Wild Rivers moving to El Toro land

A new Wild Rivers location is expected to open in May 2014 in Irvine with a 25-year lease.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the park's construction and operation at its July 30 meeting.

The Irvine Co. did not renew its lease with Wild Rivers last October, leading the water park to close, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Its last day was Sept. 25. The location, next to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, was open for 27 years.

"We are pleased to be bringing apartments to the greater Irvine Spectrum area," said Irvine Co. spokeswoman Erin Freeman. We are also glad to see Wild Rivers has found a permanent location nearby."

The Irvine Co. is working on building 1,750 apartments on the former Wild Rivers site, according to a spokesman. The first leases should be available early next year.

The new park will take up about 17 acres, three more than the previous location, at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, which is across from the Orange County Great Park, according to a news release.

"Everything will be new," said Wild Rivers President Mike Riedel. "All the slides and attractions will be new. The overall family look and feel and management philosophy will be the same. Wild Rivers has always focused on families, and that will continue."

The new location will create about 1,200 jobs, with many being filled by local high school students, according to Riedel and the release.

Riedel said that the company expects previous employees to return, as well as new hires.

"Typically we have pretty good retention," he said. "There will be a huge difference in youth employment in 2014."

County Land Development Manager James Campbell said he feels Wild Rivers is important because it has provided many jobs for youth and brought in a lot of revenue for Orange County.

The county anticipates receiving at least $30 million over the lease.

Both Wild Rivers and the county are excited for the development of the new water park, Riedel said.

"It's a chance to build it exactly the way you want it and put in the newest and best rides," he said. "It will be really cool to open the doors the first day and show everyone exactly what a water park should look like."

Campbell said Wild Rivers has "been an Orange County institution for years, and we're excited to save that and keep it in the O.C."


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