Wild Rivers set for return to Southern California

A new waterpark with a familiar name is coming to Irvine in Orange County, Southern California.

Irvine City Council officials are in talks with representatives of the former Wild Rivers waterpark about opening a new park in around two years.

The city’s original Wild Rivers closed in 2011 after a 25-year run when its lease with the local authority expired. That site now houses an apartment complex, but a fresh site has been identified at Great Park.

“Wild Rivers has been an icon in the city of Irvine,” councilwoman Melissa Fox told the Orange County Register. “We do know that it’s been well-managed. We know that as a parent we are able to rely on the safety of this venue, which was the most important thing.”.
Wild Rivers president Mike Riedel claims to have secured $40 million of the required $50 million financing for the new park. The operator is now negotiating lease terms over a 30-acre site at Great Park.

A preliminary concept for the park has been prepared by WhiteWater. As well as waterslides, an uphill water coaster, water play structure, wave pool and lazy river are planned. A new version of Wild Rivers’ popular Congo River Rapids will also be featured.

“It will be Wild Rivers, but it will be better,” says Riedel. “There will be something for everybody.”

Wild Rivers Irvine

A preliminary design for the new waterpark by WhiteWater

Wild Rivers and other proposals for Great Park

Riedel first approached Irvine officials about relocating Wild Rivers after the park closed six years ago. He was not alone, however, in submitting plans for an attraction at Great Park. A waterpark, rafting and kayaking park by Western Whitewater Works and S20 Design and Engineering was also proposed, along with a 15-acre surfing lake by Surfloch. The former was deemed difficult to evaluate because it had separate operations, site plans, branding and financial projections.

If things go smoothly, the new Wild Rivers could open in May 2019.

Wild Rivers Ivine

The original Wild Rivers waterpark (image courtesy Wild Rivers)

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