Image via linotika | Instagram
With the busy summer season now behind us, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment is looking ahead to 2019.
New attractions range from a full Sesame Street-themed land at SeaWorld Orlando to a new swing ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg to a Premier Rides Skyrocket II coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa, with a Skywarp Horizon coaster likely to be announced for SeaWorld San Diego in the coming weeks.
With two new coasters, a massive kids land, and a new swing thrill ride all confirmed by the still struggling theme park company, one might think SeaWorld is planning to add lower-budget rides in the coming years, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Theme park news site WildGravity Travels
leaked new details on what the SeaWorld has in the works through 2020. The blog post claims that the information comes from sources familiar with SeaWorld's plans and that the site "can only speculate" regarding some of the details.
Image via Busch Gardens Tampa
Multiple sources have independently confirmed to Orlando Weekly
that the details found within the WildGravity Travels post are nearly identical to ones shared in an internal marketing presentation that took place at SeaWorld just ahead of the Busch Gardens Tampa 2019 media event, where new coaster Tigris
The blog post begins with a look at the Busch Gardens Tampa, where SeaWorld officials have strongly hinted
at Rocky Mountain Construction bringing a new wood-steel hybrid to the park, using some features of the Gwazi coaster that is currently standing but not operating. The blog post notes that a picture showing the 2020 plans include a photo of the recently opened RMC Steel Vengeance hybrid coaster. However, it's unclear what picture the blog post is referring to.
Sources familiar with the marketing presentation have privately confirmed that a photo of Steel Vengeance was used in that meeting to discuss the yet to be announced 2020 plans for Busch Gardens Tampa. The current timeline calls for the new BGT coaster to open around April 2020.
Image via Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Finnegan's Fl.yers at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Opening in 2019
At Busch Gardens Williamsburg, a new eight-story-tall Screamin' Swing, known as Finnegan's Flyer
, has been confirmed for 2019, along with a new water coaster next door at Water Country USA. The 2020 plans call for a family thrill coaster that will have multiple launches and will be visible from the bridge in the Italy section of the park. If the speed posted by WildGravity Travels, 76 mph, is correct, this would be the fastest coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It should open by the summer of 2020.
In Texas, the supposed 2020 plans call for the longest wooden coaster in the state. Few details of what exactly the coaster will feature have been confirmed, since the attraction is still in early development. It is unclear what design firm will be awarded the contract for the new ride. Previous rumors
have pointed to a new turtle-themed area with an updated version of Turtle Trek. While not explicitly mentioned in the WildGravity Travels post, the new wooden coaster may be a part of this new area of the park that, according to recently published government documents, will also include two carnival-style flat rides.
An artist's rendering released by SeaWorld of the proposed Blue World orca habitat
Also not mentioned in the blog post is what SeaWorld may be looking to do at Aquatica San Antonio. That park is thought to be getting an update that might cause one or more attractions in it to close, with at least one animal habitat within the park also closing.
An expanded and updated orca habitat may also be in the works, according to theme park news site Behind the Thrills.
While that site had initially said this expansion would be the previously announced Blue World Project, in a more recent blog post
, they seemed to walk back those claims, only stating that the San Antonio park would be getting an expansion to the orca stadium and more pools for the orcas. Once finished, one possibility may include SeaWorld moving some of the orcas found at other parks to the newly expanded SeaWorld San Antonio pools.
The blog post where Behind the Thrills laid out these plans also includes many of the details WildGravity Travels had first reported on. Despite being filled with numerous yet to be announced projects, the Behind the Thrills post was shared by SeaWorld's official Twitter account
with the account stating, "Yep, you could say that we’re ready to knock your socks off. Stay tuned for even more exciting park updates!" It is unclear if SeaWorld is confirming all of the projects mentioned in the article, or if they're merely sharing a fan's hope for the future.
Despite being asked
for clarification, SeaWorld has yet to reply.
Image via Ken Storey
A Skywarp Horizon model on display at Skyline's booth at the 2017 IAAPA IAE
While no details of the 2020 plans for SeaWorld San Diego have been shared, we are seeing more information
regarding the Skyline's Skywarp Horizon coaster highly rumored to be heading to the park in 2019. WildGravity Travels notes that their "source" stated that the 2019 attraction will have an "infinity loop track with an airtime hill and an inversion element." That description is practically a direct quote from Skyline's own description of the Skywarp Horizon coaster. Locally based tourism news site Orlando Park Pass confirms
that this yet-to-be-announced coaster will interact with a highly themed area filled with rockwork and water features similar to those found at Disney Springs.
Image via SeaWorld San Antonio
Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster at SeaWorld San Antonio
Last, yet another new coaster seems to be in the works for SeaWorld Orlando. Featuring airtime and over-banked turns, this coaster still looks very much like a work in progress, with the location within the park yet to be decided.
Behind the Thrills mentions that the new coaster may be similar to San Antonio's new Sea Rescue-themed Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster
roller coaster. That coaster uses jet ski-like ride vehicles and stretches across the park's lake. In Orlando, most of the lake sits unused except for sidewalks along the shoreline. The new coaster in Orlando could race across the lake just like in San Antonio, or it could be located in another section of the park, possibly in the Key West area, where the dolphin habitat is currently being upgraded. Most of the details for this attraction have yet to be determined.
A new orca show is also rumored for SeaWorld Orlando, though WildGravity Travels does not mention this in their attraction focused blog post.
Image via Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Water Country USA's 2019 water coaster
The water coaster
headed to Virginia's Water Country USA is also rumored to be heading
to Aquatica Orlando.
According to Behind the Thrills it will be located in the area between the two wave pools. This would make the new slide visible from International Drive, which runs along the western edge of the water park.
There are three parks that seem to have no new plans in the works. Sesame Place in Pennsylvania received a new Oscar the Grouch-themed wooden coaster this year. It's likely that at least a few of the Sesame Street-themed carnival flat rides planned for SeaWorld Orlando's upcoming Sesame Street land will also be added to Sesame Place. A dark ride rumored for the Orlando
land may also eventually make its way to the Pennsylvania park.
Tampa's Adventure Island water park received a new trapdoor-style drop water slide
, so a new attraction for that park might not be in the works for at least a couple of years. That leaves Aquatica San Diego as the only SeaWorld park left with no details on what the future may entail. With so little focus on this water park, some are wondering if SeaWorld even plans to keep the park open in the coming years. It's no secret that the park has struggled even more than the SeaWorld-branded parks to gain its foothold since the company purchased the park
from Cedar Fair in 2012.
SeaWorld seems serious about adding major new rides to almost all of their parks in the coming two years but before any of the 2019 and 2020 projects do open the company hopefully can get Orlando's Infinity Falls ride open. That family raft ride was supposed to open
in "Summer 2018." The last day of summer is this Saturday, Sept. 22. It seems highly unlikely the ride will open before then.
Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.