Kami Huyse was kind enough to invite me to the media day event today at Sea World, San Antonio as a “press/blogger”, I guess. It’s great that Kami reached out to the blogging community. I met people from the local ACE chapter as well. Man, they love roller coasters!
I took almost 3GB of video. I thought I would be able to post it here today, but my recently repaired digital camcorder just didn’t work (and it wasn’t just me – even my teenagers couldn’t get it to work this evening!). So no video. But you can go to this site – they’ll have video up from the days events soon enough.
It was the first time I met Kami, even though we have emailed, commented on each other’s blogs, and spoken on the phone many times. Until today, Kami was an ifriend. Now we’ve met, and she’s a friend.
Before I describe the ride, I want to thank Sea World for providing a very pleasant experience – every time I asked, “Can I stand over there?”, even if it was inside the ropes or barricades, they said, “Sure”. Every question I had was answered by some friendly park employee – including a security guard who heard me mumble to myself, “I wonder where the bathroom is?”. He perked right up and told me. Smiling the whole time.
But my favorite Sea World employee I met today? I don’t know her name. She drove the shuttle bus that took us from our cars to the event at the park. She was an amazing source of information and inspiration about Sea World, San Antonio. She went out of her way to make sure we were comfortable, and informed. She took us on a tour of the private part of the park. She was the best ambassador Sea World could hope to have. Her honest love of the park was hard to dismiss. She actually bubbled when talking with pride on how they were all taught to go way beyond the line of duty to make a guest comfortable. She was extremely proud of this, and it was a pleasure talking to someone in the “service industry” that wasn’t bitching about their jobs for a change. This girl loves her job, is proud of what she does, and is a wonderful example of the spirit I met from all of the staff at Sea World today.
As for the ride itself – the Seaworld links above have all the specs. I’ll just tell you my thoughts on it.
First, as I posted yesterday, I have a shoulder that has been hurting – so I wasn’t really sure I could handle the ride without sobbing in pain. (Ask Kami, she knows)!
After deciding to ride (after realizing this ride wouldn’t further damage me), I got in a “boat”. The boats hold 16 passengers, in four rows of four. They are not roller coaster cars really. Or boats, really. They are a hybrid.
There were only two others on the 16 person ride with me.
The initial climb rises up to a scenic point where it turns you from front-facing to rear-facing. The view of the San Antonio skyline in one direction, and the foothills of the Texas Hill Country in the other (not to mention the rest of the park) is spectacular.
Finally, you slide backwards down a slight slope, and then up to the highest point of the ride. This is my second-favorite part of the ride. Once you reach the highest point you actually spin over 360 degrees, affording a wonderful view of all I love about living in San Antonio – the access to everything a big city has to offer, and the refuge of the Hill Country, just tens of minutes away.
At the end of the rotation, you are once again facing forward – and looking (what seems to be) straight down. Into tracks that disappear briefly into a covered bridge, and eventually into a lake! You take this drop from the highest point of the ride, to the lake in just a couple seconds – yet this isn’t a fearful ride at all – it isn’t a “scare the crap out of you coaster”. If you have a fear of coasters then this is the one you should ride. It is enjoyable, offers wonderful views, and has a very low “fear factor”. It’s just fun. Especially on a hot day.
Which brings me to my favorite part of the ride – Splashdown! The “boats” have built in water scoops that funnel the water into two huge blasts shooting out of the tail – one aimed into the lake, and the other aimed at the spectators watching along the lake.
The kids (a lot of school children there today, as usual) were having blast getting hit by the cool water. Even though the ride wasn’t open to the general public (it will be tomorrow) Sea World found a wonderful way to involve the rest of their guests. Watching the kids laugh, and run, and try not to get wet, then try desperately to get wet – THAT was my favorite part of the ride. I can still hear them laughing, and fake-screaming. It makes me smile.
Oh – and I did get a little wet – maybe 20% of me (I was in jeans and a golf shirt). I was dry fifteen minutes later. I did sit in one of the middle seats – the more dry ones. But getting wet is part of the fun of Sea World!
I think this new addition to the park will enable a lot more people to enjoy roller coasters. This one isn’t a bumpy ride, it doesn’t pull too many G’s, and it offers much more than the thrill and speed of a traditional coaster. It offers wonderful views, and a refreshing spray of cool water at the end.