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SeaWorld Unveils Plans For New Attraction

Above: An undated rendering shows SeaWorld visitors on a ride in the park's proposed Ocean Explorer attraction.

SeaWorld San Diego announced Tuesday it will open a multimillion-dollar attraction that will take visitors on an exploration of the earth's seven seas.

The new attraction, Ocean Explorer, is scheduled to open late next spring on the southeast side of the theme park. According to SeaWorld officials, it will combine multiple aquariums, rides and digital technology aimed at providing guests with a sense of adventure while inspiring them to protect the oceans.

"I'm extremely excited about Ocean Explorer and I know our guests, of all ages, are going to love this fun, interactive and educational new area of the park," said John Reilly, SeaWorld San Diego president.

"The opportunity to see and learn about some of the ocean's most fascinating creatures, coupled with a mix of distinctive rides and activities, will give our visitors a meaningful experience only SeaWorld can create," he said.

Ocean Explorer will consist of a series of "undersea research bases" housing aquariums and interactive activities displaying unique and elusive ocean animals. Educational displays, technology and graphics will be key components of each section, according to SeaWorld.

SeaWorld San Diego

An undated rendering shows a child viewing an octopus from a bump-out in an aquarium in the park's proposed Ocean Explorer attraction.

"We will give our visitors the chance to come eye-to-eye with amazing animals like giant octopuses, huge spider crabs and hundreds of colorful jellies — some of which have never been seen at the park before," said Mike Price, the park's fish curator. "We will also give everyone a variety of different vantage points to view the animals by taking them around and inside these underwater habitats."

On one of the four rides planned at the three-acre attraction, visitors in chairs suspended from tentacles of a jellyfish-like structure will "fly" through thousands of bubbles.

According to SeaWorld, plans for Ocean Explorer have been submitted to both the California Coastal Commission and city of San Diego.

When asked to approve an expansion of the park's existing orca tanks, the Coastal Commission in October banned SeaWorld San Diego from breeding captive orcas.

Though it challenged the commission's ruling, SeaWorld told investors in October it would phase out its orca shows and pivot toward a more educational attraction. SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby said then $100,000 from the planned tank expansion would go toward the new approach.

He also announced a partnership with San Diego's Evans Hotels to build a hotel adjacent to the park.

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