(April 18, 2016)—If you were born in the last 20 years, most likely you won’t remember The Beach Waterpark. For the rest of us that grew up going to The Beach, it was one of the most fun places to go in Albuquerque and probably the whole state for that matter.
As many of us have memories of The Beach Waterpark. I remember when they first opened. They had all three wave machines running (which they didn’t do for long), which for most kids at the time, was super turbulent and probably pretty dangerous, and as I can recall, could be compared to being caught in a rip tide. Luckily, there were many life guards and ladders in the deep end that would allow you to get to safety.
Most people upon entering would buy a locker to put their belongings, because it was so fun, families would rarely come back to their setup of chairs and chaise lounges, unless they were going to engulf their faces between slides with hot dogs, nachos, churros, and the many other concessions that they offered at several different parts of the park. Or if you were a girl, laying down for some vitamin D from the intense New Mexico sun. Even tanning wasn’t limited to the chaise lounges scattering the entire rim of the wave pool. They also had what was called “The Lazy River”, which for a young boy in puberty, was heaven. Women of all ages flocked to the lazy river, taunting the boys with their new sunglasses and the smell of coconut tanning oil.
A spongy rubber, some slippery, some coated with granules of hardened rubber coated almost every surface of the water-park. When you had to walk on the concrete with your bare feet, the immense heat would have you searching for the nearest puddle to quench your feet, before sustaining burns.
Who would be the first to the top of the hill? What seemed like thousands of people, moved like hoards up the hundreds of steps to the top, the old and out of shape took breaks of the many platforms between the endless trek to the top.
Upon getting to the top, hundreds of people snaked through the covered area where people waited in anticipation to go down one of the three massive slides that outcropped the top of the hill. One was called the “Silver Bullet”(if I remember correctly), and was like, what seemed like a hundred foot drop. If you could imagine getting the most intense wedgie in your life, this was the slide to go on, the only one that didn’t require a tube, and sometimes the one with the shortest line.
I remember developing my love for burning my mouth off as well, as us broke kids would order nachos and go back ten times, asking for extra cheese and jalapenos, even though there were only two chips left in the bottom.
When it would warm up, fleets of school buses would flank the entire parking lot.
As many other legacies have died in New Mexico, The Beach was one of our most memorable. After only 4 years after the millennium, because of a tax increase imposed by the state as well as an “unsatisfactory” rating from the Environmental Health Department, The Beach Waterpark CLOSED indefinitely. The slides, the wavepool, and everything else were put up for auction, and scrapped, as were the many memories of thousands of people.
Now, when I drive by, a Starbucks now stands where my favorite slide used to stand.
Luckily, a company called Rocky Mountain Fun Factory is trying to bring another water park into New Mexico. The last I heard, they were looking for focus groups to compile the best water park for us New Mexicans as well as trying to procure a large stake of land. All I can say is, Raging Waters on steroids. That’s what we need!