with 3 inversions, but during the break-in and testing period, it was found that the 3rd inversion (heartline roll over the lagoon after the second launch) was going to be too intense and cause issues severe enough that Intamin had it removed and turned into a flat piece of track. That occurred prior to the handover, so it probably didn't cost Cedar Point anything more than time.

Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion initially had a first right-hand turn that hugged the ground and created near-blackout conditions for even the most resilient riders. The coaster operated for a full year in its original configuration (they tried trim brakes on the drop and other techniques to slow the train through the turn) before Intamin designed a reprofiled track that successfully reduced the g forces in that turn to the point where the forces are more acceptable for most riders. This change occurred after the handover, but it's believed that Intamin covered all the costs to perform the alteration.

Mach Tower at BGW was problematic from the start, and I'm sure the park regrets going with Moser (only known for smaller drop rides built in Europe) instead of Intamin (who they were upset at because of issues with Falcon's Fury) or S&S. The park accepted the ride after the break-in period, but it never operated reliably. It's been reported that the park and Moser attempted a number of different fixes to address the operational issues (mostly surrounding safety features that would lock-out the ride without there actually being a problem), but after years of limping along as a "part-time" attraction, the park finally threw in the towel. It's unclear exactly what the financial arrangement was, but it's understood that Moser did take a pretty significant hit for delivering the unreliable attraction. My guess is that Skyline will have to make good with Sea World by either giving some money back or providing compensation in some other way (parts, support, or another smaller attraction in the chain).

In the end, this just goes to prove why you should stick with the big boys when you want to build a high profile attraction. Small and niche manufacturers need to prove themselves thoroughly at smaller, foreign parks before big American parks sink major money into big rides. This is why so many are concerned about the new dueling coasters Six Flags is adding in San Antonio and Georgia (Kid Flash Cosmic Coaster), which are both from Skyline. These installations are pretty much make or break for the manufacturer, not only from a reputational perspective, but also from a financial one because Skyline will almost certainly be on the hook if these coasters don't perform as advertised.

September 27, 2023 at 9:41 AM

Man I was hoping to check this ride out eventually. Seemed like it packed a punch considering the small footprint it occupied. I visited Sea World San Diego three times during the time it opened and it was closed every single time. Hope they bring back the restrooms at least that they tore down for this.

September 27, 2023 at 11:13 AM

I never had a chance to ride Tidal Twister, but I did get a chance to ride Submarine Quest before it closed. SeaWorld San Diego has had some bad luck with rides in the last few years with both Submarine Quest and Tidal Twister. The silver lining is neither ride seemed to have many fans.

September 27, 2023 at 12:13 PM

@Brad Lee - I wouldn't call it bad luck as much as it was bad decision making and foolish decisions to cut costs. Submarine Quest was a cheap knock off of 20,000 Leagues/Nemo and Deep Sea Adventure (Legoland), and it was unpopular because it was a terrible attraction. When you are Sea World, you CANNOT build a slow moving submarine-themed attraction and not have it go through any actual animal habitats when other non-animal parks at least put similar attractions through at least a small aquarium. The concept was doomed to fail from the get go, and had little to do with the ride system.

You could call Tidal Twister a bit of bad luck, but Sea World should have been able to predict its failure when they bought it. I can understand the desire to add a thrilling attraction that could easily fit under the park's height restriction and have a small footprint, but going with an unproven manufacturer should have foretold the inevitable failure of the venture.

The silver lining for me is the hope that Sea World has learned that cutting corners and skimping on cheaper/lesser manufacturers and more intricate theming does not end well.

September 27, 2023 at 1:14 PM

@manny barron, wow, they removed bathrooms for this ride? yikes!! i never got to check it out in person but after seeing numerous videos, it didn't look fun at all. looked like a sure fire headache inducer.

September 27, 2023 at 1:39 PM

Honestly, good riddance. Not only was this the least enjoyable ride at SeaWorld San Diego, but one of the worst rides I've had the displeasure to experience. While it was certainly unique, the park could go buy almost anything out of the Zamperla catalog for a replacement and it'd be an upgrade. Plus, in five years of existence, this thing had less than 300 operating days at a year-round park, which definitely qualifies it as a lemon in my book.

As for your question, Beacher, it's very case by case, but generally once the attraction is handed over to the park it's 100% the park's responsibility. The manufacturer will absolutely provide support for the product to help the park keep it working reliably, but often it takes a lawsuit for a park to receive compensation for a mechanically problematic attraction. From what I understand, Six Flags threated that regarding Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster, which prompted Skyline to buy back the ride rather than chance losing the lawsuit (as that would likely have killed the company). The same offer was supposedly made to SeaWorld, but because of the hassle of getting projects approved at the park and the recent total failure of Submarine Quest they instead accepted a deal for Skyline to work on the ride at cost to get it running reliably. Seems they should have accepted the buy back because at this point they're probably SOL.

September 27, 2023 at 2:06 PM

Another notable example of this is the beef between Universal and ProSlide following the opening of Volcano Bay. My understanding is there were multiple issues but the most prominent was ProSlide overselling the capacity capability of their slides.

September 27, 2023 at 3:07 PM

@Russell Meyer @AJ Hummel - Thank you for your very informative responses. Much appreciated.

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