Waterpark where worker had horror accident has lain abandoned for 17 years

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A photographer has documented the eerie state an abandoned waterpark is in after nearly 20 years lying dormant in the desert.

A snapper named only as Shaun, who owns Raise the Stakes Photography, visited the Lake Dolores Waterpark in California, US, earlier this month after hearing reports of the site being listed for sale at a price of $11 million.

After a rocky history involving a serious accident that led to a former-employee becoming paralysed, three re-opening and subsequent closures, and features in US television shows including Top Gear America, the park is currently in a dilapidated state following its permanent closure in 2004.

Many of the park’s slides were sold years ago, leaving large empty spaces in the once-bustling park which is now covered in graffiti and a hot spot for people who like to explore abandoned places.

“I’ve visited the park several times over the years since it was first abandoned, and each time it is slightly more decayed and weather-beaten – not to mention covered in spray paint,” said Shaun, who is in his 30s and lives in northern Nevada.

“This particular visit was in mid-September 2021 after I'd heard the property was listed for sale for $11 million – which kind of seemed like a joke, as 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.

“A large waterpark sitting abandoned in the arid Mojave Desert is an incredibly surreal scene, and it's great to see people turn it into essentially a playground and guerrilla art gallery for those others who are willing to hop the fence and explore it.

“The state of decay is part of the whole thing, and knowing it won't exist forever – whether it becomes some fancy development like the owner is hoping for with listing it for sale, or eventually just reverts to massive lot of sand like much of the other parcels out here – just makes it something to appreciate if you can catch it the window of time that it exists in this state.”

The 251-acre park is located in the Mojave Desert and was built by local businessman Bob Byers, who named it after his wife, Dolores, opening to the public in 1962.

Nicknamed the ‘fun spot of the desert’, in its heyday it was chock full of waterslides, zip lines, a lazy river, bumper boats and a go kart track.

It closed in the 1980s due to legal and financial problems, later reopening as Rock-a-Hoola Waterpark in 1998, but a year later an accident involving an off-duty employee led to a law suit and a $4.4 million judgement against the park.

The employee had slid into an inadequately filled pool and was paralysed from their injuries. Investors declared bankruptcy, leading to the park’s second closure.

Finally, it was reopened in 2002 as Discovery Waterpark – but closed permanently in 2004, leaving many of its structures to crumble, though most of the park’s slides were sold to other waterparks.

Now, the formerly popular site is for sale with Samina Mahmud at a listing price of $11 million – and includes permission to develop the property for any commercial use.

It was last sold in 2013 for $1.5 million.

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