You’ll find dozens of water slides, rides and attractions at Aquatica San Diego in Chula Vista (about 20 miles south of San Diego), SeaWorld’s latest water park venture. Whether you’re looking for the thrill of a dark, enclosed water slide that drops down an 80-foot descent at Hoo Roo Run, or a serene float along the lazy river at Loggerhead Lane, you’ll find plenty to do here to stay cool.
The South Seas-themed water park at Aquatica San Diego is smartly designed and feels manageable in size, with plenty of splashy water experiences to choose from, along with a couple of up-close animal experiences (Caribbean flamingos and freshwater turtle exhibits).
Ride some waves at Big Surf Shores, one of the largest wave pools in Southern California, with more than 500,000 gallons of water. Every 10 minutes or so, the waves start up and simulate the ocean. Kids under 48” tall are required to wear a life vest, which are complimentary and available in all sizes. Even though my kids could swim, they enjoyed using the vests in the deeper end of the wave pool.
Plenty of lounge chairs are set along the sandy beach near Big Surf Shores, which makes a nice place to relax in between rides. Tip: grab a spot in the shade when you arrive and leave a towel on your chair to reserve your spot.
Just around the corner, you’ll find lockers to rent and store your stuff. Small and large lockers are available to rent for $10-20 per day, though you’ll receive a $5 voucher when you return the key that is good at any culinary or merchandise location at Aquatica. Don’t forget the sunscreen (and drink plenty of water) as you get ready for a water-logged day full of adventure.
One of the most popular slides is Tassie’s Twister, a multi-person raft ride where you plunge down a 75-foot water slide before dropping into a six-story funnel with thousands of gallons of swirling water. Tip: do this first, before the line gets long. Another fun family ride using a giant circular tube is Walhalla Wave, which has a tube lift so you don’t have to lug it up the stairs!
When the kids want to run around and have fun, head over to Walkabout Waters, a four-story interactive and water playground with slides, hoses, jets, geysers and more. Every five minutes, a 500-gallon bucket unloads water on everyone below! Tip: do not stand directly underneath the bucket when it tips, as the force of the water will push you to the rough ground, and has been known to cause scraped knees. My kids learned this the hard way! A water play area for younger kids is Slippity Dippity, where toddlers can splash about as they explore kid-sized slides that are just right for them.
Older kids will like the slides at Whanau Way, which features six slides (four enclosed) at a 60-foot water slide complex, and Woohoo Falls, where three slides will take you through speedy twists and turns, including one in the dark.
All that water play will make you hungry, and you’ll find most of the concession stands in the same area. The food is pretty typical for a theme park, though stand-out dishes at Waterstone Grill include the Edamame Mixed Greens Salad Wrap with tomatoes and miso dressing, pulled pork carnitas and fish tacos. Italian fare, including pizza and pasta are sold at Mango Market, which, unfortunately, does not offer mangoes.
Try using Discovery Dollars (on waterproof wristbands), a convenient way to make purchases at Aquatica without worrying about having to use cash or losing credit cards. Tip: You can put a certain amount of “dollars” on a wristband for your older kids to wear and when they get thirsty or hungry, they don’t have to hunt you down. Eventually you’ll find ‘em, and have to drag them away at the end of the day, as they exclaim, “Just one more ride?”
Aquatica San Diego
2052 Entertainment Circle
Chula Vista, CA 91911
Aquatica San Diego is open daily between June 1 to Sept. 2 and weekends from Sept. 7 to Oct. 20. Admission is $38 for adults and $30 for kids (ages 3–9).