Second inspection clears water park for an opening day
Article and photo by Karen Carr Keefe
Niagara Amusement Park and Splash World has the green light to open the water park starting Saturday, with a limited number of its slides and pools passing inspection Thursday morning.
The 75-acre site of the former Fantasy Island amusement park will open from noon to 7 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, with an update expected soon on its calendar for the remainder of the summer season.
Park spokesman Tom Crisci confirmed the good news that Western New Yorkers fans have been awaiting eagerly since June, when the park gained new management with Gene Staples and his company, IB Parks & Entertainment, under a long-term lease with property owner Store Capital.
“We’re actually looking to open Splash World on Saturday with some limited ride functions on the water park while maintenance still works to bring one or two more rides on the rest of the summer here,” Crisci said. “We’re working on our calendar right now, based on staffing and things of that nature and holiday weekends.”
He said the new announcement covers only this coming weekend for now, but the rest of the operating calendar is expected to be out by Sunday.
“The limited water park options will include the Lazy River, our Dragster Drench, the Cannon Bowl, Surf Hill and Double Dare Falls,” Crisci said. “We rebranded Splash World Café and we’ll have a limited food menu as well.
Amusement park inspections and permits are jointly handled by the New York State Department of Labor and the Erie County Department of Health, county health spokeswoman Kara Kane said Thursday. The water pools specifically require county inspection.
“We were able to schedule an inspection this morning,” Kane said Thursday.
A DOL inspection report dated July 25 for Niagara Amusement Park Holdings LLC stated Cannon Bowl, Dragster Drench Water Slide and Water Slide passed inspection last week.
The Labor Department inspects rides at every amusement park and traveling show located outside of New York City.
The Dispatch visited the park on Wednesday afternoon, when about a dozen lifeguards had just emerged from the water on a 90-degree summer day and posed for a photo near bright red umbrellas and beach chairs.
A young woman who gathered her fellow lifeguards for the photo said no one would be happier than they would to have the park open this summer.
A company website post earlier this month advertises lifeguard positions at $20 per hour with training, including a $2.50-per-hour, end-of-season bonus. A “now hiring” ad also is posted on https://niagaraamusementpark.com. The parent company website is https://ibparks.com. The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/splashworldny.
The Splash World opening is planned as the first chapter for the new operator. The full park is supposed to open in spring 2022. Former owner Apex Parks Group had closed the 60-year-old park in February 2020.
Staples also owns parks in Indiana and New Jersey.
•The park announced a special preview ticket price of $14.99, and all parking will be free of charge. Tickets will be available at the gate only. Enter at the south side of the parking lot directly into Splash World water park.