New Big Splash Owner Has Big Plans For Water Park
TULSA, Oklahoma - The new owner at Big Splash Water Park in Tulsa isn't wasting any time renovating the place and making it his own.
The new guy is Joe Estes, better known as “Safari Joe,” owner of a wildlife sanctuary in Adair. While he’s never owned a water park, Estes said he has some big plans for the park’s future.
Since he took over the park, there are some new additions like palm trees and birds right when you walk in the front.
Even more animal exhibits will be built, along with three new waterslides, which will be open by next summer.
Standing 72 feet in the air, the Silver Bullet is one of the slides everyone looks forward to the most at Big Splash Waterpark, but you'll only be able to slide down it a few more weeks before it's gone.
“We love the Silver Bullet and it's been here for a long time, but we thought maybe it was time to put a brand new Silver Bullet in, so that's what we are going to do," Estes said.
He said some of the wood structure will remain, but the slide will be replaced with three new slides. One will be just like the Silver Bullet, but newer.
As for the other two, Estes won't say just yet.
"You will have to just wait and see because they will be even better,” he said.
Tortoises, Shelly and Sheldon, moved in a few weeks ago and are making themselves right at home, and Jackie the cockatoo and Cosmo the parrot, are attracting big crowds right when people walk in the gates.
Swimmer Taelem Rodriquez said, "We said ‘sup!’ And they said ‘sup’ back to us.”
"Bring the tropical ones in here to let people learn about Safari Joe’s, and appreciate animals," Estes said.
Estes is most known for his animal sanctuary in Adair; even around the waterpark, most still call him "Safari Joe."
"I thought it would be a good addition to my animal park to help it out. The animal park is a non-profit where this is something that can help take care of my animals,” he said.
He will continue to run both, but spend most of his time at Big Splash during the summer.
Estes said he will bring more animals from his sanctuary to the water park and continue improvements. Crews are also painting the park, and hundreds of chairs have been added as well as new carpet.
A few more papers do need to be signed to make it official.
While most are excited about the changes Estes has planned, some people have expressed concerns about past allegations.
Estes was accused of child sexual abuse but was found not guilty by a judge in 2013.
During the trial, his attorney told the jury the accusations against Estes stemmed from a nasty split with an ex-girlfriend and the children involved in the cases were close acquaintances of both him and his ex.