Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Aquatica San Diego Premiering in Summer 2013

In a surprise announcement, Cedar Fair has sold its Knott's Soak City San Diego water park to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment for an undisclosed amount of money.  The water park will be heavily renovated and reopen as Aquatica San Diego next June.

Concept art of the new Aquatica San Diego
Aquatica San Diego will be the chain's third water park under that name, following the original park in Orlando and the Texas location which just opened this past Summer.  While specific attraction changes have not been announced, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment is clear to point out that animals will be added to the experience, as in the other Aquatica locations.

"These parks reflect the highest standard of quality in attractions, entertainment and theming, but the presence of animals makes the experience something truly special. Aquatica San Diego, like its sister parks, will feature guest experiences with a variety of exotic animals," said Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. "Having animals in our Aquatica parks adds an educational component to a waterpark visit that is both unexpected and enriching."

One can see how Knott's Soak City will be dressed up for Aquatica
Cedar Fair pointed out that the sale of this park has no affect on any of the company's other California parks and attractions, and the loss of operations from the property are not material.  Soak City San Diego first opened in 1997 and was then known as White Water Canyon, Cedar Fair purchased the property in late 1999 after its owners foreclosed on their loan.  Additions under Cedar Fair ownership have included a large family raft ride and Pacific Spin, a massive funnel slide.

“For this particular property, a unique opportunity presented itself to team with SeaWorld to offer a premium product to its guests in the San Diego region,” said Matt Ouimet, president and chief executive officer.  The proceeds from the sale will be reinvested in the company's "core assets," which will include the three year renovation of all the hotel properties at Cedar Point.

Present Day Soak City San Diego, soon to be Aquatica
The plan for an Aquatica to sit next to each of SeaWorld's parks is now falling nicely into place, a strategy that operators have hinted at in the past.  When the first Aquatica opened in 2008 it quickly became a popular destination in the tourist haven known as Orlando, and it now averages a very respectable 1.5 million visitors a year.

Aquatica San Diego will be located about 17 direct miles from SeaWorld Sand Diego, or about 22 driving miles.  The addition of the water park will help make the property more of a destination, with the ability to sell multi-day tickets and the like.

While Soak City currently has a beach vibe going on, we can expect that the lush tropical landscape that Aquatica is known for will replace that next season.  Hopefully when new or modified attractions are out of the contract negotiation phase and can be released, we will learn more about what the new park will offer.  The transition is already starting, with the Knott's Soak City San Diego website being stripped as I type, and the Facebook page already removed.

SeaWorld Sand Diego just finished a very successful summer season that saw the opening of the multiple launch coaster, Manta, and recently announced an 18 month renovation of the park's entrance area that will totally transform and modernize the facility.