Harrison County

FunTime USA returning to Gulfport by summer

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD/2005 
 FunTime USA and Humpty Dumpty are returning to the beach in Gulfport in 2016, owner Gulf Amusements LLC has announced.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD/2005 FunTime USA and Humpty Dumpty are returning to the beach in Gulfport in 2016, owner Gulf Amusements LLC has announced.

GULFPORT -- Family amusement park FunTime USA, which entertained generations of Coast residents, will reopen in the summer of 2016 near its old location on U.S. 90, owners of Gulf Amusements LLC announced Wednesday.

And two Hurricane Katrina survivors will be back: Humpty Dumpty, who sat on his wall rather than have a great fall during the 2005 hurricane, and the classic Allan Herschell merry-go-round, which was salvaged and is being restored.

"FunTime USA will continue to provide clean, safe, affordable fun that made the original park so legendary, combining new and exciting opportunities for music, cultural, and entertainment experiences," a Gulf Amusements news release says.

The new location will be on the east side of Cowan Road, while the FunTime destroyed by Katrina was on the west side. Humpty Dumpty will sit in a place of honor at the entrance on Cowan, according to a map with a note at the entrance that says, "Egg marks the spot."

Ray O'Neal ran the old park, which opened in 1979. His nephew Rafe O'Neal co-owns the new park with Romy Simpson. Ray O'Neal is the lead project consultant.

"I'm just so excited I can hardly stand it," Simpson said. She said the landowner approached the O'Neals about reopening on the 4.3-acre site. Construction should start by the first of the year.

Many of the same attractions will be featured, including a miniature golf course and bumper boats. The park also will have go-karts, family rides, children's rides and food available from food trucks parked by a covered pavilion. Among the new rides will be The Scrambler, a Ferris wheel and The Spider.

Simpson said Ray O'Neal's daughter was only 2 years old when FunTime was destroyed. He has enjoyed reliving memories of the park with her as building plans progress.

Gulf Amusements has teamed with Dennis Tynes, managing member of Sprout CDE, and area developers and investors to bring back FunTime.

Simpson said the park has available 100 "golden tickets," which are 10-year passes that cost $1,000 for two adults and two children. The passes can be used once a day and shared among family members.

Gulf Amusements also is looking for sponsors for 36 merry-go-round horses. Sponsorships will cost $500 to $1,000, depending on the size of the horse. Donors will be acknowledged on the horses and on engraved plates at the carousel entrance.

FunTime also is looking for ride sponsors. Inquiries about sponsorships and passes can be emailed to FunTimeMGR@gmail.com

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