Waterland USA sold; slides tumble down

The former Waterland USA entertainment park in Houma has been sold to local real estate developer Rodney L. Burns.

Burns would not say what will replace the water park. The 20-acre site is located on La. Highway 311.

The former owner, Ricky Diggs, bought the water park in 2006 and said he spent about $800,000 on renovations over a two-year period.

Despite getting up to 300 patrons on weekdays and 500 to 700 on weekends, Diggs said he was considering closing Waterland before damage from hurricanes Gustav and Ike sealed the park’s fate after the 2008 summer season.

“We put a lot of money into it, tried to remodel it and were getting going real well,” Diggs said. “The people who came loved it and appreciated it. There just weren’t people to support the park.

“We did all we could. It just wasn’t good enough,” he added.

Before he bought Waterland USA, Diggs said the previous owner, JS Kan Inc., had shut down the park’s main attraction, the Blue Runner double waterslide. He figured that people in the area did not realize the park had reopened until it was too late.

Diggs wouldn’t say how much the property was sold for, but Patterson Real Estate once listed it at nearly $1.5 million.

Waterland USA first opened in 1984. At its peak it offered five waterslides, a children’s slide, wave pool, 18-hole mini-golf course, a game room, concessions, a sundeck and covered patio with fans.

With the closing of Waterland USA and Jumping Kids, an East Houma inflatable attraction, recreation outlets for children in Terrebonne Parish are no longer available.

“That’s a shame,” Diggs lamented. “Not only does it affect kids out of school during the summertime, there were a lot of day care camps that came for their recreation. Where are they going to go now?”

But Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce president Drake Pothier believes the area will not suffer a big blow when selling Houma as a place for businesses and families to relocate.

“We’re in such close proximity to New Orleans, which is less than an hour away, that does have that kind of kid-friendly stuff like the Aquarium of the Americas and Audubon Zoo,” he said.

Plus, Houma offers lots of other great activities for kids and families to partake in – the parks, library, theaters, hunting and fishing.

He said that many communities larger than Houma do not have a unique attraction like a water park, but still offer plenty of family entertainment value.

“If you take a step back you can see there are a lot of other things for families to do around here,” he said.

The Blue Runner double waterslide at Waterland USA, once the main attraction at the Houma water park, was demolished Thursday. Local commercial developer Rodney L. Burns bought the property for an undisclosed amount. * Photo by KEYON K. JEFF