There’s something both unnatural and haunting about eerily empty places that were once filled with life. For several decades, Lake Dolores Waterpark provided endless entertainment to its countless visitors. The park first opened in May of 1962 and is generally considered to be America’s first waterpark. Operating long before today’s safety standards, the park experienced more than its fair share of accidents. It closed and re-opened multiple times, and rebranded as “Rock-a-Hoola” in the late ‘90s. Unable to restore the waterpark to its golden-era success, its doors closed for good in 2004.
As time went on, the 250-acre park in the middle of the Mojave Desert transformed into what looked like a scene from The Walking Dead. The once colorful, lively waterpark became a hauntingly silent wasteland filled with shades of gray.
Skaters began to make new use of the empty park, using the abandoned space to practice and film their latest tricks. The walls of decaying buildings filled with graffiti art, and against all odds, the (still creepy as hell) park became somewhat of an icon. In 2015, the former waterpark was even featured in a commercial starring Tony Hawk.
After well over a decade of attempted and abandoned revivals, G & GF Enterprise LLC listed the property for sale. The listed price is $11 million, which doesn’t seem that bad for 250 acres in the middle of California. But because of the extensive damage to the property and the fact that it’s in the middle of the desert, the San Bernardino assessor’s office valued it closer to $1.25 million.
Inside the park
A Nevada photographer named Shaun photographed the property multiple times over the years, and in an interview with the New York Post, voiced his concerns.
“It is so damaged it’s hard to imagine making any functional use of the structures and remains of the old waterpark that are still standing,” he explained. “It [could become] some fancy development like the owner is hoping for with listing it for sale, or eventually [it could] just revert to [a] massive lot of sand like much of the other parcels out here.”
Assuming the property’s price drops closer to its assessed value, I have just one important question: Does anyone want to go halfsies on an abandoned waterpark?