Wild Rivers (water park)


Wild Rivers was a water park in Irvine, California, United States. It opened in 1986 on the site of the former Lion Country Safari. Following the expiration of its lease with The Irvine Company, it closed permanently on September 25, 2011.[1] Since the closure, there have been plans to recreate Wild Rivers in Irvine on or near the Orange County Great Park have been under development.[2][3]


Before Wild Rivers was built, the land was a drive-through zoo called Lion Country Safari, which went bankrupt and closed in 1984. Construction on Wild Rivers "Mountain" began in 1985 and the park itself opened in 1986. The water park utilized a lot of the buildings left over from the land's previous occupant. A few years later it opened the first side by side wave pools in the country.


General tickets, for guests over 48" tall were $34.98, and junior tickets, for guests under 48" were $21.98. Admission after 4:00 p.m. was $21.98 ($16.98 for juniors). Admission was free for children under 2 years old and seniors over 65 years.

Season passes were $69.98 for one person or $249.98 for a family of four. Along with no blackout days, season pass holders were entitled to special discounts, including special Season Pass Sundays featuring discounts on drinks and hot dogs, and the ability to bring a buddy into the park for only $15 on select Sundays. The first open day of each season was dedicated only to season pass holders.

Food and Beverages

The park offered a wide variety of foods at its quick-service restaurants, including Colonel Hawkins, Congo Cafe, and La Fiesta (formerly called The Sweet Shoppe). There were also stands including Tropical Smoothies (selling bacon wrapped hot dogs and smoothies), Roasted Corn, Dippin' Dots, and a Portable Food Unit selling churros, pretzels, etc. In previous years, restaurants included Casa Ortega (Mexican Cuisine), Clayton Shurley's Texas BBQ, Wiley's Pizza, and a sandwich stop.caca sur ton front.


Wild Rivers staffed Red Cross certified lifeguards. First aid in the park was provided by certified emergency medical technician-basics (EMT-Bs). Since the park opened, there have been no official confirmed deaths.

The Infamous Edge and Ledge

The Edge and Ledge, or The Liquidator, was eventually closed in 2003 due to injuries. After its closure, rumors spread about how someone over the weight limit got stuck on the ride, and this has been confirmed to be true. One of the other problems was that the large drop at the end of the ride had many people hitting the top of the slide, as their velocity when sliding to the curve was much too fast to stay on the bottom. Many injuries occurred, and the slide began to lose its popularity. The left slide was closed down on a regular basis following the injuries, and the right slide followed soon after. The huge drop was taken out and was made into a smoother drop, but the ride still didn't become more popular. The Edge and Ledge were supposed to be re-opened, but after Wild Rivers had started to get one-year leases, they felt less confident in fixing a ride that could have been demolished the next season. The Edge and Ledge were never demolished while the park remained open and stayed inside the park until closing in 2011.

Rubber Ducky Derby

Each year Wild Rivers hosted a rubber duck race down the lazy river. Proceeds went to help underprivileged children and was called the Rubber Ducky Derby. Sponsors included UPS, Starbucks, The Anaheim Ducks, and elvistech.com. For 2005, a car show was added.


In early 2011, Wild Rivers announced that it had lost its lease with The Irvine Company. Both the park and the adjacent Camp James were scheduled to close at the end of the 2011 season.[4] The park was planned to be demolished with 1,750 apartments being built in its place. A new water park was planned to be built on public land near the Orange County Great Park, and was scheduled to open to the public in May 2014.[5]

In late 2011, Clearwater Water Park Development purchased Splash Kingdom Waterpark in Redlands, California. Senior managers from Wild Rivers now work as directors for the Splash Kingdom. Wild Rivers equipment such as rafts, seating, and shade canopies are also now used at Splash Kingdom.

Proposed Water park at the Orange County Great Park

Since 2012, there have been attempts to redevelop Wild Rivers on or near the Orange County Great Park. Though subject to occasional setbacks, as of March 2016 these plans are still under discussion. [6][7] And on June 26, 2016, the Great Park Board proposed two sites: one 35 acres and the other 60 acres.


An episode of Malcolm in the Middle has been filmed here, as well as an episode of Wild and Crazy Kids and The Bachelor. In June 2009, an episode of The Biggest Loser was filmed in one of the wave pools.

Wild Rivers was connected to Camp James, a children's day camp. It made daily visits to the park. Previously, Camp Frasier was housed on the same land.


  1. "Wild Rivers closes after 25 years". The Orange County Register. 2011-09-25. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  2. "Wild Rivers Waterpark, Irvine". Wildrivers.com. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  3. "New Wild Rivers approved by county supervisors". The Orange County Register. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
  4. Tully, Sarah (June 5, 2011). "Summer thrills, chills". The Orange County Register. p. Local 7.
  5. "New Wild Rivers approved by county supervisors". The Orange County Register. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  6. "Water park in Irvine's Great Park is closer to reality five years after Wild Rivers closed". Ocregister.com. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  7. "ORANGE COUNTY GREAT PARK BOARD REGULAR MEETING - May 24th, 2016". Irvine.granicus.com. 2016-05-24. Retrieved 2016-07-23.

External links

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