Less than a half hour from Coronado , Aquatica, Sea World's Waterpark, offers fun for a wide range of ages. Finding the park is easy (it is adjacent to the Sleep Train Ampitheatre) and there is ample parking ($15). The day we were there, a Friday, there was a decent crowd, but we didn't wait in line for more than 10 minutes on any ride, except Tassie's Twister, one of the more high thrill rides in the park.
We were at the window in less than ten minutes to get our tickets and then proceeded through the entrance gates. The landscaping is very nice with huge hanging baskets of flowers and colorful groundcover. Just like Sea World, the grounds are clean and the employees are plenty. We decided on a large locker ($15 for the day) to stash our camera and cell phones while we enjoyed the park. This allowed us access to our stuff, but kept us from worrying about it while we weren't at our "spot".
Aquatica offers lounge chairs at various locations in the park. We opted to "set up shop" in the "Big Surf Shores" (wave pool area) under an umbrella. There are areas covered by large canvas shades, so you definitely have the option of shade or sun.
Our first venture was the wave pool in "Big Surf Shores". The waves start about every eleven minutes and there is a big digital countdown clock so you know exactly when to expect the commotion. Our ten year old loves the wave pool. The water was a little cold at first, but not so bad that you don't acclimate to it. There are several areas through out the park where complimentary USCG approved life jackets are available. Even those who can't swim can enjoy the water park.
We next visited "Whanau Way", a collection of six different water slides, four enclosed, two open, that you slide down on your back. They each have some twists and turns. Our girls liked the enclosed slides because they appear to have specks that glow in the dark as you pass through the slide. The line was divided into "enclosed slides" and "open air slides". The open air slides seemed to have the longer lines because there are fewer of them.
We braved "Hoo Roo Run", pictured here at the right (even though it's the sign for "Woohoo Falls"). Hoo Roo Run is a group of four slides that are very steep, very fast and don't end in an actual "pool". Exciting and thrilling, these slides were fun, but are definitely for the braver riders in the bunch. One of the nice things about the park is a path that leads up and around to any of the slides in the four groups Whanau Way, Hoo Roo Run, Woohoo Falls and Kiwi Curl. A peek at the park map will help you see how accessible everything is.
"Woohoo Falls" and "Kiwi Curl" were by far my favorite slides. Each is a collection of three slides, one open air and two closed that require you to ride on a plastic tube with handles on each side. The tube protects your body from contact with the actual slide, but also propels you down the slide at a good pace. You end in a pool, jump off the tube and exit via stairs. Lots of fun!
The entire family rode "Walhalla Wave". You sit (and hold on to) a large round raft and travel down a slide that is 78 feet high. It's pretty exciting and even a little scary, but fun.
No water park would be complete without the crowd favorite "lazy river" and Aquatica does not disappoint. Dubbed "Loggerhead Lane", the river circles around "Slippity Dippity", an area designed for guests under 42 inches tall, complete with small water slides and other features for water play. It also surrounds "Walkabout Waters", popular for the large bucket that drops a huge amount of water on guests every few minutes and "Kata's Kookaburra Cove", a small pool area fun for just relaxing. The river is 2 feet, 9 inches deep and moves at a safe, slow speed. Having lost our daughter in the river of another water park many years ago (the current was so fast it carried her away on her tube), I can say that this river is very family-friendly. It is easy to enter and exit as the current is very relaxed. Guests are required to have a flotation tube and there were plenty available for use. Lifeguards are posted all around the river to keep a watchful eye on participants.
Our ten and twelve year olds enjoyed climbing through the ropes, using the slides and standing under the huge bucket waiting for the water to come crashing down!
Squeals of delight can be heard at Walkabout Waters every time the large bucket tips over, spilling LOTS of water!
"Tassie's Twister" can be seen as you enter the park and is described as a high thrill ride. My husband and our two oldest girls rode this one. They said it was fun, though the girls said it was pretty intense. Screams can be heard emanating from the large funnel all day long as rafts make their way up and down the walls of the funnel.
We chose to leave our towels, water bottles, shoes and clothes on our lounge chairs as we explored the park. Nobody touched anything. The park was clean and lifeguards and other staff were visible and plenty. A visitor favorite attraction is the live flamingoes just past the park entrance. There are also turtles at the entrance to Big Surf Shores.
Though you cannot bring food into the park, you can get your hand stamped for re-entry if you wish to pack a lunch and eat outside the park. We chose to buy lunch in the park. The food selection was, as our twelve year old put it, "great'! We sampled a baked pasta dish, some hamburgers and carne asada tacos. The burgers were a good size and included lettuce, pickles and tomato, on the side. Be aware that each item is a la carte, so, for example, the burger did not come with the fries. Fries were available, but had to be purchased separately. There was a variety of different food offered and, thankfully, funnel cakes!
The rest rooms had plenty of stalls and I didn't stand in line to use them once. That's saying a lot for a women's restroom--no line! Maybe my timing was good or maybe the number of stalls is sufficient for the number of guests. There is a family restroom available as well as dressing rooms and outdoor showers.
Not to be overlooked is Sea World's efforts to be environmentally friendly. There were paper straws for drinks and recycling bins adjacent to every trash can.
Safety was, as it should be around water, of primary concern. The method of allowing guests to enter each ride is very controlled. Access is limited and lifeguards and attraction attendants are alert and aware.
We could say we have been to this water park before since we visited it about ten years ago in its previous form. Really, we have been to this location before, but not this water park because it is new and improved. It is bright and colorful, beautifully landscaped and an absolute great way to spend a day enjoying water, wind, friends and family.
To plan your trip to Sea World's Aquatica, visit their excellent website which is currently offering $5 off park admission.
Aquatica is located at 2052 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista, CA 91911
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**Special thanks to Kelly Terry and Sea World's Aquatica Waterpark for making this article possible.
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