In a surprise move, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has acquired the Knott's Soak City water park in Chula Vista and plans to convert it into Aquatica San Diego ahead of the 2013 season.
The Knott's Soak City location is currently owned by Cedar Fair, and was known as White Water Canyon when it debuted in 2000. Under its new ownership, it will undergo extensive renovations during the off-season before reopening under the Aquatica name. Two other Knott's Soak City parks, located next to Knott's Berry Farm and in Palm Springs respectively, will continue to be operated by Cedar Fair.
Few details have been released of Aquatica San Diego, although it is expected to be similar in style to the original Aquatica in Orlando and Aquatica San Antonio, which opened in May 2012. Located around 20 miles from SeaWorld San Diego, it will combine elements of a traditional water park with SeaWorld's signature marine life exhibits.
SeaWorld has set itself a challenging deadline to complete the conversion, having spent a full year converting the former Lost Lagoon water park at SeaWorld San Antonio into the second Aquatica park. Aquatica San Diego is expected to incorporate most or all of the existing Knott's Soak City attractions, including a 500,000 gallon wave pool, several sets of body slides and a 1,250-foot lazy river.
No details have been released as yet of any new attractions, although SeaWorld has promised that animals will be present in the new park. This could indicate a clone of the Stingray Falls ride at Aquatica San Antonio, which sees guests passing stingrays and tropical fish as they glide through an underwater grotto.
In a canned statement, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment CEO Jim Atchison said of the deal: "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. Having animals in our Aquatica parks adds an educational component to a waterpark visit that is both unexpected and enriching."