There’s a winter storm pummeling much of the country, we just marked Valentines and Presidents Day off our calendars, and we’re still in the midst of a devastating, world-altering, global pandemic. Taken together, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that February 16th, 2021 is an odd time to talk about Water Country USA—yet here we are, as the news requires.
So why are we writing about Water Country USA today? Because ParkFans member and friend of the site, Jahrules, spotted what could be a fairly major development—new soil testing is planned around the current site of Water Country USA’s Rampage.
For the uninitiated, soil evaluation is often necessary to design the foundations for significant new structures. Tests like these are often one of our first publicly-citable indicators suggesting possible future development plans for a given site. In other words, when we see soil testing, we go on high alert because, historically, it has essentially always meant something noteworthy is afoot.
So what do we know about this round of soil testing? As per normal with soil boring, not much. The utility marking ticket states that there are eight locations from which tests will be taken—four to the east of Rampage, three to the west of Rampage, and one to the north of Rampage. For those of you unfamiliar with the site, I’ve included a map below to give a rough idea of how the soil testing locations are distributed around Rampage.
The only other thing the utility marking ticket for this new soil test offers us is a rough outline of the area in which the markings are needed. Theoretically we could use this to estimate the maximum possible bounds of the area in which deep foundations would be needed for this project, but in practice, these maps are often very imprecise so I wouldn’t read too much into the exact shape just yet. With that said, I’ve included the location map for the marking request below—just don’t treat it as gospel.
So what does this new development mean for Rampage? Likely nothing good. In my estimation, new soil tests surrounding Rampage on three sides strongly suggests that the park is looking at a full removal and replacement project—not a renovation a la Aquazoid Amped or even a massive overhaul like Cutback—neither of which seemed to require soil tests like we’re seeing evidence of on Rampage’s site today.
Furthermore, the potential impending demise of Rampage shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Though I will certainly be among those who will miss it, the writing has long been on the wall.
Rampage, a rare example of a still-operating Bailey Rides Aqua Skoot, has long suffered from lackluster ridership—likely due in large part to its intimidating look and hidden location. Worse yet, over the last couple years, Rampage, along with its aging tube slide neighbor, Wild Thang, have both been put on intermittent operation—only opening when park attendance is expected to justify additional slide capacity. Paired with Rampage’s tremendously low max throughput and the death of its twin, Everglides, at Water Country USA’s sister park, Adventure Island, we shouldn’t be terribly surprised that SeaWorld Parks would be looking at retiring Rampage.
Beyond simply looking for a justification to remove Rampage, there are other reasons this site makes a ton of sense for future expansion. That whole corner of the park—consisting only of Wild Thang, Rampage, the long-vacant dive show theater, and the decaying remnants of Atomic Breakers—has felt dead, lifeless, and neglected for years now. The rundown, dated vibe of this area is especially tragic given how close it is to the park’s entrance and the wave pool. This area is primed to be one of the most exciting and populous areas of Water Country USA but, frankly, right now it’s just wasted space.
Okay, lets talk timeline. If (big if!) a Rampage replacement project grows from the soil testing discovered today, it seems likely that such a replacement could be on track for a 2022 debut. That said, given the state of the industry and the world, it’s not unrealistic to think this could end up being a 2023 or even a 2024 project instead. Basically, all we know right now is that SeaWorld Parks is seriously considering doing something with Rampage’s site in the years ahead. Whether and when that will ultimately come to fruition is anyone’s guess right now.
Another note on the potential timeline of a theoretical Rampage replacement project: The 2022 estimate depends on Aquazoid Amped managing to open this summer. Right now, our understanding is that work has resumed on the Aquazoid site and we don’t have any real reason to think that the project will be delayed yet another year. Still, this stipulation is worth noting—if Aquazoid Amped is pushed to 2022, it only seems reasonable for Water Country USA to shove a potential Rampage replacement back as well.
If Rampage’s removal and replacement does end up being a 2022 project, I should point out that it’s not entirely impossible that Rampage may have already given its final rides. Given the rough operating conditions Water Country USA is faced with this year, leaving Rampage and Wild Thang closed for 2021 is probably already an enticing prospect for the park. If this were going to be Rampage’s final year of operation anyway, I could see where calling it quits now could make sense.
Hopefully that depressing scenario doesn’t pan out and we all get to give Rampage the final goodbye it deserves! After more than 30 years of service, it deserves a proper sendoff—especially given the rarity of the model!
Whatever SeaWorld Parks is considering for the site of Water Country USA’s Rampage, hopefully it’s a large anchor of an attraction that can singlehandedly revitalize this corner of the park. With any luck, it will only be the first of many changes to come to the surrounding area—Water Country USA can only leave that dive show theater abandoned for so long… right? Fingers crossed… ?
Whether you’re awaiting Pantheon testing news, anxiously wondering what the hell is going on with the Festhaus Park coaster project, trying to work out what exactly SeaWorld has up their sleeves for Aquazoid Amped, or you just want to figure out whether or not Rampage will ever operate again, make sure you give us a like or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!