DESTIN, Fla. -- After opening late last year, one of Northwest Florida's summer attractions is ready to reopen for a full season.
$800,000 in renovations have gone into Big Kahuna's Water & Adventure Park in Destin since the beginning of the pandemic.
Owner Tim Murphy says the previous owner's deferred maintenance over the last several years led to the inevitable decision to upgrade -- from an additional 36 holes of golf, to a new paint job across the entire park.
"We were able to reopen everything, re-glaze slides, go through and upgrade the golf course," Murphy said. "We didn't even know we had an extra 18 holes of golf. And we've got all 54 now."
Murphy says his staff members took the time to execute a series of projects that have made the park better than ever, including food upgrades and a rooftop bar.
"They've absolutely sunk a bunch of money in it," Teresa Hebert, a Destin City Council Member, said. "Made sure we got some great colors, upgraded some of the slides, and made it more appealing to help people realize that it's here. It's not tucked away."
Last year the park opened at lower capacity and with a delayed opening in June -- not only impacting life for parkgoers, but also employees.
"We were sitting at home for a little bit and it was really hard," Kaitlin Smith, assistant park manager, said. "Trying to enjoy the sunshine knowing that we could be here at the water park giving people the protection and safety that they need. So we're super excited to be back."
Murphy's no stranger to the pleasure ground, bringing his expertise from the happiest place on earth.
"I worked for Disney for six-and-a-half years, and at the end of the day, it's like -- what would Disney do?" he says. "I say this to my team all the time. So, what are the things we need to do? We're bringing in the right people, the right culture, the right management teams, so that people who are coming to Destin have a great time will have a great experience."