SAN DIEGO (CNS) - SeaWorld San Diego announced Friday that it reached a milestone in the construction of its ``dive'' roller coaster by installing the ride's highest section of track 153 feet above ground.
The ``topping-out'' ceremony included a crane placing an American flag at the ride's highest section. The ride, slated to open next summer, is being built adjacent to the Journey to Atlantis attraction, on what had previously been a parking lot. Construction on the ride, advertised as the tallest, fastest and longest such coaster in the state, began in August.
The park originally announced the ride in January with the name ``Mako'' after the endangered shark species, which is considered the fastest shark in the world. Park officials announced its new name, Emperor, last month, saying it would reflect the ability of emperor penguins to dive to depths of 1,800 feet in the waters of their native Antarctica.
After the 153-foot climb, Emperor will plunge back down 143 feet while reaching speeds of more than 60 mph, according to SeaWorld. The ride will include nearly 2,500 feet of track, ``floorless'' cars that will hold 18 riders in three six-person rows and penguin conservation and awareness elements through a partnership with Penguins International.
The ride is being built by Swiss roller coaster manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard Consulting Engineers. The company has built four other roller coasters for SeaWorld since 1997, one in San Antonio and the other three at SeaWorld Orlando.