It's not very often that I make a trip specifically to coincide with the opening of a new coaster. But when two friends are doing the so, and they offer to let you join them in splitting the hotel room for the few days, plus it's a short flight to get there, then why not? This is essentially what lead to a nearly last minute trip down to California for the sake of the opening of Hang Time at Knott's Berry Farm. I would be joining my friends RD and Randy for a couple days checking out Walter Knott's playground.
Since I was heading down the West Coast to LAX, Alaska Airlines would prove to be one of the best options, as it often is for West Coast routes, although Delta has been contending with Alaska lately because of making Seattle a Western hub, but I generally stick with Alaska if the pricing is close, especially because of having MVP status, which does lead to an occasional upgrade, as it did on this flight!
And before I knew it, I landed at LAX. RD and Randy were both arriving later in the afternoon, and I was going to catch the shuttle over to Knott's with Randy when he arrived, as we were going to be sticking with Knott's for the duration of the stay. Since that would be later, I rented a car so I could make a side trip, which kicked off right at the beginning of lunchtime, which was perfect so that I could make a customary stop to a favorite California burger chain of mine....
After grabbing lunch, I rode on down South to spend the afternoon riding a new coaster! But it wasn't Hang Time at Knott's as it hadn't opened yet, and we would be riding it on opening day.
Rather, I went further South to check out Electric Eel at SeaWorld San Diego, making for a chance to get two new coasters this trip! This was my second visit to SeaWorld as I had been here two years earlier when visiting several places for credits and making my first visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain as part of Park Journey's Mountain Madness event that year. With the addition of Electric Eel, that gave me a reason to make the couple-hour drive to San Diego.
Electric Eel would be my second of the Premier Sky Rocket II coasters, after having ridden Phobia Phear Coaster at Lake Compounce the previous season. One thing that I kind of liked about the coaster was the shades of blue for the track, which I understand is a requirement for the ride because of it's location near the coastline in this particular area.
Electric Eel's queue is pretty basic, as it's just curved paths with some information boards about eels, although they at least tried to give it a beach feel with the sand and the use of beach umbrellas for the shade. It was kind of interesting to see a lack of railings for much of the queue though, as I would think they would want to try and keep folks waiting in line off of the space in between portions of the queue.
As for the ride itself, I don't know if it was because of the third car, but this one felt a bit more sluggish than Phobia did. It didn't seem to have the same airtime pops or speed that I was remembering, although with the lighter crowd, it could have been more to do with fewer riders giving the train less weight, which would have effected it's momentum through the course. I also wasn't a fan of the "comfort collars" that they have in the form of the straps over the shoulders. They are a bit clunky and it made getting into the seat a bit trickier because of the need to hold the collar up as you sit down. I would have rather they went with the lap bar only version featured on other versions of this coaster, but it wasn't bad enough to say this was a bad ride. I did still enjoy it, and the view from up top is pretty nice as well!
The location of Electric Eel is right alongside the area of Journey to Atlantis, the Mack Water Coaster that is the most coaster like of the three Journey rides found at the different SeaWorld parks. While I appreciate that this version offers a bit more of the coaster element, Orlando still has my favorite version because of the dark ride portion.....when it's actually working (which honestly probably hasn't worked properly in a good while if we're being honest). Still, it was fun to ride this again.
In between some of the rides, I did take a few moments to see some of the sea life in the park, which I didn't actually do a whole lot of the first time I was here as I wanted to spend more time with my brother and his wife and son when I came that first time.
Of course, I couldn't help but to take another ride on my favorite attraction in the park from my first visit, and what remains my favorite after this one. Manta, the Mack launched coaster, is such a fun coaster that offers some nice airtime in it's twisted layout that really interacts with the area and pathways well! In many respects, I feel like this is one of the more underrated coasters in California, especially as it offers a very unique course. It also didn't hurt that like the first time I came here, crowds were light which meant a few quick re-rides to really enjoy it.
Another neat feature of the area of Manta is their touch tank of actual rays located near the ride station. This gives visitors a chance to see and learn more about one of the neatest creatures of the sea, and this is especially beneficial for those with younger kids who may not be tall enough for the coaster, as they can watch the rays in the tank while the older kids and adults take a spin on the coaster.
During this visit, I took a chance to enjoy another attraction that I hadn't done in my previous visit, which is the Bayside Skyride. While seeing skyrides that do a loop where they run to the other side and then come right back isn't completely unusual for amusement parks, it's usually not the way VonRoll style sky rides like this operate, and what I wasn't aware of at the time of riding was that there used to be a restaurant on the other side that you rode this to access while crossing over Perez Cove. It would be neat if more places used that concept of having a ride be the way to access a restaurant of another attraction, but regardless, this sky ride offers some excellent views of the park, and the surrounding areas of San Diego and Mission Bay!
Of course, that isn't the only way to enjoy some excellent area views at the park, as you can also hop aboard the Skytower which offers different angles for your viewing of the area as it's located closer to the center of the park, and it takes you higher. A great vantage point for those full-coaster pictures that you may wish to add to your collection, or to see even more of the greater San Diego area.
Before heading out, I went to see the Discovery Pod with their Cabs and Octopuses. I have to admit, I got a little bit of a surprise seeing the spider crabs as I hadn't seen any in person before, and was taken back by just how large they can be, although from what I've seen since this visit, the Japanese Spider Crab can be even larger. While I understand that some people are opposed to places like aquariums and zoos for various reasons, these kinds of places can be eye opening to people who may no have a chance to explore the natural habitats of various species and see them in person, just as seeing these large crabs had for mayself.
As the afternoon drew closer to the evening, it was time to head out as I only had the rental car for the day since I would be meeting up with Randy back at LAX and catch the shuttle to Knott's hotel to catch up with RD. I really enjoyed getting another visit to SeaWorld San Diego, and I look forward to seeing what they add to the park in the future if Electric Eel is the start of a new trend for the park adding more rides.
Up next, it's the first of two days visiting Knott's Berry Farm!