A decade after its closure, construction begins on Wild Rivers water park

Children cool–off at Wild Rivers in Irvine in 2011. Construction of a new Wild Rivers park began Wednesday.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

During the 1990s and 2000s, Wild Rivers water park was the place to go in Orange County to cool off during the summer.

A decade after the theme park was closed, construction began on a new 20-acre Wild Rivers on Wednesday. The $60-million park may reopen as early as summer 2022 at the Orange County Great Park.

The park has been in the works for several years, but the Irvine City Council approved the location and lease in April 2020.

“It’s a treasure that we are excited to have in this city,” Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan said at the groundbreaking this week. “To make sure that not only today’s generation, but generations to come will be able to not only enjoy the amenities of Wild Rivers, but also have an opportunity to work at Wild Rivers. Wild Rivers is one of the highest employment opportunities for our teens.”

The new park will include 20 attractions on opening day, though other amusements are planned for the future, including a potential expansion of the park.

Development plans of the park show that it will be sectioned into three main areas. The southwest sector will include Adventure River, kids’ slides, a shallow activity pool called the Island and a play structure. The southeast sector will include family raft rides and a mixture of various slides. The northern area will have mat racers and the much-beloved wave pool.

The city of Irvine will construct a parking lot of about 1,230 spaces that it will lease to the water park.

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