Talk of the Town - March 2022
- by Lisa Monti
Buccaneer State Park in Waveland continues to be the most popular among Mississippi’s 24 state parks in revenue, visitation and occupancy – and things are about to get even busier.
New, larger beachfront quality camping spaces, new upscale “glamping” campsites and a fun-filled “Splash Zone” for the youngest visitors to the water park are already attracting interest at the popular destination.
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The most visible activity is construction of the beachfront campground, which is being redeveloped with $2 million in Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) funds designated for coastal conservation, restoration and hurricane protection.
Improvements include putting in large concrete pads, paving roads to replace gravel ones, and installing sewer hookups.
“It’s looking good and we’re excited about it,” said Rayburn. “It will be a huge asset.”
Those 44 new Gulf View campsites will be in addition to the 206 premium sites inside the park.
Rayburn said the whole beachfront camping area was redesigned after Katrina for easier parking. It would be hard to find sites anywhere that are larger, Rayburn said.
“The layout is so much easier for parking and access to the site,” he said. The concrete pads range from 71 to 78 feet long, and the awning area is 49 feet long, giving a “patio” feel.”
Of the 44 new sites, six will be 89-feet pull-throughs, giving guests with larger campers a place large enough to settle in.
“It’s a great camping environment,” Rayburn said. “And you can wake up and look at the sunrise.”
Camping is a huge draw at Buccaneer, attracting guests from close at hand and all over the world. COVID caused a drop in visitors, as you might expect, but pandemic restrictions ultimately unleashed a boom in camper sales and visits to campgrounds nationally, Rayburn said.
“Everybody in the industry has seen a large increase in visitation across the nation. It’s a way to get out with the family and friends and enjoy the great outdoors.”
Buccaneer now joins other state parks in partnering with TENTRR, a national company that provides a stylish, comfortable “glamping” experience. Buccaneer offers six TENTRR sites that visitors can book online at https://www.tentrr.com/locations. The TENTRR sites start at $85 per night.
Local TENTRR employees set up the canvas safari tents, chairs, benches and fire pits for guests and get them checked into the park.
“We handle the visitors, but they do all the setups and reservations,” Rayburn said. “We started renting them in January, and reservations have been increasing every week.”
More construction is underway at Buccaneer’s water park, which is a local favorite and a magnet for visitors.
The new Splash Zone at the Wave Pool will give the youngest guests a place of their own. “Everybody loves the wave pool, which has two slides,” said Rayburn, “but smaller kids can’t use them because of height restrictions.”
The Splash Zone is about to remedy that. It will have a 5,000-square-foot-wide pool with a three-tiered, 19-foot-tall tower in the center that will have three slides, all geared to small kids. The tower will have hands-on water cannons among its 26 features that offer lots of interactive play and opportunities to get wet.
And since it’s in Buccaneer State Park, the tower will be decked out like a pirate ship, complete with a Jolly Roger flag, a crow’s nest and planks along the sides.
“The deepest part of the pool is eight inches,” Rayburn said. “Parents can sit on the side of the pool or around the pool, which will have a tropical feel. It’s a wonderful addition to what we have here.”
The Wave Pool will also add six cabanas for rent as well as seven hammocks set up in the 1,000 square foot beach area where guests can enjoy the whole water park experience.
All the new features will be open in summer of 2022.
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