Diving again into Orange County, we found ourselves at Knott’s Soak City this Saturday for the re-opening of the park for 2017 season. For the last few years, Knott’s has seemingly chosen on one aspect of their parks to seriously overhaul in time for Summer, and this is year it was Soak City’s turn.
Eagle-eyed visitors to Knott’s may have noticed how a small area of the parking lot had been closed off earlier this year. That small corner and some other areas, were used to expand Soak City by 2 acres to the now 15-acre size making room for two new attractions. Honestly, while Knott’s is promoting these as two new attractions, thematically named The Wedge and Shore Break, they’re downplaying how Shore Break is essentially two sets of slides in the same tower, effectively making it actually 3 types of new slides in the park.
The Wedge is a 6-person raft ride geared towards families. For a water-park raft ride, it’s a decent length and picks up some decent speed towards the end, especially if you can travel with a big group. Even in a group of 2, however, it’s great fun. Thankfully there’s a fairly robust treadmill system to automatically return the rafts to the top so you don’t need to lug the raft up the stairs yourself. Akin to Bigfoot Rapids, there’s always going to be someone that ends up getting a bit more soaked each time than the rest of the group, which helps add to the ability to re-ride it multiple times.
Shore Break is a bit more complex to explain, easier to explain in two halves. The lower half is a pair of tube slides allowing for either single or double riders. One features a double drop while the other has a much steeper single drop. Aside from the final drops, the majority is enclosed. Without the drops at the end, there wouldn’t be much to say. Thankfully those dips do make all the difference and really add that punch at the right time. The real draw of Shore Break is the upper half, though. That’s where you’ll find the 4 capsule slides waiting to take on brave participants. Because there’s no inner-tubes to take along with you, the pipes themselves are much slimmer, an effect that’s heightened as they swirl and mix around with the two other larger pipes from the slides of the lower half. Just getting into capsule is intimidating enough for many guests. The lifeguards explain the posture you must hold for the duration of the slide and tell you to step inside. As you step in the capsule, you notice it has a glass floor you have to step on, making it quite obvious how deep that first drop is. Once you are in position, a voice speaks into your chamber from overhead, counting down to the moment the platform drops out from under you.
Additionally, because this is in a new area on the north-end of the park, it helps to spread the crowds out evenly because the traditionally more adventurous slides are at the opposite end of the park. This is an important thing to note as water parks can get packed on especially hot weekends. Outside of some questionable materials (carpet and foam padding) on the bridges over the lazy river, the majority of the concrete never got too hot to walk barefoot on. There were also a lot of grassy areas to lay down towels if you didn’t feel like grabbing a chair somewhere. Despite the number of people flooding into the park, you could always find a place to sit down, dry off and rest.
Speaking of sitting down, regarding food and drinks, the entire interior of Longboard’s Grill was redone, and Coke refill stations were added all over the park for those guests who purchased the refillable containers. So if you’re thirsty, you’re never too far from a drinking station.
On top of all that, the landscaping was also thoroughly touched up all over. The long standing planter in the front of the park with the surfer statue was finally converted into a fountain, finally doing the statue thematic justice. All the slides had fresh paint, making it look like a grand opening from the debut year. Plus, the new expansion into the parking lot also gave them a chance to add clear signage out in the parking lot showing more directly where the water park entrance is, as opposed to being slightly hidden facing towards the lagoon. Little changes like really contribute to a better impression of the experience as a whole.
If there was anything left to be improved around the park, it would be in the lazy river. While the park on the whole is decorated well enough, there’s only a few distractions provided on the river’s course, and a single leaky bucket as the sole source of any water feature with nary a water jet or waterfall to be found along the rest of the flowing path. While some may argue for a more relaxing lazy river, the lineup of people waiting to float underneath the leaky bucket seems to indicate a desire for more entertainment along the path, even if it was just a mister underneath a bridge, or some water cannon along the edge.
This doesn’t even touch on the existing slides that already were in the park, or the kiddie beach house, or wave pool, or all the other attractions around the water park. So there’s plenty to occupy a good morning or afternoon with. Although, being as we’re a theme park website, we’d also feel that once your day is finished in Soak City, you’d be missing out if you didn’t shower, dry off, put on some fresh clothes and waltz across Beach Boulevard right into Knott’s Berry Farm to finish off the day. You’re already there, why not?
For more photos of our day at Knott’s Soak City, check out the gallery below!