SeaWorld names new dive coaster after emperor penguin

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SeaWorld San Diego announced Tuesday that its “dive” roller coaster, which is scheduled to open next year, will be called “Emperor” in honor of a penguin species known for exceptional underwater diving ability. (Credit: SeaWorld San Diego)

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SAN DIEGO — SeaWorld San Diego announced Tuesday that its “dive” roller coaster, which is scheduled to open next year, will be called “Emperor” in honor of a penguin species known for exceptional underwater diving ability.

SeaWorld first announced plans to build the ride in January in an area adjacent to the Journey to Atlantis attraction that has previously been a parking lot. Construction on the ride, advertised as the tallest, fastest and longest such coaster in the state, began in August.

The coaster will climb 153 feet before plunging back down 143 feet while reaching speeds of more than 60 mph, according to SeaWorld officials. The ride will include nearly 2,500 feet of track and “floorless” cars that will hold 18 riders in three six-person rows.

The park originally announced that the ride would be named “Mako” after the endangered shark species, which is considered the fastest shark in the world. Park officials said the new name would reflect the ability of emperor penguins to dive to depths of 1,800 feet in the waters of their native Antarctica.

“There will be no other coaster experience like this in California,” SeaWorld San Diego Park President Marilyn Hannes said. “Emperor will both thrill our coaster enthusiasts and also serve as an attraction that educates guests about the importance of animal and conservation issues.”

The ride will also feature penguin conservation and awareness elements through a partnership with Penguins International. SeaWorld will donate partial proceeds of all penguin merchandise at the ride’s retail store to Penguins International.

“We are excited to enter into this partnership with SeaWorld,” Penguins International President David Schutt said. “It’s an amazing opportunity that will help advance our penguin conservation programs at several high-priority sites and our public awareness campaigns that highlight the threats penguins face in today’s world.”

The ride is being built by Swiss roller coaster manufacturer Bolliger and Mabillard. The company has built four other roller coasters for SeaWorld since 1997, one in San Antonio and the other three at SeaWorld Orlando.

The new ride is scheduled to open next summer.

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