Universal acquires Wet 'n Wild parks


UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif.--The Universal Studios Recreation Group, the parent of the Universal Studios theme parks here and in Orlando, Fla., acquired the privately held Wet 'n Wild, Inc., which is based in Arlington, Texas.

With Wet 'n Wild in Orlando, Universal now owns the highest-attended water park in the U.S., handling more than 1 million visitors per year. Integration of Wet 'n Wild Orlando into the Universal Studios Escape destination resort is expected to enhance sales by tour operators and agents of on-site vacations, a Universal spokesman said.

With Wet 'n Wild, the CityWalk (the entertainment and dining enclave opening later this fall), the second Universal theme park (Islands of Adventure) and new hotels, Universal officials expect visitors to stay longer.

In addition to the Orlando facility, Wet 'n Wild operates a water park in Las Vegas and has water parks under a franchise in Bahia, Brazil, and Cancun, Mexico. Two more parks are planned for Brazil.

Universal Studios Japan, modeled after the original park, is slated to open in 2001. Just opened in China was Universal Studios Experience Beijing, an indoor entertainment and retail project. Universal also holds an interest in Port Adventura, a major theme park in Spain.

Universal Studios Florida and Wet 'n Wild are less than a mile away from each other, the Universal spokesman noted. Universal's Flexticket, which has been offered for about two years, features discounted, unlimited admissions with transportation to Universal, Wet 'n Wild and the Sea World (Orlando) Adventure Park. The Flexticket will be expanded during 1999 to include Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park, the spokes-man said.

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