Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Photo Trip Report to Niagara Falls & MarineLand!
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Should bert post lots of pics of the falls in his trip report?

Yes - I love seeing pics of the waterfalls from many angles
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No - only need to see a few pics of the waterfalls to get the idea
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Re: Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Postby ThemeParkJunkie51290 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:06 pm

I don't know if I should be jealous or OVERLY EXCITED for you two . . . but your pictures are fantastic!!! =) =) =) Those falls are beautiful and you took some good shots! Keep them rolling! :b
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Re: Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Postby Married a Canadian » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:47 am

Did they have the "No smoking" sign on the hurricane deck this year? Still one of the funniest things I have seen at Niagara if they did!
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Re: Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Postby Canobie Coaster » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:00 am

Great report! I've never been to the US side of the falls but maybe I should change that next time.

Those boat tours do look nice. Last time I did the Journey Behind the Falls observation platform/cave tour instead.
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Re: Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Postby bert425 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:12 am

Married a Canadian wrote:Did they have the "No smoking" sign on the hurricane deck this year? Still one of the funniest things I have seen at Niagara if they did!


not that we saw, but that WOULD have been funny!
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Re: Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Postby bert425 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:20 am

Canobie Coaster wrote:Great report! I've never been to the US side of the falls but maybe I should change that next time.

Those boat tours do look nice. Last time I did the Journey Behind the Falls observation platform/cave tour instead.


while I'd assume that the Hornblower Tour & Maid of the Mist tour are exactly the same from either side, the US side has the Observation platform included (as that's where MotM boards), which really gives some stunning viewing options of all the falls.

also on the US side is the Cave of the Winds (as you saw from the massive amount of pics how fun THAT is), as well as the lookouts from Luna Island, Terrapin Point, and Prospect Point.

the actual *view* of the falls from the Canadian side cannot be beat (and it's the "Postcard view" that one thinks of when thinking of Niagara Falls), and would stay there again if we ever go back.

But the activity options are much better in the USA. I'll have the Canadian evening tour pics hopefully up later today. . but we did not enjoy that portion near as much (with Journey Behind the Falls being the standout tho).
Now, granted, it could have been the driver, the other passengers, or something else. but the evening tour was *way* shorter than the morning one was, and we were bored on much of it. .something that did *not* happen on the morning tour.

I'd highly recommend the USA tour we took from Grayline ("Maid in America" tour). . . not just for the ease of it -- again, they'll pick you up at your Canadian Hotel and bring you across the border (special Tourbus lane too) -- but also because they will basically let you "skip the line" as a group. Grayline takes care of all of that.
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Re: Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Postby Philrad71 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:56 am

^ Glad to hear that as the US side as always been the "red-headed step child" to the Canadian side.

It seems like NY is FINALLY taking steps to make our side appealing to tourists. I have found it to be a shame that Niagara Falls, NY has always (during my lifetime) been run down, crime-ridden and really devoid of any attractions with the exception of Cave Of The Winds, the state park, the observation tower, the casino and the tiny aquarium. The rest of it has always been pretty much a dump.

I have read in the news that there are exciting new attractions planned like more music and food festivals, an indoor water park/hotel complex and some type of major indoor arcade/gaming complex.

Sure hope that this stuff all comes to fruition!
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Re: Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Postby bert425 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:27 pm

Philrad71 wrote:^ Glad to hear that as the US side as always been the "red-headed step child" to the Canadian side.

It seems like NY is FINALLY taking steps to make our side appealing to tourists. I have found it to be a shame that Niagara Falls, NY has always (during my lifetime) been run down, crime-ridden and really devoid of any attractions with the exception of Cave Of The Winds, the state park, the observation tower, the casino and the tiny aquarium. The rest of it has always been pretty much a dump.

I have read in the news that there are exciting new attractions planned like more music and food festivals, an indoor water park/hotel complex and some type of major indoor arcade/gaming complex.

Sure hope that this stuff all comes to fruition!


I dunno that I'd agree that NY is taking steps to make the US side appealing.

it's absolutely noticeable, the moment you cross the bridge, that you go from "Charming" and "Touristy" on the Canadian side, to "industrial" and "decrepit" on the US side.

There was a small area with paved cobblestones near the Visitor Center (on the way to the Observation Tower/Maid of the Mist) that looked like the *start* of a tourist area. . but not even close to being comparable to being in the Clifton Hills tourist area on the Canadian side.

oh, don't get me wrong, the actual Niagara Falls State Park is absolutely gorgeous, and well maintained (in particular the Luna Island, Prospect Point, and Terrapin Point areas). . but once you get outside the State Park? It's a bit depressing.

speaking of depressing, since we drove back to Buffalo in the USA after crossing the Rainbow Bridge. . and we passed right by Fantasy Island. I had suggested to Nick we could do that as a quick day-trip, but we just ended up not having time. . and we passed by ~30 minutes before it opened.

we *totally* could have stopped and waited and grabbed a few rides, and still make it to the Buffalo Airport in plenty of time for our 12:50 flight. but wow, did the place look like a crap-hole from the freeway.

Nick actually took a look at it as we drove by and said "Ew"

yeah. . it looked THAT bad (and the paint job on the wild mouse was in pretty rough shape. . at least it looked bad from the freeway), so we didn't stop.
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Re: Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Postby Philrad71 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:20 pm

^^ Hehe...nailed it, Bert.

NF USA is still pretty much a shit-hole, but it's not as shit-holey as it used to be, believe it or not. Improvements are coming, so I hope that downtown can revitalize itself in the manner that the Buffalo waterfront has.

Fantasy Island really isn't that bad of a park, although you don't see a whole lot from the 190...unless it's really gotten bad in recent years. I truly enjoyed our visit a few years back and Silver Comet is worth the stop in itself. It's nothing fancy, but it only costs like $20 to get through the gate. It was actually clean and op's were decent...and the beer prices and sizes make it one of the cheaper places to enjoy a cold beer on a hot day!

I have a trip report out there somewhere of the park...I'll see if I can find the link.

Edit - here it is....only a "few years old" - back in '09! LOL

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Re: Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Postby bert425 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:07 pm

Married a Canadian wrote:Enjoying your report a lot as this is just down the road from us, and one of my favourite places in North America.


it was bizzaro world, because coming from Texas, we're so used to the extreme heat, that weather in the high 80's really is nothing to us


Love this comment, as it is the complete opposite when we go down to Florida in February, and when we were in Texas in December last year. The locals would tells us it is "cold" when it was minus 24C or the like in Toronto.

Looking forward to the rest of your report.


a neighbor just posted this, and it's appropriate . . LOL

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Re: Step by Step, slowly we turned!

Postby bert425 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:15 pm

Day 2, part 3, Evening tour of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls

Will try to be brief (or at least brief-er) for this final report from Day 2, as the truth is, we weren’t as impressed with the options on the Canadian side, as we had been with the tour we took earlier in the day.

Now, I’m guessing a LOT of that had to do with the crowd on the bus with us, and the driver just having “enough” and ready to end the tour.

We had gotten a bit of down-time and some food, so were all refreshed and ready to go. The pick up was supposed to be at 5:30, and the shuttle showed up around 5:45, with an almost full bus, and a very apologetic driver. I looked around for the woman who had forgotten her passport this morning – she had told me she was doing the combo tour as well and we’d see her that evening – but she wasn’t on the bus yet. There were a good 20 people on board tho, with majority of them (at least 18), from one group with several adults, and 5 kids, plus a bunch of teenagers. All from India, with the ladies wearing some beautiful Saris.

We took the open front row, said hello to the other folks on the bus (no one really responded, as they were all loudly talking to each other, while the kids were running rampant up and down the aisle of the bus), and we were on our way to two other spots, that completely filled up the bus. The last stop was the woman from this morning, and we teased her when she came in, asking if she had her passport :p

The driver spend much of the time while driving down fallsview (towards Marineland actually. . we passed right by it) to show us the Dam intakes, and heading back to the Table Rock area (where Journey Behind the Falls is located) on the mic asking the kids to sit down while we were driving, and asking the adults to please quiet down so everyone could hear what she was describing, Luckily, we were in the front seat, so we were able to hear everything she was saying as we were right next to her.

We pulled into the Table Rock area, and the driver led us thru some back doors, down empty steps and directly to the area where the Elevators go (and the yellow raincoats are handed out) for Journey Behind the Falls – once again bypassing the large line of tourists upstairs, and skipping the photo op in the line. She told us it was “rainbow” time, and we should expect to see at least 1 – which we knew we would, as we had seen 1 from where we parked while walking to the attraction. She gave us 40 minutes, and told us to meet back at the bus at 7:15pm.

The Journey Behind the Falls actually is pretty impressive. The observation area is down low just to the right of the Horseshoe falls, and it’s really very impressive. There are also a series of tunnels that go directly behind the falls, so you basically are dead ending into a “wall of water”. . . . we really did like this, and were still in a pretty good mood at this point. Sure, it wasn’t quite as impressive as what we had seen earlier in the day with Cave of the Winds walk. . but this was pretty cool.

We took our time in the Observation area, and went down both Tunnels, even stopping to look at an old blocked off tunnel, which they had used when creating the attraction. . some neat “history”, then we headed back upstairs, recycled the raincoats, and walked along the overlook back towards the parking lot, admiring the power of the Horseshoe falls, and the really cool rainbows being formed.

We got back to the bus at 7:10, and at least half of the large group was missing. They still had 5 minutes, so we waited.

And about 10 minutes later, a few of them slowly came walking down the overlook trail (yep. . *late* to the bus, but still slowly strolling back). . but that really didn’t matter, since the group was still missing 3 people.

Another 10 minutes passed, and no sign of them. The driver asked over and over could someone call them. . and there was a lot of (what appeared to be) feigned not understanding what she was asking them to do. (I say appeared to be, since while I wouldn’t dare assume everyone could speak English, thruout the tour, most of this group were conversing in English. . who knows, maybe the two guys missing were the only two who fluently understood?). . that’s neither here nor there, since that’s not really what was annoying.

This was: at around 7:35, is when we spotted them coming, also slowly walking to the bus, laughing and joking. The driver mumbled “you’ve gotta be kidding me”.. which I heard, since we were sitting in the front row. . .so I stood up and leaned out the door, and yelled out to them “Come on! You’re 20 minutes late. . let’s get moving, please!”. .which got them jogging, and into the bus so we could move on to the next stop.

While we were sitting waiting, the lady from the morning tour (who had forgotten her passport), and had been placed in the only empty seat towards the back of the bus as she was the last pick up - decided she didn’t want to deal with it, and was too tired to deal with it, so she told the driver she was just going to cab it back to her hotel and call it a night.


(as I found out in discussion with the driver while waiting for returnees at the 1st stop, the large group was picked up from the American Side, and they had been like herding cats since she picked them up -- which she explained is why she was late picking up the Canadian side folks).

Regardless of how far behind we were running, unlike the morning, this driver was determined to stop at a food & Souvenir stop, as some of the kids were hungry and wanted to stop. This didn’t make me happy, as we really hadn’t done anything other than Journey behind the falls, and it was already 7:45. . AND this tour was not supposed to include a food stop.
Tho I ended up buying some Maple Cookies, and Ice Wine Chocolates in the gift shop, mainly we just hung outside by the “Tourist photo opportunities”, and took pictures and chatted with some of the other bus passengers.

Once again, not everyone was back on the bus at the requested time, but this time someone went into the gift-shop to bring the stragglers out, and we were on our way up to the Whirlpool/ Whitewater Walk. . this time on the Canadian side.

We ended up getting to the Cable Car look out after they had closed for the day (not that it mattered, since as noted Nick would not have ridden it), but we stopped at the lookout, took a few pictures, and got a very brief description of what was going on below us (some passengers (yes, the same ones) would NOT stop talking loudly, so she just gave up trying to compete with them and said “be back on the bus in 5 please”).

A short drive later, passed the Butterfly Conservatory (also closed, but I think this tour wasn’t supposed to go in anyways), and made a stop at the Floral Clock.
At this stop, we did get to hear quite a bit about the Horticultural Society, and the planting they do twice a year for the clock, as well as a story of the man who donated the land, and what the clock stands for (the arms are shaped like Crutches to honor the man’s disables son).

The only reason we got to hear this clearly? Because the driver reprimanded the large group, as they were not monitoring the kids at all, and the kids were getting in the way of everyone’s pictures. She eventually just told them they need to keep the kids out of everyone’s way, so she could take a picture for each person. (and yes, she did take one for the large group too. . . but I did appreciate that they got quiet and allowed others to enjoy the stop, even if it was a very short one).

It was close to 8:40 at this point, and even tho the tour is supposed to run until 10pm, as noted, I think the driver had just had enough at this point. . so we went from the Floral Clock directly to Skylon Tower. She even said to the group: we’re a little early, but you’ll get to watch the sun-set from the top!

Not really a selling point, since we really wanted to see the falls illuminated, and as we were at this stop for 35 minutes, we never really did get a true “night view” of the falls lit up, tho it did get dusky enough for us to at least see some color in the falls. Due to Nick’s issue with heights, he stayed inside for most of the stop, but he *did* ride the elevators up, and he *did* step out on the walkway with me, and look at the falls thru the fencing. So, GOOD for him.

This was the stop where I purposely asked to pose for the Souvenir Photo – tho I declined the “scared” pose for the barrel picture. By the time we went back down to meet the bus, the Driver (who was with us when I asked to pose, and declined the “barrel”, had asked the photo stop to give us a day & night picture, instead of “day and barrel” picture. . so that was very nice of her.

And yeah, it’ s a cheesy green screen picture, but so what, I still am very happy with it, and glad we bought it.

It was still only ~9:25, and the tour was supposed to run until 10. . but the driver thanked us for coming, and said she had to start dropping folks off, so she could return those to the American Side by 10pm.

that kind of sucked, especially when the morning tour went almost 7 hours. . . and the evening tour went only 3 hours?? With 40 minutes of that at a souvenir stand? Yeah.. wouldn’t do the evening tour again, although I think if her group had not been so “trying” we wouldn’t have been rushed so much to do so little.

Heck, while she was driving us back to our hotel? One of the group came up and *told* her they wanted to stop at Duty Free on the way back over the Bridge.
She said, they have to ask the other passengers if they mind. . to which the guy kept saying “only 5 minutes, only 5 minutes”. . she wasn’t backing down tho, she said if everyone else agreed, then *maybe* they could stop.

I felt really bad for her :( and I told Nick we have to tip her well, even tho the tour wasn’t our favorite, because I didn’t trust she’d be getting a decent tip from the group she had spent the whole time having to reprimand. So we did, and were back at our Hotel by 9:30.

I wasn’t really thrilled that we were back in the hotel room so early in the evening, but decided to make the most of it, and went down to the completely deserted pool, Hot Tub, and Sauna (open until 11), and soaked and relaxed for over an hour. . so that was nice.

And when I got back up to the room?. That’s when I first found out about all the Roseanne stuff, since we hadn’t seen a TV all day, but Nick had been watching CNN while I soaked. LOL

A quick shower, and then I too was ready for bed, and we were out pretty fast, excited for our next full day in Ontario. . . since Nick was feeling OK, and my back/leg had loosened up, so MarineLand was a “go” tomorrow.

On to pictures!
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Headed down to Journey Behind the Falls, and we see our 1st rainbow
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wow. . holy, crap. . takes one's breath away
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Rainbow
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that arches all the way across Horseshoe Falls
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shadowed Nick. .he's my gold pot at the end of the rainbow (D'awwwwww)
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Love this pic.. the power of nature
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the Hornblower boat (not blue coats, so not Maid of the Mist) is tasting the rainbow!
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another look from a different platform
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panoramic shot
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shenanigans!
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peeking thru the gates into a disused tunnel. . but this is what they utilized to build the attraction.
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a look directly into Horseshoe Falls from behind it
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and another view. . it was like being in a windtunnel, crossed with a hurricane.
Cant really see much, but it's so cool.
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Exiting the Journey Behind the Falls, can get some good pics from the Table Rock lookouts
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Lovely view of Horseshoe Falls
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I really was here. . just a few days ago too!
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thought I took more pics of the Tulips (that were planted everywhere), but really only have this one with Nick.
the Tourgide told me the Horticulture College swaps out the flowers several times a year, and that the Tulips would be gone by June.
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Skylon Tower. . we'll see you later this evening.
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walking along the Observation Trail from Journey back to the parking lot, some great views.
Like this one at the edge of Horseshoe Falls.
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another contender for my favorite pic of the trip
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these signs are posted everywhere.
and near almost every one of them? Someone climbing up on the rail to take a selfie.

I dunno how many people fall over the rails (or fall in) every year, but it must be a fairly good number.
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Last pic from Table Rock stop
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ok. .we've stopped at a Souvenir stand..yay?

So we'll just have some fun with the tourist photo ops set up outside.

Roll out the Barrel
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it's a plate (I think)?
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My. . what a big Moose you have.
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On the Canadian Side of the Whirlpool. . standing by the Cable Car that goes over the Whirlpool Gorge. (closed for the day already)
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Another shot, but including me, and the Whirlpool Rapids.
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the world famous class 6 Whirlpool Rapids. (and the Whirlpool restaurant - also closed already. . . I have to assume they stay open much later once tourist season really starts in Mid June)
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awww. . we look so happy (that's not our tour group behind us. .another bus pulled up shortly after we did)
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a child free photo of us and the Floral Clock.
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Skylon Tower.. we're supposed to be up here to see the Falls lit up at night. . but sky is still looking pretty bright, huh?
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the Ferris Wheel near our hotel, from the top of Skylon
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American and Bridal Veil Falls from the top of Skylon Tower
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Me and the American falls from the outside walkway on top of Skylon
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Horseshoe Falls from top of Skylon Tower
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getting dusky. . can see SOME lights
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inside the tower. . where Nick felt "safer"
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still not as dark as I'd prefer, but at least can see some colored lights in the falls.
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bet this would look beautiful in about another 30 minutes . . still very pretty tho.
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American Falls also get lit up.
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the Green Screen Souvenir Photo pkg.

Since I didn't want a gag pic going over the falls in a barrel, the Tourguide got them to use the same pic for both Day & Night pictures.
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Last edited by bert425 on Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:33 pm.
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