This monthly Caller-Times series, called Back to Business, features businesses and leaders in the Corpus Christi area.
Whether it’s been a staple in the Sparkling City by the sea for decades or just opened its doors in the last few years, every business has a special history.
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Hurricane Alley Water Park
Hurricane Alley’s operations manager John Campbell has been with the water park since day one – including its postponed grand opening in 2012 and even the groundbreaking opening in 2011 to Whataburger Field.
Born in Elizabethton, Tennessee and raised on a dairy farm, Campbell has always had a passion for caring for others.
“We take care of families and keep it family-friendly,” Campbell said. “Children are our bread and butter. If they don’t have fun, no one will have fun.”
Campbell has been the operations manager of the water park for the past four years. He started as a revenue manager and slowly made his way to Hurricane Alley’s big man.
The water park was created to entertain the families of Corpus Christi, Campbell said. Splashtown San Antonio closed last year to make room for a car dealership; the nearest water park outside the city, Schlitterbahn, is two and a half hours away.
“There’s no place like us to take your kids here in the summer,” Campbell said.
Along with Sensory Friendly Sundays serving children with disabilities, the water park has movie nights on Tuesdays Dive In, starting every Tuesday evening from June 7 to August 9.
“We’re always trying to come up with something fun for kids and families,” Campbell said. “Seeing the kids having fun is what makes it the best job ever.”
Meet the operations manager
Question What was the highest point with Hurricane Alley
JC: When I decided to do our Sunday events for children with disabilities. We do this on the first Sunday of each month. One day I helped a child on the Storm Chaser attraction. He was terrified and climbed on it for the rest of the day and was filled with joy and excitement. He came to me, hugged me tightly, and said thank you. Seeing the excitement in his eyes is really what turned Sunday’s Sensory Friendly events.
Q: How do Sunday events suitable for sensitivity work?
JC: We close the park only for these children from 9 to 11 in the morning. We turn off the music, turn off the waves, and keep it soft and easy so they can have fun. Rescuers do not whistle at them. They will approach them and be at eye level to make sure they feel safe.
Question What is the lowest point with Hurricane Alley
JC: COVID. He killed us. No one wanted to go out, although it was probably one of the safest environments you could go out for all the chlorine. People were scared to death. This was the lowest and most difficult year we had.
Q: When did Hurricane Alley reopen to the public after the COVID-19 pandemic?
JC: We never close; we stayed open. It started to intensify again in 2020. Last year it came back more and this year it starts to feel normal again. I missed seeing children running around, smiling and having fun.
Question What is your favorite ride that you want to recommend to guests
JC: My personal favorite ride is Storm Chaser. This is a four-lane racing slide. It’s fast and fun.
Question: What is your personal business philosophy?
JC: You’re always wrong on the right side of things. My father taught me that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. Even if it puts me on the bad side of things, I have to be there if it’s right. Listen to the guest. Ninety percent of the time they just want to be heard. Listen to what they say and do something to improve their experience.
Q: What are your future goals with Hurricane Alley?
JC: Personally, I would like to be here until I retire in 10 years and then come back and be welcoming. With Hurricane Alley, we hope to add a new attraction next year and continue to grow as a local business.
Question: What is the best advice you can give to someone who wants to start their own business?
JC: It’s a struggle, especially for starters. If this is a business that deals with the public, you need to listen to what your guests want and say. They will point you in the right direction. This is who you want to please: the people who come to your business. Be thankful that they come and choose to spend their time hard earned money in your business.
Hurricane Alley Water Park
address: 702 E. Port Ave.
O’clock: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday through Monday; From 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday for the 2022 season
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John Oliva covers entertainment and news from the South Texas community. Contact him at [email protected] or Twitter @johnpoliva. Consider supporting local journalism with a Caller-Times subscription.