Whatever Happened to Atlantis Waterpark in Dania, Florida?

Atlantis Waterpark in Dania Florida - Permission of Michael Lucas

Back 20 years ago, we didn’t have to schlep all the way to Rapids Water Park in West Palm Beach for some great water slide fun.  Atlantis water park was right in our backyard.   If you don’t remember, Atlantis was located off of I-95 in Dania close to Grand Prix.   After closing in 1992,  there has never been a water park for Broward County residents.  Sure, we have those mini-parks in many of our cities, but those slides are for the little kids.   If you are looking for a real thrill, then you’ll have to hoof it up to Palm Beach County.

I contacted Michael Lucas, a former employee of Atlantis who created an unofficial blog called Atlantis Memories.  He wanted me to bear in mind that he is not affiliated with Six Flags Atlantis, and that these are his own recollections.

From Atlantis Memories:

Six Flags Atlantis was a water park occupying several prime acres of real estate at the intersection of I-95 and Stirling Road in Hollywood, Florida.

It was born “Atlantis, the Water Kingdom”, designed and built by a local developer who ran out of funds before the park could open. For several years it remained in a state of partial completion.

Bally’s, then the parent company of Six Flags, purchased at least part of the park and it finally opened in 1983 as “Six Flags Atlantis”.*

The park facilities included a seven-story slide tower, a lake with water-skiing shows, a wave pool, video arcades, a small midway, and dozens of other shows and activities.

1984 Promotional Brochure - Michael Lucas

Some “Miami Vice” scenes were filmed at Atlantis. Though the park’s name is changed in the storyline, the Atlantis midway is clearly recognizable. Also, an Italian motion picture company filmed “The Genii” at the park. The film appears to have never been released.

Despite hosting over 500,000 guests every year for nine years, Atlantis never had a fatality– or even a serious injury.

The mural on the back of the wave pool was made from hand-painted Italian tile– as were all the tiled surfaces around all the pools.

1984 Atlantis Promotional Brochure – Courtesy of Michael Lucas

Tiffany Sessions was an employee of Atlantis before her disappearance. Hopefully she is well and happy in some part of the world.

Atlantis did have some inherent problems. First, it was located just a couple of miles from Dania Beach, and minutes away from the world-famous beaches in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.

Second, its operating schedule was subject to the whims of the weather.

Thunderstorms along the sea-breeze front, an event common on hazy South Florida afternoons, could close the park for hours.

1984 Atlantis Brochure – Courtesy of Michael Lucas

In the off seasons, unpredictable cold fronts might reduce attendance at a fully-staffed park to a couple hundred guests, or unexpected warm days could find the closed park turning away potential customers.

Six Flags sold the park in the summer of 1988, and it was reopened by the new owners with the original name “Atlantis, The Water Kingdom”. Reinvented as a smaller, more efficient park and freed from the burden of Six Flags’ insurance costs, Atlantis began to operate in the black.

But in the end it was damage from 1992’s Hurricane Andrew which closed the park’s gates forever.

There was even an effort to relocate the park, but no site far enough east to avoid the daily thunderstorms could be found.

The functional, psychedelic submarine that graced the parking lot was moved a couple of miles down the road, to the former Grand Prix Race-O-Rama. Little else remains of the park except a few memories…

…and this site.

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.

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  • Lucy

    This is great to read. I was born in 1990 and used to go to Grand Prix with my family and decided to see what information I could find online about the submarine outside! I never knew the story behind it through all these years. Thank you for posting this! 🙂

  • Joseph suita

    Hands down the best water park ever built in this day and age it would be a gold mine if it ever opened again to bad nobody with the means to replicate it has ever stepped up to do so I would if I ever hit the powerball

  • Jay

    I remember the big sign out front, it had three columns with water coming out of them like a big fountaine Is that Sub still at Grand prix? .The strip mall had incredible universe when it opened, it was the first best buy/circuit city style of business.

  • Jay

    Oh yeah, forgot to type, wasn’t it Buccaneers World or Pirates World before, in the late 60s and 70s?

    • john

      No. Pirates World was a completely different park, east of US1 on Sheridan.

  • ZILLA

    New waterpark going in at Lockhart staduim in Fort Lauderdale. Huge German company is building it. Will be awesome

  • scubacop

    as a former (original) employee of the park Water Safety Supervisor) this is a nice story and tribute to Atlantis and those of us that ran the place … But the story is not completely accurate although close … still a decent story

    • inquisitor

      You mean the part about there never being an accident or injury

  • Trudi moore

    My dad and I both used to work there he was a security supervisor and I was a manager of the chicken nugget stand in the back by the slides I loved this places especially on the weekends when they had the radio stations there and the jaws movies were awesome!

  • My aunt took me to Atlantis when I was visiting from NYC (live in Miami now). I remember having a blast.

  • Michael

    The facts are way out of date now– the sub is long gone for example. And the film WAS eventually released– a Bud Spencer film titled “Superfantagenio”. I wrote him asking for permission to use the SFA clips on my site but never heard back. ML

  • Kimberly Nicole Waldron

    I was born in the summer of “88” so I was only 4 yrs old in “92” when the park closed I will never forget the memory I have from the ” kitty car wash” they had I will always remember how scared I was of the falling water from both sides nd being on the inside feeling trapped but after I came out nd started to actually like it but won’t ever forget the fear from it at first. I asked my mom where the place with the “kitty car wash” was so I can take my kids nd come to find out it’s closed! So sad I can’t share my memory as a little girl with my daughter nd tell her how scared I was of it at first but began to like it…. I wish someone would reopen it the exact same way it was so long ago y do such good places have to change nd be closed?

  • inquisitor

    I was 13 when the park first opened. Been there dozens of times and had three birthday parties there. It is quite peculiar that a park like this could not do well financially. It was a great experience for a kid.