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Abandoned Californian Lake Dolores Waterpark

Viktoriia Makeenko
By Dzealand – CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikipedia

An abandoned Lake Dolores Waterpark , once known by the slogan of “The Fun Spot of The Desert!” now looks like it might have a future thanks to a reconstruction project. Before it was closed down, the waterpark was filled with families and teenagers having fun. But after its closure, it became a popular place for urban explorers and attracted many graffiti artists.

Lake Dolores Waterpark is located in the Mojave Desert, California, USA. In the late 1950s, local businessman Bob Byers created a waterpark on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert. He wanted to build the park not only as a business venture but also to entertain his large family.

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

In the spring of 1962, the water park opened. It was named Lake Dolores, after Byers’s wife. The huge amount of water needed for this attraction was provided thanks to underground desert springs. The artificially created lake, which measured 110 hectares (271 acres), would not have been possible in the arid setting without these springs.

Alongside the water park, a camping ground was created, which was used by those traveling between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Lake Dolores Waterpark became popular and was even advertised on television. It was thanks to these television ads that it became known as “The Fun Spot of The Desert!”

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

The Lake Dolores Waterpark consisted of a large number of attractions for both adults and children. During the next 25 years, new attractions were added. There were eight 150-foot water slides side by side that led to the lagoon. People went down them in “floaties” which would then skim about 40-50 yards across the water at the bottom.

Two other waterslides used the human cannonball effect to shoot people into the water from 15 feet above it, and there was a zip-wire that would dump people into the lagoon when they reached the end of it. In the center of a smaller lake, there were three diving boards and also trapeze-like swings.

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

The Big Bopper and Lazy River raft rides, a race track, and an ordinary swimming pool were also available to entertain customers. However, despite the various attractions and its message of fun, the waterpark faced a decline in popularity in the late 1980s.

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

In the summer of 1990, Bob Byers sold his waterpark to Lake Dolores Group LLC, an investment company that proposed a new project for the water park with themes from the 1950s. In 1995, the new owners removed the original water slides to make more space for new attractions. Thousands of shrubs and trees were also planted there to add a wealth of color.

On July 4, 1998, the waterpark was officially reopened with a brand new name: Rock-A-Hoola. A new feature was that the waterpark played a soundtrack of rock ‘n’ roll from the 1950-60s for its customers, and it had several retro events scheduled, like concerts, fireworks, and classic car shows.

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

However, after only three seasons, Rock-A-Hoola had accumulated debts of about three million dollars. In addition, one of the investors began to have financial problems, and a waterpark employee was seriously injured while using one of the slides, so he sued the company for 4.4 million dollars.

Despite these setbacks, the park continued to function for some time until the owners could no longer afford to run it and filed for bankruptcy in February 2000.

The Rock-A-Hoola sign. By Dzealand – CC BY-SA 4.0

The Rock-A-Hoola sign. By Dzealand – CC BY-SA 4.0

The waterpark was put up for sale, but no one wanted to buy it, leading to a liquidation petition being signed in August 2000. The court ordered that the property be transferred to Bob Byers’s wife, Dolores Byers. Most of the debt was paid off.

Dolores managed to sell the property in September 2001 to the California company SL Investment Group LLC, which also proposed plans to restore this neglected attraction. The company began renovating the water park, a task that cost $400,000.

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

In May 2002, the water park was reopened under the name Discovery Water Park. However, it was no more successful this time around, and the waterpark ended up being closed down in the summer of 2004.

Many of the attractions were dismantled and sold on. For example, the Big Bopper Waterslide was sent to Canada, where it then functioned under the name Colossal Canyon at the Cultus Lake Waterpark.

By Dzealand – CC BY-SA 4.0

By Dzealand – CC BY-SA 4.0

After its closure, many curious people nevertheless visited the abandoned Lake Dolores Waterpark to see the remains of attractions and empty pools. Many street artists took the opportunity to leave their graffiti on the walls, and the park was also stripped by looters for any metal and wires left onsite.

In its derelict state, the Delores Waterpark was actually the setting for several unusual events. In 2014, it was used as an obstacle course by Top Gear America, and in 2016, it was featured on the Viceland Network’s Abandoned TV show. In 2003, it was turned into “TrustoLand” by a group of artists, and it was used by skateboarder groups, including professionals.

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

In October 2018, a fire broke out, which destroyed many buildings that were already worn out. After that, security guards were employed to keep out trespassers.

In March 2020, hope was rekindled that this place might be restored after the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a reconstruction plan. The plan includes the renovation of the water park, its lakes, and the camping site, as well as the construction of new office and administrative facilities. The project is to be developed in five phases over five years.

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

The owner of the photographs of the abandoned Californian waterpark is Dwight Celestin, who granted us permission to share his photos in this article. A big thank you to him and please do follow him on his Flickr account.

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

 

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

 

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

 

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

 

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

 

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

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By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery

By Dwight Celestin — Flickr @rogueimagery