Sea turtle exhibit, three new rides coming to SeaWorld San Antonio next year
SeaWorld San Antonio will open an interactive sea turtle attraction and three rides this spring, the theme park announced Thursday — marking the latest investment by SeaWorld Entertainment in the San Antonio park.
Turtle Reef will allow park guests to view green sea turtles, which the park says are rescued and unreleasable, in a 126,000-gallon coral reef-themed environment featuring an underwater viewing area, SeaWorld said Thursday.
SeaWorld will also add three new rides to the San Antonio park: Riptide Rescue, a three-armed ride that spins riders; Sea Swinger, a ride that will spin and swing riders on a pendulum; and Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, a steep multidrop tower slide at Aquatica San Antonio.
Estimates previously reported by the Express-News show that construction of the turtle attraction, Riptide Rescue and Sea Swinger will cost about $2.9 million.
In keeping with the Orlando theme park group’s renewed public focus on conservation and marine rescues, the San Antonio park is partnering with the University of Texas Marine Science Institute’s Amos Rehabilitation Keep.
The organization — which aims to rescue and rehabilitate animals including turtles, birds and tortoises found along the South Texas coast — will receive 5 percent of the profit from sales of turtle-themed merchandise, SeaWorld said.
The embattled theme park company has sought to add new rides and attractions each year in an effort to rebrand following the fallout from the 2013 documentary film “Blackfish,” which negatively depicted SeaWorld’s treatment of its captive orcas. The company has pledged $175 million to new rides, events and attractions — including the Wave Breaker roller coaster that rolled out at its San Antonio park last year.
SeaWorld and two former company officials, including former CEO James Atchison, paid more than $5 million to settle federal fraud charges. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that the company misled investors about the negative effect that “Blackfish” had on attendance and sales at the company’s parks, artificially inflating their stock price.
SeaWorld showed signs of a potential turnaround earlier this month when it posted a $22.7 million profit and a nearly 5 percent gain in attendance for the three-month period ended June 30.
Joshua Fechter is a San Antonio-based staff writer covering retail and tourism. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @JFreports