Lake Dolores Waterpark Still Makes a Splash

Lake Dolores Waterpark Still Makes a Splash

Lake Dolores Waterpark Still Makes a Splash

There’s nothing quite like an abandoned amusement park. Forlorn, seemingly forgotten and graffiti’d to the hilt, the place still imbues a whimsical peek into better times when it was filled with throngs of sunscreen slathered fun-seeking families and teens.

 

If you listen carefully, you may even hear echoes of laughter and shouts of glee on the wind. Can’t you smell the scent of baby oil and corn dogs in the air?

 

Presently, the park is not open to the public, but its energy remains.  Lake Dolores Waterpark is a painted lady down on her luck with one foot on the past and the other on a banana peel.  But she may have one more trick up her sleeve.

 

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Lake Dolores Waterpark in Newberry Springs, California, just 100 yards from the roar of busy Interstate 15, was originally designed and built by local businessman Bob Byers for use by his extended family. Lake Dolores was named after Byers’ wife.

 

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The initial phases of conception, planning and construction took place in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

 

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Over the next 25 years, rides and attractions were added, and the site evolved into a waterpark, which was advertised on television with the slogan:

 

“The Fun Spot of The Desert!”

 

The park saw its peak attendance between the early 1970s and the mid-1980s. After a downturn in popularity in the late 1980s, the park closed.

 

The defunct Lake Dolores Waterpark was sold in August 1990 to Lake Dolores Group LLC, a three–member investment group led by Oxnard businessman Terry Christensen, who envisioned a more polished park with a 1950s theme.

 

In 1995, the original waterslides on the hill were removed to make room for new installations.

 

The park reopened under a new name, “Rock–A–Hoola”, on July 4, 1998.

 

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Millions of dollars were spent in 1998 to renovate the park with a stylized 1950s / Route 66 theme. New rides and futurist buildings were added. Thousands of shrubs and trees were planted.  The site exploded with color and activity.

 

Why did it close you may ask?  In 1999 an employee of the park used one of the slides when the park was closed, and the catch pool didn’t have enough water in it. He became a paraplegic in the accident and was awarded a $4.4 million payoff. It was a contributing factor in the demise of the waterpark.

 

The theme park struggled for six years under three different owners (which operated under the names Lake Dolores, Rock–A–Hoola Waterpark and Discovery Waterpark), finally closing for good in 2004.

 

While the water slides themselves are gone, the property still sports acres of gutted buildings, empty pools and debris laden canals. Despite the recent, successive name changes due to two separate transfers of ownership, the site is still far more commonly known by the general public as “Lake Dolores”.

 

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Just one of the many whimsical sights we saw at the former Lake Delores Waterpark. Rock on, Social Distortion.

 

This part of the Mojave Desert is harsh, with temps over 100F all summer, bitterly cold winters and a grit-filled wind that howls all year round.  It is readily apparent humans have been more destructive to the waterpark in recent years than the weather has.

 

Despite appearances, the former Lake Dolores Waterpark is far from dead.

 

 

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View from atop the 8-persons slides of Lake Dolores. You would slide down on an inflated raft and then skip across the water for several more feet.
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One of the big colorful slides of “Rock A Hoola”
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What remains of Lake Delores in 2015. She is a mere wisp of her former self.

 

In March 2008 the park appeared in an episode of the reality show Rob & Big on MTV. Professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek and friends used the waterpark and its slides to perform skateboard stunts for the show.

 

The waterpark, whether intended or not, now sports an edgy hipster vibe.

 

Pop culture, may in fact, save Lake Dolores.

 

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In 2011, a group called Oasis Themepark announced a project to renovate and reopen the park, but progress has been slow.

 

In June 2012, another skate film “Kilian Martin: Altered Route” directed by Brett Novak and sponsored in part by Mercedes-Benz showed the park in its current state while reflecting on its past appearance.

 

In 2013, TrustoCorp, a group of artists from New York City, transformed the park into a “TrustoLand” as an artistic statement, by repainting many signs and buildings with unusual images and messages.

 

Lake Dolores Waterpark re-opened briefly on May 26, 2014, to feature the X-2 Rocket Launch.

 

On September 30, 2014, the park was used by Top Gear America as an obstacle course in Season 5 Episode 7 “What Can It Take”On November 7-9th, 2014 The park was used as the site of an Operation Lion Claws airsoft event,’War of Angels’.

 

In Spring of 2015 the park was used in a commercial for BMW Mini Cooper.  The waterpark was also used in the music video for “Reapers” by the British rock band “Muse”.

 

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Two cherry Cokes, two cheeseburgers with extra pickles and a large churro, please!

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Sign of the Times.

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It is our hope that this painted lady down on her luck formerly known as Lake Dolores will continue to hold the public’s interest and nostalgia, at least until her next reincarnation.  Let’s just hope it’s not another outlet mall or solar farm. The Mojave Desert is full.

 

Citations:

https://www.facebook.com/lakedoloresmovie

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Dolores_Waterpark

http://newberryspringsinfo.com/Alliance/OasisThemePark.html

Jaylyn

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comments
  • Linda Kruse Crandell

    February 5, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Thank you for the info, very interesting….

  • You’re welcome, Linda! Thanks for commenting.

  • I was married to Kim Byers the daughter of Bob Byers. I lived on the property I with Bob and his Sons Jonny,Jody,Mark we all built the water slides and all that was Lake Delores named after my mother-in law Bob Byers’s with the true matriarch of the whole thing.In the late 60’s Bob after the freeway stoled 50 acres from him as a alfalfa farmer and a forth grade eduction, He said well this is what I am going to do. He built a motocross track in the back of the 380 acres he had left. He witcjed the 3 water wells (12 inch). The man was a pilot had two air planes. He was mt second father I love and miss him everyday. Haha at 68 he still snow skied and he would yoddle on the tram ride. I loved that part of life have all of these great memories that will never be upgraded by anyone.

  • Hi Michael! So glad you shared your amazing story with us! We sure wish we could have seen Lake Delores in its hay day! Thanks very much for your comments.

  • I remember when it was just a slide on a sand dune going down into the “lake”

  • Yep, just the slide from on top of the hill. Best times ever!

  • I remember when it was 2 slides, the cable in the middle then the area with the trapeze. Great times

  • I love it just the way it is and hope it will continue to be the unique and amazing place it is.

  • I was there many times in the 70’s and 80’s I loved that place would love to see it reopen.

  • Fantastic article, very well written thank you.

  • Wonderful memories of lake Dolores. Our company, Serendipity Diversions of Barstow had a video game facility there and gave Bob and Dee a hand when they needed it. It would be great to see it opened again.

  • The LD of the 70’s and 80’s was the high deserts beach, with water rides that were simple and fun. Rules were clear and simple…break them and LD’s staff and volunteer back up knew how to convert the offender’s into law abiding types, or if not, introduce you to the desert, just outside the park. The awesome rides, vibe and self governance of the time and place is something I cannot imagine reproduced today. A version ? Yes, but only an echo of the original. Thanks for the well researched story and memories!

  • This was the best Water Park Ever when I was a kid ever time to and from CA from Vegas miss it happy I still have the memories

  • We loved that place! We were there when it first opened. We’d pack food and drinks and hung out all day. I remember the first time I was on those slides. It was a hot slow walk up the hill, and a speedy flight down the slide. If you positioned yourself just right, you could actually skip like a rock part way across the lake. It was crazy!

  • I think since it’s much more populated up here it would be pretty busy. I would like to see it resurrected as it was before, keeping the Lake Delores name

  • Great article. Having moved away from Barstow in 1967, love reading about everything Barstow, love all the desert way posts. Such great photography

  • I use to go to Lake Dolores when it first opened, it had one maybe two slides, a trapeze type swing that you jumped off a platform with and them let go of over the water below… Great fun!

  • That would be cool if some rich guy came along and reopened this water park I went there at 13 years old

  • Last time I went in for filming a project. During the half of the filming, a cop came in and said this is private place, we need permission to get in. Do you know how to get the permit for this?

    • Hi Adam. Of course, when confronted by authority about trespassing, we encourage others to feign ignorance and leave peacefully. Whether you need a film permit depends on whether it’s just a cellphone or a professional film crew. If you can find out from security who owns the property you could contact them to ask permission. Or you could reach out to the corporation from our article to see if the acquired the property and if so, seek their blessings. Film permits can be quite costly, but if you need to go that route, you may want to contact San Bernardino County at http://www.sbcountyadvantage.com/About-Us/Film-Permits.aspx for the details. Good luck with your filming project! Please let us know how it goes.

  • I loved that lake. Though I know we were a little dangerous in the late 70s. It was a blast

  • So nobody knows who owns the property today ?

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