Buccaneer: Making a Splash
By Dwayne Bremer
Mar 5, 2013, 18:11
Construction is under way on the new water slides and wave pool at Buccaneer State Park, and officials say they hope to have the project complete by Memorial Day. Before Hurricane Katrina destroyed Buccaneer’s water park in 2005, it was the state park system’s number one tourist draw.
One of Hancock County's most popular family destinations is on the cusp of a full return, seven years after Hurricane Katrina virtually destroyed it.
Officials at Buccaneer State Park said Monday that they are hopeful to be able to open the new water park by Memorial Day weekend.
"It seems like forever ago," Park Manager Stu Rayburn said Monday. "Finally, we can see the finish line. We still have a ways to go, but it's finally in sight."
Prior to Katrina, Buccaneer was the number one park in the state in terms of generating income. The park pulled in more than $1 million per year with its large number of camp sites, trailer pads, water park, and beautiful scenic views.
A large reason for its popularity was the water park, which for a long time was the only such facility in South Mississippi.
Buccaneer Park was devastated as a result of Katrina, and recovery and rebuilding have been slow because of government red tape. It was rebuilt in three phases. The first phase included infrastructure and utility work. The second phase, which was completed in 2009, enabled Buccaneer to reopen camp sites to the public.
More than 250 campsites have reopened and eight buildings including pavilions, restrooms, and offices have been completed.
The third phase, a $7 million restoration of the water park and other amenities began in 2012.
The wave pool, along with two water slides will be complete with a new deck, concession stand, and admissions building. A new activities building, recreation hall, and camp store are also being completed, Rayburn said.
"I think the changes will meet the needs of the future," he said.
Upgrades are also being done at the day use area, west of the water park, he said.
Rayburn said the goal is to be open by Memorial Day weekend, but that will depend on the weather.
Regardless, he said, he expects the park to be fully-operational by the summer.
"We can't promise it will be open by Memorial Day, but that is the goal," he said. "We are very excited to finally be able to have what we had before Katrina and more."