FULTON, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– The pools were full and the waterslides were ready at Thunder Island Water Park, but right before they were set to open for another season, the pandemic arrived in full force.
“We were getting ready to do really well and when COVID hit they told us we couldn’t open up anything at all,” said the owner of the park, Ron Falise.
His wife, Lisa, adding, “it came to a screeching halt.”
With guidance and restrictions changing day by day, the Falise’s said they had no idea when or if they could even open this season.
“It was a lot of dark times and a lot of times when we really had to do some serious soul searching and thinking about what happened and how things were happening for us,” Ron said.
The fear of the unknown has been a constant challenge, but Ron and Lisa said the PPP loans from the government are what helped keep their business afloat.
“We were able to do a lot of things that…had we opened for the season we probably wouldn’t have gotten to,” Lisa said.
They’ve been using the downtime to make improvements to the park, like repainting buildings, adding a new carousel, and even an Island Ice Cream Stand.
Plus, they’re implementing new COVID-19 guidelines to get ready to welcome the community back in safely.
“We’ll have people out washing and cleaning the carts, the go-karts, the zipline will be cleaned after every time, the carousel will be cleaned on a regular basis,” Ron said.
While they’re adjusting to life’s “new normal” they are feeling hopeful and even more grateful to jump into this new season.
“That opening day when I see the people coming and I see the people smiling and I see the people’s faces, it just all that work is worth it then,” Ron said.
Outdoor amusement parks were allowed to reopen on April 9 at 33% capacity.