Universal Orlando Confirms Wet 'n Wild to Close Next Year
...And that is the sound of the other flip-flop dropping.
When Universal Orlando last month confirmed plans for its new Volcano Bay water park, many fans wondered if that would mean the end of Wet 'n Wild. Universal obtained control of the nation's first water park in 1998, and in 2013 bought the 50 acres of land under and around the park. Universal has been shuffling management at the park over the past year or so, and rumors of its closure have been flying as sources in and around Universal have tipped plans to convert the Wet 'n Wild property into budget-priced hotels or even into a third gate for the Universal Orlando Resort.
We don't know yet Wet 'n Wild's ultimate fate, but as of today, we can be certain that it won't be as Wet 'n Wild. Universal Orlando today confirmed that the water park will close December 31, 2016.
Photo courtesy Universal Orlando
That gives Wet 'n Wild's local fans two more summers to enjoy the park. Wet 'n Wild opened in 1977 — a creation of SeaWorld founder George Millay. It is considered the nation's first water park, and even as imitators opened around the country and world, Wet 'n Wild remained the nation's most popular water park until the end of the 1990s, when Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach passed it. Wet 'n Wild drew about 1.3 million visitors last year, making it the nation's fourth most-popular water park, behind the two Disney parks and SeaWorld's Aquatica, according to the TEA/AECOM 2014 Theme Index report.
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Wikipedia indicates that W&W covers 30 acres of land -- although I don't think that includes the parking lot. Not sure what they will do with the property but that's a heckuva footprint on I-Drive -- an address that continues to add new attractions and entertainment venues.
Why couldn't Universal Orlando support two water parks? Walt Disney World has two.
Let's see... we've got the "Earful" Tower at Disney, the Orlando "Eye" on I-Drive south of Sand Lake. So, logically, shouldn't the Wet 'n Wild site be home to something involving a nose or mouth?
In response to Matthew,
Ah, Robert, that makes sense then. Still a bummer to see what's considered to be America's first water park close for good. I'll see if I can't make a trip out there next summer.
I wouldn't be surprised if they move a good chunk of the Wet and Wild slides over to Volcano Bay and repurpose them.
Universal's current construction patterns suggest this closing may result in the opening of another resort, perhaps discount resort as Robert suggests. I don't see the space as sufficient for a third gate. Universal could have used its Cabana Bay, Sapphire Falls, and Volcano Bay as sufficient space for a third park and buy up nearby property to construct hotel resorts. Now, Universal is landlocked into 2 parks only. They could always revisit the purchase of the Lockheed property for 2 additional parks and nearby resorts. Who knows?
Isn't River Country in Walt Disney World the first water park? It opened in 1976.
In know, instead of the usual water park - Universal could open a Fire park.
The park itself is apx. 24 acres (Orange County Appraisal Office). The remainder of the acquisition is parking lot, some operation buildings and a portion of the lake.
Manteca Water Slides, the first modern tube/flume slides built anywbere, opened in 1974, & closed in 2004.
"A portion of the lake?" so they don't own the entire lake?
Jim Hill was right! Now about that oh... 50 acre plot of land?
TH; Correct. My memory from the diagram I saw last year is in the vicinity of one third or one fourth..
I'm hoping they're planning on using the land to make a third theme park. If Universal has three big theme parks on their current standards and a new state of the art waterpark, they'd be a pretty decent compeition for Disney (and hopefully will force the mosue to make big new rides and lands to compete)
Thomas Caselli is correct. While many credit Wet 'n Wild as being the first water park, Disney's River Country opened first in 1976.
Hotels. Hotels. Hotels.
A lot of the locals have nick-named it "Wet and Ghetto" so I think that tells you it's not up to Universal's standards and it's not the crowd they want to cater too. The land is just to perfect for hotels that will get more people to stay on property and spend more money.... bye bye W&W...
Troy: Your assumption is probably correct, though I would doubt Universal would admit that, for obvious reasons. I would agree with insider Sean from Parkscope, and I would expect to see lots of hotel rooms built there. The last couple of surveys I got from Universal were all about prospective hotel resorts. Their chairman has publicly stated on more than a few occasions that they are going to build a lot of hotels. They are following the Disney plan of a captive customer base in on site hotels. This all points to hotel resorts on that property.
Welp. We all know what they're going to do with that land given the fact that universals new water park is going south of cabana bay beach resort. They're obviously converting the old wet n wild land into (boring) hotels. Nobody cares about hotels we want new parks and attractions. But I can see where this benefits the resort financially.
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