Thousands flock to Houston-area water park as CEO defies Gov. Abbott’s orders and reopens for Memorial Day weekend

HOUSTON – As early as 7 a.m. Saturday morning, families began to gather for the season opener at Big Rivers Waterpark and Adventures in New Caney.

CEO and developer Monty Galland announced this week he planned to defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders and reopen the park for Memorial Day weekend. Under the latest order, pools can open but amusement venues, splash pads and waterparks should remain closed.

As customers waited several hours outside the gates, many seemed less concerned about social distancing and the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

“I’m tired of sitting inside all the time," said one parkgoer. "They say heat and humidity is the COVID-19 enemy. And what do we have here: 99% humidity and 90-degree temperatures.”

He added people can decide if visiting a water park is right for them.

“We chose to come and enjoy our weekend. They didn’t put a chain on our necks and drag us here," he said.

“I think there’s more of a risk as far as a kid dying driving over here in the car in an accident than a kid dying of coronavirus,” said water park visitor Ken Thomas.

Good Morning☀️IT’S OPENING DAY!! Excited to see all the smiling faces walking through our gates! We are open from 10:30-6:00 today and are operating at a limited capacity.

Posted by Big Rivers Waterpark on Saturday, May 23, 2020

According to Galland, benches were separated in small family groups, guests are asked to social distance and hand sanitizing stations were set up throughout the park. The chlorine in the waters is also being monitored closely.

Galland is limiting the park to 2,020 customers, which is nearly 16% of the park’s full capacity.

The Big Rivers Waterpark features water slides, a lazy river, wave pools, a petting zoo, zip lines, and many other activities. The park will be open seven days a week. Season ticket holders are given priority, according to the park.

Lightning paused activities at Big Rivers Waterpark Saturday. Within an hour of opening, park officials notified parkgoers of a weather advisory. The threat passed in about 30 minutes and customers were allowed to reenter the waters.

Here is the full park reopening announcement from CEO Monty Galland:

Posted by Big Rivers Waterpark on Saturday, May 16, 2020

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