Of all the attractions one can find at theme parks and amusement parks, none has quite the devoted following of the roller coaster. They fill you with joy while scaring the hell out of you. There are so many different ways to experience coasters, but there are many who make it their life’s mission to experience as many as possible, especially those that are unique. Coaster enthusiasts are going to want to plan a trip to San Diego very soon as Emperor, the park’s new floorless dive coaster, has been given an official opening date, and it’s less than two months away.
Emperor, named for the world’s largest species of penguin, will open at Sea World San Diego on March 12. When it does, the park touts that it will become the tallest, longest, and fastest dive coaster in the state of California, as well as the only one in California that uses the floorless design. Fans of Knott’s Berry Farm’s Hangtime, the other major drop coaster in the state, will want to make the trip to check this one out.
The dive coaster, for the uninitiated, contains an initial drop that is at or near perfectly vertical. You literally drop as you head straight down the track. The feeling of being in complete death defying free fall is only increased by the floorless design. There’s no place for your feet to rest, so you feel like you’re just hanging in the air as you fall.
In the case of Emperor, the fall will be 143 feet and the speeds will exceed 60 miles per hour. The track is 2,500 feet long, so there will be plenty more thrills following the drop. Sea World promises inversions, a barrel roll, a Immelmann loop, a hammerhead turn and a flat spin. Riders will sit at a 45 degree angle prior to the fall in a seating configuration that is also the first of its kind among dive coasters. Check it out
Emperor is constructed by Bolliger & Mabillard, who created the drop coaster concept. Two of their drop coasters can also be found at Busch Gardens parks (owned by Sea World) in Tampa and Williamsburg. Other notable coasters created by the company include Batman: The Ride, running at five different Six Flags parks, the Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, and most recently, the Decepticoaster at Universal Studios’ new park in Beijing, China. They also constructed the popular Dragon Challenge (Dueling Dragons) coaster at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter that was eventually replaced by the new Hagrid coaster.
Sea World has become a bigger and bigger destination for amusement park enthusiasts as the park has continued its pivot away from live animal shows. March 12 will be the day that the general public will get to check out Emperor for the first time, but there will be a special preview for annual passholders prior to the official opening. And you can still become an annual passholder now if you want that access.