Buccaneer State Park in Waveland attracted more people than any other Mississippi state park last year, nearly half a million visitors. Buccaneer also generated the most revenue of any other state park, some $800,000.
The question now is, will the park stay on top once the new water park opens in Gulfport later this month? WLOX News posed that question to the man in charge of the park.
Buccaneer Bay Water Park has been making a big splash with kids of all sizes since it opened 13 years ago. Laurin Reynolds, 16, has been coming to the park since she was a toddler.
"I love the water. It's so much fun and it gets me out of the heat and it gives me something to do when I'm bored," Reynolds said.
The park manager says keeping visitors like Reynolds coming back, will mean keeping up with improvements like adding more motion to the wave pool.
"It's a 480,000 gallon pool. We just put in a new wave system that offers eight different types of waves," Park Manager Stu Rayburn said.
He says he doesn't think they'll lose many customers when Gulf Islands Water Park opens in Gulfport.
The new park will cost adults almost $30 a day. A day at Buccaneer is only $9.
"The reputation of being an affordable place, a safe, secure, quiet and nice recreational environment is what we stake our reputation on. I think that will keep the people who have been coming here for years will keep them coming back."
And Rayburn says Buccaneer offers a totally different experience for visitors.
"A family can come in here and utilize our campground, stay for a few days, and it's extremely affordable."
On top of that, he says nearly 80 percent of Buccaneer's guests drive over from Louisiana.
"I don't know how many of those people will drive on past to go down there."
Rayburn admits the new park will attract the curious, but he says he's not worried.
"The reputation we have is going to keep people coming back."
Park officials say future plans call for cabins to be built on site. They also have plans in the works to expand the water park's kiddy area.