Though we’ve known it was coming for more than a year, December 31, 2016, was the final day of operation for, what was considered by most to be, America’s first real water park. And while it was a warm 80 degree day in central Florida, Wet ‘n Wild didn’t have much in the way of a send off, with the park simply opening and closing as usual, with a few giveaways during the day and a small countdown commemorating the end of the park. And then, on January 1, 2017, for the first time in almost four decades, Wet 'n Wild didn't open. And unfortunately, that wasn’t the only change.
Demolition has already gotten started at the former Wet ‘n Wild
Mere hours after Wet 'n Wild closed for good last week, the demolition process officially began. Shortly after the last visitors exited the water park on New Year's Eve, Wet 'n Wild's sign was torn down, and before the sun rose on New Year’s Day, large fences with Universal Orlando Resort signage were erected around the park.
Though it has only been a few days, you can see from the video footage below (which was taken earlier this week) all of the water has been drained from the park, with the wave pool, lazy river, and even the park's numerous flume rides all sitting vacant and strangely dry as the trees are being pulled up and removed from this former park site. And though Universal hasn't said whether they are demolishing, selling, or repurposing the slides that were used in this park, it looks like equipment is already on-site to begin the dismantling process.
Though we have no official timeline in regards to the full demolition of this park, Universal seems to be working really quickly, and we wouldn’t be surprised if what is left of Wet ‘N Wild is completely gone before March.
Why is Universal in such a hurry to get rid of what is left of this park?
Universal Orlando Resort has built up a reputation in the past few years for completing its various construction projects quickly. However, this seems speedy, even be their standards! So why are they in such a rush?
Even before it was confirmed that Universal would be shutting down Wet ‘N Wild, officials with Comcast (Universal Orlando Resort's parent company) had said that Universal was looking at constructing tower-style hotels somewhere on property. And then last year, during a meeting discussing Universal's financial results, a news release seemingly confirmed that the resort was indeed planning to construct new hotel rooms on the (then-current) Wet 'n Wild site, but declined to give any details.
Though Universal officials still have not publicly said that this is indeed the case, local news station WKMG has found evidence that Universal may be planning to fill in some of the mad-made lake that was constructed for Wet 'n Wild in an effort to potentially double the amount of land that could be used for tower-style hotels, essentially confirming (again) that this park is being closed to make way for new hotels.
Though it might seem a little strange for Universal to be trying to get even more hotels constructed quickly (they did just open the all-new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort just six months ago, the new Cabana Bay expansion project is set to complete later this year and the all-new Aventura Hotel has been confirmed for a 2018 debut as well), it looks like Universal Orlando Resort is really trying to boost its both its revenue and its occupancy before the end of the decade. And astute readers can probably guess why...