Waterparks rode a wave of splashing enthusiasm as Americans returned to recreational pursuits in 2021. But Brandon Moore, regional director of operations for Boomers Parks, said the pandemic recovery is a work in progress. “We still continue to see hesitation in some guests coming out, as there is still uncertainty around the pandemic,” said Moore, who is based in Boca Raton, Fla.
As vaccines become more widely available and more Americans get immunized against COVID-19, Moore said he expects waterpark attendance to increase across the board. Waterparks are a family attraction, and the introduction of vaccines for younger children — a rollout expected from late fall through next year for the youngest — could also be a game changer.

A view from the top of slides at Disney’s Blizzard Beach. A New Mexico waterpark stayed open past Labor Day this year, and it proved to be a successful change, an official with the park said. Photo courtesy of Disney.

In anticipation of these larger crowds, Boomers Parks is focusing on rebranding and updating all of its locations through 2022. Each location will debut new attractions, the details of those attractions were still under wraps as of late October. The Boomers empire includes five Boomers in California and Florida; SpeedZone Los Angeles; Big Kahuna’s Water Park in Florida; and Sahara Sam’s Oasis Water Park in New Jersey.
Moore said Boomers is taking a multifaceted approach to next season — optimistic on the one hand, but also mindful of the ongoing uncertainty that characterizes the pandemic business climate. “We continue to adapt and change to any requirements that are set forth, to ensure a safe and fun experience for all our guests,” he said.
In Carlsbad, N.M., Carlsbad Water Park saw record attendance in May and June 2021. “People were excited to get out during the beginning of the summer after being locked up for so long,” noted Park Manager Luke Garza. The park had shut down for 2020.
Daily attendance at Carlsbad Water Park this past summer averaged about 500. The attraction saw its busiest month ever in June, with between 600 and 700 patrons daily, and July 4th also set an attendance record, with 950 guests in a single day. Toward August, visitation tapered off slightly as families prepared for the return to school, Garza said.

A lifeguard at Disney’s Blizzard Beach waterpark in Orlando, Fla. The vaccination of children could be a game changer for waterparks, an official with Boomers Parks said. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Nonetheless, Carlsbad for the first time decided to keep the park open on weekends past Labor Day — and it proved popular. “Next year, we’re going to try to stay open as late as possible, through September and maybe even into October,” Garza said.
Garza was surprised to see so many waterpark enthusiasts turn up in September, even without any promotion around the longer season. In addition to water slides, a lazy river and other attractions, Carlsbad boasts a swimming area known as “the beach” along the Pecos River. “We were also short on lifeguards, because a lot of them had the impression that Labor Day was going to be the last day. So they were kind of busy,” he noted. “We worked with what we had — and people liked it.”