“Wow Factor” Could Delay Park Opening


Blanton Matthews

The “mushroom” has been removed and the water park awaits the delivery of the new structure.

For the first time in its 19 year history, the Arkadelphia Aquatic Park is getting an upgrade. The city ordered a new play structure, standing at twenty-three-feet tall with the same number of water features. This structure will stand in the place of the long-standing “mushroom” feature near the front of the pool.


The underground work is already done, the water for the new structure will run from the same line that the mushroom got its water, and with the mushroom removed, the structure itself will be installed as soon as it can be delivered. Delivery is scheduled for Wednesday, May 19, giving them a week and a half to install the structure, fill the pool, and get approval from the health department to open for business.


Arkadelphia Parks and Recreation director Junior Rodemeyer is hopeful that the structure will be delivered as scheduled and that the park will open on time. Rodemeyer said that if the structure is delivered, he expects any delay would be no more than one or two days.


The park has not had a major addition since its construction in 2003. Last season, the park got some much-needed maintenance, costing $60,000. At the end of the season, Rodemeyer decided it was time to do more than maintain the park as it was.


“We want to bring back the wow factor,” said Rodemeyer, and he hopes the $214,000 addition will do just that.


The play structure includes two kid-sized slides, water cannons, and a massive bucket at the top that pours out 280 gallons of water every few minutes, signaled by an alarm.
Despite the hefty price tag of the new structure, visitors need not worry about ticket price, which will not be increasing.


If the installation delays the park’s opening, it will be the second year in a row the park has missed its usual Memorial Day weekend opening, as last year the park opened June 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike last year though, the park no longer needs to operate at 50% capacity. Despite new CDC recommendations, the park is also not requiring guests or even employees to wear masks on the pool deck regardless of vaccination status.


“We’re complying with the Arkansas Health Department’s rules and keeping social distancing, spreading out the seating,” said Rodemeyer, but there is no longer a limit on the actual number of patrons they can bring in below the physical capacity of the premises.


Another change from previous years is that the park’s hours have moved up two hours, from 1 to 8 p.m. to 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Rendering of the new play structure
Rendering of the new play structure (Arkadelphia Parks & Recreation)

“We got a new system last season,” said Rodemeyer, “which keeps better track of park attendance, and when we looked at the statistics we saw that people weren’t really coming in during the 6-8 period. Also, we used to have private night parties from 8-10 and now we can start those earlier as well.”


The Arkadelphia Aquatic Park is tentatively scheduled to open May 29.