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Original Sea Dragon, Santa Monica Pier Staple, Set to Retire Soon

After nearly 30 years entertaining millions of guests, a Pacific Park staple is leaving the Santa Monica Pier.

The original Sea Dragon, which Pacific Park Director of Marketing and Business Development Nathan Smithson said is the oldest on the pier, will make way for a new, upgraded version.

When asked how he felt about the ride retiring soon, Smithson said it is a “bittersweet” moment, but that it is exciting to have a new ride at Pacific Park. He is “looking forward to the future” and hopes that everyone is just as excited. 

The original ride was a green swinging ship with two dragon heads, one on each end. It opened with Pacific Park on May 26, 1996 and would swing back and forth in a 180-degree arc, which resulted in guests going 40 feet high and feeling multiple drops from that height, according to the Pacific Park website. The idea was for the ride to make passengers feel as if they were caught in the strong currents of the sea. 

The Sea Dragon not only served as a fun spot for guests to hang out and have a nice time but also featured in many movies, shows, music videos and video games. That included “Iron Man” (2008) “Bean” (1997), TV series “9-1-1,” the video game “Mario Kart Tour” and many more. 

Smithson said it was time to retire the attraction to keep the park new and fresh. 

Pacific Park wants guests to have a great time, which is why they are constantly investing in the park to keep up with technological advancements, Smithson said. Smithson said he wouldn’t want guests to come back in a couple of years and see that the park is exactly the same, with no new updates. 

Although the original ride is leaving, a new Sea Dragon is coming to Pacific Park on March 9, 2023. 

The ride officially closed during the holidays on December 20, 2022. Smithson revealed that the plan was not to close it down during the holidays but later on. However, with all the rain Southern California was receiving at that time, they decided it was best to close it and start working on the new Sea Dragon. Now they will be able to open the ride a couple of weeks before Spring Break. 

Pacific Park is working on the new Sea Dragon that is set to open on March 9, 2023.

“We didn’t want to bring in something new or completely different,” Smithson said. Instead, they wanted it to be similar to the original, but give a more “immersive experience.” 

They want guests to get the feeling of riding “the Sea Dragon in the ocean” Smithson said. The goal is to keep things similar and give guests a chance to relive their experiences with the rides, but with a “new, bright and colorful” park. 

The new Sea Dragon will be about 90% the same as the original one. However, there will be a few surprises that were not revealed so guests can experience them for themselves without the surprise being ruined.

To give a farewell to the Sea Dragon, guests can share their favorite memories of the ride on the Pacific Park website. They can record a video or submit a text and/or picture. These will then be posted on the Pacific Park website, with some responses possibly featuring on the park’s social media accounts. 

The original Sea Dragon is outside the entrance of Pacific Park for guest to see until March 9, 2023.

Guests have already started to post and express how they feel about the retirement. For many, this ride was a favorite and to know it will be retired makes them feel nostalgic but excited for the new one. 

“I’m a little surprised but at the same time Santa Monica has changed so much ever since I’ve been a kid,” resident Jeremy Bencomo said. 

Bencomo said the original Sea Dragon is one of his favorite attractions, so he is “curious” to see what the ride is going to change into. He also said he is excited to see the upgrades that Pacific Park has planned.

Daniel L. Valentine, another local resident, said his favorite memory was when “everyone [was] screaming their hearts out.” As for the new version, he said he’ll “be sure to check that one out.”

Although the ride is currently closed, Pacific Park will host a retirement party for the original Sea Dragon from Feb. 27 to March 8 every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.  It will be located just outside of the entrance of the park, in the upper pier parking lot. 

Pacific Park will give the ride a final farewell on March 9 at 8:30 a.m. before it introduces the new Sea Dragon. The original ride, meanwhile, will be taken to Missouri, where its new home will be St. Louis’ City Museum.

Smithson invited everyone to go to Pacific Park on March 9 to not only say goodbye to the original Sea Dragon but to experience the new version as well. He said guests who show up March 9 will likely get “free rides on the Sea Dragon” once it opens around noon.

The Sea Dragon has provided 12 million rides in nearly 27 years, Smithson said, adding that he hopes the new version will not take that long to reach the 12 million-ride milestone.  

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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