Wild Arctic’s aging flight simulator at SeaWorld will be replaced with new ride


Board the Wild Arctic simulator at SeaWorld, and you’re transported via a jet-helicopter to a frozen landscape, the journey punctuated with a few twists and turns along the way.

But after more than two decades, it seems that the ride has run its course as the San Diego marine park looks to eventually remove it and replace it with a new attraction.

While SeaWorld has confirmed that it is planning a replacement for the the simulated helicopter ride, it is silent on what it will be.

“The simulators are almost 25 years old, so we’re looking to replace the ride experience at the attraction,” said park spokesman Dave Koontz. “It would be another ride but arctic-themed.”

The new ride, he added, will be under 30 feet in height.

Dan Sehlhorst, a project manager with SeaWorld, made a brief presentation on plans for Wild Arctic earlier this month at a meeting of the Mission Bay Park Committee, but he revealed little more than what Koontz described.

The new attraction is expected to arrive in 2021. In the meantime, SeaWorld is busy preparing for some other new rides the park is hoping will appeal to thrill-seeking theme park enthusiasts. It will open its new Tidal Twister coaster in May, and its next mega attraction will be in 2020 when it will unveil the Mako dive coaster, described as the park’s tallest roller coaster yet.

When the helicopter simulator opened in 1997, a Union-Tribune reporter described the journey as beginning with a wild ride on a simulated jet helicopter that terminates at Base Station Wild Arctic. Along the way, passengers are treated to dramatic vistas of rocky glaciers and snowy ice floes.

In a recent post on the “Behind the Thrills” blog, the author describes the simulator as showing its age and notes that the “projection graphics are definitely lacking.”

In addition to the helicopter ride, Wild Arctic is also home to five beluga whales, four Pacific walruses, three harbor seals and one ringed seal. In addition, the attraction offers two interactive programs: one, where guests wear wetsuits to experience the habitat of the beluga whales and feed and touch them; and a second one that is a behind-the-scenes experience with the beluga whales and walruses.

SeaWorld’s focus lately hasn’t been entirely on new attractions. As it celebrates its 55th anniversary, the park recently completed new entry signage that is designed to make the park “more vibrant and welcoming.”

SeaWorld, says the new sign, “welcomes you to a world of wonder.”


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Twitter: @loriweisberg