The Orlando, Fla.-based theme park, accredited zoo and aquarium is scheduled to open the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in California in March 2022. Named Emperor, after the world’s largest penguin, it will also be the only floorless dive coaster in the state.
Originally scheduled to open in 2020 and then 2021, the project has faced multiple delays due to COVID-19.
“This exciting attraction will highlight an important new animal-conservation partnership between SeaWorld and Penguins International that will focus on penguin awareness and the conservation needs of this special aquatic bird,” said Dunlap, who joined SeaWorld in May. “A portion of the proceeds from sales of penguin merchandise will be donated to Penguins International to support their important conservation, education and research efforts. This ride is highly anticipated by locals, tourists, plus theme park and coaster enthusiasts. Just like any new ride, event and attraction at our park, we anticipate Emperor to be an attendance driver, especially for those who have been longing to ride this dive coaster and will now have the opportunity to do so.
“In addition, the opening timeframe has the potential to increase travel and tourism to San Diego since we are opening just in time for the Spring Break season,” he added, “and we announced with plenty of time for families to plan their trip.”
Penguins International is a Denver, Colo., based nonprofit that is dedicated to penguin conservation and research. SeaWorld San Diego is home to nearly 300 penguins, including Emperor, Adelie, Gentoo, Chinstrap and Macaroni penguins that can be viewed at the Penguin Encounter Indoor exhibit.
The Emperor penguin is the largest of 17 species of penguins at 45 inches tall. It is also the only animal to inhabit the open ice of Antarctica during the winter because their arteries and veins are so close together, they have the ability to recycle their own body heat.
SeaWorld San Diego is the only place in the United States to see Emperors.
Underwater Diving Ability
In honor of the Emperor penguin, the coaster will mimic the species’ underwater diving ability, according to the company. Riders will be suspended in the air, feet dangling, on a 45-degree angle while climbing to 153 feet in altitude. The ride will then plunge 143-feet facedown, accelerating to more than 60 miles per hour.
In between, riders will experience inversions, barrel roll, Immelmann loop, hammerhead turn and flat spin on the nearly 2,500 feet track. Each of the floorless ride cars will hold 18 riders in three, six-person rows, the first seating configuration of its kind in all of the U.S.
Emperor is slightly longer than two minutes in length. The ride is located adjacent to Journey to Atlantis in the southeast corner of the park.
Lineup of Rides
Elsewhere, SeaWorld is scheduled to open the Ice Breaker quadruple launch coaster at SeaWorld Orlando in February 2022 and the Iron Gwazi hybrid coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa March 2022. Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Pantheon doesn’t have a set date yet, as per reports.
Despite setbacks, the company feels positive about the outcome of the projects.
“We feel really good about the… lineup of rides coming to the parks,” said Marc Swanson, SeaWorld CEO. “We’re excited to continue to make progress toward that.”
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.
CEO: Marc Swanson
HEADQUARTERS: Orlando, Fla.
SAN DIEGO PARK PRESIDENT: John Dunlap
BUSINESS: Theme park and accredited zoo and aquarium.
REVENUE: $171.9M in Q1 of 2021, $439.8M Q2 of 2021
EMPLOYEES: 2,279 part-time, 336 full-time
NOTABLE: SeaWorld was founded on March 21, 1964 by four graduates of the University of California, Los Angeles.