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SeaWorld has big plans for water park Allison K. Sampité-montecalvo | Sat, Mar 23 2013 12:00 PM

A new and improved water park is slated to open in southern Chula Vista on June 1.

SeaWorld's Aquatica San Diego will replace Knott's Soak City, which opened in 2000, transforming the area with a hybrid concept, integrating animal exhibits within a water park.

Construction for Aquatica began last winter after SeaWorld San Diego purchased the land from Knott’s Berry Farm parent company Cedar Fair Entertainment Company.

The park’s transformation is the result of several months of discussion with Chula Vista officials, according to SeaWorld parks and entertainment communications director Dave Koontz.

Aquatica park vice president David Cromwell led a media tour of the property last Thursday, providing updates of the adventures to come, including renovated water slides, a wave pool, sandy beach, lazy river, new animal habitats and high-scale guest amenities.

Cromwell said the park features architecture unique to Aquatica, also marked in its two sister parks in Florida and Texas. It originally launched in Orlando in 2008.

“Every ride is being rebranded to fit the Aquatica water park theme,” Cromwell said.

Caribbean flamingos and a varied species of fresh water turtles, which can be viewed in an above- and underwater exhibit, are meant to round out guests’ experience as they enter the park.

Cromwell said that having animals in Aquatica parks adds an educational component for kids and adults alike.

“The animal connections are provided in a way only SeaWorld can deliver,” Cromwell said.

The park also provides guests with an opportunity to hang 10 at Big Surf Shores, which is filled with 500,000 gallons of water and period swells up to five feet.

Cromwell said SeaWorld prides itself on its service-oriented environment with vacation-like amenities, which is why adults are given the opportunity to relax on a white sandy beach in lawn chairs or underneath a cabana, catered to by professionals in hospitality.

“It’s a resort-like experience,” Cromwell said.

Another attraction is Loggerhead Lane, also known as Lazy River, named for its serene environment.

“Loggerhead Lane is an island unto itself,” Cromwell explained.

Loggerhead Lane is a lush, tropical attraction with a winding 1,250-foot-long lazy river featuring an up-close view of more than a dozen Caribbean flamingos, a habitat with fresh water turtles in an exhibit that will feature under- and above-water viewing.

“It’s called Lazy River because it’s slow-moving, you get into a tube, float along and relax,” Cromwell said.

Koontz said further public outreach would be conducted as they move forward with the project.

“It was hugely successful,” Cromwell said. “This is kind of a natural progression for us.”

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced it acquired Knott’s Soak City in November last year in a $15 million cash transaction for the nearly 33-acre park and almost 10 additional acres of vacant land.

The terms of the deal, which SeaWorld officials said have been under negotiation for several months and included expected attendance and cost were not disclosed.

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