CAPE CORAL, Fla. — People eager to take a dip in the lazy river or splash down at the bottom of one of the slides streamed into Sun Splash Family Waterpark Tuesday, less than a week after an overnight blaze destroyed the main building at the popular city-run attraction.
Tess Deoreo was first in line, waiting for gates to open at 10 a.m.
“I was going to come the first day that it was closed,” Deoreo said. “The lady said, ‘Oh, I don’t think you’re going today.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She goes, ‘It burned down.’ I was like, ‘What?!'”
A fire last Wednesday ripped through the facility at 400 Santa Barbara Boulevard that housed the restaurant, gift shop and guest services, causing an estimated $700,000 in damage. Investigators believe a malfunctioning golf cart sparked the blaze.
Further costs were incurred as the park sat closed for six days, with crews rushing to clean up the charred remains of the building and restore the computer system on site. Sun Splash manager Sandy Greiner said a busy day in July can generate some $20,000 in business but expressed optimism about recouping the lost revenue.
“We’re all set and ready to go,” Sun Splash manager Sandy Greiner said. “Everybody did a great job in pulling it all together. I just can’t be happier today.”
A fence surrounds the burned-out building while a makeshift restaurant, food truck and drink stand serve parkgoers. Those temporary facilities will be in place for the rest of the season, which ends in September.
Officials are designing a new building to replace the one that burned, which was built in 1991 when the park’s capacity was 650 people. Capacity has since increased to 1,650.
The fire cost season pass holders time at the park, but not many have complained, Greiner said, adding that they’re dealing with any issues on a case-by-case basis.