To echo the sentiment of both my kids these days, summer is too short and goes by too quickly. How is it possible that it’s already August and the start of the next school year is looming just days away? I always start the summer with grand ideas of fabulous activities that we’ll do in the long summer that stretches before us. And then, bam, it’s August and a surprisingly few things have been checked off the list. But even with the end of vacation right around the corner, there’s still time for a quick day trip to Mississippi that delivers big summer fun.
Located just over an hour from New Orleans, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers two different water park options: Buccaneer Bay in Waveland and Gulf Islands Water Park in Gulfport. Located in Buccaneer State Park, Buccaneer Bay is approximately 4.5-acres and offers two waterslides, one open and one completely enclosed. It also boasts “Pirates Lagoon Wave Pool,” a 17,000-square-foot, 460,000-gallon wave pool. Inner tubes are available, so you and your gang can float and enjoy the six-foot waves created in the pool. For the younger set, there’s “Lil’ Smugglers Cove”, a 12-inch-deep smaller pool with water sprayers and tipping buckets. Admission rates vary depending on the height of the participant. Buccaneer Bay also offers a reduced non-participant rate if you’re just watching the kids, as well as a reduced twilight rate. For dates, hours and details, visit mdwfp.com.
Gulf Islands Water Park
A bit further down Interstate 10 in Gulfport, you’ll find Gulf Islands Water Park. This water park is home to the “Horn Island Blaster,” the Gulf Coast’s only water roller coaster, as well as two more traditional water slides: the “Deer Island Express” for the more adventuresome and the “Cat Island Catapult” for the younger crowd. Our gang’s favorite was the new “Riptide Racer,” where six lanes race from the 45-foot-high starting point. You gain serious speed as you go down the 300-foot slide head first on a mat before you splash. Next we tried the “Camille Cutter,” a rafting adventure in an 84-inch open-air chute. Gulf Islands also has a large shallow wading area for the younger kids where they can spray each other with giant squirt cannons, slide down two smaller flumes or wait to get soaked by the giant tipping bucket. “Spray St. Louis” and “Padscagoula” are also where you’ll want to head to splash around with the toddler set. Gulf Island also offers a huge wave pool and a lazy river, nicknamed “The Lazy Pearl River.” For the majority of slides at Gulf Islands, participants must be 42 inches high or taller. For more specific details, prices and directions, visit GulfIslandsWaterpark.com.
There are a few things to remember before setting out for your day of wet fun in Mississippi. You will want to bring plenty of sunscreen and your own towels. Outside food or drinks are not allowed into either water park, but both facilities offer concessions such as pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs and treats, as well as soft drinks and water. For days and times of operation, consult the websites mentioned above.
So before your calendar reflects nothing but carpool drop-offs and pick-ups, team try-outs and back-to-school nights, grab one more day of summer fun with a splash at one of our nearby waterparks!