August 30, 2013
San Antonio TX
I’d been looking forward to a visit 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 was beautiful, the people were friendly, and I could almost pick up and move there. I rarely feel that way about a city on my first visit, it was amazing. But alas, I have no plans on moving from the Charlotte area any time soon.
I was supposed to go to San Antonio 2 years prior when I went to 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 wasn’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 was 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 was uneventful and I tried to sleep most of the flight. We arrived 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 thankfully was 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 while. Then it took forever to taxi because our gate got switched. Oh well. I nearly missed my opportunity to get a ride with Ed, who was arriving around the same time I was supposed to.
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 visit to a SeaWorld park. 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 enabled him to buy discounted 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 argued that that wasn’t the case, and he’d have to buy a ticket for himself at a discount (this proved to be wrong).
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 about season passes. 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 then 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. There were plenty of people in the stadium. 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 in San Antonio. I enjoyed it, but there’s really just not a lot to say about something that I’d ridden at 6 other parks before and would 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 stopped to look at the puffins as well. And then, finally, headed to the one coaster I was looking forward to at Sea World.
Steel Eel-We rode in the back car for this ride. 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 had really great floater air, and less crunch at the bottom of the hills. It was still very good, and I wish this ride was in a park that was closer to home.
We headed over and watched the Sea Lions in their habitat for 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 did have around the ride was nice, but it wasn’t 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.
After getting our stuff out of the lockers we walked back around the park, stopping 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.
Wanting to see the sharks, 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 was very quiet. There wasn’t music playing everywhere. Plus, we were there on a very dead day, which was nice, as there were no real waits for any of the rides. As nice as the park is, I can’t say I’d rush to come back. It just seemed like of all three SeaWorld parks, this one was the most neglected in terms of capital additions. It was still very nice and very clean, though.
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.