By Ken Stone
The Mako ride, pending city approval, is set for 2020 and would also be the only floorless dive roller coaster in the state, said the theme park. Construction is expected to begin by the middle of this year.
The steel coaster will be built by Bollinger & Mabillard, based in Switzerland. The company has built four other roller coasters for SeaWorld since 1997, one in San Antonio and the other three at SeaWorld Orlando.
Climbing to 153 feet with their feet dangling in the air, riders will be suspended on a 45-degree angle at the crown of the ride before plunging down a 143-foot facedown vertical drop accelerating to more than 60 miles per hour.
Last August, Canada’s Wonderland theme park in Vaughan, Ontario, announced it was building the fastest, tallest dive coaster in the world.
“Yukon Striker” passengers will hang over a 90-degree, 245-foot drop for about 3 seconds before suddenly diving, seemingly endlessly, into an underground tunnel, said the Ontario theme park.
The Canadian ride set for 2019 will be 245 feet tall and 3,625 feet long, with a massive 360-degree loop and speeds up to 80 mph.
SeaWorld said its riders would also experience inversions, barrel roll, Immelmann loop, a hammerhead turn and flat spin as they race along the nearly 2,500 feet of track. Each of the floorless ride cars will hold 18 riders in three, six-person rows.
The new attraction will focus on shark awareness and conservation, and will include a partnership with a shark conservation organization. Mako is a species of shark.
The coaster, the 15th B&M dive coaster in the world, will be adjacent to Journey to Atlantis in the southeast corner of the park in an area now a parking lot. (The only other one in California is HangTime at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park.)
The current record-holder for dive coasters appears to be Valravn at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. It opened in May 2016 and also was built by Bolliger & Mabillard.
At behindthethrills.com, Erik Yates shared details Saturday of the Mako ride and other SeaWorld plans.
“To go along with Mako, SeaWord will also renovate the current Shark Encounter exhibit,” he said. “They will do a similar Shark realm to Orlando with enhancements to the shark tanks, and a more immersive educational experience. The park will put the emphasis on research and saving sharks who are facing more threats from man than before.”
Yates also said the park will renovate Penguin Encounter attraction in 2021.
“The current building is nearing the end of its life span,” he said, “but the plans are only on the early stages of development.”
Yates said SeaWorld San Diego, gearing up for its 55th anniversary celebration in 2019, also plans a new entrance plaza, “with installed metal detectors and security checkpoints to make the process quicker and more seamless.”
Updated at 10 p.m. Jan. 7, 2018
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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