Sea Dragon ride on Santa Monica Pier swings away into retirement

A swinging ship ride is lifted up by a helicopter over the Santa Monica Pier.
The Sea Dragon is lifted by a helicopter off the Santa Monica Pier on Thursday. The ride was transported to Port of Hueneme, where it will be shipped to St. Louis.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

For nearly 27 years, the green Sea Dragon ride swung back and forth on the Santa Monica Pier, but on Thursday, the 6,000-pound two-headed metal beast took its last ride 250 feet over the Pacific Ocean.

The famed Sea Dragon ship at Pacific Park was retired Thursday as a helicopter lifted it off the pier. Bystanders captured pictures and video as the dragon flew past Santa Monica.

“The original Sea Dragon has provided millions of Pacific Park guests with fun memories with family and friends over the last 26 years,” Nathan Smithson, director of marketing and business development at Pacific Park, said in a statement.


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The classic ride, which opened on May 26, 1996, was replaced with a new, $1.5-million Sea Dragon that makes “riders feel as if they are riding the dragon out over the open ocean,” the amusement park said.

The ride was installed in the same space as the original Sea Dragon and has new features such as shaking seats and a misting system to “replicate the stormy seas,” Pacific Park announced in a statement.

“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,” Smithson said.

The original 26-foot-long bright-green dragon carried more than 12 million guests since it was installed in 1996, according to Pacific Park. For 10 days, the dragon was displayed just outside the amusement park for guests to take pictures and share memories online.

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But the large dragon isn’t headed to the scrap yard.

The dragon was lifted by a civilian Blackhawk helicopter and taken to the Port of Hueneme, where it will be shipped to St. Louis. The dragon will live out the rest of its days at City Museum in downtown St. Louis, where it’s expected to be placed atop of the museum’s roof, next to the Big Eli Ferris Wheel.