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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
That is a pic of me around 1982-1983. I wish I had more pics of that place. It was one of those places you had to experience to appreciate. It was like the wild west of water parks. We always had a ton of fun. I also remember thinking this place is Focking dangerous.

 

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Because there have been no records as of yet discovered of an earlier construction and/or operation of any park of this, or similar type, Lake Dolores is very likely the world's first and hence its oldest true waterpark. As a point of clarification, this remote desert attraction was heretofore, as is still the case today -- despite two successive name changes -- far more commonly known by the general public as "Lake Dolores".

Owned, conceived, designed, built, and subsequently operated by a prominent local businessman -- the late John Byers -- the original park's initial, primary intent was to function as nothing more than a basic, "no-frills" private desert campground adjacent to a small man-made lake for the combined purposes of "off-road racing" over and about the surrounding desert terrain, coupled with the requisite amenities of comfort, rest, and relaxation by and for its paying guests. Mainly suited for weekend and holiday use by desert and off-road motorcycle racing ("motocross" AKA "MX") enthusiasts, over several years and for various situational, family, and economic reasons, the park grew in popularity as it gradually evolved into an attraction which became considerably more broad in scope than the park designer's original vision had first intended. Within just a few short years, not only the desert racing enthusiast -- but the casual Los Angeles/Las Vegas I-15 traveling public began to take notice as well.

The initial phases of conception, planning and construction took place between the late 1950's and early 1960's. An expansive parcel of arid land situated on the eastern edge of Southern California's Mojave Desert, just one-hundred yards northwest of Interstate 15 was chosen for its convenient proximity to this well-travelled highway -- as well as other neighboring thoroughfares -- in addition to the availability of the nearby "Stuckey's" restaurant franchise, a small convenience store, and a Texaco gas station which all stood together on a corner just three miles (5 km) due east at the nearest I-15 offramp.

With the park's "Grand Opening" as a basic campground in May of 1962, and spanning a period of several years thereafter, Lake Dolores evolved into a relatively unique waterpark experience (especially by today's standards). In addition to a group of water "speed-slides" situated next to a manual, rider-operated guidewire/"zip-tram" ride, the park featured a swimming pool along with a high-dive, a "kiddie" wading pool, and in later years boasted a meandering lazy river-like raft ride on inflated tubes -- during that particular period, the longest ride of its type in the world.

In this, its first incarnation as a waterpark, Lake Dolores (named after the wife of original designer/owner John Byers) was considered by the waterslide enthusiast to be quite a welcome rarity, as most of the rides within the park itself quickly developed the reputation of more accurately being "thrill-rides within a waterpark" as compared to what the average American of the time normally perceived and expected of the nationally more ubiquitous, then-modern-day waterpark.

Aside from the park's remote location, coupled with the fact that it was family-owned and operated -- many other factors of greater import went into setting Lake Dolores apart from the "typical" waterpark. First and foremost of these factors was that all of the waterslides were merely much larger-scale replicas of "playground" or "sandbox" slides, both in their mutual shape and/or sloping angle, along with their composite physical make-up and structure, as each waterslide was manufactured from thin, plyable, and polished to a mirror-finish Stainless Steel. Combining this relatively strong and non-porous material with a straight-ahead steep angle drop which channeled an endless flow of downward rushing water along with the ever-greasy suntan lotion and/or a slick "floatie", any slowing friction between slide and rider was virtually non-existent, thus adding an even greater degree and sense of speed to the overall thrill. No waterpark that comes close to resembling this specific type of design and construction has existed anywhere in the world before, nor has one like it existed anywhere thus far, since.

As its central attraction, the park featured eight "lay-down" waterslides abutted side-by-side against a large man-made hill -- each slide identical to the other and each traversing the hill downward for over one-hundred feet in length at a sixty-degree laser-straight drop with each rider aided by the small, flat, manually inflated "floatie" which was placed under one's belly, back, or bottom. Gaining speed due to the physics of "angular momentum", riders would "skim" as they hit the water at slide's-end, their "floatie" slapping against the surface as they swiftly zipped -- just like a "skipping stone" -- forty to fifty yards across the lagoon.

Positioned in an adjacent section several yards away and parallel to these slides were two "stand-up", "V"-shaped waterslides (sitting at roughly the exact same length and downward angle as the forementioned "lay-down" slides) which, at the height of ten to fifteen feet above the water, shot the standing rider out of the end of the slide like a "human cannonball". To add an even greater thrill to the overall experience, there was the "Zip-Cord", a single, "Spider-Man"-like, hand-held-while-hanging tram-ride which (by gravity alone) careened the rider for approximately 200 feet (60 m) at a downward angle away from the top of the hill, at ever-increasing speed along a guidewire which was situated high above the water. At the bottom-end of this wire the hand-grip would slam into a small blocking mechanism and come to a dead stop with the continuing momentum thrusting the hanging (and often screaming) rider twenty-plus feet forward and down into the cool, murky lagoon like an incoming runaway missile. It is said by many a former Lake Dolores aficionado that on this particular ride, any ounce of fear didn't really matter, as the riders would invariably "come back for more". A similar treat could be found in a smaller adjacent lake which featured three "swings," or trapeze, hanging from an "A-frame" swing-like support structure. The swingers launched from a 20-foot (6 m)-high platform, more often than not losing their grip before reaching the bottom of the arc. Those who held on for the upswing could release for a sometimes graceful flight and splash landing (of course, it was no small wonder that during this period, Lake Dolores enforced a strict policy which made it mandatory that each and every guest and/or parent sign and initial a three-page "Waiver of Liability" upon their initial entrance to the park).

Apparently living up to its slogan -- "The Fun Spot of The Desert!" -- Lake Dolores combined strong "word of mouth" advertising with television commercials during afternoon cartoon shows and late night Wrestling as well as Los Angeles "Thunderbird" Roller Derby episodes; hence the park experienced a long, steady rise to its peak in popularity between the early 1970s and the mid 1980s. What was once a relatively brief, casual "midway stop" for the family and kids by Los Angeles/Las Vegas travelers gradually became a seasonal "destination spot" for much of the Southwest -- especially among teens, young adults, and young families. On a typical weekend or holiday, between forty to sixty cars at a time would arrive the prior evening and camp overnight just outside of the front gate in order to gain prime choice for a select camping spot the next morning. Quite often, in many a gathering spot throughout this vast area of the country, (especially during the summer months) one could regularly overhear conversations relating to the "great time" they just had at "Lake Dolores".

After a series of downturns in the late 1980s, the "original" Lake Dolores waterpark experienced its first long-term closure.


[edit] Recent history
After the first closure of Lake Dolores the park sat vacant for a number of years. In August 1990, property owner John Robert Byers -- the husband of Dolores Byers -- sold the waterpark to three investors who formed Lake Dolores, LLC. In 1995, the original attractions on the hill were removed to make room for a brand-new waterpark. Boasting a brand-new name, Rock-A-Hoola waterpark officially opened to the public on July 4, 1996.

A lack of interest and problems with one of the three investors forced the park to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1998. After operating for only three seasons the park had amassed 3-million dollars of debt. In August 2000 the bankruptcy filing was changed to Chapter 7 liquidation after a court appointed trustee failed to find a buyer. The federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the case gave the property back to Dolores Byers. All other debts except the estimated $400,000 property tax bill were rendered null and void.

Dolores Byers again sold the property in September 2001 to S.L. Investment Group LLC of the City of Industry, California. A month later on October 29, 2001 Dolores Byers died of cancer. Her husband John had died in 1996.

After $400,000 in renovations the waterpark reopened on Memorial Day weekend in 2002 with a new name --- Discovery Waterpark. The waterpark operated Thursday through Sunday in 2002 and 2003. During the last season of operation 2004, the waterpark operated on an intermittent and relatively part-time basis during the summer. The waterpark has not opened to the public since 2004.

On a side note, in 2003, Olympic Gold Medalist and former NFL All-Pro Wide Receiver Ron Brown (Oakland Raiders, St.Louis Rams) led a distinguished group of former and current professional athletes -- a fraternal/business organization known as the "Pro Players Network" -- in a reportedly serious attempt to purchase the park and turn it into a fun, creative, sports, and educational activity camp for underpriveliged children and "at risk" youth. At this point, however -- reportedly running into several roadblocks -- these plans appear to be in somewhat of a "holding pattern".


[edit] Currently
The waterslides and attractions of Lake Dolores / Rock-A-Hoola / Discovery waterpark are clearly visible from Interstate 15, sixteen miles (26 km) northeast of Barstow, California, just past the mid-way point from downtown Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The future of the waterpark, as well as the immediate, surrounding area, is currently the subject of major discussion, debate, and rumor within the local community. From a physical standpoint, the site itself is now patrolled by private security officers as well as guard dogs, today the Water Park appears to be in a state of being dismantled.
 

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You who rock I salute you
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Great post WW.
I always wondered about that place.

The last visible "improvement" we could see from the 15 was they painted the water tank like a Coca Cola Can.
Over the years it's faded to where you can no long read it.

Last it operated it never seems to draw many people judging by the parking lot.

The campground was unique back in it's day.
At 10:00 PM the campground gates were closed and locked.
You were locked in. Or locked out depending on your take.
 

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The Pool Bitch
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I remember going there as a kid, and then stopping at the shot up Bonnie and Clyde car on the same trip.
 

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"The" masheenist
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Interesting.

WW, your post seems like a credible story from Wikepedia or something similar, maybe even a first hand account, I don't know.

I guess it is heresay, but I was told the two closures coincided with two deaths. One
employee was f ucking around on the slides after hours and one guest, both fell to their deaths.

Brian
 

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They had a great zip line into the water. It had a rubber stop on the cable that if you didn't let go, you got flung like a rag doll....and I did! And don't forget the waterslide you could stand up on and launched you out onto the water about 5-6 ft high- that was the one they had on a commercial where the guy dives at the end of the slide into the water. Bottom of that place felt like lake Elsinore. I went a couple times which I think was right around 1980.
 

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Neighbors (years back) went there all the time...kids loved it...sold their river boat and bought an RV...;) Never went there myself...
 

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My favorite was the stand up slide. You stood in a chute, the walls were about 4 or 5 feet tall and ended about 12 feet above the water. Also the zip wire, it started on a hill and you had to pick up your legs so they would'nt hit the ground as you went towards the tire at the end of the line and then you would go flying.
WOW almost forgot that place. Good times!
 

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The zip line was the best. It went 20'-30' right over the dirt with nothing below you for safety, Bitchen. You will never see another park like this ever again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
They also had boats and a car track. The car track was on a man made island. You had to take a bridge to get to them. Around the island was a little lake that had boats to rent. The boats had a little outboard on it and they went fast. The cars also went fast. That place was wild. I remember some drunk guy sank one of the boats, and another trip one of the cars caught on fire.

Like I said it was something you had to experience to appreciate.
 

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Awesome stories... I was there in the 70's when in high school we would drive there from Vegas and hang out for the day. Met a bunch of people from So-Cal that did the same. All those things were fun! I was going to say that the account WW gave didn't say anything about the boat and jet ski races they had there too, but y'all beat me to it :)

:)devil
 

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Yup. I rember the place. The stand up slide was killer. We put out flip flops on out hands so the handrails did not burn us.
 
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