SeaWorld San Diego will reopen with rides and coasters next week after year without thrills

SeaWorld San Diego will reopen with rides and coasters next week after year without thrills

SeaWorld San Diego will bring back thrill rides and roller coasters next week after operating as a zoo, hosting food festivals and offering a once-in-a-lifetime drive-thru special event in an effort to keep the theme park partially open during the yearlong coronavirus pandemic.

SeaWorld San Diego will fully reopen at limited capacity with rides, attractions and roller coasters on Monday, April 12, according to park officials.

“We’re delighted to bring back some of the best thrill and family rides that San Diego has to offer,” SeaWorld San Diego president Marilyn Hannes said in a statement. “Our guests have been eager for SeaWorld to re-open rides and we are looking forward to providing these exciting experiences.”

The 100-acre San Diego marine park partially reopened in August under zoo and aquarium COVID-19 guidelines with stadium shows and animal exhibits while rides and coasters remained closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Safety is our number one priority,” Hannes said in a statement. “As we’ve been fortunate to already be open and operating as a zoo, we’ve already implemented significant safety enhancements for our guests.”

SeaWorld’s announcement leaves Knott’s Berry Farm as the only major California theme park that has not set a reopening date. The Buena Park theme park has announced plans to return to full operations in May without specifying a date.

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Legoland California in Carlsbad, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk reopened on April 1. Universal Studios Hollywood reopens April 16 and Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim will return on April 30. California’s Great America in Santa Clara will return on May 22.

Starting on April 1, California theme parks can reopen at 15% attendance capacity in the red/substantial tier 2, 25% capacity in the orange/moderate tier 3 and 35% capacity in the least-restrictive yellow/minimal tier 4. San Diego County — home to SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California — has moved into the orange tier.

SeaWorld visitors will need to make online advance reservations and purchase date-specific tickets due to COVID-19 health and safety state guidelines. SeaWorld annual passholders and Fun Card members will also need to make reservations. Only California residents can visit theme parks under state protocols.

SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival will continue on select dates through May 2. The park hosted the Sesame Street Parade of Lights Drive-Thru event in January and February.

The lineup of returning SeaWorld rides will include the Electric Eel and Manta roller coasters, Tentacle Twirl wave swing and several kiddie rides in the Sesame Street Bay of Play. The Journey to Atlantis water coaster, Tidal Twister dueling coaster, Shipwreck Rapids river rapids water ride and other attractions will return later.

The new Emperor coaster — which was set to open last year at SeaWorld San Diego — will open at a later date. The 153-foot-tall floorless dive coaster will have a 143-foot-tall vertical first drop, a top speed of 60 mph and nearly 2,500 feet of track.

The new Sesame Street-themed “R is for Rescue” show — which focuses on SeaWorld’s animal rescue team — debuted during the pandemic in the Nautilus Amphitheater at SeaWorld San Diego.

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