Knott's Soak City, Buena Park, CA
Howdy, folks! It's been a relatively warm past several days in Southern California, and to help cool you off, today's update brings us to Knott's Soak City, Orange County's largest water park! Granted, I think it might also be Orange County's only water park these days, but nonetheless, we have a fun report with some eye candy that might quench your mental thirst.
This past Saturday was opening day for the Knott's Soak City 2017 season, which also made it the first official day of the water park's new 2-acre, 7 slide expansion. It was a beautiful and hot day--perfect for cooling down at a water park like this. So lets take a look at what's new at Knott's Soak City and what else is there to explore at this aquatic neighbor across the street from Knott's Berry Farm!
To commemorate Soak City's expansion, the park invited the press groups to partake in a media day Saturday morning before the park officially opened. Knott's Vice President and General Manager, Jon Storbeck, made some remarks promoting the expansion and giving credit to the designers and workers who made this project come together. He was then joined by Buena Park Mayor Elizabeth Swift and a couple of city council members, who thanked the park for the economic support it provides the city and presented Storbeck with an honorary plaque celebrating the occasion.
Here we are at the entrance of Knott's Soak City!
Just inside the entry gates, a surfer sculpture greets guests while "surfing" in the middle of a fountain.
A little surf band playing for musical ambiance.
After a little breakfast, the media gathers for the opening ceremony.
Knott's GM, Jon Storbeck and Buena Park Mayor, Elizabeth Swift both talk about Knott's impact and new attractions.
Swift thanks Knott's for the employment and economic support the resort provides the local city and residents.
Snoopy joins in accepting the honorary plaque for Soak City's "re-opening," highlighted by the new expansion.
Time for the ceremonial ribbon cutting.
And hey! Soak City is officially expanded!
The big news for the season is the 2-acre, 7 slide expansion at the northeast corner of the park. Gone is the old Pacific Spin tornado water slide. In are Shore Break--featuring 6 total slides, including 4 Aqua-Launch slides that send riders into a series of enclosed turns and 2 more traditional innertube slides--and The Wedge, a family slide that accommodates up to six guests and takes riders down a series of twists and drops. A new lawn chair area also allows guests to relax and sunbathe.
Shore Break is a collection of six water slides located both right next to the entrance and at the far back northeast corner of the park.
Four of the slides are of the Aqua-Launch variety.
They're very fun and feel longer than they look.
Guests place themselves into enclosed tubes with trap doors. After a countdown, the door opens, and riders are flushed down into the slide with a surge of water.
Multiple people reported the countdown as the most harrowing part, but everyone seemed to love these new slides!
The other component was a pair of dueling slides that used inflatable rafts as vehicles.
Guests swing around and twists and turns. One features a steep final drop, while the other offers a double down.
Here's Park Journey's own Gregg Condon (friend of Westcoaster, despite what he might claim) trying it out.
These two slides were apparently shorter than they looked, though still fun.
Here's a view of Shore Break from the main path exiting the park.
Also new for 2017 is The Wedge.
It's a high capacity family water slide that seats up to six.
Riders are sent down a series of twists and turns here as well.
But it's a whole lot of fun.
Operations will hopefully pick up more efficiently, but many people seemed to really like this one.
The new outdoor lounging area adjacent to the new slides looks great.
It's a nice example of the new work from the landscaping department!
Remodeled Longboard's Grill
For 2017, Longboard's Grill has also been refurbished and beautified. The new interior aesthetic sports a clean, modern look with wood floor and wall panels and exposed ceilings for a somewhat industrial flare. The fare is typical theme park food--burgers and hot dogs and chicken tenders and the like. A new outdoor dining area with a fabric shade structure also provides some relief from the sun.
Welcome to Longboard's Grill! Signage coming soon (and inevitably on the punch list).
It's your basic amusement park cafeteria.
The remodel looks clean and pleasant.
The food service splits into two sides, each with its own set of cashiers.
Food is traditional fare, such as these fish and chips.
Hamburgers and cheeseburgers.
The onion rings are pretty tasty.
Those looking for healthier alternatives can find pre-packaged salads and sandwiches.
A little outdoor dining shelter provides some shade for guests too.
The Rest of Soak City
Of course, there's more to Knott's Soak City than the aforementioned attractions. For those of you who haven't visited this water park (I count myself among the guilty, though I'm actually not typically a water activities personanyway), here's a look at the other attractions. Plus, the entire park has been spruced up with new paint and new landscape to really make things shine. Saturday was a great showcase in the improvements Knott's has invested throughout their water park, and if the crowds were any indication, this should be a successful summer for Soak City!
Much of the park has received a fresh coat of paint and new landscaping improvements, and things look great!
This plaza area is sort of the hub of the park, with pathways that lead to various different zones.
This little shipwreck is a nice touch.
The Beach House is a big water play area.
Complete with bucket that fills up with water and eventually tips over.
When that happens, it makes a huge splash.
There are also a couple of kid-friendly water slides here too.
Gremmie Lagoon offers more child-friendly amenities and attractions, with wading-level pool play areas and miniature slides and climbing features.
When we first approached this area, Gregg misread the signage as "Gremlin Lagoon," which prompted laughter over the hilarious irony of such a potentially named part of a water park and then an idea for a Halloween water park overlay.
To our knowledge, no one has ever done a haunt at a water park before. Why couldn't Knott's, which came up with the whole haunt concept to begin with, be a pioneer there?
It's always super hot when Halloween season begins in mid-September anyway, and that warm weather often persists through mid-October. What a great way to cool down while still getting one's spoopy on?
Imagine a fogged out lazy river, with monsters lying in wait within the mist or hiding in the shrubbery beside the river, biding their time before striking out at floating passers-by.
Monsters could also ambush guests shooting out of water slides. Lighting could be installed to cast a blood red hue on the water areas to give the impression of blood.
And can you imagine monsters giving chase after guests on multi-person racer slides like Banzai Falls?
Plus, the slick ground is already naturally conducive to sliding.
I mean, there might be a few safety concerns to keep in mind, but Gregg and I still think it's a great idea.
Knott's, you think about it and have your people call our people.
Here's Laguna Storm Watch Tower.
Three enclosed, twisting slides.
It's been repainted for this year, one of several slides that's gotten some recoloring TLC.
Old Man Falls offers three slides of varying intensities.
Two offer some steep drops from the 63 foot tall tower.
A third slide offers a more windy route.
Right next to Old Man Falls is Malibu Run.
All four of these slides are of the single-person inner-tube variety.
Both Old Man Falls and Malibu Run have been repainted too, and I actually like the rainbow scheme.
Tidal Wave Bay offers a bodyboarding area with its own wave pool.
And of course, a water park wouldn't be a water park without a lazy river.
Soak City's is called Sunset River.
It's a "pinched 0" layout that is almost a figure 8, without the intersection.
The lazy river winds through a large majority of the park.
Guests get some nice views all around as they wind through.
The redone landscaping really makes this attraction nice and lush at certain moments.
And people definitely enjoy it.
I certainly enjoyed taking photos of the lovely ambiance.
Peeking between trees, with some more detail of the new landscaping work.
The park looks great, doesn't it?
Just keep floating. Just keep floating. Just keep floating floating floating...
Just nice and relaxing.
And one more, with Independence Hall in the background.
As a sidenote, our friends (friend?) at Park Journey would like to remind you that you can use your Knott's souvenir cup at Soak City as well, not just Knott's Berry Farm!
All in all, Knott's Soak City is pretty darn nice.
With this new expansion, Knott's Soak City has established itself as very respectable water park for the Southern California area. With over two dozen slides, there's plenty to do to last a good part of the day. The beautification throughout the park has also been pretty wonderful, and I was impressed by how fresh and new most everything looked. The park has certainly seen its fair share of rougher times in the past, but this TLC has really revived the ambiance. As the heat turns up, consider a visit to the other side of the Farm and take in the splashy fun that is Knott's Soak City!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.