SeaWorld San Diego

Coordinates: 32°45′57″N 117°13′38″W / 32.765751°N 117.227275°W / 32.765751; -117.227275
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SeaWorld San Diego
Previously known as SeaWorld of California SeaWorld Adventure Park
Location500 Sea World Drive, San Diego, California, United States
Coordinates32°45′57″N 117°13′38″W / 32.765751°N 117.227275°W / 32.765751; -117.227275
OpenedMarch 21, 1964; 59 years ago (1964-03-21)
OwnerUnited Parks & Resorts
Operated byUnited Parks & Resorts
General managerJim Lake
ThemeOcean Adventure and Exploration
SloganReal. Amazing.
Operating seasonYear Round
Attendance4.311 million (2013)[1]
Area189 acres (76 ha)[2]
Roller coasters5
Water rides2
WebsiteSeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego is a theme park located in Mission Bay Park, San Diego, California, United States. Owned and operated by United Parks & Resorts, the park is an animal-focused marine mammal park, oceanarium, marine animal rehabilitation center, and aquarium with both indoor and outdoor aquatic exhibits.

SeaWorld San Diego is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).[3] Adjacent to the property is the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, which conducts marine biology research, provides educational and outreach programs on marine issues to the general public, and provides information on the park's animal exhibits.[4]


Previous entrance replaced by Explorer's Reef on March 21, 2014.

SeaWorld is located on San Diego's Mission Bay. SeaWorld was founded on March 21, 1964, by four graduates of the University of California, Los Angeles. Although their original idea of an underwater restaurant was not feasible at the time, the idea was shifted into a 22-acre (8.9 ha) marine zoological park along the shore of Mission Bay in San Diego. After an investment of about $1.5 million, the park opened with 45 employees, several dolphins, sea lions, and two seawater aquariums. It hosted more than 400,000 visitors in its first year of operation.[5]

SeaWorld was privately held before going public in 1968, which allowed it to expand and open new parks. The second SeaWorld location, SeaWorld Ohio, opened in 1970, followed by SeaWorld Orlando in 1973, and SeaWorld San Antonio (the largest of the parks) in 1988. The partnership later sold SeaWorld Ohio to Six Flags in January 2001.[5] Harcourt Brace Jovanovich owned the parks between 1976 and 1989, when Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. purchased them. After InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch, it sold SeaWorld San Diego and the rest of the company's theme parks to the Blackstone Group in December 2009, which operates the park through its SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment division.[2]

The land is currently leased by SeaWorld from the City of San Diego, with the lease set to expire in 2048. The premises must be used as a marine mammal park, and no other marine mammal park may be operated by SeaWorld within 560 miles (900 km) of the city limits.[2]


Aerial photo of the park from 2012.


Many of SeaWorld's shows are seasonal and may change based on the time of year.

  • Orca Encounter: a live show highlighting the park's killer whales and various aspects of their lives, biology and adaptations. Post-2015, the show focuses less on physically demanding (for the orcas) entertainment and more on showcasing the animals themselves.
  • Dolphin Adventures: another show explaining the whale and dolphin family and what inspires their keepers. It was previously named "Dolphin Days." The name change occurred after a remodeling of the stage.
  • Sea Lion and Otter Spotlight: a new educational presentation that replaces "Sea Lions Live," featuring California sea lions and Asian small-clawed otters.


Bayside Skyride[edit]

The Bayside Skyride is a gondola ride that first opened in 1967, and travels along a stretch of wire over Mission Bay. The ride features the longest span between towers of any Von Roll Skyride ever built at 925 feet (282 m). Previously an upcharge attraction, it has been free for all guests to experience since July 2011.[6]

Ocean Explorer[edit]

Ocean Explorer, designed for children, launched on May 27, 2017. It comprises four attractions: Aqua Scout, offering rides in miniature submarines; Octarock, a swinging experience; Sea Dragon Drop, a scaled-down drop tower; and Tentacle Twirl, a wave swing ride with a jellyfish theme. Additionally, this area features a 45-minute orchestral soundtrack composed by Rick McKee.

The realm originally featured Submarine Quest, an outdoor people mover-like ride with indoor segments, themed around deep sea exploration. The ride cars featured a touchscreen dashboard that contained minigames and interactions during the ride. Amid negative reviews, the ride only began to operate intermittently after the summer season, and quietly closed indefinitely in 2018 with little fanfare. SeaWorld staff initially indicated that Submarine Quest had been temporarily closed for maintenance, but by May 2018, references to the ride had been removed from SeaWorld's maps and website.[7][8][9] When the park re-opened on April 13, 2021, demolition of the ride track and show buildings began, leaving the animal enclosures intact.[10]

Riptide Rescue[edit]

Chuck's feed and seed
Chuck's feed and seed, a restaurant located in the theme park

Riptide Rescue is a Huss Airboat ride, and is aimed squarely at families. The ride features 12 gondolas themed as rescue boats, which can carry 2 passengers each. The gondolas swing around a central arm, and feature an open-top design.[11]

Rescue Jr.[edit]

Rescue Jr. is an interactive children's play area. The area originally opened in 2008 as Sesame Street's Bay of Play,[12][13] which closed in April 2023 to make way for the re-theme and refurbishment of the area.[citation needed] The re-themed area is represented by concept art available on SeaWorld San Diego's website, and is themed to Sea Rescue and aquatic sea-life. It includes three rides: Tidepool Twist, a spinning teacup attraction; Rescue Riders, an attraction in the style of Dumbo the Flying Elephant; and Rescue Rafter, a raft themed Tug Boat ride. The area also includes interactive play areas and visual theming.[14]

Shipwreck Rapids[edit]

Shipwreck Rapids is an Intamin river rapids ride themed as a shipwreck on a deserted island. In one section, riders pass by a sea turtle exhibit. There is also a section where riders go underneath a waterfall into a cavern.


Skytower is a 320-foot (98 m) Gyro tower that was built in 1968 by Sansei Yusoki.[15] The ride was refurbished in 2007 with a new capsule. The ride gives passengers a six-minute view of SeaWorld and San Diego. It rises at a rate of 150 feet per minute (46 m/min) while spinning slowly (1.02 rpm).

Tentacle Twirl[edit]

Tentacle Twirl, opened on May 31, 2017, is a Wave Swinger built by German manufacturer Zierer.[16][17]

Roller coasters[edit]

Arctic Rescue[edit]

Arctic Rescue is a Intamin launched coaster with straddle seating that opened on June 2, 2023. This family coaster features arctic theming and is the fastest and longest straddle roller coaster on the west coast of the United States. This new attraction replaced the Wild Arctic simulator ride, which closed on January 11, 2020. Arctic Rescue has 3 launches, reaching a high speed of 40 miles per hour (64 km/h), and has a track length of 2,800 feet (850 m). In addition, the ride's straddle seating imitates the feeling of riding a snowmobile.[18][19]

Electric Eel[edit]

Electric Eel at night

Opened on May 10, 2018, Electric Eel is a Sky Rocket II model by Premier Rides. Electric Eel stands at 150 feet (46 m) tall, with a track length of 853 feet (260 m) and speeds of up to 62 miles per hour (100 km/h).

Journey to Atlantis[edit]

Journey to Atlantis is a Mack Rides water coaster that was built in 2004. The ride stands at a height of 95 feet (29 m) and contains three drops and an elevator lift. In addition, the ride hits a max speed of 42 miles per hour (68 km/h).


Emperor is a Dive Coaster manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard. With a height of 153 ft, Emperor is the tallest, fastest, and longest Dive Coaster in California. The ride contains 2,500 feet (760 m) of track, an Immelmann loop that stands at a height of 143 feet (44 m) and has a 90 degree drop that reaches speeds of over 60 miles per hour (97 km/h). The ride opened on March 12, 2022.[20]


On May 26, 2012, SeaWorld San Diego opened a new mega-attraction called Manta, a Mack launched roller coaster featuring two launches LSM of up to 43 miles per hour (69 km/h) accompanied by a bat ray aquarium and touch pool. A shallow pool for touching bat rays, white sturgeons, and shovelnose guitarfish lies at the entrance of the attraction, while the two-sided underground aquarium (for riders and non-riders) can be accessed downstairs or via the queue. Manta begins with a 270 degree projected media experience at the first launch. The train rocks forward and backward in synchronization with the projected film of a coral reef and school of rays. The two-minute, 2,800-foot (850 m) long ride stands at a height of 30 feet (9.1 m) and features a drop of 54 feet (16 m). The layout is characterized by multiple turns, drops and crossovers.[21][22]

Manta roller coaster at SeaWorld San Diego

Tidal Twister[edit]

Tidal Twister was a Skywarp Horizon model by Skyline Attractions. Tidal Twister was the first Skywarp Horizon and was the second coaster manufactured by Skyline. The ride reached a top speed of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h), with a height of 22 feet (6.7 m) and a track length of 320 feet (98 m). The ride was opened on May 24, 2019.[23][24] In late July 2023, the ride was permanently shut down and was removed a few months later.[25][26]

Animal exhibits[edit]


SeaWorld San Diego has 19 aquariums. Each aquarium houses different types of aquatic animals, both fresh and saltwater.

Ocean Explorer Aquarium[edit]

This aquarium is home to marine animals including Moray eels, octopuses, and Japanese spider crabs.

Ray Aquarium[edit]

Located adjacent to Journey to Atlantis, this aquarium contains rays and fishes.

Explorer's Reef[edit]

Opened on March 21, 2014, Explorer's Reef is an attraction that contains animal attractions and structures.[27] Featuring four different touch pools, Explorer's Reef gives guests the opportunity to interact with a variety of fishes, including 400 brownbanded bamboo sharks and white-spotted bamboo sharks, and more than 4,000 cleaner fishes and horseshoe crabs.


There are three species of dolphins at SeaWorld San Diego: common dolphin hybrid, Atlantic, and Pacific bottlenose dolphins. Pacific and Atlantic short-finned pilot whales also live at Dolphin Amphitheater. The parks dolphins rotate between the Dolphin Amphitheater, Dolphin Point, and Animal Care as their needs change.

Killer whales[edit]

Kasatka performing "The Shamu Adventure".
Orca Encounter Exhibit

SeaWorld's main attraction is its collection of killer whales, eight of which are housed in San Diego in a 7 million gallon habitat. Shamu was the name of the first killer whale brought to SeaWorld San Diego in 1965. "Shamu" is now used as the character name for the costume character at the park entrance. SeaWorld San Diego ended their theatrical Killer Whale shows in San Diego in January 2017. San Diego was the first of the three SeaWorld parks to premiere "Orca Encounter," an educational presentation that gives insight into various aspects of a killer whale's life.[28]

Wild Arctic[edit]

SeaWorld's Wild Arctic is home to various species of cold water animals, including beluga whales, a walrus, and sea otters.

Seals & Sea Lions[edit]

Sea Lion & Otter Amphitheater exhibit

SeaWorld San Diego houses California sea lions in both its Sea Lion Point exhibit, as well as Sea Lion & Otter Amphitheater.


2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
4,000,000[29] 4,000,000[29] 4,260,000[29] 4,260,000[29] 4,147,000[30] 4,200,000[31] 3,800,000[32] 4,294,000[32] 4,444,000[1]
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
4,311,000[1] 3,794,000[33] 3,528,000[34] 3,528,000[35] 3,100,000[36] 2,800,000[37] 3,510,000[37]

Sesame Place (San Diego)[edit]

SeaWorld Entertainment purchased one of the Cedar Fair-owned "Knott's Soak City" water parks in late 2012. In 2013, the water park was opened as Aquatica San Diego.[2][38][39] The park is located approximately 23 mi (37 km) southeast of its sister SeaWorld park, in Chula Vista, California. The park features 26 slides. On October 21, 2019, SeaWorld Entertainment announced that Aquatica San Diego would be converted into Sesame Place, the first Sesame Place theme park on the West Coast. Aquatica San Diego closed its final season in September 2021, and was re-opened as Sesame Place San Diego on March 26, 2022. The new park retained the water park attractions from Aquatica San Diego.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "TEA/AECOM 2013 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "SeaWorld Prospectus — Form 424(b)(4)" (PDF). SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. December 12, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  3. ^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  4. ^ "Mission and Values". Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. Archived from the original on April 5, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "History of the Park". Busch Gardens. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  6. ^ "Bayside Skyride at SeaWorld San Diego Reviews & Info". Retrieved February 6, 2024.
  7. ^ Weisberg, Lori. "Why did SeaWorld mysteriously close submarine ride less than a year after it opened?". Retrieved May 16, 2021.
  8. ^ MacDonald, Brady. "SeaWorld San Diego answers critics with a slow and boring new Orca Encounter show". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 16, 2021.
  9. ^ "Test Drive: SeaWorld makeover opens with an orca splash and kid-friendly kicks". San Diego Union-Tribune. June 3, 2017. Retrieved May 16, 2021.
  10. ^ "SeaWorld San Diego Update: Electric Ocean Illuminates the Night". July 2021.
  11. ^ "Riptide Rescue at SeaWorld San Diego Reviews & Info". January 1, 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2024.
  12. ^ "SeaWorld Timeline". Busch Gardens. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  13. ^ "Sesame Street Bay of Play". SeaWorld. Archived from the original on February 27, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  14. ^ "Rescue Jr All-New Play Area". SeaWorld. Retrieved May 10, 2023.
  15. ^ Slade, Gary (May 1994). "Tower Power". Inside Track. Newark, Delaware (89): 13. ISSN 1052-1607.
  16. ^ "Tentacle Twirl".
  17. ^ "Tentacle Twirl". Coasterpedia.
  18. ^ "Arctic Rescue". RCDB. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  19. ^ "Arctic Rescue - Now Open!". SeaWorld. Retrieved May 11, 2023.
  20. ^ "Emperor". RCDB. Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  21. ^ "Sea World San Diego To Open New Roller Coaster Next Year". The Beverly Hills Courier. February 9, 2011. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  22. ^ MacDonald, Brady (February 9, 2011). "SeaWorld San Diego to add Manta coaster in 2012". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  23. ^ "Tidal Twister". SeaWorld. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  24. ^ "Tidal Twister". Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  25. ^ "Tidal Twister - SeaWorld San Diego (San Diego, California, United States)". Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  26. ^ James, Chloe (July 20, 2023). "Roller Coaster "Tore Itself Apart," SeaWorld Allegedly Closes It for Good". Inside the Magic. Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  27. ^ "Explorer's Reef". SeaWorld. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  28. ^ Weisberg, Lori (January 6, 2017). "SeaWorld bids farewell Sunday to Shamu show". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  29. ^ a b c d "Theme Park Attendance". Coaster Grotto. 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
  30. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2008 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2008. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  31. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2009 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 2, 2010. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  32. ^ a b "TEA/AECOM 2011 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 18, 2015. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  33. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2014 Global Attractions Attendance Report Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.[dead link]
  34. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2015 Global Attractions Attendance Report Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  35. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2016 Global Attractions Attendance Report Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2016. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  36. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2017 Global Attractions Attendance Report Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2017. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  37. ^ a b "Seaworld California attendance 2022".
  38. ^ Grieco, Sarah (November 21, 2012). "SeaWorld Acquires Knott's Soak City". KNSD News. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
  39. ^ Garcia, Jason (November 20, 2012). "SeaWorld buys California water park, plans 3rd Aquatica". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
  40. ^ Freeman, Mike (October 21, 2019). "SeaWorld plans a new Sesame Place theme park in Chula Vista". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved January 4, 2021.

External links[edit]