By Ethan Kibbe
ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) – As Waldameer wrapped up its season Monday, Keith Montigny and his sons Jack and Henry made the most of a final day of fun.
“I feel 100% excited,” Jack said.
A fitting end to the most normal summer they’ve had in years.
“The last two years have been rough,” Keith said. “Seeing them actually get to be kids is really the best part about it for me personally.”
It’s not just families that struggled the last two years.
Waldameer and Water World faced shutdown and restrictions, limiting crowds and cutting into the parks’ bottom line.
“This year was really important for us to get back on our feet, because we needed the income so we can continue to grow,” said Park President Steve Gorman.
Waldameer set records this year, as crowds returned, and for the first time since 2019, a fully-staffed park operated like it had for decades.
“Instead of waking up every day and wondering what we’re going to close that day because we can’t staff it, we were able to ask, ‘How can we serve our guests today?'” Gorman said.
A little rain on Labor Day couldn’t wash away smiles, not from visitors or the park’s 88-year-old owner, who says after a year like this, he’s already looking forward to years to come.
“My grandfather was a farmer in Northeast, and he worked until he was almost 100,” Paul Nelson said. “I started a 10-year plan, so that would put me at 98 anyway.”
In the offseason, Water World is investing more than $7 million in a new slide, the longest in the park’s history. The new water ride will use jets to push riders uphill, lengthening the ride.