Kiss me hard Before You go, Summertime Sadness (SeaWorld San Antonio)

Saturday, September 7, 2013 4:07 PM

Sea World San Antonio
Labor Day Weekend 2013

I've been looking forward to San Antonio for quite a while, and I’m glad I waited and did a few days there instead of a quick drive-by for the roller coasters. San Antonio delivered. It was beautiful, the people were friendly, and I could pick up and move there right now. I’ve never really felt that way about a city upon first visit before, it was amazing. It just felt ‘right’. But alas, I have no plans on moving from the Charlotte area at this time.

I was supposed to do San Antonio 2 years ago when I did Dallas, but it’s a great thing I didn’t. This trip started for me at about 3:30 am on a Friday morning. I got up, got ready, and had my Sister in Law drive me to the airport in Charlotte to catch my 6:20 am flight. Even if it isn’t as glamorous as it once was, I still love flying. I always try to schedule flights early to get thru security early, then lounge at the airport. Plus, I’m starting to learn which security checkpoints at CLT aren’t as busy, so I walked right thru security upon arrival.

The flight from CLT to IAH (that’s Houston for those of you that don’t know what Google is ;-) ) was uneventful and I tried to sleep most of the time. We got in later than we were supposed to, but that was okay since I had a 90 minute layover in Houston. I boarded the next plane to SAT which was thankfully a little more turbulent, but it ended up landing later due to another plane that didn’t take off on time, so we circled around San Antonio for a bit. Then it took forever to Taxi because our gate got switched. Oh well.

Ed picked me up the airport and we headed directly to Sea World to meet Joe and Hannah. The park wasn’t very busy. This would be my first Sea World park. One complaint. Well, really, two. I had a coupon from an App on my phone that was supposed to get me in for the kid’s price. When we got there, though, Ed had a platinum pass for Busch Parks, which enables him to buy discount tickets for friends (among many other perks). So we went to get my ticket and the girl at the counter told him he could only buy discounted tickets for himself. We both tried to explain that he didn’t need a ticket, that he had a season pass that allowed him access to the park. She kind of argued. So I then showed her my coupon, and she said she couldn’t accept coupons on my phone (Shame on the App for that, I guess).

She talked to someone else, and they couldn’t give her a straight answer, so she called for someone to come. I could have waited but I was frustrated that the person at the ticket booth obviously didn’t know the policy. And the policy clearly states on the website “As a Platinum Pass Member, you receive special admission pricing for your friends and family”. Oh well. I ended up paying $70 for a few hours at Sea World. I could have waited, but it was already hot and I just wanted to get in the park.

We headed over towards the stadium hosting One Ocean, the current show featuring Shamu and the other Orca. We met Joe on the way there. One Ocean was a decent show. I took lots of pictures of the whales. There were plenty of people there to see it. We did get a little wet, even though we tried not to be in the splash zone.

After One Ocean we headed to the rapids ride, Rio Loco. It got us fairly wet, but was a rather unmemorable rapids ride that could use much more theming. Once we were done with that, though, it was time to ride some roller coasters, so we headed to the closest one.

Great White-Another city, another Batman clone. This one was really smooth and pretty forceful. One of the few that are mirrored from the original, and the first of 2 I’d be riding over the weekend. I enjoyed it, but there’s really just not a lot to say about something that I’ve ridden at 6 other parks before (and was going to ride at another park before the weekend was up).

Next up we stopped in Penguin Plaza to take a look at all the birds. It was cool in the building, but smelled of fish. The smell was pretty bad, actually. Then we looked at the Puffins as well. And then, finally, the one coaster I was looking forward to at Sea World.

Steel Eel-We got in the back car for this one. I’d heard great things, and let me tell you, I think Steel Eel is highly underrated. It was a great ride. Very forceful in the back, there was decent ejector air on all of the hills. The first drop was amazing, and there was a crunch on the bottom of every hill. Plus, aside from the mid course brake run, there was no trimming as is common on Morgan hyper coasters. I immediately loved it. When we got to the station, no one was in line, so we all moved back a seat and took another amazing ride. Then, when we got back to the station again, we made our way around the queue again for a front seat ride. In the front, Steel Eel has really great floater air, and less crunch at the bottom of the hills. Still very good, and I wish this ride was in a park that was closer to home and offered something more in terms of rides.

We headed over and watched the Sea Lions a bit. Hanna got some fish to feed them. I wish I’d had my camera, but we put all of our personal items away since we were riding water rides. After that we headed over to Journey to Atlantis to get spritzed once again before picking up our wallets and electronics.

Journey to Atlantis-I’m counting it as a coaster, but just barely. I mean, the theming that they do have around the ride is nice, but it’s not much more than an over grown shoot-the-chutes. The backwards drop was kinda fun, and the big final drop was fun for a flume type ride, but it’s sad that they didn’t invest nearly as much in this version of the ride as they did in Orlando or San Diego. Oh well, mark another one off the credit list.

We got our stuff out of our lockers and walked back around the park some more. We stopped back by the penguin building to take pictures and see a little of the show, as well as cool off. Ed, Hannah, and I got a quick 2 laps on the Shamu Express coaster (one of 2 clones of this ride we’d ride this weekend), as Joe sat it out. Then we had a quick bite in the shade before catching the last 10 or 15 minutes of Azul, another show that looked really good, but alas, this was the last showing of the day.

We wanted to see the sharks, so we walked all the way over to that section towards the front. We stopped and watched dolphins for a few minutes on the way. At this point Ed was pretty much done for the day, so we headed out to his car so I could get my stuff and put it in Joe’s car. I headed back in to the park and we went over to watch One Ocean again for it’s last show of the day.

After One Ocean again we headed out. Sea World San Antonio was a nice, if small and oddly laid out, park. It’s very quiet. There isn’t music blasting everywhere. Plus, we were there on a very dead day, which was nice, as there were not real waits for anything. As nice as the park is, I can’t say I’d rush to come back. It just seems like of all three Sea World parks, this one is the most neglected. It’s still very nice and very clean, though.

So Joe drove me to my motel by the airport. Eventually Matt Shoe showed up, and after an hour of waiting for a shuttle that wasn’t running, Joe picked him up and brought him to the motel to drop his stuff off before we headed to River Walk. River Walk was awesome! We walked around a bit then grabbed a late dinner and drinks at Rita’s on the River. Eventually Ed, Bill, and Jill caught up with us. Finally, though, the nite came to a close, and Joe dropped Matt and I back at the hotel for some much needed sleep.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013 7:23 PM

Steel Eel is an excellent ride. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the San Antonio Sea World is the newest of the Sea Worlds, so it does have some catching up to do. From what I saw they have PLENTY of growing room on their property. Did you get to visit Six Flags Fiesta Texas while you were in San Antonio, or are you saving that park for a future visit?

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Saturday, September 7, 2013 7:40 PM

That sounds like a big day, and fun.

A couple/three years ago I did my first Sea World park in Orlando. I always worried it would be a waste of time for me to go, as the parks aren't what one would consider ride heavy. I also happen to think the best environment for fish is on my plate, so I had little interest in trained ones. I never even went to the one in Ohio- I couldn't keep from turning into Geauga's lot. Anyway, I was so pleasantly surprised by what a good time I had. The place was beautiful, theming was clever and well done, and I loved the shows. The rides were good, too.

And that wasnt fish you smelled, penguins always stink to high heaven no matter where you see them, or how nice an exhibit they stay in. I'm not sure why that would be. (Maybe it's fish farts) Anyway, I was shocked to hear that a restaurant was planned for the new penguin encounter in Orlando. I can't imagine they could do anything to the place that would allow you to eat something in there without gagging. Ick.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013 9:26 PM

RCMAC said:

And that wasnt fish you smelled.... I can't imagine they could do anything to the place that would allow you to eat something in there without gagging. Ick.

Must. Resist. Temptation. Must. Not. Respond....

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Saturday, September 7, 2013 10:41 PM

ICK ICK ICK!

Wait a minute... Was that selective quoting?...

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Saturday, September 7, 2013 11:36 PM

"Crunch at the bottom of ever hill" - WIN! That's also what makes SFoG Goliath.

The Shamu Express rides can be tricky entering and exiting - please be careful ;-)

Fiesta....is likely forthcoming.

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Monday, September 9, 2013 12:45 AM

I have been to the Sea World in Ohio, and it was a very nice, very clean park compared to it's run down neighbor Geauga Lake. We saw the killer whale show which was really good, and we went and fed the Dolphins, at the Dolphin encounter pond. We also saw the shark exhibit, and the very awesome Pirates in 4D movie. Sea World was 10 times the park Geauga was, and it is ashamed what happened to it.

When Six Flags took over both parks, it was obvious that no matter what they did, the Sea World side was not going to be the same without the killer whale show, which was Sea World's most popular attraction. But, they at least tried to keep some part of Sea World alive, while Cedar Fair came in and did not care about the sea world side of the park at all.

Six Flags made a huge mistake in giving up on Worlds of Adventure. But, wow your $70.00 admission price makes my jaw drop. We paid only $30.00 each, and got admission to both Sea World and Geauga Lake with combo tickets. I think Geauga lake admission at that time was only $18.00. But, want a dump. You want to talk about smells, prior to Six Flags, walking through Geauga Lake smelled like raw sewage. And was very dirty. Not to mention the abundance of teen trouble makers, most annoying park guests I have ever witnessed anywhere.

As for smelly penguins. We have a penguin exhibit at the john ball zoo in Grand Rapids, and never noticed any smell.

Last edited by Timber-Rider, Monday, September 9, 2013 12:48 AM
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Monday, September 9, 2013 2:11 AM

Tyler won't get the reference in the thread title without looking it up.

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Monday, September 9, 2013 2:13 AM

Tyler was "bounced" about a weeks ago.

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Monday, September 9, 2013 3:00 AM

Oh thank Jeff!

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Monday, September 9, 2013 9:02 AM

$70.00 to get in?!! before I travel out of state to visit a park I'll check to see if their season pass is good for a park in my state. If I plan to visit a park on multiple days I'll check to see which is cheaper. One Day or Season Pass. I did this TWICE in 2010. In July of that year I flew to Rhode Island to take on New England's Parks. I spent three days in Springfield, Ma. When I saw it was cheaper to purchase a season pass for SFNE than it was to buy three one-day passes I opted for the latter. Good thing I did, as I got a second opportunity to go park-hopping, courtesy of an overbooked flight. I used the season pass to visit both of the Six Flags parks in Texas. I also visited their Sea World, and when I saw that their Platinum Pass was just as good at the Florida Parks as it was in Texas, and it was $160.00 CHEAPER than it cost in Florida I took the liberty of purchasing it, and for the next two years I worked over the Florida Parks, and visited the Texas Sea World a year later, thanks to another overbooked flight. :)

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:23 PM

LostKause said:

Tyler was "bounced" about a weeks ago.

Wait a minute I thought you were kidding but Tyler's account is actually deleted. Harsh. Then again we did fruitlessly try to teach him forum decorum on several occasions.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:41 PM

I only frequent two other fora besides CB. Young Mr. Boes appears ready to pick up on one of them where he left off here. Yay.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013 9:48 PM

Ooh! Where? I wanna watch!

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013 9:55 PM

NoLimits Exchange, for one. It's not going much better over there. It's like here, except the criticism is mostly aimed at his ride quality.

I trust you all can connect the dots from there.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013 12:04 AM

FYI the next time, you can receive a platinum discount on one day tickets via the self service kiosk machines at the Sea World Parks.

After Busch pulled out of the parks, San Antonio seemed to suffer the most. The left side of the park was dominated with beer school, beer tasting and the Clydesdale barns which all left with them. I always felt the beer tasting venue would make a fantastic sit down restaurant. Also their dolphin exhibit could use an upgrade.

At certain times of the year (Valentine's Day I know for sure or they did two years ago), they will set up a upscale eating venue in their coral reef / shark encounter. This is a great experience if one ever gets the chance!

Steel Eel is a great ride! The wife and I tried to make it there monthly when we lived in Dallas. We always started the day with a ride on Steel Eel. Always had a fantastic time!

Now we live 10 minutes away from Sea World Orlando, thus the wife is over the moon. The Sea World parks are her absolute favorite. However, I wish we had Steel Eel or speed coaster here in Orlando!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013 2:09 AM

Instead of Journey to Atlantis, Kraken, and Manta? Boo hoo... You are extremely lucky. Some of us have to drive 4 hours just to ride a coaster.

Not even counting that you have all the other theme parks and water parks so close to you. Even BGT is about an hour away.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013 2:13 AM

sirloindude said:

It's like here, except the criticism is mostly aimed at his ride quality.

I get it, my ride quality was terrible in the first several years, but I definitely got better over time.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10:50 AM

To be fair, Travis, Orlando is THE destination for national and even international getaways. Lacking a single hyper anywhere south of Atlanta does seem to indicate that there's a distinctly popular "weapon" mssing from the arsenal.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013 12:35 PM

I never even realized that, Gator. Wonder why no one has done that, especially BGT. Manta is kinda crammed into Sea World, and I get the feeling they don't have the space. Disney would never do it, and Universal doesn't seem to have the room either. Would be interesting to see if one goes up at BGT in coming years.

Great trip report, Tek. I never had much of an interest into getting to that area, but you and many others have given such rave reviews that my curiosity factor has gone up exponentially. I think a Texas trip may be the order of the year next season.

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