The Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark is located on Lake Dolores, at Newberry Springs, east of Barstow on Interstate 15. It was originally built in the 1950s as a private resort. In 1962 it opened to the public, eventually closing in the late ’80s.
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. The first time I passed it on a road trip shortly after it opened, I instinctively knew that some day it would be abandoned and I’d get to shoot it at night.
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, finally closing for good in 2004. While the slides themselves are gone, the property still sports acres of retro-futuristic buildings, empty pools and canals. This part of the Mojave Desert is harsh, with temps over 100˚ all summer, bitterly cold winters and a grit-filled wind that howls all year long. Just six years after its closure, it’s developed a wonderful patina. (courtesy of LostAmerca.com website)
The photos below are from my one and only visit to the part in 2011. It was an eerie place, but many of the old buildings paint looked new. Amazing. The park is slowing by stolen piece by piece as snoopers, taggers, investifators and other stop by the old park. I had a blast for the limited time I was at the park.
Lake Dolores Waterpark (which also operated under the names Lake Dolores, Rock–A–Hoola Waterpark, and Discovery Waterpark)
The park was originally designed and built by local businessman Bob Byers for use by his extended family. Lake Dolores was named after Byers' wife.
Byers sold the defunct park in August 1990 to 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. The new park featured the constant playing of 1950s and 1960s Rock and Roll music throughout the park. In its "Rock–A–Hoola" incarnation, the park included a river ride on inflated tubes.
An on–premise RV park had been planned but its opening was delayed. In its three seasons the park amassed three million dollars in debt, one of the three investors experienced financial problems, and the park filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2000.
The court–appointed trustee failed to find a buyer, and in August 2000 the bankruptcy filing was changed to Chapter 7 liquidation. The bankruptcy judge overseeing the case returned the property to Dolores Byers (husband Bob Byers died in 1996) with most debts discharged.
Dolores Byers sold the property in September 2001 to S.L. Investment Group LLC of the City of Industry, California. She died a month later
In January 2009 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.
In 2011, a group called Oasis Themepark announced a project to renovate and reopen the park, but progress has been desultory.
In June 2012, another skate film "Kilian Martin: Altered Route" directed by Brett Novak and sponsored in part by Mercedes-Benz carefully showed the park in its current state while reflecting on its past appearance.
In 2013, TrustoCorp, a group of deviant 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.
On May 27, 2013, Boards of Canada publicly debuted their album Tomorrow's Harvest by playing it first at Lake Dolores Waterpark. They had previously hinted that it would be played there by tweeting satellite images and uploading a video to YouTube featuring a distorted advertisement for the park titled Look Sad Reel, an obvious anagram of Lake Dolores.
These photos were taken of the defunct park in the summer of 2011.
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