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Todd Patterson repositions himself using a bucket truck as he helped restain a timber-frame gazebo at the entrance to Point Mallard's J. Gilmer Blackburn Aquatic Center on Tuesday. The stain protects the beams from exposure to the weather.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Todd Patterson repositions himself using a bucket truck as he helped restain a timber-frame gazebo at the entrance to Point Mallard's J. Gilmer Blackburn Aquatic Center on Tuesday. The stain protects the beams from exposure to the weather.

Mallard makeover
Changes make water park
user-friendly for May 26 opening

By Paul Huggins · 340-2395

An express entrance, online ticket purchasing, a splash of new artwork and a chance to meet Hawaiian Tropic models are among the new items and special events planned for J. Gilmer Blackburn Aquatic Center this summer.

The first enhancement attendees will notice at the 35-acre water park will be the new express entrance at the central entryway so attendees can easily rush to the wave pool, water slides, Squirt Factory and Duck Pond children's areas, the Olympic pool and a sandy beach.

And with the addition of the new Click 'n' Print feature at, customers can go online and buy individual tickets, season passes and group discount tickets all from the comfort of their home or office.

At the express entrance, an attendant will scan the Web ticket for authenticity and grant admission. The traditional main entrance will remain at the same location near the main parking area and will accept cash check or credit cards. It will scan Click 'n' Print tickets as well.

Other changes include a toddler sand play area near the Duck Pond and new colorful designs throughout the Duck Pond and Squirt Factory sidewalks. Park artists incorporated designs on the pool decks of these areas while keeping the surface safe with a non-slip rubber coating.

Local artist Lori Hensley also combined fun-in-the-sun designs throughout the gift shop to complement a new line of swimwear the park will sell. Hensley's touch includes a life-sized aquarium complete with sharks, sea turtles, clown fish and more.

To improve customer comfort, the park added 50 new poolside chaise lounges by the Olympic pool and surrounding areas. These will arrive the week after opening day.

In addition, 20 double chaise loungers (with 3-inch cushions) will be placed on the beach complete with nine-foot umbrellas. They rent for $20 a day. Additional picnic tables were added to the Point Mallard Lagoon.

Point Mallard also introduces Ashley Wolff, the park's new event coordinator. She has organized 23 special activities and event dates for the park's 81-day season. Some of these include:

  • A swimwear fashion show, planned on June 1 at 3 p.m. It features models selected from 2006 Point Mallard Model Search.

  • Dino Days will introduce kids to fossils, dinosaur eggs and even an archeological dig at the beach on June 2.

  • National Guard Week pays tribute to men and women in uniform, offering half-price admission for service personnel and their immediate families June 10-16. This week culminates with a special in-park display from the National Guard.

  • On Father's Day, dads enjoy free admission with a paying family member.

  • A Luau led by Hawaiian Entertainment returns June 23. It includes giveaways and games and the park will stay open longer. The Hawaiian Tropic models also will be on hand to sign autographs.

  • July 4th will feature the musical talents of Sister Luck from 7 to 9 p.m., with the park staying open late so park patrons can enjoy the Spirit of America Festival.

  • A Tools for Schools drive will once again partner Point Mallard, WHNT-19 and Volunteer Center of Morgan County. Attendees will get in for $5 by bringing a school item to share with the needy.

  • Bug Day will creep into the park on July 14 with a Volkswagen car show, demonstrations by Cook's Pest Control, a special visit by the Beautification Department's litter bug and lots of bug crafts.

  • Other activities include Karaoke contests, Pirate Day, Dive-In Movies, a Fiesta Day — complete with a Mariachi band and piņatas — and the 2008 Model Search.

    The park will remain open daily until Aug. 5. From Aug. 11 through Labor Day, it will be open weekends only. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except the half-price specials on Tuesdays and Thursdays when its stays open until 9.

    General admission is $10 for children 12 and younger, $15 for adults and $8 for senior citizens (62 and older). Children 4 and younger get in free.

    Once again, the park will offer its popular half-price days on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m.

    Season passes for individuals (ages 5 and older) are $65 and the cost for a family of four is $230. Each additional family member must pay $55.

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