I’ve been working on this Ride Review for a little while now, with all the other coverage in between I was back tracked for a little bit. But finally here’s a look at California’s surprise ride. Manta at SeaWorld San Diego! This Mack ride is a wonderful family coaster, that uses state of the art technology, launches riders twice, and is surrounded by sea-life and birds. It’s one heck of a great ride!
Let’s start looking at this beauty right from the entrance to the ride. Guests will cross a bridge, that crosses over part of the track and some water effects, to then be welcomed by the coaster flying by, and a wonderful entrance/ride sign. Just to the right of the rock-work is the actual entrance to the ride. Here the wait time is posted, and a set of stairs will wind down past the ride’s splashdown effect into the next part of the queue. Queues can be boring. VERY boring. But SeaWorld knew exactly what they were doing when they designed this queue, guests pass by the track and splash effect right here, after which they’ll approach an aquarium. Though ‘passing by the track’ may not sound to exciting, the way it’s themed and positioned over the water is visually VERY pleasing. Guests will then enter the second element of the line, the ray aquarium. The ride is clearly themed after Mantas/Bat Rays, even the slogan is: ‘Ride the ray. Feel the rush!’ In addition to it being cool to see rays while you wait in line, or as you approach the station on emptier days. It’s impressive and sensational in general that there’s an aquarium as part of the queue. Perfectly foreshadowing the awesomeness that is to come. As you exit the aquarium building, it’s cool to notice that SeaWorld San Diego uses Gum Drop’s around the park, so that guests can conveniently deposit their gum rather than messing with the pavement! Once outside the aquarium building, guests will be welcomed by more of the Japanese themed buildings and scenery. The station as well as canopies in line and the multi-media tunnel-building (to the right) of Manta are inspired by Japanese architecture. And the landscaping, as well as theming is quite impressive and feels complete! Once guests enter the station, there’s 10 rows to choose from, keep in mind that there are pretty much no bad seats on Manta! Even rows are slightly elevated still offering good views, and due to the simplistic, perfect, light, and uber-comfortable trains, the ride’s forces are enjoyable from any seat. There’s an unloading station at the end of the ride. Allowing for Manta to efficiently run three trains at a time, pushing capacity. Really appreciate how they did that. In addition, with the use of the two stations, screens throughout the boarding station, and wireless headsets for communication between operators, the operations run very smoothly. Every park could benefit from such operations, maybe not Disney or Universal, but all other parks in the state could! The ride has four trains but runs three at a time. Let’s move on to the ride experience. The well themed uber-comfortable Mack trains will roll out of the station into a tunnel, making a right. The train will roll into the unique Multi-Media tunnel. The tunnel seems to be an underwater cave, which is actually a giant 360? degrees multimedia screen tunnel. The train will be rolled forward and backwards for a several times, to create a feeling of rocking with the currents below the water’s surface. Then Bat Rays (Mantas) start rapidly swerving around on the screen, the train pulls back, and the incredible SeaWorld-esque soundtrack becomes louder… After which the train speeds out with a snappy 43MPH launch. The launch continues for a tiny bit before heading into the first turn, which is an overbank, the train dives below the bridge and a show-splash-effect will simulate the Manta’s wings touching the water. This is also the biggest drop of the ride, with a drop height of 54 feet. The train will then make a sharp upwards turn around the entrance to the ride, around the rock, to then drop while transitioning into the next turn. (See image below to see the ride from above, note that the first part of the ride is closest to the point where the picture was taken). The train curves into a quick snappy airtime hill bypassing the launch. When the train nears the bottom of the hill another quick turn transitions the train into the next hill. This turn passes the ride’s station and passes over some unique Manta landscaping. This landscaping is a combination of sand mantas in blue gravel. A nice touch, and to be seen from the queue. The train will then pass over the queue, exit, and touch pools in a sustained air-time/floater hill to approach the back side of the park. There are 2 quick swings from left to right next to the pedestrian paths before the train makes a sharp turn into a magnetic break. Once the train hits the quick magnetic break, it’s almost instantly launched through its second launch. The second launch immediately throws the train into a quick left turn, that then leads into pretty steady slope. The slope has a few magnetic brakes on it as well, to slow down the train for a wonderful period of sustained airtime! The airtime is then quickly interrupted by a sharp drop twisting to the right, allowing for some crazy laterals in the back of the train. The train then enters the next twisty element, where the train goes into a hill curving right, for a quick pop of airtime before a quick lateral transition into a left banked turn down! This element is one occasionally seen on some bigger Intamin thrill rides, it’s a very fun element I’m glad Mack is using it too now. It’s a surprisingly intense element for a ‘Family Coaster’. This funky element is followed by half a helix close to the ground, that offers some good positive G’, which is then followed by a few elevated turns leading into the final break-run. These last few hops/turns are definitely not the high points of your experience on Manta, but they sure end the ride nicely. Leaving guests with the realization of why this low-to-the-ground coaster is such a different, better experience than first anticipated. Manta is an ultra-comfortable, wild, fun, and unique family coaster. Using high-tech themed elements, as well as two separate launches. It’s one of the best, well-rounded coasters out there. Before we wrap things up, there’s even more to Manta than just the ride. SeaWorld San Diego WONDERFULLY located the ride. A lot of the original layout and landscaping in the area was taken out when Manta, a relatively large footprint for the park, was built. The ride also passes by a flamingo exhibit, that’s relatively large and stretches all the way from the end of the ride’s footprint to the break-run. In addition there’s the Bat Ray exhibit that also makes for the aquarium in the line, the separate non-rider aquarium, the touch-pools, AND the areal viewing platform.
Manta, as we’ve heard from MANY readers, has surprised everyone. It feels complete, it’s fun, and one of the most underrated rides out there. Manta is one of our favorite coasters because of the comfortable experience, the perfect length (2,800 feet is considerably large for a family launch coaster), the unique multi-media tunnel and double launch, as well as the perfect mix of forces (even reaching 4 G’s) and elements for a ride that lacks in height (maximum height of the ride is 30 feet, max drop height is 54 feet).
It’s a great ride, and we advise everyone that has a chance to make a trip down south, to SeaWorld San Diego. Let’s look at some aspects of Manta, and how we’d rate each individually!
Thank you for checking out this Ride Review of Manta, one of those hidden-gem masterpieces! Manta was also featured in our ‘The 5 Best Launches in California‘ list! Check out our extensive SeaWorld San Diego park walk-through and trip report here!
Please comment your thoughts of Manta below!