Don Bauder 6:30 p.m., May 25
Classing up the joint
SeaWorld buys Knott's Soak City, plans "tasteful" renovation, "because that's what people expect from a water slide park."
Simon Blowhole, Sea World's head of aquatic aesthetics, sat down with SD on the QT to discuss some of the changes that attendees can expect to see when the Soak City re-opens as Aquatica in March of 2013. "Overall," spouted Blowhole, "the goal is bring style where before there was only enthusiasm."
"The Funnel is easily the park's premiere attraction, thanks to the visceral thrill of sliding up the interior wall of the cone almost to the point of free fall. But obviously, simple thrills aren't enough, not even when they take place in something that looks like it's straight out of a Tim Burton film. Today's water park patron requires an experience - something meaningful and, dare I say it, transcendent. Just as Sea World has transformed the Shamu show from mere marine-mammal spectacle to a theatrical meditation on the power of dreams, Aquatica will transform the banal pleasures of sliding down a tube full of water into an immersive adventure through an undersea world. People won't even notice that the garish bulk The Funnel is gone. They'll be too busy straining to catch a glimpse of a dolphin as they hurtle past on the Dolphin Plunge. And even if they don't manage to spot anything, our patented Showfish technology will add a few critters to their souvenir photo (for an additional cost, of course). What actually happens isn't really important; it's the memory that matters."
"Currently, the park's Slide Central stands as a stylistic mishmash crafted from a Crayola riot of bright colors, like some kind of toy-box twist n' build nightmare. The emphasis is on choice and variety rather than excellence and taste - a McDonald's menu of underwhelming options. Again, totally inappropriate for the sophisticated water-park patron of today. We're not talking about middle-aged Midwesterners with beer guts and flip-flops, waddling shirtless from ride to ride in a sunburned daze of happy family-time. We're talking about the sort of people who will be able to afford the jacked-up admission and parking fees that we're going to require once we bring the space up to Sea World standards. Aquatica's renovation will embrace the stark beauty of our iconic treasure, Shamu, and offer two basic slides: one black, one white. More than sufficient, and very much in keeping with today's spirit of childhood fun."
"Oh, and there's an app," concluded Blowhole.
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