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San Antonio attractions see high attendance during spring break

With spring break in full swing, 9-year-old Bobby Stuart and his sisters Nina, 7, and Mia, 5, headed to the DoSeum on Tuesday afternoon to explore the children’s museum’s many interactive exhibits.

Chaperoned by their grandmother, Carolyn Stuart, they were surrounded on all sides by other like-minded families. Parents pushing strollers or walking hand-in-hand with toddlers entered and left the museum’s front doors.

“Our mum and dad work so we had to come and spend the night with (our grandma),” Bobby said.

Local attractions such as Six Flags, SeaWorld, the DoSeum and the San Antonio Zoo are seeing significantly higher attendance this week as students of all ages celebrate their brief respite from school.

Children make their way along a rope bridge at the Big Outdoors exhibit as children and families spend time at the DoSeum as spring break kicks in Monday. The museum was expected to reach full capacity every day this week, with students enjoying a week away from school. Some families come from outside San Antonio.

Kin Man Hui / Personal Photographer

Richard Kissel, DoSeum’s vice president of education, estimates that DoSeum will register 25,000 visitors March 5-20, including those from states as far apart as Alaska and Hawaii.

“From Texas, many families come not only from Austin and Houston, but also from all over the state, including Dallas, Amarillo and El Paso,” Kissel said.

Some attractions have even extended their opening hours to accommodate the increased customer base. The zoo, for example, will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. until March 20, according to Pedro Olivarez III, director of guest experience. The institution saw a three-fold increase in attendance rates, Olivarez said.

Although Six Flags “does not release attendance data,” said chief marketing officer Jeff Filicko, “spring break is very much like a busy summer day for us.”

“You combine that with the great weather,” he added, “and we’re having a great week so far.”

Many customers come from the San Antonio area. Having lunch with their three children, plus a nephew and two nieces on the terrace of the DoSeum, Windcrest residents Brett and Abigail Wilson said spring break gives them time together as a family.

“For us, in a normal school schedule, this (outing) should take place on the weekend. It would have to be after school hours, so it’s just hard to have fun things like the zoo and the DoSeum,” Abigail Wilson said. “And so spring break allows for more hours, literally, in a day.”

Thousands of people ventured out in the heat to visit the San Antonio Zoo during spring break on Tuesday afternoon.

Thousands of people ventured out in the heat to visit the San Antonio Zoo during spring break on Tuesday afternoon.

Kaylee C. Greenlee Beal / Contributor

Some guests, however, are drawn to Alamo City by the promise of family-friendly events and activities, such as the zoo’s new Pantera Walk, which takes jaguars across the park via the skybridge, or the Zoo Train, which features a diesel-style engine and runs on fuel donated by the Valero Energy Corporation.

McAllen residents Laura and Eliseo, who declined to give their last names, made the three-and-a-half-hour drive to San Antonio to enjoy spring break with their two young children. Waiting in line to pay for admission to the Doseum, Laura said San Antonio was a natural choice for a vacation.

“San Antonio is the closest thing to McAllen with fun things to do,” she said.

The sight of long queues and crowded stalls is particularly heartening given the detrimental impact of the pandemic and resulting restrictions on local tourism. Only 37.2% of hotel rooms in the San Antonio area were reportedly occupied in October 2020, compared to 63.65% in October 2019.

But the Stuart children didn’t think of their trip to the Doseum in terms of economic impact; they were there to have fun.

“We love everything,” Bobby said.

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