Vote of the week: Aquatica opens in San Diego, so let's talk water parks
Published: May 30, 2013 at 7:40 PM
Here's the line-up of attractions at Aquatica San Diego:
- Whanau Way: A 60-foot water slide complex featuring six slides, four enclosed and two open air.
- HooRoo Run: Two enclosed and two open-air slides down this 80-foot ride.
- Woohoo Falls: Three water slides, including one in the dark.
- Kiwi Curl: Three 60-foot water slides, with an option of sliding in the dark.
- Walhalla Wave: This 78-foot ride is designed for families to enjoy together (height requirement is 42”) in a gigantic tube.
- Tassie's Twister: Drop down a 75-foot water slide in a multi-person raft through thousands of gallons of swirling water before dropping into a six-story funnel.
Photo courtesy SeaWorld
- Big Surf Shores: A 500,000-gallon wave pools in Southern California, with period swells of up to five feet and a 43,000-square-foot white sandy beach.
- Loggerhead Lane: Guests can swim or float along in an inner tube down a winding 1,250-foot long lazy river, with more than a dozen Caribbean flamingos on display.
- Walkabout Waters: This four-story "sprayground" with slides, hoses, jets, and geysers. Every five minutes, a 500-gallon bucket unloads water on everyone below.
- Kata’s Kookaburra Cove: A children's play area.
- Slippity Dippity: Kid-sized slides in another family play area, designed for families with toddlers.
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.
Let's talk water parks, in the comments. And, as always, thank you for reading and being a part of Theme Park Insider!