Published Monday, June 3, 2013 | 12:28 p.m.
Updated Monday, June 3, 2013 | 2:58 p.m.
Ashley Demille's toddler had yet to speak, but the 25-year-old mother had no doubt her daughter was excited to splash around Wet 'n' Wild.
"She's just been pointing toward the slides and going "ooooooh," Demille said, standing in line to get into the new water park Monday morning.
The day marked the first time the general public could get into the park. While the park normally opens at 10 a.m., park staff opened the gates 15 minutes early to battle the growing line outside.
Like many other locals who have witnessed the demise of water parks in the valley, Demille has been anxiously waiting for a new water park ever since the original Wet 'n Wild closed in 2004. After 20 years of operation, developers planned to build a casino resort but never finished.
"I was really sad when the first Wet 'n Wild closed," Demille said, planning to meet a group of friends for a toddler play date.
Nestled just off Fort Apache Road near the 215 Beltway, the 41-acre park features 25 slides, a 1,000-foot lazy river and a giant wave pool.
By 10 a.m., a slew of park visitors sporting multicolored swimsuits had dashed to the tubes and formed a line at atop several slide platforms, spiraling down staircases. The slides have catchy names, like the Constrictor and Zip, Zap, Zoom.
The scream of sliders echoed through the tunnels as Brandon Williams waited for his wife to return from the ticket window.
"She was freaking and squealing in line earlier," said Williams, 30, pointing to his 5-year-old daughter Sam a few feet away.
The wide-eyed, dark-haired girl could barely keep still in her blue swimsuit and lifejacket.
"Are you excited?" Williams ask.
Her thumbs tucked in her life-jacket, Sam looked up and smiled.
"Yes!" she said, spinning around to look for her mother, Heather, who had just stepped up to the ticket window.