Manta debuts at SeaWorld San Diego

By | May 24, 2012

Manta, a new mega-attraction that seamlessly transitions guests from the awe of watching rays in underwater flight into the sensation of actually being one, opened for the press Thursday, May 24, 2012, at SeaWorld San Diego. The attraction will open to the public on May 26, 2012, at 9 a.m.

Swooping over sea and sky, Manta not only inspires riders with an amazing 100,000-gallon aquarium, but also takes them 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.

“Manta delivers exactly what our guests want: a fun, family coaster complemented by an incredible hands-on animal experience,” said SeaWorld Park President John Reilly. “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. 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-car trains zip around a striking 30-foot rock formation bursting with bamboo, ferns and a very 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 will be the highlight of their experience. Known as a linear synchronous motor (LSM) launch coaster, Manta features ½ 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) and hundreds of fishes native to the California coast. The reef-themed aquarium includes eight acrylic viewing windows where guests can see marine life above and in front of them, and a shallow above-ground pool where guests touch and feed California bat rays. This hands-on experience allows our guests to make a connection with rays that may inspire them to project this amazing species by cherishing its ocean home, and the environment in general.

The Manta gift shop, an original building that was part of SeaWorld’s Japanese Village when the park opened in 1964, features gifts and souvenirs that highlight the experience of the ride, as well as items that focus on the sea and the lifestyle associated with the sea, such as resort apparel, surf style apparel and sea-life gifts. In addition, photos taken of riders on Manta may be purchased afterward in the gift shop.