Will the debut of San Diego's tallest, fastest coaster help SeaW - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Will the debut of San Diego's tallest, fastest coaster help SeaWorld's image?

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - There's a new wild ride in town and SeaWorld is calling it EEL-ectrifying.

The much-anticipated Electric Eel, San Diego’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, launched at SeaWorld Thursday.

News 8's Ashley Jacobs took a ride on the coaster with a News 8 viewer (see below for more on that).

This new coaster hopes to "eelectrify" even the bravest thrill seekers, making them feel like an eel as they slither and dart around the track. It's the only ride with an upside-down view of Mission Bay.

The opening of the ride comes as the theme park reports a bump in attendance. But will this be enough to fix the park's tarnished image?

Video of Ashley with lucky viewer, Ellex King from the East Village, who won a ride on CBS News 8 for the first time.

As part of its comeback plan, the company has ended orca breeding and says its changed its shows to emphasize education and natural behavior over flashy lights and loud music.

It's also introducing new attractions that don't involve animals, like the Electric Eel.

"People are going to learn a lot of facts about electric eels... [and] rescue programs here as well," said SeaWorld's Tim Roberts.

The Electric Eel propels riders forward and backward as they speed through the ride’s station at more than 60 mph in seconds. Riders then rocket skyward nearly 150 feet to brave an inverted “heartline” roll and a twisting loop for an exciting feeling of airtime.

The Electric Eel area also features an interactive learning experience called Mission: Deep Discovery.

It's a habitat with mysterious moray eels, which was opened as part of the new Ocean Explorer attraction in summer 2017.

With the addition of the ride and increased attendance things have been looking up for the park.

Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Corp. spiked Tuesday after the company announced a 15 percent jump in attendance during the first quarter. The company also reported a revenue increase of $30.8 million since the first quarter of 2017. 

"We are happy about the progress we made in the first quarter and the continued positive results we are seeing year-to-date in April and are laser focused on continuing to execute as we enter the peak summer season," said John Reilly, Interim Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. "Our first quarter results were mainly driven by our new marketing and communications initiatives, the anticipation and receptivity of our new rides, attractions and events and new promotional pricing strategies. Despite this strong start to the year, we know we have significant opportunity for further improvement."

News 8's Ashley Jacobs and Tim Roberts with SeaWorld take a ride on the much-anticipated Electric Eel, San Diego’s tallest roller coaster! 

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