As warm weather approaches, many Americans will be making plans to visit one of dozens of water parks across the country for a day of whizzing down water slides, floating along lazy rivers and splashing in giant wave pools while soaking up the summer sunshine.
But for urban exploration enthusiasts, the more interesting attractions are found in the form of defunct water parks, where the empty lagoons, graffiti-covered concrete and faded fiberglass slides hold a haunting beauty of their own. As you make your travel plans for the year ahead, consider visiting one of the top 10 abandoned water parks for 2021 on our list below.
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Finding The Top Abandoned Water Parks In The US
Rock-A-Hoola Water Park (Newberry Springs, California)
Once a cheerful oasis in the middle of the Mojave Desert, the Rock-A-Hoola Water Park is now an abandoned ruin just off I-15 near the town of Newberry Springs.
The water park was built in the 1950s as a private resort for local businessman Bob Byer and his friends and family. In its early days, the venue consisted of two large steel slides that sent riders splashing into a man-made lake. The park opened to the public in 1962 after a campground was constructed nearby, and over the next several decades, new attractions were gradually added to the park. However, attendance declined sharply during the 1980s, leading to its eventual closure in 1990.
After years of dormancy and decay, new owners invested millions into renovating and reopening the property in 1998 with a retro 1950s theme. Futuristic-looking slides, a lazy river and other new attractions were installed, along with thousands of trees and shrubs that would require a substantial irrigation system to survive the blazing desert heat.
Unfortunately, just a year after the park’s resurrection, an employee took an after-hours ride down a slide into a partially-filled pool. The accident left him a paraplegic, and the subsequent court case compelled the park’s owners to pay him a $4.4 million settlement, leaving the business in tenuous financial straits. Rock-A-Hoola changed hands three times over the next five years, finally closing again in 2004.
In the nearly two decades since its demise, the unrelenting sun, wind and heat have scorched the property, leaching the color from the slides and signage. Vandals and scavengers have raided the park of any remaining items of value, leaving behind little more than the skeleton of this once-vibrant recreation destination.
Seven Peaks Water Park (Salt Lake City, Utah)
When it opened in the early 1980s, Wild Wave Waterpark drew massive crowds to the suburbs of Salt Lake City, offering one of only three wave pools on the planet at that time (along with a variety of other slides and attractions). Over the next three decades, the park’s name changed to Raging Waters and again to Seven Peaks, but it remained a popular warm-weather destination for visitors from throughout the Mountain West.
The 17-acre park closed in 2018 after the city decided not to renew its lease due to multiple contract breaches and failure to pay rent. The abandoned attraction quickly fell into disrepair: The children’s play area now consists of little more than dry, cracked concrete, and the previously groundbreaking wave pool is now filled with graffiti and a few inches of dirty, stagnant water.
The lazy river where swimmers once floated on colorful innertubes is merely an empty ditch snaking through the property. Now faded, cracked and partially obscured by weeds and undergrowth, the towering fiberglass slides lead to basins of shallow water stained a sickly green by algae. Control rooms have been ransacked by vandals, who have torn out the wiring and any other equipment of marginal value, leaving behind chaos, clutter and more graffiti.
Blue Island Group acquired ownership rights to the waterpark in 2019 and signed a 10-year lease with the city with the intention of investing roughly $5 million on improvements to the property.
However, inspections revealed that all of the pools were structurally deficient and leaking water into the Jordan River, with repair estimates totaling up to $25 million. Soon afterward, Blue Island Group defaulted on its lease, and the city purchased the deteriorated waterpark with funds restricting future uses to maintaining the grounds as open space.
The city is still determining what to do with the land and has yet to move forward on demolition of the remains of Seven Peaks.
Ebenezer Floppen Slopper’s Wonderful Water Slides (Oak Brook Terrace, Illinois)
From its humble beginnings as a two-slide water park in 1980, Ebenezer Floppen Slopper’s Wonderful Water Slides quickly evolved into a vibrant regional destination for visitors from around the Midwest.
Prior to its rebirth as a destination for family fun, the property was a literal trash heap—a landfill used to store non-methane-emitting waste known locally as “Mount Trashmore.” When the gaping pit was filled to ground level with refuse, it was closed and covered with layers of clay, concrete, brick and turf. In the late 1970s, developer Mark Collor identified the weed-covered hill as a potential site for a water park, and soon afterward, Ebenezer Floppen Slopper’s Wonderful Water Slides emerged from the former wasteland.
Business at the park thrived throughout the 1980s as new slides and attractions were added. Some slides required riders to sit on rubber mats or inner tubes, while others accommodated several riders at once. In 1987, bumps were installed on some of the existing slides to create “Doc River’s Roaring Rapids.”
The park abruptly went out of business in 1989, and the abandoned site quickly deteriorated into the eyesore it had been in its previous life. Decades of graffiti covers the remnants of the slides, which are largely obscured by the thick brush that has grown up over the property.
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Maui Sands Resort & Indoor Waterpark (Perkins Township, Ohio)
Once a popular destination for family vacations—especially those in search of a tropical escape from the bitter Ohio winters—Maui Sands Resort and Indoor Waterpark was abandoned in 2019 to the hands of vandals, vagrants and other intruders who quickly wreaked havoc on the vacant property.
Owners Vintro Hotels and Resorts had shuttered the multimillion-dollar resort temporarily under the guise of performing demolition and renovation work to address water damage. When Perkins Township staff realized no work was taking place on the property, they conducted an inspection that revealed the owners had simply shut off the utilities and vacated the premises.
The townships code enforcement team discovered that several interior walls had been destroyed by scavengers seeking to sell the metal wiring and plumbing for profit. The hotel’s floors were strewn with chunks of drywall and shards of broken glass, and loose wires and shattered tiles dangled from the ceilings. Its rooms and hallways were littered with broken furniture, gutted bathroom fixtures and other detritus, and several areas of the roof were covered in standing water.
The ravaged resort has since been condemned by the township, and its fate remains in the hands of the court system, where Vintro Hotels and Resorts is facing a $7.3 million suit by its investors for alleged violations of a loan agreement.
Fort Rapids Indoor Waterpark Resort (Columbus, Ohio)
Like its fellow Buckeye State resort Maui Sands, the Fort Rapids Indoor Waterpark Resort was shut down by its local government for multiple code violations, including insect infestations, failure to meet fire codes and improper food safety procedures.
The property began its life as a Holiday Inn hotel, with the indoor waterpark added in 2004 as part of a $35 million renovation. Fort Rapids billed itself as a prime regional destination for family fun, offering 60,000 square feet of aquatic recreation as well as a seafood restaurant, meeting and event space and hotel accommodations.
The resort’s troubled history began soon after it opened, with police being called regularly to the site to address vehicle break-ins, gang activity and other crime. The ownership group lost its affiliation with Holiday Inn in 2008, and when plans to convert the resort into a residential development fell through, the lender foreclosed on the property.
A partnership between a Tennessee-based hospitality company and former Cleveland Browns running back Jamal Lewis rescued the property from bankruptcy proceedings in 2010; however, Lewis himself filed for bankruptcy in 2012, with the county treasurer foreclosing against the owners the following year due to years of unpaid property taxes.
A new lessee took over operations at the ill-fated facility, amassing hundreds of public complaints over the next several years, including reports of bedbugs, roaches, improper food handling, fire code violations, repairs being made without proper permits and guests being sickened by fumes from the water park.
The City of Columbus finally shut down the business in 2016, and Experience Hospitality Group assumed operational control, pledging to make the necessary repairs to the property to bring it up to code and reopen.
Fort Rapids never opened its doors again and was ultimately abandoned by its new owners, leaving it to continue in its precipitous physical downward spiral. In 2018, a burst water pipe left the hotel tower covered in a sheet of ice. It remains vacant and decaying on an overgrown patch of land just off I-70 on the east side of Columbus.
Sengme Oaks Waterpark (Pauma Valley, California)
When it opened in 1985, the Sengme Oaks Waterpark was the first water park in the country on a Native American reservation. In a departure from its neighboring reservations in San Diego County—most of which looked to large-scale bingo and casino operations to bring in revenue—the La Jolla tribe opted to invest in a $1.25 million, 20-acre recreational complex.
The groundbreaking effort paid off, with the park turning a profit in its first year in operation despite having to draw the majority from its customers from an area at least 30 miles away from the park.
Located at the base of Palomar Mountain 60 miles north of San Diego, Sengme Oaks featured eight thrilling slides, some of which took riders up to speeds of 50 mph or more on a current of refreshingly cool water.
Attractions included Rampage, a 30-foot-high slide that sent single riders soaring on a fiberglass sled down a 46-degree angle before exiting along a straight 120-foot chute of water; a pair of speed slides that started riders at a height of 60 feet and sent them screaming down a 320-foot straight run; two twisting slides that featured a 45-foot drop over a length of 350 feet; a wide, straight group slide; and two smaller, gentler slides for younger riders. In the years that followed, the park also added a wave pool and high-speed inner tube rapids as well as several other features.
The park did a booming business through the dawn of the new millennium, drawing crowds from the adjacent La Jolla Campground as well as visitors from throughout southern California.
However, as larger and flashier competitors began to spring up around it, revenues at Sengme Oaks slowed to a trickle, and the park closed for good sometime around 2008. Though the tribe continues to operate the campground and tubing attractions on the San Luis Rey River, the waterpark has been abandoned and decaying for more than a decade.
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CoCo Key Water Park (Rockford, Illinois)
Prior to the addition of the CoCo Key Water Park in 2009, the Clock Tower Resort was a well-established resort and conference center in northern Illinois. As part of the massive multimillion dollar renovation, the facility changed its name to the Best Western Clock Tower Resort, offering 245 rooms and suites, three restaurants, several gift shops, a 50,000 square-foot fitness center, meeting and conference facilities and CoCo Key Water Park.
The facelift effectively repositioned the property as a destination for family vacations as well as a venue for corporate meetings and events.
CoCo Key in particular was a welcome addition to the area, offering an inviting indoor escape from the frigid Midwest winters. The 60,000 square-foot park included a 40-foot water slide, children’s pools, a lazy river, several play areas and a spa.
Unfortunately, the facility soon began amassing violations from the county health department, including citations for insufficient staff and substandard water quality levels. When the operators failed to correct the issues, the county shut down CoCo Key in 2015 and slapped the resort with a $250,000 fine.
The management pledged to address the violations, but CoCo Key remained closed for the next year, even as the rest of the resort continued business as usual. At a private party being held on-site in October 2016, an argument escalated into a full-on brawl that resulted in one person being killed and five others injured.
A subsequent review of the resort’s security protocols revealed additional fire and building code violations; the following month, the hotel closed for the winter, promising enhanced safety measures and structural improvements when it reopened.
By the following spring, the hotel was still closed, and other businesses on the property were struggling to survive without hotel guests as their primary customers. In April 2017, the utilities were shut off and the property condemned. A year later, the hotel was demolished, leaving only the water park standing.
New owners took possession of the property in 2019, announcing plans to raze all remaining structures on the site to make way for construction of a Hard Rock Casino, Hard Rock Café and live entertainment venue. Work has yet to begin on the new complex, as the casino needs the final approval of the Illinois Gaming Board before construction can move forward.
Breakers Water Park (Marana, Arizona)
Residents of the Arizona desert received a welcome respite from the scorching heat when Breakers Waterpark opened near Tucson in 1982. Drawing from a metropolitan area of more than a million residents, the park saw huge crowds over its first two decades in business, with attractions that included one of the world’s largest wave pools as well as several water slides and a children’s pool.
During those years, business at Breakers focused heavily on special events, such as children’s birthday parties, school field trips and even the 1991 Great Tucson Duck Race, which pitted a field of 7,000 rubber ducks against each other.
After the park came under new management in 2001, Breakers expanded its attractions to include larger and more daring water slides, such as Bonzai Pipelines, Splash Canyon and Riptide. The multisensory Rock Slide opened in 2014, featuring colored lights and sound effects. In 2017, the ExplorAquarium opened, offering visitors the opportunity to swim in a shallow tank with eels, rays and small sharks.
Despite these enhancements, the park continued to struggle with declining attendance and rising operating costs, ultimately closing its gates for good in 2018. Today, the remains of the abandoned waterpark are slowly being dismantled to make way for the eventual sale of the property. It is considered an active construction site and is closely monitored by local law enforcement.
Little Kahuna Water Park (Iowa, Louisiana)
When construction began on the Little Kahuna Water Park in 2009, residents of southwestern Louisiana were excited at the prospect of having an outdoor aquatic attraction so close to home. The pirate-themed park planned to offer six water slides, a 920-foot lazy river and a 9,500 square-foot children’s play area populated with life-sized replicas of sea creatures both real and imagined.
Unfortunately, this ill-fated destination never echoed with the happy shrieks of children or the splashes of guests hitting the water, as it was abandoned before it ever opened its doors.
For several years, work on Little Kahuna crept along at a frustratingly slow pace, in large part due to weather- and permit-related delays. But in 2013, the project ground to a halt as developers worked to address engineering issues with the water pumps and filtration systems that stood in the way of necessary approvals from the local health and fire departments.
Though the project was roughly 80 percent complete at that point, construction never resumed, and Little Kahuna was left for dead around 2016.
Since then, a thick blanket of weeds and brush has overtaken the property. The fading fiberglass alligators, sea serpents and other sea creatures stand guard over vast stretches of dry concrete, and the twists and turns of the vacant waterslides lead to concrete pads covered with a few inches of algae-stained rainwater.
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Splash Canyon Water Park (Minesing, Ontario)
Much like their neighbors to the south, residents of chilly Canada love to spend their summer days splashing at the waterparks scattered across the country. Even so, a remote town in southern Ontario may not have been the best choice for a massive water park and resort, as the developers of Splash Canyon eventually realized.
Located along a rural two-lane road in a farming community of several hundred residents north of Barrie, Splash Canyon featured an enormous wave pool, several curving, multistory water slides and a large RV park complete with restroom and shower facilities. The seasonal waterpark opened in 2008 and operated for about five years before being mysteriously abandoned.
Today, the towering slides remain in place, although the pools are mostly empty except for trash, graffiti and a few inches of dirty rainwater. Thick patches of weeds have burst through cracks in the concrete. Vandals have ransacked the office building, tearing doors from their hinges and scattering thousands of glossy park brochures across the debris-covered floors.
The decaying property is popular with local photographers, urban explorers and curiosity-seekers, who enjoy easy access to multiple breaks in the dilapidated wrought-iron fence that circles the defunct water park in the middle of nowhere.