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Thursday, September 16, 2021

With a major new attraction likely in the works, Tampa's Adventure Island looks to move out of the shadow of other Florida water parks

Posted By on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 at 3:07 PM

  • Image via Adventure Island
With competition from more than half a dozen water parks in the Orlando market, Tampa’s Adventure Island is often an afterthought.

Based on how the decades-old water park looks compared to its sister parks like Aquatica and Water Country, USA, the park seems to be the outcast of the SeaWorld chain, which includes three other water parks and two children’s parks that feature water park attractions.

Like all of SeaWorld’s parks, Adventure Island has seen a steady rollout of new attractions, with new attractions typically opening every other year. The most recent attraction to open was Solar Vortex, the first dual tailspin waterslide in the nation. With the pandemic receiving most of the attention at the time of its opening, Solar Vortex opened with little fanfare.

Despite the investments in new slides, the forty-one-year-old water park has begun showing its age in recent years. Many of its older slides look faded, and numerous buildings around the park showing signs of deterioration. After remaining closed for the 2020 season, the Runaway Rapids, the park’s first body slides, were demolished at the start of this year. The mountain-themed water slide complex featured five slides of various lengths, though none offered the thrills today’s water park guests have come to expect.
click to enlarge The new Riptide Race waterslide at Aquatica Orlando - PHOTO VIA SEAWORLD
  • Photo via SeaWorld
  • The new Riptide Race waterslide at Aquatica Orlando
We’re now learning what may replace Runaway Rapids. On his theme park rumor news site, Screamscape, Lance Hart shared a supposed leaked image of a new, side-by-side racing slides. The yet-to-be-confirmed slide looks to be a mix between the dueling slide, Riptide Race, that opened at SeaWorld’s Aquatica Orlando park in April and the Cutback Water Coaster that opened at Water Country, USA in 2019.
click to enlarge Water Country USA's Cutback Water Coaster - IMAGE VIA BUSCH GARDENS WILLIAMSBURG
  • Image via Busch Gardens Williamsburg
  • Water Country USA's Cutback Water Coaster
Adventure Island is just one of only two major water parks in Central Florida not to feature a water slide with a launch. The rumored slide looks to have four launches plus other features, including low-walled sections that allow riders to see where their competition is. Images show a yellow and green color scheme with blue accents in keeping with the colorful, tropical slides that Adventure Island has added in recent years.

The slide is thought to use the existing Wahoo Run slide tower with permits already filed showing work on the tower and areas nearby. Wahoo Run also sat out last year’s season, and Adventure Island has confirmed that the family slide, opened in 2000, will receive “first-of-its-kind ride elements” ahead of its reopening, which has yet to be announced.
click to enlarge Some of the tiki-inspired mugs available at the Hang Ten Tiki Bar - IMAGE VIA ADVENTURE ISLAND
  • Image via Adventure Island
  • Some of the tiki-inspired mugs available at the Hang Ten Tiki Bar
For those needing some liquid courage before jumping on the multi-launch water coaster or any of the other nearly dozen slides found at the park, a brand-new tiki bar is here to help. While the racing slide is still just a rumor, the tiki bar is now open and offers a full selection of tiki-inspired mixologist-curated drinks, including surf-themed rum or beer flight. The Hang Ten Tiki Bar offers twenty hand-selected craft rums, including multiple locally distilled ones. Tropic-inspired fruit juice-based non-alcoholic drinks are also available. Many of the drinks are served in collectible souvenir tiki-style cups.
click to enlarge A look at the inside of the Hang Ten Tiki Bar - IMAGE VIA ADVENTURE ISLAND
  • Image via Adventure Island
  • A look at the inside of the Hang Ten Tiki Bar
With the park finally getting the love it deserves, the limited operating calendar it previously had would no longer suffice. Adventure Island will now also operate on a year-round basis. The Gulf Coast water park will have water heaters to ensure guest comfort during the colder times of the year. Similar heaters have allowed Aquatica Orlando to operate on days with temperate well below the standard sunbathing range. Like manatees to a spring, the warm water of the park’s lazy rivers acts as a magnet for those seeking a place to relax.

Busch Gardens Tampa has seen major investments in recent years, making it one of the nation’s premier thrill parks. Adventure Island still has a way to go before competing in a similar fashion among water parks, but if recent actions are any indication, it is well on its way.

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