New hotels proposed for Wet 'n Wild property, records show

Lake at former water park could be altered

By Mike DeForest - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Less than a week after America's first major water park permanently closed, workers have begun preparing Wet 'n Wild for demolition.

Shortly after the last visitors exited the water park on New Year's Eve, Wet 'n Wild's marquee was removed from view along International Drive. The wave pool and lazy river have been drained. Water has been shut off to the park's numerous flume rides. Construction equipment is being rolled in as moving vans filled with items from the shuttered attraction roll out.

Representatives with Universal Orlando, which purchased Wet 'n Wild in 2013, have not officially disclosed their future plans for the former water park property.

However, records obtained by News 6 show the company has considered building hotels where visitors once zoomed down waterslides.

"(Universal) has not finalized any future plans for the subject property at this time," a company attorney wrote in an October court filing. "However, it is currently anticipated, based on preliminary plans, that the property on which the theme park is now located will be redeveloped for hotel uses, among other legally permitted uses."

The court filing is part of a lawsuit Universal Studios Water Parks Florida LLC filed against Orange County government and a condominium complex located on a man-made lake across from Wet n' Wild.

Universal has accused the county and The Enclave at Orlando Condominium Association of improperly draining stormwater into Sandy Lake, which sits mostly on the Wet n' Wild property. The defendants dispute Universal's allegations.

In its lawsuit, Universal did not explain why outside stormwater might cause problems for the company.

However, in response to questions posed by Orange County attorneys, Universal officials were required to describe any future or proposed plans for the Wet n' Wild property.

"The excessive drainage of inadequately treated stormwater into Sandy Lake impedes (Universal's) ability at this time to materially alter Sandy Lake," the company's attorney wrote. "(Universal) may reconfigure the layout and shoreline of (Sandy Lake)."

The company has the right to expand or change its uses of Sandy Lake at any time, the October court filing stated.

Topography maps of the Wet 'n Wild property from the 1960s show that the area where the man-made lake now sits was once dry land.

Universal lawyers did not specify how much of Sandy Lake may be altered. If the company were to fill in a large portion of the lake, the amount of land at the former waterpark available to build those proposed hotels could potentially double.

As of October, Universal officials had not had any communication with the South Florida Water Management District, according to the court filing. The government agency, which oversees flood control and water quality issues, would likely be involved with any alterations to Sandy Lake.

Universal is building a brand new waterpark across I-4 from Wet 'n Wild near its other theme parks and hotels. Volcano Bay is scheduled to open this summer.

 

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