Sea World San Diego has kept their promise and announced a major new attraction for the park's 2012 season, Manta. Describing it as a "mega-attraction," the new roller coaster will "seamlessly transition guests from the awe of watching rays in underwater flight into the sensation of actually being one."
Passengers aboard Manta will glide and fly through more than a dozen twists and turns, and at one point the manta themed trains' wings will skim the waves. Manta will feature a unique launch station that takes place inside a tunnel that will have "larger-than-life images of rays projected on a 270 degree enveloping screen." The launch section will enhance the sensation of acceleration as the trains takes off, and will be the first of its kind in the U.S.
Manta is being designed and built by Mack engineering of Germany. It will use two LSM launch systems to send trains up to 43 miles per hour over the 2,835 feet of track. It will have four trains, each seating 20 individuals and a family friendly 48 inch height requirement. The ride's maximum height is only 30 feet, but will drop a maximum of 54 feet along the course.
Sea World San Diego has released a preview of the ride which is available on YouTube.
Manta will part of a larger development, much like the similarly themed coaster at Sea World Orlando. Guests will be able to explore Forbidden Reef, an existing attraction, that will contain "65 bat rays, 10 guitar fish, and hundreds of other fishes." There will be underwater viewing areas, along with an above ground area in which guests can interact with the rays.
Construction on the expansion is set to start next month, with a planned opening in 2012.