HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It took eight years to rebuild Buccaneer Bay Water Park after Hurricane Katrina. It made a big splash when it re-opened Memorial Day weekend 2013, and has continued to make an even bigger splash in the years to follow.
"It's awesome," said Cohen Labauve from Abita Springs, Louisiana. In fact, he says Buccaneer Bay is one of his favorites places to be on earth.
"The waterslides, they go down fast and the wave pool there are a lot of waves and it hits you and it's fun," explained Labauve.
"We love it. We're having fun with the waves. He's had fun going down the slides. It's not crowded, it's a family facility and it is kid friendly," Mary Berry of Louisiana.
Before Katrina, the water park and campground at Buccaneer State Park was one of the Mississippi's largest tourists attractions, bringing in nearly a million visitors a year.
"We've exceeded our pre-Katrina numbers, so were right back up to where we were. In the waterpark, we're averaging 800 to 1,200 people a day," said Park Director Stu Rayburn.
He says the original Wavepool keeps the folks coming back.
"It's a dinosaur. It's been here since 1980. It's one of a few left in the United States and the world. It makes a six foot wave," said Rayburn.
The park director said FEMA's requirements to rebuild have given the park more of what it has always needed.
"A lot of the FEMA requirements are elevated. That allowed us to add a lot more shade and a lot more picnic areas right below where we are standing now," said Rayburn.
The park's director says future plans at the park call for a large interactive splash pad for children.