sorry. . I type so much, MarineLand is gonna be in THREE parts, sorry. (trying not to overwhelm).
here's part 2:
Day 3, MarineLand (part 2 of 3):
So we sat down on the bench ready to log into Southwest Airlines for our check in for the next day’s flights. . . and there was no signal.
I said to Nick. . OK, give me your phone, and I’ll try from the top of the Skyscreamer mountain (reasoning that it was the highest point in the park, so if there’s going to be signal for internet access, that was the place to try).
He wasn’t’ super thrilled with that idea, and so I pointed out that yes, it was a fairly long trek (up a fairly steep path) to get to Skyscreamer .. . .but the path *did* have handrails. So let’s give it a shot, and we would go slowly.
So off we went, slowly heading up the long spiral path to get to the top of the 150 ft mountain that Skyscreamer sits on. We stopped a few hundred feet up, and checked the phone, and viola! There was a slight signal, so we continued climbing. About 2/3rds of the way up, we had a fairly strong signal, and it was almost time to check in, so Nick stood on the side of the path in some shade from an overgrown bush (hanging on to the handrail) and I went ahead and checked us in for our flight. Score: A59 & A60 – so last two in the “A” group, but at least before “Family boarding” that happens between A & B, and has all the strollers/diaper bags filling up the overheads.
Once that was done, I asked Nick if he wanted to head back down to wait for me, but he decided that since we were already 2/3rds of the way up (and there were restrooms up there, per the Dragon Mountain operator), that he might as well finish the climb. . so we continued heading up.
When we finally got to the top of the path, it opened up onto a huge circle of concrete and bricks – with many, many picnic tables (both wood and stone), and tons and tons of weeds. Large open areas of just *nothing* on 2/3rds of the area, and I again was struck with the weirdness that we just had this long trek up here, and there’s basically 1 thrill ride, and toilets up here (a restaurant too, but that was not open, and per the park map doesn’t open until July). And *nothing* else.
I can’t stress enough how much wasted space and potential is up here. . . more than enough room for a carousel (which the park really should have) and at least 1 kiddie ride. Really, you have to figure a teen/adult will drag their whole family up here to ride Skyscreamer, why in the world not have at least a carousel there for the kiddos to ride while the adults do the big rides? Weird.
The whole area looked deserted, and this is really the spot where I said to Nick. .”wow.. like the Walking Dead up here. they could easily film here!” There was a pretty nice structure off to the right, with the restrooms, closed restaurant, and the queue and drop tower – completely deserted. And there were two MarineLand ops, just hanging out near the ride shooting the breeze. I asked them, “is it open?”. . as we had not seen it cycle at all. . to which they said “hey! You’re our VIP, our first rider today!”
So I handed Nick my stuff, and got in the queue, and they asked me which tower I wanted to ride. I told them I had heard one tower has a great view of Niagara Falls, and they pointed me to which tower, and which side to sit on. One guy sat back and let the other take lead (he was obviously training), and struggled a bit to get the “green light” on the OTS restraint – asking me several times if it was “OK” to push down, and even commenting that maybe I could suck in my belly (thanks. . like I hadn’t already felt fat. . LOL). But eventually, they got the green light (without me having to move to another seat), and they told me to enjoy my ride, and hang on to my camera if I pulled it out
And we were off. I’m not a big drop tower fan, but this was a really good one: Power shot about ½ way up to start with ,then a drop down bounce, before slowly bringing the car all the way up to the top. At the top, it holds for a good 15-20 seconds, allowing one to enjoy the absolutely Spectacular view of the Falls from way up high, before plummeting back down.
Absolutely took my breath away, and was well worth the effort to go up the path to this ride.
the ops asked me if I liked it, and offered if I wanted to ride again, but as stunning as the view and ride were, once was enough for me on a drop tower, so I thanked them and went to meet Nick who was resting at a nearby Picnic table.9 out of 10
– in particular for the “hold” at the top that lets one enjoy the view.
Do I wish I had ridden again? Not really, tho I did like it. And the view was among the best of our entire trip.
Even with the permission of the ops, I chose not to take out my phone - as I didn’t even want to chance of it slipping out of my hands on a drop tower
besides, I can find pics online of the view from the top, such as this one:
But as noted, well worth the trek up to it, if you find yourself at this park.
Since we had made the trip up there, even tho I had ridden the 1 thing up there, we took 5-10 minutes, to take a restroom break, and walk around the top area to get some nice pics of the surrounding areas. From here, you can get some good shots of Dragon Mountain operating too, as well as overlook the new section they are building, see some of the rides “hidden” on the West side of the park, and spot the neon blue water in the Orca & Beluga tanks.
We also marveled at how desolate it seemed up there, and discussed with the ops how they should be cycling the ride even if no one is there, as folks likely weren’t making the walk up to the ride, as they weren’t sure it was open (I think we only saw it operating one other time while we were in the park) .. . tho one would think if it was closed, the bottom of the ramp would have been roped off?. . there’s no guarantee, and it really IS quite the walk up there. (with no other rides up there). . so yeah, doesn’t surprise me I was the first person up there, and it was close to 1pm.
Again tho.. spectacular view.
Going back down was easier than going up (of course), but we took our time and made use of the handrail for Nick, and before we knew it, were passing back by Magic Experience, and crossing the bridge (covered in bird poop), over the fish feeding pond.
there was another little kiosk on the “island” between the fish feeding pond bridges, and we stopped to refill our water bottle (most of the little kiosks had water fountains attached. . one really nice thing about this park), and talk to the lady selling the ice cream cones full of fish feed. We had a nice conversation with her, although we didn’t want to feed fish – some of which were very large Koi. I asked her about the lack of shade on her little “island”. . .and how it looked uncared for, and overgrown, and she too mentioned to me how the owner likes greenery of any kind, and in fact, what looked like just batches of weeds near her, had been trees that got knocked over by a major storm they had recently (I dunno how recent, since the weeds were pretty high), so the trees were cut down, and where the weeds are, are to flag the “stumps” so people don’t trip on them. Why not just plant new trees? I dunno.
. . . but very funny: after filling the water bottle and stopping at the front of the kiosk to chat, we heard a commotion behind us, and turned around and saw probably 200 birds, had landed on the ground behind us and were watching us! The little stinkers had put 2+2 and realized someone stopping at this place, likely means food (intended for the fish, but they eat it too obviously). It was real-life Finding Nemo “mine mine mine mine” (and explained all the bird poop on the bridges)
We all laughed about it, and the lady in the kiosk said, yeah, they DO that. . . LOL
We shooed them away, and told them we weren’t buying food (not that they understood us!), and we continued on our way across the bridge towards the 1st actual Marine life of day.. unless one counts Koi Fish, I suppose.
We crossed the 2nd bridge, and came to a fork in the road, with a sign pointing to “Arctic” cove, so we headed up that way (which is also the direction for the new Aviary Safari – they had the entrance path dug out (tho honestly, how could one tell? It was just wide, and overgrown on either side) with a small metal barrier up, keeping folks from wandering into the construction area). This new section is gonna be huge, once they have it done, and hopefully will have a lot of shade for the birds.. but right now they seem to just be working on the safari route, as it’s a giant field of dirt/bulldozers, with a giant oval path around it.
Anyways, a quick peek at that, and we stepped up to the Arctic Cove tanks, where there was the most activity we had seen thus far today. There were at least a dozen trainers (and helpers) out, laying down towels on the concrete around the tank, and in the tanks were at least 10-15 Belugas! There were two tanks here, and both tanks had Belugas in them, but the workers seemed to only be laying towels down around the front tank.
it turned out the towels were to keep the hot concrete covered, so people could lean on them to feed and touch the Belugas – who seemed to know right away what the laying down of the towels meant, as they started coming right over to where they were laid down, and popped their heads out of the water, “posing”
Yep. . these animals are SUPER smart, and they knew exactly how to pose for a good picture. At least 5 or 6 couples were lead out and into the area right next to the tanks, and each of them got to feed the whales, touch them, and get photos taken with them.. and the Belugas were eating up the attention. Even when the people stepped away, they kept popping up from the water, so the trainers could rub them on their heads. I guess our timing was really good, as we got there right when they were doing this, and they only do it a few times thruout the day.
I was curious, so went to look at the photo-op booth (where they also sell the “experience”) and was really surprised that the cost was only ~$9 Canadian (so less than ~$7 American). I was so shocked at how inexpensive it was, I mentioned it to one of the folks behind the counter, and she said that they try to be a “teaching” park, so the owner wants to keep the costs down.
Really, in the USA? Seaworld would charge *way* more for this. .it was an excellent offering, and I could see someone who loved animals really taking advantage to get up and close with these lovely Mammals.
They asked me if we were interested in taking part, and tho the price was great, and I love Belugas, as noted earlier I was not in the mood to touch anything today – happy just to look (tho we did have a discussion about what they feel like (one of the ladies in the booth told me like a rubber ball), and how much they love to be touched.
again, it was so nice to see how happy and proud the employees were to be working, even if the park wasn’t too crowded. But since I didn’t want to touch, we thanked them for the conversation, and started to head out, when one of the ladies asked if we had gone down to the underground viewing.
we had not, as it’s not noted on the map. So she directed us to take a left just behind their booth and walk down the path. So we did. We were wondering if we were going the right way, as it really did kind of look like a maintenance path – and there actually IS a sign – but it’s kind of hidden from the main tanks, and we hadn’t noticed it when approaching the Arctic Cove area – so we followed the arrow on the sign and about 600 feet down the path came to an opening, and took a left into it.
WOW. .and absolutely gorgeous underground viewing area – that had NO ONE ELSE in it (other than some birds and cobwebs). It has large, rounded window-walls, and unobstructed views into the crystal blue water of the Beluga tanks. Just lovely, and we stayed down there for a good 10-15 minutes just watching these guys swim, and play, and fill the window (they saw us standing there, and kept coming over to pose for us too).
I hated to leave, especially since we had the viewing to ourselves with no distractions. . but as there’s no place to sit there, I knew Nick’s legs were needing a rest, so we headed out, and continued down the large sorta-circular path back around towards the front of the park.
As we had noticed the prior day, *everyone* seemed to be eating ice cream. . and I decided that since the pricing was so reasonable (and I wasn’t feeling bad about spending a little bit at the park, since I’d seen evidence of what the employees had been telling me about how they have been improving treatment of the animals).. that we'd share an Ice Cream waffle cone .. heh. . “share”. . I ate most, but Nick got a lick or two. The lady at the booth told me they would accept American, but then simply treated my dollars as if they were Canadian dollars (so she overcharged me). . but I didn’t want to make a stink, so just took my change (in Canadian), and we moved on.
Just around the corner up the path is where we found the 2nd “group” of rides in the park, as we came around the corner, right near the restrooms was SkyHawk, a HUSS Condor ride. There was a shaded bench right next to it, so we took a seat to rest, and watched Condor cycle with a Dad and his kid, while we ate the icecream.
No one else got in line while we finished up, so after determining that Nick didn’t want to ride (heights thing), I went ahead and got to the queue, and the operator got me right onto the ride – then sat and waited to see if anyone else would show up, so he didn’t cycle with just one person. A bit odd, as this was the only instance in the day where the operator wanted to wait, and he didn’t really want to chat either, so he basically just sat in the booth staring at me (I think he may have been special needs based on the brief conversation we did have when I walked up. .and that might explain why he wanted to wait if that’s how he was trained to operate the ride?). . . but no worries, I just sat in the car for about 7 minutes, waving to Nick and enjoying the views, and then he simply said “watch the gate” and the door of the car slid shut, and I was on my way. Nothing too exciting. It’s a Condor, and as I had already been on Skyscreamer, had been way higher up already, but the ride did give a very nice breeze, and I was able to spot several other rides all in that area if we continued up the path.
Of course, the moment the ride started cycling, a few folks came up and got in the queue – isn’t that interesting? If the rides move, people realize they are operating. . . who'd a thunk it?5 out of 10
– it’s a Condor.. fun, but it is what it is
After my ride, we took a bathroom break, and tho the Restrooms are right there next to/behind SkyHawk, the entrance is actually around back after following a fairly long path (of course. . LOL. . “MarineLand, where you have to walk a mile even to pee”).
The plus is that while taking that long walk, saw tons of animals, including a few black squirrels playing in the trees, and what looked like a hedgehog, so got to see more living things.
We continued on the path, and really well hidden around the corner, the ride pad in the center of a grove of trees, and a facsimile of German Fairytale architecture for the queue, was the Wave Swinger. This is the only ride the whole day, where we didn’t ride alone (other than Dragon Mountain with the Ohio couple). Not only were there already 2-3 people already on the ride as we walked up, but before the operator – very gregarious and friendly, hooting and hollering that we were gonna have fun! – started the ride, at least 10 or so people - all from a large group passing by - joined us on the ride too. Although surrounded by the grove of trees, this pad was also directly in the sun (likely because of the time of day we rode the sun was mainly overhead). . but it made for some very interesting shadows, as the ride started up, with probably the best ride cycle I’ve ever had on a wave swinger. The central stalk lifted up pretty high in the air (Nick had sat on the inside seat, so the height was ok), before a STEEP tilting – which gave us some really good g’s as we swung up around, once the speed picked up.
There was no music – and it really seemed as if it *should* have some German music playing, as it was painted just like a typical Wave Swinger. . but the sounds of the bubbling tanks just beyond the trees, as well as nature was really nice. An added bonus is that some of the trees come awful close when you swing by, once the ride gets to it’s full height and tilts (“Leg-Choppers” ?). Wonderful long cycle too. . . and tho we got off after one turn, several folks stayed on to ride again. 8 1/2 out of 10
– probably the best ride I’ve ever had on a Wave Swinger
We got off Wave Swinger smiling, and around the next turn was Flying Dragon – a Flying Carpet type ride (I’d assume from Zierer, since the kiddie coaster in the park is from them too).
This ride has the 2nd highest height restriction in the park (at 52”). . .weird, until you realize that the two rides with the highest height restrictions are Magic Experience, and SkyHawk – both 54”. . . yeah. . not SkyScreamer, or Dragon Mountain, as those are both 48”. . . . yeah, weird.
I had ridden this type of ride only once before (at BGW) and I hated it at that time, but that could have been because I was heavier than and the waist restraint was extremely uncomfortable. I was determined to give this another shot, even if this one might be more intense, based on the height restriction. Nick didn’t want to ride, so he sat on a bench watching, and I went thru the queue, surprising the operator (who was reading a book – HA). He was reading Stephen King, so I asked him if he had gotten the new one that just got released (the Outsider). He hadn’t, but wanted to know all about it, as he secured me in the ride. I sat more towards the center, because he had told me every seat is a good seat on this ride. An yeah, this actually was pretty intense. The forces as it rocks you back and forth, then goes up over the top, stopping to hold over the top before continuing on the forceful swings. I really liked it. A couple walking by while I was on it, called up asking me if it was fun, and I told them yes, so they got in the queue for the next ride. This one was the shortest ride cycle of anything we rode, and tho I could have stayed on it again, once was enough, and I was happy I tried again, as I did like it this time. But once was enough for the moment. I thanked the operator, and he thanked me for the book suggestion, and we moved on up the giant path (still far away from the front of the park tho).6 ½ out of 10
– the flying carpet type ride redeemed itself to me, way better than my prior ride on one of these.
End Part 2 – part 3 coming soon
Now, on to pics!