SeaWorld San Diego looks to renovate entrance

Commission to review ‘Explorer's Reef' plans

OCEANSIDE, Calif. - A planned transformation of the guest entrance at SeaWorld San Diego is scheduled to be considered Thursday by the California Coastal Commission, which will wrap up two days of meetings in Oceanside.

The entrance would be known as "Explorer's Reef" and feature a beach- themed ticketing area and a giant wave sculpture designed to make it appear to guests that they are going under water.

The area just inside the entrance would look like the ocean floor, with four touch pools holding about 5,000 fish.

Part of the expansion also includes the addition of a 24,000-gallon pool where guests can interact with a variety of fish.

"Explorer's Reef will transform our guests' arrival by providing them with unparalleled welcoming services and then transporting them into the world of the sea as they pass under an iconic and stunning wave," said John Reilly, president of the park. "The promise of SeaWorld will be delivered immediately, giving our guests opportunities to connect with amazing animals as soon as they enter the park."

Reilly said the changes are necessary to keep up with the other amusement parks in the area.

Recently, Disney's California Adventure opened their "Cars Land," and Legoland in Carlsbad built their hote.

SeaWorld also hopes the new entrance will be more efficient for customers. Attendance increased by 14 percent from 2010 to 2011, and SeaWorld officials said they expected a similar jump this year.

If approved by the commissioners, construction would start in December and be completed by March 2014.

The California Coastal Commission has jurisdiction over SeaWorld because it sits on Mission Bay.

The Coastal Commission has already assigned it to the consent file, which means it is likely SeaWorld will be allowed to expand their park.

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