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Aquatica - Introduction to Aquatica


Orlando is the home of the water park as we know it today. George D. Millay, a former SeaWorld official, started it all in 1977 with the opening of Wet ’n Wild, still going strong, just a short drive up International Drive from the SeaWorld parks. Since then, the concept has been copied, most noticeably by Disney, whose nearby complex has two water-themed parks. But despite its deep pockets and design talent, Disney hasn’t buried the competition and, with the arrival of Aquatica, Disney has some high-concept competition of its own.

Aquatica is a spacious and beautifully designed park, with a signature SeaWorld touch — dolphins! The addition of sea creatures to the water park formula gives Busch’s new entry an edge that’s not likely to be matched any time soon.

An often overlooked selling point of non-Disney water parks like Aquatica is that they all have numerous hotels and motels just a short drive away. This makes them especially easy to visit. If you are staying near Aquatica, there is little need, in my opinion, to trek all the way to Disney for a water park experience.

Like any self-respecting theme park, Aquatica has rides. But the rides here don’t rely on mechanical wonders or ingenious special effects. Indeed they are the essence of simplicity: You walk up and then, with a little help from gravity and a stream of water, you come down. The fun comes from the many variations the designers work on this simple theme.

They say that Aquatica looks to the South Seas for its themes, but the inspiration seems more geographically specific than that. Most of the names given to rides and attractions trace back to Australian, New Zealand, and Maori sources, the Maori being the aboriginal inhabitants of the island nation of New Zealand.

Busch seems to have made a very conscious decision to make this a family park. While there are some rides that qualify as speed slides, none of them are of the extreme-to-terrifying variety you will find at, say, Wet ’n Wild or Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Those more intense rides tend to attract a teenage and young adult crowd, who may find the offerings at Aquatica a bit tame for their tastes.

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