A recreational fixture in Orange County, Wild Rivers water park in Irvine, has lost its lease and is set to close after this summer’s season after 25 years in business.
The Irvine Company owns the land on which Wild Rivers sits. It’s right next to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. The Irvine Company had planned to build apartments on the land four years ago. Then the real estate market tanked, and the company put those plans on hold. Wild Rivers stayed put. Now that the real estate market is picking up, the building plan is back on.
"We’ve been through this dance before, so the initial response, I think, when people hear this is, 'Oh, we’ve been hearing that for years,'" says Mike Riedel, president of Wild Rivers. "I think now the reality that it’s very, very likely that this is actually the final year is starting to actually hit people."
Riedel says he and others are working to secure a new home for the water park — perhaps at Irvine’s Great Park — but he says that process is pretty slow.
"Wild Rivers is kind of a family, you know," Riedel says. "The people that have been there ... have been there a very long time. You know, I think they’re hopeful that we can find a spot and continue on doing what it is that we do for our staff and our community. So I think their response is mostly, 'I really hope that this doesn’t end.'"
If Wild Rivers can’t find a new home for next summer, that will leave only one water park in Orange County — Knott’s Berry Farm’s Soak City — plus Raging Waters just north of the county line in San Dimas.
Riedel says the park would have to find a new home by October in order to give workers time to rebuild the slides and pools at a different location.