I have a confession. I love this place. I’ve always loved it. Despite hating the sun, hating summer, and hating the heat (basically April through October,) Point Mallard Water Park was one of the lone bright spots in a childhood otherwise-tormented by the baking misery of Alabama summers.
Besides just being an outstanding place to spend a sulty June day, Point Mallard has a really cool history.
The wave pool — PM’s primary attraction — had just been invented in Germany and had taken Europe by storm. Then-Decatur Mayor Gilmer Blackburn, had seen one overseas in the late 60s, and thought that it could be a big tourist draw in the US. So he and the City bonded out the project in 1967, bought out the TVA land where the park is now situated, and with the help of a pool manufacturer built the specialty water park in 1970.
It had a modest beginning, to be sure: a golf course and an Olympic pool. But what drew people by the hundreds and the thousands was its main draw — that wave pool; a wave pool which Point Mallard claims to have been the first in the country (though it seems that they just missed that mark by a few months.)
Over the years, the park expanded, adding an indoor swimming complex, wading pools, an open-air ice arena, water slides and aquatic rides, diving boards and diving platforms, campgrounds. It hosts a Civil War reenactment, a golf tournament, has sound stages for shows, a beauty pageant, and is the home of Spirit of America fest.
Point Mallard has become, in short, a compound for all things Summer.
It also has a bit of deserved fame, too. Point Mallard was the early training facility for two-time Olympic diver Greg Louganis and for Jenny Chandler, who won the women’s 10M Gold Medal in 1976. (BTW, that 1976 US Swim and Dive team was amazing — one of the most dominant group of athletes ever assembled: Doc’s Boys, as they would be called.)
But those Olympic days are over and Point Mallard is now “just” a water park — but at 500 acres, it one of the largest in the country, and certainly one of the most diverse.
Worth a trip? You bet.
Point Mallard is located at 2901 Point Mallard Dr SE, Decatur, AL 35601-6744. You can visit them on the web, or call (256) 341-4900 for more information.
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