Tidal Twister, SeaWorld San Diego’s newest coaster, is now open! We had the opportunity to check it out earlier this week, and it’s clear that SeaWorld has a winner on its hands. The new ride, located in the northwest corner of the park by the Bayside Amphitheater, is the world’s first Skywarp Horizon, a horizontal, figure-eight family coaster. Riders load on opposite sides of the figure eight, accelerate to 30 mph, and twist and bank along the track as if they are riding the tide.
The ride starts when passengers board into two “trains” on opposite sides of the track. The trains then tilt about 45° down and start moving back and forth. Assuming that you’re sitting forwards on the side closest to Shipwreck Rapids, you’ll start by moving backwards into the zero-g roll, feeling almost a second of complete, upside-down hangtime. You’ll then move forwards, crest the airtime hill, and catch a great view of Mission Bay and the SeaWorld Rescue Center. The train will start to speed up pretty quickly, and you’ll hit the top speed of 30 mph as you go through the zero-g roll. You’ll end up going through the course at full speed about three times, then the ride will start to slow down. A hydraulic mechanism will tilt the train to be parallel with the station and your ride on Tidal Twister is complete!
Tidal Twister’s ride experience is totally different depending on where you sit, whether you’re riding forwards or backwards, and on which train you’re on. Like all coasters, seats towards the back of the train provide higher g-forces, and you definitely get good moments of airtime when the ride runs at full speed. And one of the weirdest feelings is backwards airtime, which you can experience if you ride, well, backwards. It’s a sensation that not many coasters provide, and it’s much more fun as you don’t know when to expect it. While the train closest to the Aquaria building does the exact same manuevers as the other side, it ends with three seconds of pure hangtime as the ride comes to a stop.
Overall, Tidal Twister is a great ride for all members of the family. Although somewhat bulky, the padded restraint system is actually very comfortable. The over-the-shoulder restraints don’t touch your body, meaning that it feels pretty much like a lap bar. The restraint stays in place during the whole ride, meaning that you won’t get “stapled” while the ride is in motion. Unlike most coasters, the seats are arranged face-to-face, which means that you can see the reactions of your friends and family if you sit directly across from them. While it might be a bit uncomfortable for some adults, it’s a unique arrangement not seen on many coasters. The ride is pretty smooth, especially while going over the airtime hill and through the zero-g roll. The only parts where you might get jostled are when the fins on the train come in contact with the drive tires.
The coaster seems to be a little loud, but it’s much quieter in person. It’s definitely discernible when you’re standing right next to it, but if you’re more than 50 feet away, you wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from the ambient music. The Bayside Amphitheater is right next to the coaster, but you won’t hear a thing due to the newly upgraded Cirque Electrique sound system.
As for theming, there’s not much when it comes to the ride itself. The queue is a simple switchback, and the stations were designed to look like a pier, which is a nice touch. Underneath the coaster is a nicely landscaped flower bed, and while it may not look like much now, it should grow in nicely over the summer. However, the real theming comes in the form of an amazing animal exhibit.
A SeaWorld attraction wouldn’t be complete without an animal component, and Tidal Twister came with a renovation of the adjacent tide pool and incorporation of Rising Tide Conservation into the Aquaria: World of Fishes building.
In recent years, the tide pools that were once filled to the brim with sea stars became barren due to the spread of the deadly wasting disease. Scientific studies show that sea star wasting is associated with a specific type of retrovirus. While the area was walled off for construction, the tide pool was completely drained and scrubbed down to hopefully remove all of the viruses. A few sea stars have been introduced to the tide pools with the hope of repopulating the pool to its original state in the next few years.
In addition, some new coastal creatures have been reintroduced to the tide pool, including decorator crabs, sea urchins, keyhole limpets, and one very large sea hare.
The Aquaria: World of Fishes is special in that it original to SeaWorld San Diego’s 1964 opening. The building features four 30,000 gallon aquariums themed to different aquatic ecosystems. One aquarium is a kelp forest tank, one is filled with freshwater game fish, and another one is home to vicious piranhas. However, the focal point of the building is the massive tank that serves as a home to hundreds of coral reef fish.
However, these aren’t your regular tropical fish. All the fish featured in the coral reef tank were bred in captivity by Rising Tide Conservation labs. Rising Tide’s goal is to research aquaculture methods for popular saltwater fish to reduce the demand for wild-caught specimens. Updated signs talk about the goal of Rising Tide, and new video screens display the common and scientific names of each fish. These fish will be grown out and sent to other research labs, and new fish will come in periodically.
While Tidal Twister represents a relatively small investment into the park, it did a great job of revitalizing a previously underutilized area. The new coaster appeals to the family demographic, and be many kids’ first inverting coaster.
It’s nice to see that SeaWorld took the time to renovate the tide pools to be able to host sea stars again and added additional signage to educate park guests about the Rising Tide Conservation program.
Tidal Twister is a great addition to the park, and it’s amazing how they fit it into the relatively small area. The future is very bright for the SeaWorld San Diego, and we can’t wait for more exciting additions on the horizon!