SeaWorld San Diego has gained conditional approval for its plan to open a new Manta-themed rollercoaster in 2012, although it will face some challenging restrictions.
Staff at the California Coastal Commission have recommended approval of the plans, subject to SeaWorld San Diego meeting some specific conditions. These include a limit on the rollercoaster's maximum height of just 30 feet, as well as a requirement to use earth tone colors on any sections visible from outside of the park. The park's proposals will be discussed in full at a meeting on February 11, with SeaWorld due to formally announce the ride next week.
The height restriction may explain SeaWorld San Diego's decision not to use a Flying Coaster model, as sister park SeaWorld Orlando did for its own Manta rollercoaster. Instead, the park looks set to build a coaster featuring multiple launch sections, which would enable it to hit high speeds without having to rise high above the ground.
Design artwork posted to Screamscape suggests that the ride will be a Mack Launch Coaster, similar in design to the dark ride-coaster hybrid Blue Fire at Germany's Europa Park. The Manta coaster is set to feature two separate launch sections, with one at the start of the circuit and another midway through the ride. It is not clear from the blueprints whether it will feature any inversions, or whether it will be built over water as with the SeaWorld Orlando coaster.
As at SeaWorld Orlando, a new marine exhibit will feature alongside the Manta rollercoaster. This will give guests the chance to view the Manta rays that inspired the ride, along with other sea-dwellers.
SeaWorld San Diego had previously planned to open a new rollercoaster in 2010, but the project was subsequently put on hold while the park was sold to new owners. The cancelled attraction was set to be similar in design to the Revenge of the Mummy rollercoasters at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida.
You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter.