SeaWorld and Busch Gardens coasters could be delayed until 2021 due to coronavirus closures – Orange County Register
Four nearly-finished roller coasters set to debut this summer at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens could be delayed until 2021 by the coronavirus closures of theme parks in San Diego, Florida and Virginia.
The Emperor dive coaster at SeaWorld San Diego, Ice Breaker quadruple launch coaster at SeaWorld Orlando, Iron Gwazi hybrid coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa and Pantheon multi-launch coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg could all see their planned 2020 debuts pushed back until 2021, according to interim SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Marc Swanson.
“Depending on when we are allowed to reopen, we will make the decision as to whether or not the unfinished projects are completed for the 2020 season or pushed into 2021,” Swanson said on a conference call with analysts.
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SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks in the United States remained temporarily closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new Texas Stingray wooden coaster at SeaWorld San Antonio and the new Tonga Twister water slide at Aquatica San Antonio opened just before the coronavirus closures of the Texas parks.
“Prior to the temporary park closures, we had made significant progress on the construction of our 2020 lineup of new rides and attractions,” Swanson said on the call. “We completed almost 90% of the construction on these new rides for 2020. In fact, two of our new rides located in Texas opened just prior to the park closures.”
SEE ALSO: SeaWorld and Legoland roll out post-coronavirus plan for reopening San Diego parks
The 153-foot-tall Emperor floorless dive coaster planned for SeaWorld San Diego would be the longest, tallest and fastest ride of its kind in California. Built by Switzerland-based Bolliger & Mabillard, Emperor will have a 143-foot-tall vertical first drop, a top speed of 60 mph and nearly 2,500 feet of track.
The Arctic-themed Ice Breaker quadruple launch coaster planned for SeaWorld Orlando will send riders up and over icy summits on a wintery journey in sunkissed Florida. The Maryland-based Premier Rides Sky Rocket coaster begins with backward and forward airtime-filled launches that shoot the train up a 93-foot-tall beyond-vertical 100-degree spike track.
SEE ALSO: California theme parks can’t reopen for months under state plan
Busch Gardens Tampa is transforming the Gwazi dual wooden coaster into Iron Gwazi — the world’s steepest, tallest and fastest hybrid coaster. Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Construction will handle the renovation of Gwazi, which has been standing-but-not-operating since 2015.
The Pantheon multi-launch coaster planned for Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia will feature track segments themed to five Roman gods: Pluto, Mercury, Neptune, Jupiter and Minerva. The 178-foot-tall Blitz coaster from Switzerland-based Intamin will send riders down a beyond-vertical 95-degree drop and through two inversions.
The planned 2021 opening date of SeaWorld’s conversion of its Aquatica water park in Chula Vista into the new Sesame Place San Diego theme park could be affected by construction delays, according to SeaWorld Entertainment CFO Elizabeth Gulacsy.
“We did temporarily pause construction across all of our projects, so that did impact the construction timing out in Sesame Place for San Diego,” Gulacsy said on the call. “We’re currently evaluating our plan on whether or not that’s going to impact the opening date.”