Get your 2023 passes now! Offer ends 12/2 at 11:59PM EST.
Wet 'n Wild Emerald Pointe is going all out in 2024 to honor the legacy of the park and its importance to the Triad and beyond. A season of summer fun and thrills awaits guests with the return of the park’s favorite attractions including the new Bermuda Triangle, three first-of-their-kind water slide experiences in the Carolinas featuring an immersive light and sound experience throughout the attraction, and Bombs Away, dueling water slides that offer thrill-seekers heart-pounding thrills dropping riders at 26 feet per second.
As the park readies for the 2024 summer season and celebrates 40 years of bringing cherished memories to park-goers, guests can expect a variety of beloved activities to return to the park for the season plus special surprises and events honoring the park’s history.
Back in the early 1980s, the son of a Texas billionaire (Hugh S Hunt) had a grand vision to bring a unique multimillion-dollar attraction to the southeast side of Greensboro that would have become a mega-tourist destination, equipped with its own onsite hotel. This place was to be called Aqua Gardens, located right off Holden Rd and I-85 (now Business 85). Aqua Gardens was to have a Water Park and an indoor mall/entertainment facility, including a 360 Cinema, bowling alleys, wax museum, racquetball courts, sports complex, indoor pools, high dives, and even an indoor Dolphin show.
The park started construction in late 1982 by the Hunt Brothers/Edhul Company out of Florida with the installation of several pools, slides, and part of the mall. The park was originally scheduled to open on Memorial Day in 1983 but construction, legal and financial problems delayed the opening. In late September of that same year, they held a pre-opening preview to experience a few rides during construction. Among some of the earliest attractions, only 3 remain today: Shipwreck Cove, Leisure Lagoon, and Pirates Plunge. Other early attractions included: batting cages, an 8-lane racing slide, a large pool with bumper boats, and 2 Slide Towers featuring Bonzai Pipeline and Whitewater Run. Those original towers now house Dr. Von Dark and Riptide Racer. Laying out on the backside of the property were pieces to a slide never built with a large Serpent's mouth.
The original theme of this park was also unique. The Water Park and the mall were to be themed in a Roman style. Greek columns and Roman baths were in the plans along with several water attractions having such names as Rhodes Colossus Tidal Wave Pool to Minoan Labyrinth Water Flumes. The front part of the mall was to have an exterior much like Main Street at Walt Disney World with many different building fronts. Sadly, a large portion of this mall was never built. Most of the unfinished sections that once stood behind Happy Harbor and Lazy River were demolished around 1992 when part of the property was sold. Interesting fact: the entrance to the shopping center was the original entrance and parking lot for the park. The original poles for the Aqua Gardens marque still stand supporting the shopping center sign.
Water Country USA
In 1985, the bank-owned Water Park hired a court-appointed trustee out of Williamsburg, Virginia called RMD Inc. to run the park for them that summer. With such a short time window to get the park back in shape for opening, there was no time to order merchandise for the Gift Shop or do much advertising so the company which was working with Water Country simply changed the name so merchandise and other items could be brought down to this park. This name change only lasted one year.
Emerald Pointe Waterpark
In 1986, an investment group, Triad Entertainment of Winston Salem led by Terry Henson, purchased the park for $5.1 million and changed the name to Emerald Pointe. During this time, some major improvements were made to the park. The gift shop, Captain Elis, Thunder Bay Wavepool, Raging Rapids, and Lazy River were added.
Along with some of the iconic rides that remain, the investment group purchased many dry rides from the recently closed Lakeside in Salem Virginia, and relocated them to the Water Park. Early drawings included plans for a wooden coaster but it was never rebuilt. The wooden structure of the old coaster along with the old Train engine sat in the back of the parking lot for several years. Many of the dry rides were reconstructed such as the Paratrooper, Ferris Wheel, Scrambler, Roundup, the Carousel, Astro Liner (Flight Simulator), and some kiddie rides. These rides were located behind where the current Dockside Bar sits on the left side of the Wave Pool and a separate ticket was required. Some of the other rides that were transported here but never re-assembled were the Spider, Tilt-a-Whirl, Bumper Cars, and the Flying Avalanche. This area ran for only one year in 1990.
In 1991, Nations Bank foreclosed on a $6.5 million dollar mortgage it made to Triad Entertainment and brought in RMD Inc. again to run the park, but this time it would not be easy.
Sometime in the early 90s, 10 acres of the park behind the Wave Pool was bought by the county for the future Interstate 85 bypass.
In July of 1993, a partnership called Emerald Pointe Waterpark LP, comprised mainly of the management team of RMD Inc., bought the park for $1.8 million. During this time when the partners took over, they began investing in new attractions for Emerald Pointe. The side of the main administrative building was the first in improvements. Coming into the park, guests could see into the large 3-story building because construction from the previous owners had stopped before the remaining section was built. The side was finally closed in and sealed up. During this time, there was talk to keep part of the park open during the off-season by adding go-karts, bumper boats, miniature golf, arcades, a large indoor laser tag arena, and a pizzeria at the main administrative building but it never came to reality. The dry rides that were brought from Lakeside were slowly disassembled and sold off.
In 1994, the new attractions started. The kids section was the first new attraction to be added. The old concrete kid’s area was removed and the new Happy Harbor was added. Most of the original elements remain today including the submarine, mushroom waterfall, whale, and clam slide. There was also a large sandbox area with digging chairs for the kids added beside the pool. With time approaching fast to open this area, the slide part of Happy Harbor would not be completed in time so it was given a name of its own, Rattler’s Reef, and it opened a few weeks later.
At the main gate area, a new attraction was being added that would be seen for a few miles. It was called Skycoaster, a giant 120’ swing that hooked up to 3 people into a hang gliding harness. They were pulled to the top of a 114’ tower where guests could freefall into a swing over the park. Also this year, the local Jaycees opened a haunted house inside the main administrative building for a local charity, the NC Burn Center. This attraction ran up to 2003 until it was removed.
In 1995, the park introduced The Cyclone Zone where guests are spun around a pool much like being caught in a giant whirlpool. Two of the three slides at the original Serpentine Slides were added. This year also introduced a crowd favorite, The High Dive Stunt Show, which was located to the right of the Wave Pool at Bomb’s Away Beach. Highly skilled divers would perform a comedy skit of falling and diving into a 10ft pool. The highlights of the show included a person on fire diving into the pool and a diver perched 100ft in the air diving into the pool.
1996 brought on the addition of the 3rd slide to Serpentine Slides named the 360 and Double Barrel Blast. This year also brought another unique show, the Jet Ski Stunt Show, which featured daily shows in the Wave Pool of jet skis racing, performing tricks, and launching off a ramp in the middle of the Wave Pool.
In 1997, a fan favorite was added. Runaway Raft Ride was constructed alongside and crisscrossing over top of Raging Rapids.
1998, Daredevil Drop was added making it the tallest waterslide in the park at around 76’ tall. At one time, there was talk that the planned height of Daredevil Drop was to be around 120’ making it one of the tallest on the East Coast at the time. This year also saw an increase in attendance. On July 5th, a record number of guests visited the park around 11,000 people, and management had to shut the front gates at 1 p.m. because of overcrowding.
In 1999, New York-based Ogden Corp. bought Emerald Pointe in March as part of a buying spree of some of the nation’s largest Water Parks along with the Wet ’n Wild and Raging Waters chain. The park now has major corporate backing, but it will still be run by the same management team that helped rescue it from bankruptcy years earlier.
Amusement Business, a Nashville, Tenn., trade publication for the live entertainment industry, ranked Emerald Pointe as the 12th largest Water Park in the nation, in terms of attendance. Some 432,000 people visited the park in 1998, a 21 percent increase from 1997. Park attendance has more than quadrupled since 1991. This year also added the 2 Twin Twisters slides to the Daredevil tower.
Wet ’n Wild
In 2000, Ogden Corp who had just recently bought Emerald Pointe sold off the park to Alfa Smartparks out of Jacksonville, FL. It was at this time that Emerald Pointe’s name was being transitioned over to include Wet ’n Wild. With pushback, the Emerald Pointe name was kept along with the Wet ’n Wild name.
The year 2000 saw another expansion of our children's areas. The open land inside the Lazy River attraction soon became Splash Island, since you need to cross a bridge to access it. Scooter Run was a smaller version of the Runaway Rapids ride for younger guests. Rumble Bay Wave Pool was also added: a miniature version of the Thunder Bay Wave Pool. This Wave Pool featured a water-blasting volcano that would shoot water 25 ft. into the air, constant small waves, and 2 smaller slides beside the Volcano called Lava Run.
2001 was filled with excitement as the catering area was relocated to the left side of the Wave Pool. It was called Club Bermuda where groups had their own area to relax and grab a catered meal.
2001 brought a surprise to the park. Plans were being made to remove the cables from Pirates Plunge and install a Bowl Slide where you would start atop a tower, slide down into the bowl, spin around, and drop into the pool below. Plans changed as we acquired a water coaster from a park in Germany where guests would be taken to the top of a tower with the cars hanging beneath the track, and travel around the twists and turns of the track dodging spraying fountains and water guns from below. But if you were to be able to control some of the features from your own car as you passed by certain sensors, you could get the guests on the ground wet. The area was called Hydra Fighter 2 and themed as an old Army base complete with a full-size helicopter. The ride only ran for 1 year due to technical issues and upkeep.
In 2002, Emerald Pointe Water Park and several other parks were sold once again to a company out of Irvine California called Palace Entertainment (Parques Reunidos main headquarters in Spain). As of today, 2023, Palace Entertainment still owns the park. Also this year a very special circus act was added to the park. The Flying Wallendas high wire act and a special kids' magic show featuring JP the Clown. You may have heard the name Wallendas because Nik Wallenda made headline news years later by crossing the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls on a tightrope. He and his family performed high-wire acts along with motorcycle and sway bar stunts for several years here.
2004-2006 brought about 3 new additions to the park. The first was the Edge known for its half-pipe appearance. It replaced the smaller white foam slides that once slid into Leisure Lagoon. The Edge was formerly located at a Water Park out west. It was disassembled and found its new home here. The small Tropical Drops slides were installed at the previous Pirates Plunge Zipline area. The final addition in this time frame was Dragon’s Den. Part of the defunct water coaster track and supports were removed to make way for this ride.
2007 saw another high dive act (pirate-themed) located at the back of the Wave Pool as stunt divers performed for the crowd.
2009 saw the removal of a crowd favorite and one of the last 2 original slides, Whitewater Run with its three body slides, Twister, Dragon’s Tail, and Easy Rider. The original tower still stands and is the launch area for the new Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror. A total enclosed raft ride featuring “holographic” images and sounds.
In 2013, the remains of the Hydra Fighter II water coaster play area were turned into another splash pad with lots of shooting geysers and spraying features. The large tipping bucket was refurbished from the water coaster and is one of the favorite spots in the new Soak Zone Spray Area.
Guests were able to get their engines running when the next attraction arrived in 2015. The last surviving slide from Aqua Gardens’ original plan, Bonzai Pipeline, was removed to make way for the 4-lane racing slide, The Riptide Racer. The original tower was modified to house the starting line for the slides. This attraction actually has a full-size dragster in its queue line that was built just for this ride.
2020 was to start off with a 5-year plan for the park to bring in improvements and new attractions over the next couple of years. This year’s attraction was to be Bomb’s Away, a totally enclosed launch capsule that drops out the floor beneath you giving you a freefall down 2 different slides. Construction was well underway when Covid hit in late March. This would be the first time since the park opened back in the 80s that it would not open for the summer because of the pandemic. During this time, the tower and the slides were completed before work stopped. Very minimal work was done around the park that year.
With the Covid pandemic still around for the beginning of 2021, the Bomb’s Away slides would sit idle once again since the ride’s pump house would not be completed until early the following year. Safety precautions were to be put into place but most of them expired 2 weeks before opening.
2022 was getting back to normal from the pandemic 2 years earlier. The Bomb’s Away attraction would finally open to guests. Also this year, a multi-million dollar 3-year plan was underway to finally invest in a “rebrand” to give the park an updated, fresh look from a new marque at the street to a remodeled front gate entrance. The renderings that were presented to the park at this time were rejected because they did not reflect the park's vision. This year also saw the end of cash being used in the park as it transferred over to cards only.
In 2023, guests took an adventure to the Bermuda Triangle with the re-imaging of one of the park's older attractions. The Serpentine body slides which were installed back in 95’ & 96” were getting a complete makeover. The slides were going to be fitted with changing lights and sounds inside each one immersing the guest from all sides. The Gift Shop was completely gutted and given a fresh new appearance inside and out offering new items to choose from.