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Wet 'n Wild Orlando to close in 2016

Move comes as Universal Orlando develops Volcano Bay water park

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ORLANDO, Fla.Wet 'n Wild Orlando, a landmark attraction in Central Florida will close next year, Universal Orlando said Wednesday.

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"We are announcing that the park will close permanently on December 31, 2016," Universal Orlando said in a blog post. 

The move comes as Universal Orlando develops Volcano Bay near its Cabana Bay Beach Resort.  Universal has dubbed Volcano Bay a "next-generation water theme park."  It's scheduled to open in 2017.

[MORE: Theme World | PICS: Wet 'n Wild | VIDEO: More on Volcano Bay ]

"We're grateful to our countless fans and team members for making Wet ‘n Wild such a special place for so very long," Universal said.

Wet 'n Wild was one of the country's first water parks when it opened in 1977. It was acquired by Universal in 1998.

According to a report by the Themed Entertainment Association, Wet 'n Wild ranked fourth among the Top 20 water parks in North America, bringing in nearly 1.3 million visitors in 2014.

Universal said Wet 'n Wild employees will have the opportunity to work at its other resorts.

"There will be plenty of opportunity across all of Universal Orlando Resort and at Universal's Volcano Bay when it opens in 2017," Universal said.  "Our hope is that these team members will take on new roles across our destination as we move forward."

Universal Orlando's upcoming water park is more than just slides and rivers - Universal calls it a water "theme" park.

Renderings show Volcano Bay will be lush, "inspired by postcard-perfect tropical islands," as described by Universal.

The renderings show a lazy river, rapid river, wave pool, water-coaster, and slides shooting out of the apparent centerpiece - the volcano.

The site is set on 25 acres along I-4 and Turkey Lake Road just south of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

The site is part of the main Universal campus so there is no crossing I-4 to get to it. Guests will not have to leave Universal property to get to Volcano Bay, which is slated to open in 2017.

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