SeaWorld San Diego pushes back Emperor roller coaster opening to 2022
SeaWorld said the attraction will be California’s tallest and fastest dive coaster.
SeaWorld San Diego’s high-flying bottlenose dolphins may soon have stiff competition for visitors.
The park announced Wednesday that its highly anticipated new coaster, The Emperor (named after the penguin), will open March 2022 in San Diego.
At 153 feet it will be one of the tallest coasters in California, featuring a 143-foot drop and speeds of more than 60 mph. It won’t be your traditional coaster — riders’ feet will dangle from seats along roughly 2,500 feet of track.
The Emperor was supposed to open last summer, but was delayed as the company attempted to cut costs after months of losses due to COVID-19 lockdowns. It then said it would open by late 2021 but today came out with the 2022 opening date.
“Due to the unprecedented challenges of the last two years, the opening was delayed,” said SeaWorld San Diego park President John Dunlap in a news release. “We know this has been disappointing and we’d like to thank our guests for their patience for this long-awaited ride to open.”
SeaWorld decided to name the ride after emperor penguins — the tall ones you might have seen waddling around in Antarctica in a nature film — and the only place you can see them in North America is the San Diego park. They also have king, Adelie, gentoo, chinstrap and macaroni penguins. SeaWorld said the coaster will mimic the emperor penguin’s impressive underwater diving skills.
Emperor riders will experience inversions, a barrel roll, Immelmann loop (a roll-off-the-top), hammerhead turn (a cartwheel style spin) and flat spins. Each of the floorless ride cars will hold 18 riders in three, six-person rows.
SeaWorld Entertainment, based in Orlando, had to shut all 12 of its parks at different points in 2020. Its San Diego park reopened in February and its rides were back running in April. The park was opened to out-of-state visitors, also in April, as long as they could prove they were vaccinated.
SeaWorld was not alone among San Diego attractions in altering plans during the pandemic. Legoland delayed opening its biggest attraction ever, the Lego Movie World section of the park, by more than a year. It opened June 15.
Coaster enthusiasts, sometimes called coasterheads, have closely waited for word on when The Emperor will open. In July, Thrillist named the ride to its list of the most exciting new theme park rides opening. Other California attractions on the list were Avengers Campus at Disneyland and the Secret Life of Pets at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The cost to ride The Emperor will be included in the price of a ticket. Although prices could change by next year, the current cost for a day pass is $59.99.
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