Anyone who hasn’t been to SeaWorld San Diego in a few years will be in for a treat with the arrival of its new mega-attraction Manta, a double-launch coaster that opened in May 2012.
Swooping over sea and sky, Manta not only inspires riders with a 100,000-gallon aquarium, but also takes riders on an exhilarating ride on a coaster shaped like a giant manta ray, with dozens of twists and turns and a thrilling 54-foot drop.
SeaWorld Park President John Reilly said the ride delivered exactly what guests wanted: a fun, family coaster complemented by a hands-on animal experience.
“We want our guests to feel immersed in the world of rays, like they themselves are a giant manta ray, twisting, soaring, and diving through the ocean,” Reilly said. “Then, they’ll even get the opportunity to reach in the water and touch and feed real California bat rays.”
Manta sits on five acres just north of SeaWorld’s Dolphin Point.
Guests are first introduced to the attraction as 20-seat trains zip around a 30-foot rock formation with bamboo, ferns, and a prominent Manta sign.
Guests feel as if they’ve landed on an exotic Southeast Asian island, sprinkled with flowers and featuring a variety of palm trees, Japanese black pines, a palm, and cycad canyon and a succulent garden.
Large trees line the perimeter of Manta, while small shrines, Japanese rockwork, potted bonsai trees, and a stone pagoda and bell tower (two structures dating back to 1964 when the park opened) blend into the landscape.
For those 48 inches and taller, the roller coaster at Manta is the highlight of the experience.
Known as a linear synchronous motor (LSM) launch coaster, Manta features half a mile of track, with four trains (20 seats each) that take riders around banks and turns and a 54-foot drop where the cars skim a lake (without getting riders wet).
The maximum height of the ride is 30 feet, but the drop is a total of 54 feet, achieved through a 24-foot excavation.
Lasting one minute and 40 seconds, Manta features two separate launches and reaches maximum speed in just two seconds.
The first launch takes place in a tunnel with larger-than-life images of rays projected on a 270-degree enveloping screen.
This stunning introduction to the world of the rays also visually enhances the physical acceleration as the ride launches down the track. This state-of-the-art projection system is the first of its kind in the United States.
In developing and constructing Manta, SeaWorld worked with German ride design company MACK, which also engineered SeaWorld San Diego’s popular ride, Journey to Atlantis.
Manta’s 100,000-gallon aquarium is filled with three species of rays (California bat rays, diamond stingrays, and shovelnose guitarfish). The reef-themed aquarium includes eight acrylic viewing windows where guests can see marine life above and in front of them, and a shallow aboveground pool where guests can touch and feed California bat rays.
This hands-on experience allows guests to make a connection with rays, which may inspire them to protect this amazing species by cherishing its ocean home, and the environment in general.
“Wish lanterns” with messages and imagery hand-drawn by SeaWorld employees can be seen in the lake area of the ride, where the coaster makes its 54-foot drop (and can be seen while in the queue for the ride).
To learn more about Manta, visit www.seaworld.com/manta.
SeaWorld San Diego is open year-round, including holidays. Park admission is $79 for ages 10 and older; $71 for ages 3–9. Hours vary by season.