Waterpark thriving despite oil's hit to tourism - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Waterpark thriving despite oil's hit to tourism

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It was one of the hottest spots on the coast Saturday. The oil crisis has actually brought a boost to business to Gulf Islands Waterpark. Saturday saw one of its strongest days to date this summer.

"Some of the beaches have been impacted no doubt, but the tourism industry on the coast is still strong," says Mark Moore, Gulf Islands Waterpark general manager.

Gulf Island park officials estimate more than 4,000 people came in, bringing the park close to capacity. Throughout the day, the droves of customers kept piling in to cool off.

"They need to come out and have a good time, get in the water. It's cool."

Visitors like Shawana Sumerall from Whitman, Mississippi, said they're getting the message the coast is still open for business. It also helps when a little star power, like "Jackson," Jason Earles, from Disney's hit show Hannah Montana stops in for a visit.

"They were excited. I was excited, as well. We go to bed watching him and wake up watching him, so the kids were all excited. And we had a great time today," said Sumerall.

"It's always a little humbling, because I think I'm just a dork. I hang around the house and play video games and do the regular stuff I've always done. But everybody gets really excited when they come out," says Earles.

But, even the cool hit television star couldn't escape South Mississippi's unforgiving heat wave.

"They've got a thousand fans rolling through here, and I dab myself occasionally. It's a very humid here. I'm not gonna lie," said Earles.

If the days continue like this, park officials say this summer will surpass last summer's numbers.

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