Sunday, June 16, 2024

SeaWorld and Busch Gardens showcase 2020 attractions at IAAPA Expo 2019

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment shared ride car designs and new details on many of the company’s new attractions on opening day of the 2019 IAAPA Expo, the attractions industry’s premier trade show and conference hosting more than 38,000 industry professionals from around the world in Orlando this week. 

SeaWorld Orlando and San Antonio, and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Williamsburg revealed the lead ride car design and details on their new park attractions, while SeaWorld San Diego announced the name of its thrilling 2020 attraction is Emperor. 

SeaWorld’s Rescue Teams have come to the aid of over 36,000 animals in need, always with the goal of returning them to the wild. As one of the world’s largest animal rescue and rehabilitation organizations, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s mission is to inspire guests to learn about and protect animals and their habitats through creates exciting, meaningful and memorable experiences.  True to the company’s Park to Planet mission, many of the park’s new attractions will incorporate partnership with conservation organizations, connecting guests to real-world efforts to protect and conserve species worldwide.  

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay/Rocky Mountain Construction: Booth #4006

Iron Gwazi – Opening Spring 2020

A new legend is surfacing in 2020 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay with the evolution of Iron Gwazi™, North America’s tallest hybrid coaster and the fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in the world. Manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction, Iron Gwazi will be 206 feet tall, feature a 91-degree drop, and reach top speeds of 76 miles per hour. The journey will include 3 inversions and 12 airtime moments as it races along more than 4,075 feet of purple steel track. With a 48” height requirement, Iron Gwazi will be an exciting thrill attraction that families can take on together.

While elements of the former wooden attraction will be integrated into the new ride, the steel track and reimagined layout of Iron Gwazi present an entirely unique experience that tells a different story. Iron Gwazi will highlight the best of both worlds — the classic nostalgia of a wooden coaster and the bold innovation of a steel coaster. Thriving and adapting over millions of years, this evolutionary crossroad is perfectly represented in the crocodile, the largest living reptile and the animal inspiration for Iron Gwazi.

Iron Gwazi Fast Facts

Opening Date: Spring 2020

Maximum Height: 206 feet

Maximum Speed: 76 mph

Drop Angle: 91 degrees

Track Length Travelled: 4,075 feet

Number of Trains: two

Number of Riders per Train: 24

Minimum Rider Height: 48 inches

Ride Elements: 12 airtime features, including three inversions

Manufacturer: Rocky Mountain Construction

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

SeaWorld San Antonio/Great Coasters International, Inc. Booth #2273

Texas Stingray – Opening Spring 2020

SeaWorld San Antonio has announced exciting details about Texas Stingray; the tallest, fastest and longest wooden roller coaster in the state of Texas.  This record-breaking coaster, which will reach a top speed of 55 mph, includes a breathtaking hundred-foot drop and a sensory-bending hundred-foot long tunnel.  Texas Stingray marks a major addition to SeaWorld San Antonio’s gravity-defying roller coaster portfolio with five unique coaster experiences.

Texas Stingray Fast Facts

Opening Date:  Spring 2020

Type of Ride:  Wooden roller coaster, the tallest, fastest and longest in Texas

Special Features:  57-degree first drop and 76 degree high turns

Ride Length:  3,379 feet of track

Drop Height:  100-foot drop

Maximum Speed:  55 mph

Maximum Height:  96 feet

Tunnel:  100 feet

Airtime Hills:  16 airtime hills

Minimum Rider Height:  46 inches

Ride Duration:  More than two minutes

Ride Manufacturer:  Great Coasters International (GCI)

SeaWorld San Antonio

SeaWorld Orlando /Premier:  Booth #5100

Ice Breaker™ – Opening Spring 2020

Making its debut in spring 2020, riders will shiver through family friendly adventures on SeaWorld Orlando’s first launch coaster: Ice Breaker™. Named after the icy Arctic summits, Ice Breaker will feature four launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida — a 93-foot tall spike with 100-degree angle.

Located near the Wild Arctic Attraction, the ride’s theme is reflective of this area with a nod to Ice Breaker’s conservation partner, Alaska SeaLife Center. Primarily dedicated to marine research, education and wildlife response, the Alaska SeaLife Center mission matches closely to SeaWorld Orlando’s, making them an ideal partner to help educate riders about the Artic and its inhabitants.

The opening of Ice Breaker is the perfect addition to SeaWorld’s ever-growing ride portfolio, and its 48-inch rider height makes it a family friendly thrill ride.   From the roller coaster thrills of Mako, Manta and Kraken, to the water rapids of Infinity Falls and the flume fun of Journey to Atlantis, Ice Breaker joins the park’s famed attractions as a must-do experience in Orlando.

Ice Breaker Fast Facts

Special Features: SeaWorld Orlando’s first launch coaster and a quadruple launch coaster.  Experience a reverse launch into the “steepest beyond vertical drop,” a 93” tall spike with 100 degree angle.

Maximum Height

Rear Spike:          93 ft.

Top Hat:               80 ft.

Length of Track

Track length:      1900 ft.

Track traveled    2750 ft.

Maximum Speed:            52 mph

Ride Duration:                  80-90 seconds

Number of trains:              two

Number of coaches:          three per train, with three rows per coach

Minimum rider height:    48 inches

Manufacturer:  Premier Rides

Busch Gardens Williamsburg/Intamin: Booth #3424

Pantheon® – Opening Spring 2020

Busch Gardens Williamsburg has announced that the fastest multi-launch coaster in the world is coming to the park in spring 2020.  Pantheon® features four launches, reaching a top speed of 73 mph.

Located in the park’s Festa Italia village, Pantheon combines the might of five Roman gods in one record-breaking display of strength, speed and power, including forward and backward launches, two inversions and a 95-degree drop.  The Gods reinforce the theming of the new coaster and illustrate some of the thrilling elements for brave riders. 

Pantheon Fast Facts

Opening Date:  Spring 2020

Type of Ride:  Fastest multi-launch coaster in the world

Special Features:             95⁰ drop

Two inversions

Four launches:

Launch 1 speed: 36 mph

Launch 2 speed: 50 mph

Launch 2 speed (backward): 61 mph

Launch 3 speed: 67 mph

Track Length:  3,328 feet

Maximum Speed:  73 mph

Maximum Height:  180 feet

Ride Duration:  Two minutes

Seats/Train:  two trains, 20 riders per train

Manufacturer:  Intamin Worldwide

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

SeaWorld San Diego/Bolliger & Mabillard:  Booth #4869

Emperor Opening Summer 2020

SeaWorld San Diego has revealed the name of its record-breaking dive coaster is Emperor, opening insummer 2020.  This new roller coaster will be the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in California, as well as the only floorless dive coaster in the state.  

Climbing to 153 feet with their feet dangling in the air, riders will be suspended on a 45-degree angle at the crown of the ride before plunging down a 143-foot facedown vertical drop accelerating to more than 60 miles per hour.

Riders will also experience inversions, a barrel roll, an Immelmann loop,  a hammerhead turn and flat spin as they race along the nearly 2,500 feet of track. Each of the floorless ride cars will hold 18 riders in three, six-person rows. The coaster will be located adjacent to Journey to Atlantis in the southeast corner of the park.

Emperor is named after the emperor penguin colony at SeaWorld San Diego, which was the world’s first zoological facility and the first place outside of Antarctica to successful breed, hatch and raise emperor penguin chicks. Twenty-three emperor penguins chicks have been hatched and raised at SeaWorld San Diego since 1979.

Emperor Fast Facts

Opening Date:  Summer 2020

Type of Ride:  Tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in California

Special Features:   143-foot facedown vertical drop



Barrel roll

Flat spin


Highly banked turns

Track Length:  2,411 feet

Maximum Speed: more than 60 mph

Maximum Height:  153 feet

Seats/Train:  Floorless ride car, 18 riders per car, 6-person rows, 3-rows per car – the first seating configuration of its kind in North America.

Manufacturer:  Bolliger & Mabillard

SeaWorld San Diego

Adventure Island, Tampa Bay/Whitewater: Booth #2250

Solar Vortex™ – Opening Spring 2020

Adventure Island, Tampa Bay introduces Solar Vortex™, America’s first dual-tailspin water slide.  This thrilling family raft slide combines high-banking rotations and rapid descents, sending sliders on a swirling journey through two open tailspin features.

Manufactured by Whitewater, Solar Vortex will also include three dynamic AquaLucent™ elements — harnessing the power of the Florida sun into colorful patterns that shine through the slide as riders reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.  

Solar Vortex Fast Facts

Opening Date: Spring 2020

Slide Type: 2-4 person raft slide

Slide Height: 55 feet

Minimum Rider Height: 42”

Maximum Speed: 20 mph

Minimum Rider Height: 42inches

Slide Elements: high-banking rotations, rapid descents, two tailspin features and three dynamic AquaLucent™ elements

Manufacturer: Whitewater

Aquatica San Antonio /Whitewater Booth # 2250

Tonga Twister – Opening Spring 2020

Coming to Aquatica San Antonio in 2020 is Tonga Twister, two thrilling, heart pounding body slides, each with distinct twists and runs. Tonga Twister features AquaLucent™ tubes that create special effect lighting patterns, giving the rider an electrifying light show.  Riders plummet and slide from a height of over 50 feet and navigate 415 feet of twists and turns before splashing down into a refreshing pool. 

High-energy music piped into the tubes will elevate the excitement and fun.

Tonga Twister Fun Facts

Opening Date:  Spring 2020

Type of Ride:  Body Slide

Maximum Height: 51 feet

Length: 365 linear feet per slide

Minimum Rider Height:  48”

Key Features:

Custom AquaLucent™ effects throughout each slide

Music/Audio throughout each slide

Manufacturer: Whitewater

Aquatica Orlando /Proslide: Booth # 2035

Riptide Race – Opening Spring 2020

Aquatica Orlando, voted Orlando’s No. 1 waterpark, is racing into 2020 with a one-of-a-kind new park attraction that will thrill park-goers—Florida’s first-ever dueling water slide, Riptide Race.

Starting atop a 68-foot tower, riders will be able to grab a raft and take their mark in side-by-side racing lanes at top speeds. Each raft holds a team of two, so every rider will have a partner as they plunge toward a hopeful victory. Riptide Race rafts feature low walls to ensure full view of the competition. Dueling face-to-face, racers will navigate tight loops and accelerations through indoor and outdoor sections.

Riptide Race Fast Facts

Opening Date: Spring 2020

Type of Ride: Dueling pipeline

Maximum Height: 68 feet

Minimum Rider Height: 42” (under 48” must have a supervising companion)

Length: 600 linear feet per slide

Key Features: Three racing pipeline sections

Manufacturer: Proslide

Also New to SeaWorld Parks:

Sesame Place® San Diego to Open Spring 2021

SeaWorld Entertainment and Sesame Workshop recently announced the location of a new Sesame Place® theme park, opening in San Diego in spring 2021.  It will be the second Sesame Place in the United States and the first one on the West Coast.

Sesame Place San Diego will feature all the fun, laughter, and learning of Sesame Street in a highly immersive way, with exciting family rides, water slides, live character shows, parades and interactive experiences that will extend the laughter and learning of Sesame Street. The original Sesame Place, currently the only U.S. theme park based entirely on the iconic children’s program, opened outside Philadelphia in July 1980 and has been a premier destination for families countrywide for nearly 40 years. 

Sesame Place San Diego will open as a Certified Autism Center (CAC), mirroring its Philadelphia sister park, which was the first theme park in the world to achieve this designation. Staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training will be completed prior to the park’s debut, and robust pre-visit planning resources, including a park-specific sensory guide will be featured on its website, making it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations. Designated quiet spaces with adjustable lighting and comfortable seating will be incorporated into the park’s design.

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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