If you’ve ever traveled the long stretch of desert highway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas you may have noticed this abandoned waterpark in the middle of nowhere. One cannot help but wonder why it is there—who would open a waterpark here? As it turns out, the backstory of this family fun park turned post-apocalyptic ruin is rather surprising.
It originally opened in 1962 as Lake Dolores Water Park and continued to expand over the years. More and more rides were added as more and more visitors began to either make the trek there or stop en route in between LA and Vegas. Eventually a campground was added for overnight stays.
In 1990 the park was sold and the new owners changed the name to Rock-A-Hoola. Later in 1998 they invested countless dollars into a full renovation in which many of the buildings we see today were added and the whole waterpark had a retro 1950s style makeover. Unfortunately that was not enough to draw in more families; it went bankrupt and closed in 2000—a lawsuit from an ex-employee that was severely injured on the job proved to be the final nail in the coffin.
The case was not as straightforward as it sounds though. In May 1999, a pool tech was asked to work overtime to help clean up after a jet ski competition the park hosted. While off the clock and awaiting the event to conclude, the pool tech asked another employee to turn on one of the park’s water slides, The Doo Wop Super Drop, so he could cool off and have a little fun while stuck there waiting around. Unfortunately, there was not enough water in the bottom of the slide to properly stop him and the worker slammed into the dam at the end of the runout with enough force to flip over the dam and landed on his back on the concrete next to the slide. Rather shockingly, he was able to sue his employer and won a settlement of $4.4million.
The forlorn waterpark reopened in 2002 under new owners and yet another name—Discovery Waterpark—but that was short lived; it closed down again, this time for good in 2004. It has been abandoned ever since, slowly succumbing to the elements, vandals, and scavengers.
As you can see, many of the buildings are still standing albeit in a state of disrepair. Graffiti covers pretty much every inch of wall, although some of it is actually interesting and artistic. A few of slides are still there, sort of.
The best part of my visit to Rock-A-Hoola had to be walking the former Lazy River. The river used to wind around the park so visitors could either swim or inner tube their way from attraction to attraction. The old Wet ‘n Wild in Las Vegas had one just like it but on a much larger scale.
Over the years since its closing, there have been countless plans to reopen or reimagine the site, but as of 2018 that seems extremely unlikely. Eventually, I would predict, someone will bulldoze the lot and the desert will fully reclaim the land, or a less than ethical visitor will end up catching the remaining buildings on fire and that will be the final chapter for Rock-A-Hoola.