Miami’s New Water Park: Black Beard’s Beach
This week the City of Miami opened it’s only water park. Replacing the former Grapeland Library, Black Beard’s Beach is part of a multi-million dollar renovation of neighboring Grapeland Park that includes a baseball complex and a community recreational building complete with art and computer rooms. The 20 million dollar facility, featuring artwork by world-renowned local artist Romero Britto, took just over three years to complete following numerous delays and controversies including environmental issues and allegations of improprieties.
The vision of Miami Commissioner Angel Gonzalez, the Black Beard’s Beach project did hit a few swells. First there were allegations of improprieties when a company represented by City Hall lobbyist Steve Marin was awarded the project without a competitive bidding process. The city was then greeted with an environmental clean-up. Once used as a city dump, construction on the water park was delayed when it was discovered that a costly clean-up would run the City of Miami an additional 10 million in funds. Yet finally, after 3.5 years, the long awaited Black Beard’s Beach finally opened it’s doors last Wednesday.
Featuring a play area for the big kids, a play area for the tots under 5, a resort-style, infinity pool complete with beach-like entry and a lazy river where one gets soaked while drifting on an inner tube, the water park definitely offers fun for the whole family.
Pirate’s Plunge, featuring a maximum water depth of 18 inches, is the water play area for children ages 5 and older. The island offers three bright orange, twisting slides and a smaller one for the younger kids. The huge wooden playground has three floors of wet, climbing, twisting fun. Hoses on all floors can spray anyone approaching or inside of the playground structure. Pirate’s Plunge is also decorated with Britto’s lively colored characters including twisting pipes and pinwheels which spray the kids as they play. The area features a maximum bathing load of 286.
Shipwreck Island, the under 5 water play area, features a maximum water depth of 12 inches which is perfect for non-swimmers. Decorated with bright, colorful Britto characters, the play area boasts two bright orange slides, numerous water spraying devices and a continuous waterfall from atop an Octopus adorned umbrella. Due to health restrictions, only children in waterproof diapers will be allowed to use the facilities. Shipwreck Island will allow a maximum bathing load of 115.
Both water playgrounds are staffed with numerous lifeguards including two per slide and one at each entrance and surrounded by yellow and orange lounge chairs and large beach-like umbrellas. Lifeguards at all Pirate’s Plunge slides and entrances ask children their ages to ensure the safety of those younger than 5. Parents at Pirate’s Plunge with children younger than 5 are referred to Shipwreck Island. Both play areas offer a watery surprise at 5 minute intervals. The bright yellow, orange and black buckets atop each of the playground structures dumps a load of water on children below. Horns sound shortly before the water dump to alert the kids. They quickly gather in huddled crowds and shriek with delight as the water pummels them. Even the younger children love it.
The Captain’s Lagoon is a resort-style, infinity pool which boasts a beach-like entrance for it’s namesake making it easily accessible for persons with disabilities. The pool area is offered for adults and is definitely large enough to swim laps. The area is also surrounded by brightly colored yellow and orange lounge chairs, available on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis, and large blue and white umbrellas for those wishing to just relax while the kids play.
Buccaneer River Ride, the 600 ft lazy river ride, is a twisting, turning tubing experience through Pipe Canyon Falls, winding path of broken pipes which spray water at you. The current is kept moving with strategically placed jets. Riders sit atop a bright yellow, black, white and blue inner tube as they work their way down the 3 foot deep river.
The park is quickly being referred to as Brittos’ water park and quite rightly so as Romero Britto’s touch and signature, literally, are everywhere. From numerous monuments, statues, fountains, plaques and flags, the bright, festive characters scream fun in the sun. Even the Pop artist’s The Little Pirate Girl, also known as ‘Tina,’ greets patrons as they enter but his touch is what makes the place so much more than just a few water slides and chlorinated water.
The park offers a concession stand coined ‘Tina’s Cantina’ for the 25 foot tall, The Little Pirate Girl statue outside the park. Drinks include sodas, waters and teas/juices while foods include burgers, pizza, hot dogs and fries with reasonable pricing. Snow cones seemed to be the hottest item in opening day.
Black Beard’s Beach also boasts a state-of-the art lightning prediction system. Equipped with Thor Guard, patrons will hear a 15 second horn blast if conditions favor lightning. If conditions ‘favor’ lightning- not if lightning is seen. In the event of lightning conditions, patrons are asked to immediately clear all areas of the water park and return to their vehicles. The park will not reopen until 30 minutes after the last lightning strike.
Black Beard’s Beach, operated by the City of Miami, will be open daily from 9 am to 8pm in the Spring/Summer months and 11 am to 5 pm in the Fall/Winter months. All pool areas are open from dawn to dusk. All of the pools and pool deck areas are accessible to the disabled. One time Admission fees for children ages 4 to 13 is $5 per person. City Residents older than 13 pay $7 with proper identification and non-city residents pay $10 per person. Wednesdays boast free admission for children 13 and under. Annual passes as well as group (15+) pricing available however parties will not be allowed. Outside food and beverages are prohibited as are water toys and pets. The park located at 1550 NW 37th Ave has ample parking available with overflow into Grapeland Park. Black Beard’s Beach can be accessed by NW 37th Ave or NW 14th Street.
Make sure to have proper swim attire- no jeans, cut-offs, thongs, clothing with rude, vulgar or offensive graphics/language, a towel, some sunblock and a ready-to-have-fun attitude. Well, that and a lock. The lockers offered, while free, do not have locks somewhat defeating the purpose. With the amount of people that are sure to flock to this fabulous, AFFORDABLE, close option- especially for the younger kids, you’re sure to not have much security when it comes to your belongings.
All-in-all, I loved it. My 4 year old loved it as did all the other, what must have been over 500, people that were there with us on opening day. I admit, I was bothered that the City chose to remove the library. I guess it wasn’t such a bad move after all.
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