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SeaWorld buys Knott's Soak City

Orlando, Fla.-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced Tuesday it has acquired Knott's Soak City in Chula Vista for an undisclosed sum.

The park at 2042 Otay Valley Road will undergo extensive renovation over the fall and winter and re-open next spring as SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment's third Aquatica-branded park. Both SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio now operate Aquatica parks.

"Aquatica San Diego, like its sister parks, will feature guest experiences with a variety of exotic animals," said Jim Atchison, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment president and CEO, in a statement. "Having animals in our Aquatica parks adds an educational component to a waterpark visit that is both unexpected and enriching."

The first Aquatica opened adjacent to SeaWorld Orlando in 2008. It is now among the nation's most visited waterparks, with annual attendance of roughly 1.5 million guests. In addition to birds and tropical fish, Aquatica Orlando features Dolphin Plunge, the park's centerpiece water slide, which includes an enclosed acrylic slide that allows riders to see animals underwater.

Last year SeaWorld San Antonio unveiled its own Aquatica that, along with rides, features displays of kookaburra, spoonbills and southern stingrays.

"When the gates of Aquatica San Diego open for the first time next June, guests will see what visitors to Orlando and San Antonio already know: No theme park company can deliver a waterpark experience quite like SeaWorld," said John Reilly, president of the company's San Diego attractions. "Aquatica will be a great complement to SeaWorld and help us continue to bring value to our guests and enhance this destination."

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment now owns 11 parks across the United States, playing host to more than 24 million guests a year.

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