FULTON, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Thunder Island Amusement Park will roar once again, now under new ownership. The waterpark abruptly closed last season when co-owner Ron Falise was tragically killed in a tractor accident on the property. 

“It was in the stars, it was just meant to be,” said widow Lisa Falise.

A bittersweet feeling for Falise as she handed over the keys to the next couple to take on Thunder Island, Shane and Gale LaBeef.

“It was very emotional but at the same time, a tremendous relief.”

Lisa Falise

Central New York natives, the LaBeef’s have experience in fun. They currently own a paintball park in Constantia and started Shane and Son’s Heating and Cooling in North Syracuse back in 2009. 

“We didn’t want to see it close,” Gale LaBeef said of the waterpark. 

A mindset at the top of Falise’s list of requirements, finding someone to carry on the legacy of her late husband Ron.

“I was thrilled to have somebody that my realtor described to me as the doppelganger of Lisa and Ron.”

Lisa Falise

The LaBeef’s never had the pleasure of knowing Ron, but hope they can make him proud. 

“This is the right fit and the LaBeef’s are absolutely, definitely the right people to take on Thunder Island and let it roar again,” Falise said. 

When the park does open, visitors can expect to see some new attractions including laser tag and gel ball, a family-friendly version of paintball. They also hope to open a petting zoo in the future with the town’s approval. 

But Falise said the best addition doesn’t spin or splash, it’s a place to sit. Ron’s favorite spot in the park; a park bench. Now with a permanent plaque on it reading “In memory of Ron Falise. May your dream live on.” 

A picture of the plaque the LaBeef’s put on Ron’s favorite spot in the park, a bench.

The LaBeef’s are working to get their permits finalized. Once completed, they plan to open the dry attractions first with a goal of having the full waterpark open by the end of June. As for admission, they hope to keep the price the same as last season.