The original Sea Dragon ride opened with Pacific Park on May 26, 1996, and after carrying more than 12 million guests will take its last ride via heavy-duty helicopter from Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier and will land at the Port of Hueneme in Ventura County to go into retirement on Thursday, March 9, 2023, beginning at 8:00 a.m., weather permitting. HP Helicopters will provide the Sea Dragon with a high-flying farewell as it departs on its last ride by helicopter 250 feet over the Pacific Ocean to California’s produce and autos specialized commercial seaport, the Port of Hueneme, for transport to its retirement destination at City Museum in St. Louis, Mo., where it will continue to fly high on top of the museum’s roof and sit next to a Big Eli Ferris wheel, slides, and other eclectic attractions.
The Sea Dragon is a classic amusement park attraction that has been a beloved part of the Santa Monica Pier experience for over 26 years. It has been replaced with an updated version of the same ride and sports the familiar bright green, scaly exterior. The new $1.5 million Sea Dragon has been installed in the identical space and delivers the same high-swinging ride experience, but features a variety of new ride enhancements including custom music and sound to amplify the experience, wind generators and a misting system to make riders feel as if they are riding the dragon out over the open ocean, and shaking seats to replicate the stormy seas. The new Sea Dragon lights up the evenings with LED energy-efficient lights lining the ride car and 40-feet tall ride supports.
The ever popular, classic Sea Dragon is a swinging ship ride with two lifelike dragon heads making passengers feel as if they’re caught in the turbulent waters. The ship moves back and forth in a 180-degree arc, giving riders a series of 40 feet drops and thrilling launches. The Sea Dragon ride car weighs 6,000 pounds, is 26 feet in length, is 3 feet in width, and is accentuated with 12 feet tall Sea Dragons heads on each end.
“The original Sea Dragon has provided millions of Pacific Park guests with fun memories with family and friends over the last 26 years,” said Nathan Smithson, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier. “The enthusiasm that guests have for the original Sea Dragon and its extreme popularity prompted us to introduce the all-new Sea Dragon and reimagine the ride experience while providing the same classic swing ride that guests know and love so well.”
According to Wikipedia, the first known predecessor of the [swinging ship] ride was invented by Charles Albert Marshall of Tulsa, Oklahoma, between 1893 and 1897. This ride was originally called “The Ocean Wave.” The Ocean Wave was first used in the Marshall Bros Circus in 1897. Charles Marshall and his brothers Mike, Will, Ed, friends, and family, ran the circus.
Pacific Park’s custom, all-new Sea Dragon ride is designed and built by Chance Rides Manufacturing, Inc. in Wichita, Kan. Chance Rides is a family-owned business making amusement rides, coasters and people movers in a 40 acre facility.
The original Sea Dragon will take its last ride into retirement via an HP-60A civilian Blackhawk with the assistance of HP Helicopters located in Redlands, Calif. HP Helicopters operates large helicopters in support of Fire Fighting, Utility Infrastructure, Aerial Construction, Aerospace R&D and Off Road Racing.
The Port of Hueneme serves as the helicopter landing and transloading to truck destination for the Sea Dragon from Santa Monica to St Louis, Mo. Located an hour northwest of Santa Monica’s Pacific Park, the Port is one of the most productive and efficient commercial trade getaways for niche cargo on the West Coast and is the only deep-water commercial port between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Port of Hueneme is the 4th largest container port in California, the 6th largest container port on the West Coast, and consistently ranks among the top ten U.S. ports for automobiles and fresh produce. Port of Hueneme’s operations support the community by bringing $2.2 billion in economic activity and creating 20,032 trade-related jobs.
“We specialize in special projects and in the efficient movement of high value cargo and perishables. We are pleased to be called upon to be a partner in this complex, strategic move of the Sea Dragon for transport to its retirement place,” said Kristin Decas, CEO & Port Director at the Port of Hueneme.
Freight Sharks Trucking, located in Ponca City, Okla., will transport the Sea Dragon to City Museum. They specialize in flatbed, LTL, teams, time critical and time definite freight.
Housed in an old shoe factory in Downtown St. Louis, City Museum is an ever-evolving, always-thrilling, artist-built playground full of weirdly wonderful spaces to explore. Pacific Park’s original Sea Dragon has found the perfect place for retirement.