On Facebook last week there was a post reminiscing the good old days when Tupelo had a water park of some kind.
Tupelo natives – of which I am not – talked about Grady’s having a water slide, miniature golf course and go-cart track back in the day.
So, fans commented, why not have something like that again?
Indeed, why not?
Tupelo does have a fantastic new aquatic center. And there’s a splash pad nearby, all in Veterans Park.
The popularity of water parks has waxed and waned over the years, and they’re typically built and experienced in big tourist spots like Orlando.
An exception to that would be Geyser Falls in Philadelphia – Mississippi, not Pennsylvania. Splash Adventure in Birmingham is nearby as well.
In Vicksburg back in the early 1980s was Cannonball Park. It had two winding water slides – with actual cannons near the top of the slides – going down a hill on Frontage Road. It had a snack bar and video games, of course.
One problem though: The slides were made of cement. Not the smooth fiberglass that was much more forgiving. I’m convinced that one reason Cannonball Park closed was because of the bumps and bruises that escaped few, if any, park-goers.
I’m pretty sure I still have a few scars and permanent knots from many trips to the Cannonball Park.
In the Jackson area, however, were two huge, massively popular (at least for a few years) water parks – Waterland USA and Rapids on the Reservoir. They co-existed for a few years: Rapids opened in 1984 and closed seven years ago; Waterland operated from 1987 to 1995.
Rapids was home to the first gutterless wave pool in the U.S. Yeah, it was pretty awesome.
Now if you’ve been to places like Wet ‘N’ Wild in Orlando or Aquatica at SeaWorld … well, don’t ever expect anything like that around here.
Building a water park isn’t cheap. Neither is operating and maintaining one. Imagine the insurance costs associated with having one.
There would have to be a strong enough market for one to succeed in Tupelo or anywhere in Northeast Mississippi. The number of people to support one is probably sufficient, but how affordable would a Tupelo water park be for attendees?
Here’s a sampling of other prices: Geyser Falls is $35 for folks 48 inches and higher; $25 or those under 48 inches. Add $5 each on Saturday.
Children 3 and under are free. Splash Adventure is $30 for 18 to 54 year olds, $20 for children 3 to 6, and $25 for youth 7 to 17 and seniors 55 and older. Toddlers are free.
Both places offer season passes as well.
Are those prices reasonable enough for folks in Tupelo and Northeast Mississippi who would flock to a water park?
That, of course, depends on what features are available at the park.
So now it’s time to find a developer – or several – willing to bankroll the project.
But please, no concrete slides.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.