Manta San Diego is a family coaster with bite. It looks tame at first glance, beautiful but tranquil. Climb on and you'll find this swooping ray is a bit of a daredevil. She turns on her side 90 degrees not once but twice, and briefly powers on positive Gs. The airtime is next, both sudden pops and floaty weightlessness. There are twisties too, including one that delivers a delightfully surprising lateral hop.
This isn't Maverick, but calling it Maverick for kids as my teen son did feels right. We visited earlier today for passholder previews, managing four rides in comfy seats all over the train. That sled is marvelous, open and airy, with soft over-the-shoulder lap bars. Simply brilliant!
The Manta site is still in disarray. Sea World staff and construction tradesmen were working furiously on the landscaping,pathways and queue. The gift shop isn't complete; the rider photo monitors still not in place. The aquarium tanks look a little barren. Supposedly all will be complete and tidy for Saturday morning's grand opening. I believe it. Give it a few more weeks. It should be a stunner by then, the complete package.
Sea World San Diego could have settled for much less given the park's well-documented struggles with red tape and NIMBYISM. They've done an amazing job within the constraints.
There are a few hiccups that might not be cured through ongoing test and adjust. Manta is not friendly to those of larger girth. Those of big bellies were failed one after the other when their restraints could not lock, a scene straight from El Toro's unforgiving platform. Unsurprisingly, loose articles were a constant problem. The ride crew is earnest and well meaning, but clearly unpracticed. They'll get better.
Thematically, that large and no doubt expensive tubular projection screen and its movie were flooded with light. There's nothing masking the tunnel exit. To us, the projections look washed out. Ultimately, it signifies little. The ride is the thing. Manta isn't big, won't cause your eyeballs to fill with tears due to shrieking speed, nor will it flip riders head over heels. It is fun, a journey that generates whoops of delight and laughs of joy.
Come try it! As for my son and I, we're thrilled our hometown finally has major steel. It isn't a white-knuckle thrill killer, but it's ours and oozes personality and quirky individualism. We love it.