SeaWorld San Diego plans a spring 2017 opening for Ocean Explorer, a new attraction combining multiple aquariums, rides and digital technologies.
Parent company SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. does not disclose cost estimates for most projects at its individual parks, though officials described Ocean Explorer as a “multimillion-dollar” attraction. SeaWorld San Diego park president John Reilly said in a statement that it will be a “fun, interactive new area of the park,” simulating a global scientific underwater expedition.
Officials said visitors will travel to Ocean Explorer’s undersea animals aboard mini “submarines,” the signature ride of the attraction, and become researchers on a mission to collect data on animals. Visitors will get up-close views of animals including giant octopuses, spider crabs and colorful jelly fish.
The three-minute experience will include an onboard digital navigation dashboard, among other elements to enhance riders’ understanding of the ocean ecosystem. Plans also include a “wave swinger” ride where guests will fly through “thousands of real bubbles in chairs suspended from the tentacles of a giant jelly,” along with three other “family-friendly rides.”
Construction on the attraction will begin in summer 2016 on a three-acre site where the Animal Connections exhibit and the Circle of Flags are currently located, on the southeast side of the park.
The project is separate from SeaWorld San Diego’s previously announced, $100 million Blue World orca habitat expansion, which is being planned in another section of the Mission Bay park and slated for a 2018 completion.
SeaWorld is currently involved in a legal dispute with the California Coastal Commission, stemming from the commission’s recent decision to approve Blue World on condition that the park discontinue breeding of captive killer whales.