We’re well into our first official week of summer — hooray! Summer is my favorite time of year — and nothing says summer like a decrepit waterpark!
Water parks are supposed to be fun, right? Well, that wasn’t typically the case at this joint. The Grand Rios Water Park was always making the news — and it wasn’t because it was featured on some “Great Places to Take Your Kids This Summer” fluff report.
Nope. In the last few years, this waterpark was featured on WCCO I-Team reports and, on a few occasions, headline the 10pm news. It drew the attention of the local media after a tragic drowning death of a teen boy in November 2010 and it stayed on the local media’s radar ever since.
The Grand Rios Water Park stayed in the news and under scrutiny throughout the next year or so, with special reports about not only the financial situation and safety of the water park, but the sanitary conditions of the adjoining hotel.
The water park opened in late 2004 or early 2005, but the hotel was there long before that (I believe it was a Ramada). There was also an on-site Beach House Grill restaurant. I did eat at the Beach House restaurant once, in 2005, because we had a Happenings book coupon. The overwhelming chlorine smell permeated throughout the restaurant, and I swear I could taste it in my food. Not impressed.
I never visited the water park or stayed in the hotel, so I can’t add a whole lot of personal anecdotes on this place. My entire water park experience is at Valleyfair’s water park (yep, never visited the Dells as a kid — a travesty!). I went to their Splash City (or whatever it’s called these days) a few times as a teen, but was never thrilled to go. The plastic bumps in the water slides hurt my bum on the way down and I hated the stench. The water park smelled like dogs and dirt from people getting wet and sweating.
I read some of the old Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews and this about sums it up: Standing water in the locker rooms. Used towels thrown about. Moldy carpeting in the hotel rooms. Band-aids floating in the water. Terrible customer service. Filthy.
So, you’d think with all the controversy surrounding this place, the city of Brooklyn Park would do something about it, right? Like, for starters, shut it down?
No. The complex remained open until June 2011 — and it wasn’t at the hands of the city. It took a goddamn bank to shut them down after foreclosing on their loan. Otherwise, they’d still be running this disgusting water park into the ground.
It’s been sitting empty for a year now, yet if you drive by, you will see cars in the parking lot, especially on the hotel side (which is why I don’t have many pictures of it). They seem to have a 24/7 security detail on this place. I’ve been here three times in the last month or so, on various days/times and there’s always a security car in the parking lot. I suppose it’s to prevent vandals from ransacking the place, but I’ve never seen such a thing at an abandoned building before.
Hence, it makes it difficult to take pictures of this place. Gotta admit, I got spooked when I saw the car driving up to me, so I jumped back into my car and peeled out of the parking lot.
Keep an eye on this place; plans are in place to demo the property and turn it into a giant CarMax dealership.
Photos taken June 2012