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.
|Opened||21 March 1964|
|Owner||City of San Diego|
|Operator||SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment|
|Attendance||3,485,000 (TEA 2019)|
|Nearby||Belmont Park (2 miles)|
Legoland California (26 miles)
Disney California Adventure (82 miles)
Disneyland (83 miles)
Knott's Berry Farm (87 miles)
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.
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 The "theatrical" killer whale shows ended at SeaWorld San Diego at the start of 2017 and have been replaced by a more educational show, which features ten killer whales.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.
Ground hugging launched rollercoaster
Water coaster through the lost city of Atlantis
Cable car over Mission Bay
Whitewater rapids ride
Motion simulator journey into the Arctic
Educational show featuring killer whales
Live dolphin show