Developers move closer to bringing FunTime USA back to Gulfport

Developers move closer to bringing FunTime USA back to Gulfport

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - In the summer of 2016, you may once again hear the roar of go karts, the splash of bumper boats and the squeals of joy from children.

Rafe O'Neal has a vision to bring FunTime USA back to Gulfport.

"It's tied to so many people's lives, from their childhoods. We've got generations of families that grew up here and knew every square inch of the park," said Rafe O'Neal.

The old FunTime USA was located on Highway 90 west of Cowan Road until Hurricane Katrina wiped it away. A decade later, developers plan to build a $4 million FunTime USA across from the old site.

O'Neal and Romy Simpson are partners of Gulf Amusements, the company that wants to build the new amusement park on the four-acre property. The pair have a purchase agreement to buy the property.

O'Neal's uncle Ray O'Neal once operated the old FunTime USA.

"We're bringing back the bumper boats, and the go-kart track, and my uncle is designing a new FunTime golf course," said O'Neal.

Also coming back is the classic carousel that was the centerpiece of the old park. O'Neal plans to restore the aluminum horses that have been in storage since Hurricane Katrina.

Humpty Dumpty, the dapper character who sat on a wall at the entrance of the original park and remained perched during the storm, will come out of semi-retirement and welcome visitors once again.

"He's beloved. We've got people who have sent us pictures in their wedding dresses, three generations of children, and so it's awesome," said O'Neal.

The project also features an assortment of new rides, a covered pavilion for food trucks, and more modern facilities where families can create new memories.

"Affordable, safe entertainment and whether that's families, adults, children, I think there's a terrible need for that on the coast right now," added O'Neal.

The developers are also selling what they call "Golden Tickets". There are only 100 tickets, each costing $1,000. The tickets are good for a family of four to enter the park for the next ten years, and purchases you can share the passes with friends.

"Kids will be able to grow up in the park over that ten years, maybe bring their kids some day. It's kind of a neat thing," said O'Neal. "I'm a little bit beside myself. We're moving along. Things are moving so quickly now. I can't wait to start turning some dirt."

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