The last few years have been a roller coaster ride at Windmill Island Gardens. After a pandemic-shortened 2020 season led to reduced attendance numbers, this year park staff welcomed a record number of visitors. To meet continued demand, the park will extend the season beyond its scheduled closing day of October 3. The Dutch attractions and gardens will open on Saturdays and Sundays through October 24 for guests to enjoy at a reduced admission of $5.
Unfortunately, the onset of the pandemic in 2020 coincided with Holland’s annual Tulip Time celebrations leading to the cancellation of festivities. When Windmill Island Gardens was able to open in mid-June, no tulips remained to greet the 50,000 guests – less than half of the previous season’s total.
2021 has been a different story. Staff and industry expectations were shattered as the park eclipsed its record seasonal attendance earlier this month. The venerable attraction previously welcomed a record crowd of 122,646 in 1972. This year, the number may surpass 130,000 despite crowd limitations earlier in the year. According to Development Manager Matt Helmus, “we’ve been amazed by visitor demand and very fortunate that our staff stepped up to allow us to stay open all season.”
In response to the park’s popularity, plans are in place to remain open for visitors through late October. Due to the need to begin planting tulips, the park traditionally closes the first weekend of October. However, this year it will re-open to visitors on Saturdays and Sundays through October 24. As staff will begin seasonal cleanup and bulb planting, admission rates will be reduced to $5 for adults with kids 15 and under admitted free.
With the extension of the season, staff is also excited to participate in Downtown Holland’s Fall Fest. On Saturday, October 9, admission to the park will include entry to a Fall Artisan Market from 10am to 5pm. Additional events in the downtown area include pumpkin carving and painting, hayrides, street performers and more. Additional information on the festival can be found at HollandFallFest.com.