Does the Aquatica Water Park At SeaWorld San Diego Live Up To Its Legacy?

Posted by Kate W on Monday, June 3rd, 2013

For nearly fifty years, the SeaWorld theme park chain has dazzled, entertained, and educated visitors with a variety of attractions, including its signature aquatic shows featuring orcas, sea lions, and dolphins. This weekend the SeaWorld family got a little bit bigger with the opening of Aquatica San Diego, a sister park to SeaWorld San Diego.

Water slides at SeaWorld's Aquatica water park

The two other SeaWorld locations already have Aquatica parks of their own nearby: the first Aquatica opened in 2008 near SeaWorld Orlando (also home to the 3D TurtleTrek attraction, as well as the newly-opened and highly-anticipated Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin exhibit), and  a second one opened last year by SeaWorld San Antonio.

Water slide at SeaWorld's Aquatica water park

Aquatica San Diego may be at a slight disadvantage compared to its predecessors, though: while the earlier two Aquatica locations are located adjacent to their sister SeaWorld parks, Aquatica San Diego is actually located several miles away in the city of Chula Vista. Yes, the park will be warmer here (it’s much more temperate in Chula Vista than it is at SeaWorld San Diego’s Mission Bay location), but its distance from its sister park will make it a challenge to draw in crossover visitors.

Oddly enough, the fact that the new Aquatica is taking the place of an already-existing water park may work against it, too. While Aquatica in Orlando is celebrated for its one-of-a-kind attractions, Aquatica San Diego hasn’t been lavished with the same attention to detail. Instead, park owners took three months to put together a comprehensive but very quick facelift to the defunct Knott’s Soak City that previously inhabited the park’s location.  As a result, Aquatica San Diego certainly offers a vast array of wet and wild rides, but nothing as cutting-edge as you might find at previous Aquatica incarnations.

Water slides at SeaWorld's new Aquatica water park in San Diego

 Most puzzlingly, Aquatica San Diego is lacking in the signature animal attractions that make parks in the SeaWorld family stand out. There is a nod to the signature natural elements: riders on the Loggerhead Lane lazy river attraction will see brightly-colored Caribbean flamingos, and there is an interestingly-constructed freshwater turtle exhibit that can be viewed from above or below the habitat. But the park lacks any of the signature marine animal interaction that is a staple at other Aquatica locations.

Aquatica San Diego does have plenty going for it. Fans of wave pools of waterslides will certainly find plenty to pique their interest, and kid-friendly features make it a great family destination. Ultimately though, if you’re looking for the SeaWorld experience in San Diego, you should definitely make it a point to visit the original SeaWorld park. In addition to its incredible shows, it also has plenty of fun rides, like its family-friendly take on the Manta roller coaster. Aquatica is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a standard water park attraction full of wave pools and waterslides, but it does not act as an extension of the SeaWorld brand’s focus on edutainment and marine life.

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