TPJThemeParkJames

SeaWorld San Diego

San Diego, California

SeaWorld San Diego is themed around the ocean and sea creatures. The park features rides and live marine mammal attractions, including dolphins and killer whales.

Opened21 March 1964
SeasonYear round
OwnerCity of San Diego
OperatorSeaWorld Parks and Entertainment
Websiteseaworld.com/san-diego/
Nearby Belmont Park (2 miles)
Legoland California (31 miles)
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (93 miles)
Knott's Berry Farm (98 miles)
LA County Fair (114 miles)
Journey to Atlantis

Journey to Atlantis

SeaWorld San Diego was the first in the chain of SeaWorld parks to be built, opening in 1964 as a marine park on the shore of Mission Bay.

Since then the park has grown into a fully fledged theme park, although sea creatures are still at its heart, whether that be through ride themes, aquarium displays or live animal shows.

Headlining SeaWorld's ride lineup are the park's rollercoasters, Manta and Journey to Atlantis. Manta is a very smooth Mack launch coaster. At just 30 feet tall, it is nowhere near as large as some of the other Mack launch coasters like Blue Fire at Europa Park in Germany or Velociraptor at IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai, but it still manages to offer a superb fun ride experience. Its first launch section takes place inside a tunnel with projections surrounding the train, giving the feeling of being underwater before being launched outside into the San Diego sunshine. Journey to Atlantis is a water coaster, again from Mack Rides. It is themed around the lost city of Atlantis, with boats touring the city's buildings before two splashdowns and a rollercoaster section.

Orca Encounter Killer Whale Presentation

Orca Encounter Killer Whale Presentation

SeaWorld is most famous for its controversial killer whale shows. The "theatrical" killer whale shows ended at SeaWorld San Diego at the start of 2017 and have been replaced by a more educational show, which features ten killer whales.

Various animal welfare organisations have called for an end to holding killer whales in captivity. In March 2016, SeaWorld announced that it would end its killer whale breeding programme, meaning the ten Orcas currently resident at the park will be the last to live and perform at SeaWorld San Diego.

In the last few years the SeaWorld brand has been badly damaged by the killer whale controversy, not in small part due to the 2013 documentary film Blackfish. Attendance at SeaWorld San Diego is down by almost a million visitors per year from its 2012 peak of 4.4 million. I visited in September 2017 and the park felt almost empty. SeaWorld is responding by investing in advertising campaigns and adding Electric Eel, a new triple launch coaster in 2018, but the question remains whether these will be enough to bring visitors back. With rumours of takeovers by rivals, the future of SeaWorld and the SeaWorld brand is pretty uncertain at the moment.

Attractions

Manta

Manta

Ground hugging launched rollercoaster

Journey to Atlantis

Journey to Atlantis

Water coaster through the lost city of Atlantis

Orca Encounter

Orca Encounter

Educational show featuring killer whales

Bayside Skyride

Bayside Skyride

Cable car over Mission Bay

Skytower

Skytower

Observation tower

Dolphin Days

Dolphin Days

Live dolphin show

Shipwreck Rapids

Shipwreck Rapids

Whitewater rapids ride

Wild Arctic

Wild Arctic

Motion simulator journey into the Arctic