Vote of the week: Aquatica opens in San Diego, so let's talk water parks
Written by Robert Niles
SeaWorld San Diego will open its Aquatica water park Saturday (June 1), following its acquisition and multi-million-dollar rebuild of the former Soak City water park in Chula Vista. San Diego is the third of the three SeaWorld parks to get an Aquatica water park, following San Antonio last year and the original in Orlando in 2008. Unlike the other two, San Diego's Aquatica will be located miles from its sister SeaWorld park -- the weather's much more hospitable to a water park in warmer, inland Chula Vista than at the sometimes-chilly and overcast Mission Bay, where SeaWorld San Diego is located.
Here's the line-up of attractions at Aquatica San Diego:
Photo courtesy SeaWorld
A single-day Aquatica ticket is $38 ($30 for kids) online at the Aquatica website. A two-day combo ticket for SeaWorld San Diego and Aquatica is $96 for adults and $88 for children 3-9, also on the website.
How popular will this new park be? The Orlando Aquatica is the nation's third most-popular water park (behind the two Walt Disney World water parks), according to the TEA/AECOM Global Attractions Attendance Report. But with 1.5 million visitors a year, Aquatica lags its sister park, SeaWorld Orlando, which drew 5.2 million visitors in 2011 (the latest year for which data is available.)
Even the most popular water park in the world, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, at just more than 2 million visitors a year, wouldn't crack the Top 20 for attendance among North American theme parks. But parks can build a world-class waterslide attraction for an order of magnitude less money than a world-class roller coaster would cost. So while water parks attract fewer visitors than traditional theme parks, their lower costs can make them highly profitable.
So the San Diego Aquatica doesn't need to draw SeaWorld San Diego's 4.3 million visitors a year to be a financial success for SeaWorld. But will it be a hit with visitors?
We typically don't cover water parks here on Theme Park Insider (see those attendance numbers above for the reason). But many theme parks offer water parks as part of their entertainment experience. Sometimes, they're included in the cost of a theme park ticket, such as at the popular Holiday World and Splashin' Safari in Indiana. More often, the water park requires an extra admission, though discounted theme park/water park combo tickets are readily available, as with SeaWorld and Aquatica. And, of course, many top water parks aren't affiliated with any theme park, such as the Schlitterbahn water parks in Texas.
What's your take on water parks? Do you usually make a water park part of a theme park visit? Do you visit water parks on their own? Or do you skip water parks in favor of other vacation and entertainment alternatives? That's our vote of the week.
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