Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:20 pm
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, the Orlando-based owner of 10 U.S. theme parks, has acquired Knott's Soak City -- San Diego, a standalone Southern California waterpark, from Cedar Fair Entertainment Company.
The park, located just south of San Diego in Chula Vista, Calif., will undergo extensive renovation over the fall and winter and re-open next spring as SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment's third Aquatica-branded park. Both SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio now operate Aquatica parks.
SeaWorld will make significant changes over the off-season transforming the park into an Aquatica: "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."
The first Aquatica opened adjacent to SeaWorld Orlando in 2008. It is now among the nation's most visited waterparks, with annual attendance of roughly 1.5 million guests. In addition to birds and tropical fish, Aquatica Orlando features Dolphin Plunge, the park's centerpiece water slide, which includes an enclosed acrylic slide that allows riders to see animals underwater.
Last year SeaWorld San Antonio unveiled its own Aquatica, with some of the region's best ride attractions, along with displays of kookaburra, spoonbills and southern stingrays.
"When the gates of Aquatica San Diego open for the first time next June, guests will see what visitors to Orlando and San Antonio already know: No theme park company can deliver a waterpark experience quite like SeaWorld," said John Reilly, President of the company's San Diego attractions. "Aquatica will be a great complement to SeaWorld and help us continue to bring value to our guests and enhance this destination."
Aquatica San Diego will be located at 2042 Otay Valley Rd. in Chula Vista, Calif. Terms of the deal, which have been under negotiation for several months, were not disclosed.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment said Tuesday it has acquired a water park in San Diego that it will convert into the company's third "Aquatica."
The Orlando-based company would not say how much it paid for Knott's Soak City, which was owned by amusement-park operator Cedar Fair L.P., nor how much it will spend renovating the water park. SeaWorld said it has been negotiating the deal for "several months."
SeaWorld said it will make "significant changes" while the water park is closed for the winter to overhaul it to fit its Aquatica brand. The SeaWorld water parks are best-known for combining water-based attractions with marine-life encounters, such as a water slide through a pool filled with Commerson's dolphins or a raft ride through a stingray-filled lagoon.
"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," SeaWorld Parks President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison said in a prepared statement.
The company's first Aquatica opened in 2008, a standalone water park adjacent to SeaWorld Orlando and Discovery Cove. The second one opened last year inside SeaWorld San Antonio.
The third Aquatica will be located about 23 miles from SeaWorld San Diego and will become the company's 11th standalone park in the U.S. Company parks drew a combined 23.6 million visitors last year.
Since being acquired by private-equity giant The Blackstone Group in late 2009, SeaWorld executives have made it a strategic goal to expand the company's footprint, both geographically and across new platforms. The company has launched film and television studios, created a consumer-products licensing unit and evaluated plans for everything from hotels to overseas theme parks.
In an interview last year with the Sentinel, Atchison singled out Aquatica as a concept that the company hoped to expand. The executive also singled out Discovery Cove, the limited-admission boutique park in Orlando, and Sesame Place, a children's park in Pennsylvania, as other likely targets for expansion.
"Do I think that in the U.S. marketplace there's a place for 10 more SeaWorlds? Probably not," Atchison said at the time. "But there's probably other locations that could support other concepts that we have and, I think, do very well."
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