DBru wrote:I’ve always been fascinated by Marineland, but haven’t ever visited Niagara with a group that is willing to check it out. Hopefully someday soon I can make it to this funky park though!
ALSO, I rode one of those Magic Experience flat rides at Walibi Holland a couple weeks ago!!! I had never seen one and had no idea what it does, so I was completely surprised by the 5 minute ride cycle where the ride seemed to do 20 different maneuvers! Lol. We LOVED it! Definitely one of my favorite flats and glad to know more of these exist!
just for Dragon Mountain, it's worth a visit, I'd say. tho as I noted, Skyscreamer was excellent, and it really is possibly the best ever ride I've had on a Wave Swinger.
yep, Magic Experience was fun, and weird. I think I described it as: Tilt-a-Whirl cars on a Troika chassis, with Octopus operating system.
anonymouscactus wrote:Late to the party but awesome reports, just read through the whole thread! Still need to go to the full site to view photos so I will do that later. Thanks for taking the time to write this up! Always great to see an outsiders view.
"What made me think of mentioning this here, is that Cave of the Winds is *very* much done like a Theme Park Ride, except the photo op is before they usher you into a small holding room (ie: museum) in groups of 60 or so, and then the theater doors open, and the whole group goes in to fill in wooden benches – and we see a great multi-media presentation about Niagara Falls, and how the famous folks of the time banded together to lobby the State to buy the land along the gorge back from private citizens, so they could bulldoze all he ugly factories that had sprung up around the falls, and restore it to its natural beauty. It’s a pretty interesting 10 minute or so film, with lots of multiple screens, paintings, animatronics, lighting. . just very well done."
That must be new? I've been several times over the years and never went into a theatre for Cave Of The Winds. I'll probably go back this year since it's such a great attraction.
Edit: just saw all the photos! So cute!! Awesome report and pics, can't wait to read the completion.
Thanks, really appreciate the kind words.
the Film at cave of the winds, is after the little museum, just before you go to the room to get your sandals.
not sure how new it is, but it must be relatively new, since we had to go back outside and across the main walkway to get to the elevators, so it likely wasn't originally planned that way?
So we continued up the wide path, and came across an opening that actually had rides on either side, facing each other across the walkway – shocking, I know!
we went to the one on the right first, Hurricane Cove, and although (as everything else had been) it looked deserted and SBNO (standing but not operating), there was an Operator sitting on a bench in the little booth and he said he was open.
As the ride wasn’t cycling, we weren’t quite sure what exactly it did, and I’ve never been on this type of ride either (not even sure whom the manufacturer or ride type actually is).
But the queue was the longest of the flat rides, so I asked the operator if that long queue ever fills up? He said that on busier days, this ride has the longerst lines. Hmmmm.
Ok, so we each chose our own “boats”, and the ride slowly started to rotate, going up and down on the track. Then it started picking up speed. THEN we started giggling, and laughing like idiots. I had a huge smile on my face the whole time. It’s as if someone took the classic Turtle Ride, crossed it with the classic Kangaroo Ride, and then ran it like a Matterhorn ride. Absolutely amazing, for something that looks so. . . . harmless. Great, great fun, and if it hadn’t made me just a wee bit dizzy, would have immediately gotten back in line for it.
8 ½ out of 10 – so much fun, and only didn’t score higher from me, because it made me a little dizzy.
Still giggling, we exited the ride, and headed across the path to Ocean Odyssey, the park’s Dumbo type ride – even down to the “cars” resting in water - but themed to the water, with the central support structure as a giant octopus, and the “cars” as submarines (some of which had spinning propellers on the back). The operator was very laid back, and in a long Canadian Drawl “wheelcumed” us aboard (I joked to Nick he was a Canuck Hippie). It was pretty much what I was expecting (a Dumbo , or Aladdin’s Carpet ride) tho the cars actually did get pretty high (higher than I thought they would), and it was fun going up and down. Poor Nick had chosen a car that didn’t want to go up . . .the operator after the ride drawled “sawrrry boot thet”. . so I stood off to the side, chatting w/ the operator about the warm day, and Nick re-rode, this time moving into the car I had ridden in, so he could go up.
LOL, so Nick rode Ocean Odyssey twice.
7 out of 10 – a basic “family” ride, but the theming was so good on it, I’ll give it a 7.
We continued on our way back towards the front of the park, again marveling at how much walking there is between things.. we barely saw any other people, tho it was now in the afternoon, and the paths seemed to just stretch forever. . but eventually we came upon a sign for “Friendship Cove”, so we took the right, and found ourselves facing a couple more giant tanks.
Unlike the tanks in Arctic Cove, there was no feeding or touching going on here, just us, and the Trainers/care-takers, watching over another tank full of 12-15 Belugas. We stood and watched for a moment (I *told* you I love Belugas, LOL), and then I asked one of the staff if the tank in the back had Belugas in it as well, and she said, “oh no, that’s our Orca”. . so Nick and I walked around to the back tank, and got to see a beautiful Orca swimming alone in the crystal blue water. There was a caretaker, standing back there too (I liked very much that the tanks had knowledgeable employees around them, to answer any questions), and I asked her about the whale, as I was surprised that there was only one Orca in the tank?
She told me yes, that this Orca (who’s name I can’t recall) was the only one at the Park, and had been born at MarineLand, and had been here all her life. She told me the Orca really seemed to prefer being alone, and that over the years they had attempted to bring in Males to mate with her, but she simply had shown no interest, so after years of trying, they simply gave up (she mentioned they had “returned” the last Orca on loan to a park in Florida, but I didn’t press to ask if this was the one that SeaWorld had to sue them to get back. . . ). So, since MarineLand is her home, they just plan on her being the last Orca they have, and have been moving to focus on more rescue and raising of the Belugas on site.
Regardless, tho this Orca was wonderful to watch as she played in the tank with some rubber ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings (the caretaker was tossing), and kept her active.
I asked if these tanks had underwater viewing as well, and the answer was “yes” and they directed us where to go (another sorta hidden path), and once again, we were the only people down there – tho while we were down there viewing, a maintenance guy did come in to change a lightbulb, and I asked him if the underwater viewing is always this empty, to which he said “usually.. people don’t know it’s an option”
So if you go? It’s an Option, you should take advantage of as you can get some great views of these fantastic creatures
We hung out down here watching the Belugas, and the Orca for a little bit, but as with earlier there’s no place to sit, so after a bit we headed back up rested on a bench for a moment, and then back out onto the main path.
I could tell feet were starting to give way, as we had been in the park and walking around for at least 5 hours at this point, so we started walking a bit slower (did I mention that Nick can be a stubborn poopy-head and had absolutely REFUSED to bring his cane with him.. that I had made him pack for the trip, just for MarineLand? ) , and eventually came back to the path where it had forked way earlier this morning, near the Deer Park Castle.
I considered for a brief moment, looping back to the right - to get at least one more ride on Dragon Mountain, as the path did branch off in that direction – but seriously, that was approx.. 1 – 1 ½ miles additional walking, and I knew Nick couldn’t do it (since we’d then have to come all the way back after). . so rather than be greedy, we just continued to the left, towards the front of the park.
We came back to the sign from earlier this morning that said “Family” rides, and took the right, and followed the path as it looped around behind the Hungry Bear Restaurant into a section that has most of the smaller rides grouped together, near the front of the park.
They have an adorable Tivoli Wheel (that only goes up about 20 feet or so) and I teased Nick about riding it with me, since it’s a small height. And to his credit, he was willing, but first we had to sit down on a bench and rest after all the walking we had just done from Friendship Cove (really, it was about 15-20 minutes to walk from Friendship Cove to the Tivoli wheel). The area was completely deserted, but from our perch on the bench, we chatted with the Tivoli Wheel operator, and she told that there actually had been some folks around, but we timed it well, as they had all gone to the show in the “King Waldorf Stadium”.
while we were resting, the park started shuffling employees around in this section, so the lady we had been talking to, moved from the Tivoli Wheel over to the Lady Bug coaster (a Zierer oval coaster, with some nice little “bumps” and outward banks). We had been enjoying chatting with her, and said it’s too bad she wasn’t on the prior ride anymore, since we wanted to ride with her. . and she said “come ride this, adults can ride, you just need to each sit in your own car”. . . so we got in the queue for the Lady Bug coaster (me in Front Row!), and she told us “it goes around 4 times, but who knows? Maybe you’ll go around double”. . LOL. . and then she released the manual brake and sent us on our way.
Sure enough, she sent us thru 8 times (which really is about 2 times too many, as some of the little bumps weren’t doing my back many favors by the 6th lap!).
We exited the coaster car, and we talked a bit about the weeds growing all thru the center of the oval, and how it would be really nice to put a clock, or some topiary there – something besides weeds. And this is the lady that told us they had mowed it just a few weeks ago, but she guessed they had missed the roots, as all the weeds came back (and also added that the owner likes anything green, so he’s fine with it looking overgrown). Ok, shrug. Still think it would look way better with a topiary, or small version of the flower clock in the center of the oval. Still, a cute little kiddie coaster, and for what it is, was fun to ride and the conversation was enjoyable.
3 out of 10 – a basic “kiddie” coaster, which would have actually gotten a 4 ½ from me if we hadn’t gone around 8 times.
Across from the LadyBug coaster is the Space Avenger – basically a small scale Astro Orbiter, but on the ground. I had had enough spinning rides by this point (besides, we had ridden the park’s Dumbo ride a little while ago, and this is very similar), but offered to watch if Nick wanted to ride. But he had no interest in it. I still don’t really understand why there is a rocket themed ride sitting in the middle of MarineLand. . but ok, I guess one could say the same thing about the LadyBug coaster. . LOL
So we skipped Space Avenger, and the next two rides in this section are true kiddie rides: Boat Carousel (small boats in a giant bathtub going around), and Orca Screamer (a kid size version of the Skyscreamer drop tower). . . tho I teased Nick and the operator told him he could ride, he passed on Orca Screamer, and we didn’t even try to squeeze our adult butts in the Boat Carousel.
Also right here was a kid sized version of a Troika, called Bumble Bee. .that was supposedly themed to a King Bee, standing on a giant Honeycomb, but it didn’t look like that to me! I said to the operator at Orca Screamer “why is the bee standing on a pineapple?”. . to which she responded “oh my! That’s all I can see now” and started laughing. There actually was a small family that walked up to this ride while we were standing contemplating it, and we watched it cycle, but ultimately decided that it did not look like it would do anything for us other than make us dizzy, so while we enjoyed watching it, we did not ride it (yeah, we were starting to poop out by this time from all the walking. . . ).
The last ride in the park (and in this area) is Viking Adventure. . basically a disc-O but with a pirate ship in the center instead of a circular seating. I’ve still never ridden a disc-O (remember, not a big fan of spinning rides). Plus, the operator warned us that we would not want to ride it “right now” as it has no shade and the sun was out baking the ride. She said that she had to stop the prior ride because a child was crying as the seat was so hot.
So spinning, and burning hot seats? Ok, good enough reasons for us to not bother with it.
LOL. . so in the “Family Rides” section of the park. . where there are 7 smaller rides all next to each other. . we only rode ONE. Oh well, we had already had our ride fun on the bigger rides in the back of the park. Tho again, I do regret forgetting to backtrack to the Tivoli Wheel. . we totally forgot after getting off the LadyBug coaster!
We knew the only thing left that we really wanted to do in the park was the Aquarium (which is advertised everywhere as “Air Conditioned”. . . I guess with everyone continuing to tell us how hot the day was, that an air conditioned area is a big deal). So we continued heading towards the park entrance (since the Aquarium is right at the front gates). We didn’t really have any interest in the show, that had started at ~3, and the next showing wasn’t until 5:15.
As we passed by the large seating area for Hungry Bear (no one was sitting, or eating. . but then again, it was almost 3:30 pm, and the park wasn’t crowded. (but the food lines *were* open). It was actually quite a nice setting. Lots of trees and some shade – the most shade we had seen over any picnic table area in the whole park.
There was also (inexplicably) a giant throne. Maybe when the park gets busier, the “mascot” Walrus, King Waldorf (whom the stadium is named after) comes and sits in this throne for meet and greets? Who knows???
but I do love me a giant throne (as pics of me from Disney/Cedar Point/Fiesta Texas can attest). .so you bet I got my butt in there for a picture
The show in the King Waldorf Stadium was still going on, so we peeked in and saw dolphins doing flips, as well as Beluga’s arching out of the water. We heard there were seals and the titular Walrus in this show too.. but as we didn’t have interest in watching animals “perform in a show” and had seen dophins last year in Tampa, and in the Curacao aquarium on our cruise a couple of years ago. . we didn’t worry about missing too much.
I still had the Canadian change the lady had given me from the ice cream, and since the park had impressed me, we decided to go into the gift shop to look around. Of course, we timed it right as the show let out (the gift shop is in the base of the stadium), but since it hadn’t been a crowded day, maybe only 40 or so folks came from the show into the gift shop. We looked around – and it’s a large gift shop – and the vast majority of the offerings were things we weren’t interested in – lots of logo shirts, with the Beluga/Orca on them, but mostly in really funky colors. I did see a couple of things I thought were cute, but mainly we just had to keep moving around because there was one little boy, maybe 7, there with is Dad and little Sister, and regardless of what we started to look at the little kid would cut in front of us and grab it. The Dad was focused on the little girl, and the boy was running rampant thru the store, just being a brat. He was misbehaving so bad, I even sighed to one of the sales ladies – THAT is why I don’t have kids..sheesh.
eventually, we got away from him, and I found a shirt featuring Dragon Mountain that I really liked, in a good color (tho Nick says you really can’t tell what it is), but it was cheap, and I liked it, *and* I had some Canadian $$ to get rid of before we left the next day. So tho I hadn’t planned on spending any additional money at MarineLand, I did end up buying this shirt, and two magnets that we liked.
We went ahead over to the Aquarium Dome (Air-Conditioned!!!. . but the doors were propped open, didn’t seem cooler in there to me, not that we were all that overheated anyways, tho we had gotten pretty sweaty from all the walking). It looked like no Aquarium as I would define it: to the left were large restrooms, and what looked like a shut down cafeteria. (no idea if this was once a food service place (it’s not noted as such on the park map), or maybe it’s an Employee break area (that wasn’t open since it was late afternoon?). . or maybe just catering kitchens for the picnic area (for corporate events?). . who knows. .it was just blocked off with metal gates.
Straight ahead was a large “stadium” with lots of seats, surrounding a large tank, that had some Harbor Seals playing in it. Now there is no ‘show’ listed on the park guide here, and no signs explaining what the heck was going on there, so I have to assume that at one point MarineLand had a seal show, but as they have moved away from the animal shows in response to some of the controversies, they simply shut down this show, but didn’t remove the seating. Weird.
There were some stairs going down below the theater seating, with an arrow saying “exit”. . . and I had no idea, but went head down anyways, to realize that the bottom of the tank was done as giant “view” windows, so we could watch the seals from below. That was pretty neat, and took a few pictures, then noticed that around the outer edge, there was a sign that said “Aquarium” with an arrow. Following the arrow along the curve of the Aquarium Dome, there were 4 tanks, with some basic (tho large) fish. Nothing tropical, or exotic. .just 4 tanks of large, grey fish. I was like. . WTF?
Then we came to some roped off steps (so it looks like at one point in the past, the Aquarium Dome / show , had an entrance from the parking lot, and wasn’t included as part of the general park?).. and past those – leading back around to where we started – were another 4 tanks, also with some large, but still grey, fish. The giant Catfish were interesting enough that I took a picture of them. .but otherwise, as an “Aquarium?”. . this was disappointing.
My disappointment improved tho, as when we came back up the stairs to the entrance, our impeccable timing kicked in. 3-4 caretakers had come out with buckets of fish, and the seals (3 harbor seals, and one giant Grey Seal), came up right to the edge of the tank to mug for the fish-treats, and to allow for some wonderful picture opportunities. We were the only ones there, and hadn’t been there when they came out, so I think it was simply feeding time, and we lucked out (tho a few other folks did come over when they saw what was going on, to get pics too).
I asked one of the caretakers if they were all the same type of seal (again, no signs were up) and he said, “no Delphine is a Grey Seal”..but he understood why I asked, and laughed, when I noted that yes . . she is much bigger, but maybe she just eats more? He also confirmed my suspicion that the Aquarium Dome used to be used for shows, but now it houses the retired seals. (and said if we wanted to see Seals or Sea Lions performing, we could catch the 5:15 show in the stadium. But that these guys are retired).
The seals totally reminded me of my late baby girl, Roxxi, as she was completely blind with cataracts, and one of the older seals was also blind. But they were so cute, really just adorable animals. It made me a little sad, thinking of Roxxi (we had to put her down last November), but we still stood and watched them feed the seals until they were out of fish-treats, and then the Grey Seal went back to the rear of the tank (it only had come out for food, which is why I thought it might just be a fat one), and the harbor seals played in the tank.
And with that, and it being just about 4:40, meaning we had spent just about 6 ½ hours at MarineLand, we were ready to head out, and get our shoes off and get off our feet and relax for a bit back.
One additional weird thing about MarineLand (just one? LOL): There seem to be NO lights in the park.
I thought it was really strange that they note on the map, and in the “rules” that the park closes at Dusk, and “if you are in line for a ride when it begins to get dark, you may not be allowed to ride it”. I didn’t understand, as most of the rides seem to have great lighting packages included (including lots of colored bulbs on Magic Experience, and on SkyHawk). . . but then I realized, there are no street lamps, or overhead lights, or anything to illuminate the paths! If you are in the back of the park, and it gets dark? It would be just like getting lost in the woods with no flashlight (tho nowadays, I guess everyone could use their cellphones as flashlights). But that would explain why they say the rides all close at dusk.. so guests can find their way out of the park.
it was a pretty shocking realization that there weren’t any lights on the large paths. . . as I said. . . “weird”
Anyways.. . so we exited the Aquarium, went out the exit gate right next door. Of course, stopping to talk to the gate clerks, who asked us how our day went – and again we heard about the owner liking lots of greenery, and how he enjoys keeping the park as a single owner (and apparently walks the property sometimes), and how excited they are about the new section of the park and they hope they see us again soon. etc. etc. .
Getting out of the parking lot is a little weird too (of course). . They have you follow to the left only, all the way around the side of the park, and way around to near the back, where it dumps you out on a street that’s only 1 turn away crossing into the Clifton Hill area. Really, I think from leaving the front gate, until we parked back at our Hotel, was less than 5 minutes.
So we got up to the room, stripped off our shoes/socks, and sweaty shirts, and relaxed for a bit. But it was our last night in Niagara Falls, I didn’t want to just sit in the room, and pack. So I told Nick to relax for an hour or two, and then I wanted to go do something
On to the pics:
this ride gets a unique sign, the others are all "carved wood". . hmmm. . wonder what makes this special?
never really seen a ride like this, not sure what it was gonna do, but man was it FUN.
yeah. .it's a dumbo clone. .but look! the center is an Octopus!
Nick's submarine wouldn't go up, so we swapped cars after our ride, and he moved into the one I had been riding in
it's now in the afternoon, and headed back towards the front of the park.
Still really dead, but LOOK! people! two other people!
MarineLand's one Orca. . she really seemed to be enjoying herself in the tank, and interacting with her caretaker
doing backflips, and playing.
going into the underwater viewing, can get some great pics, and again we were the only ones down here.
the front tank has more Belugas
(we didn't see any leaks. .but this made me laugh).
DUH-DUH. . . DUH-DUH. . .wait. . wrong animal.
but it's like watching "Tentacles" tho. . .there were two Orca's in that. . . or even watching "Orca". . you know, that bad movie where Bo Derek gets her leg bitten by an Orca? :p
it's really nice down here, and they seem to keep it well maintained, tho it's obviously from decades ago when first set up.
liked these two big "fact" signs, down in this viewing area. . the other one with just the Belugas doesn't have these.
tho a bench down here along the back wall would be nice.
and we're walking. I'm smiling. . but so much walking.
Starting to slow down a bit as we are moving
oh. . we're back at the split near the Deer Park. . should we go back to Dragon Mountain? (I really do want to, but it's SO far away).
Ok. . .won't be greedy, we'll continue back towards the front gates, and the "family" rides
Like LadyBug Coaster
this is before we went around 8 times, so still big smiles.
the food area at Hungry Bear is really lovely. . but no one was eating.
A combination of "lack of crowd" and "not lunchtime" I'd think. The prices seemed reasonable, even if the food was standard Burgers/Hot Dogs/Pizza themepark options.
but oh yes. . I'll stop to pose in a throne.
Sorry, Bill, and Boldy!. . . .
LOL. .but at least they sell Beer in the park.
in the Gift Shop, they have this blanket for sale. . . no interest in that,but I loved that most of the animals in the blanket we hadn't seen (yet) that day, and we never did see any of those colorful fish.
I have a friend who's a huge Mermaid fan. . so took this pic to send to her of a shirt (that I didn't buy)
from the underground viewing of the Seals in the Aquarium Dome
the only fish I thought were interesting enough to take a picture of in the "Aquarium". .which strangely all the tanks had a green tint. That tint didn't help with the fish all looking "gray" anyways.
Big ol catfish tho.
we came back up top, and the caretakers were feeding them, so were able to get some good pics of the Harbor seals.
awwwww. . . . reminds me of my late doggie :(
this is the shirt I did end up buying at the Gift Shop with my Canadian change from earlier in the day.
I like that you can't really tell it's a roller coaster, unless you know what you're looking at.
this magnet was super cheap too ($2 I think?). . it's got little beads in it.
So Marineland only runs Hurricane Cove in one direction? That kind of stinks. The ride is a Mack Sea Storm, and the boats are built to rotate 180 degrees. During the program, half the boats will swing backwards, then the other half will, then everyone goes backwards, and on some including the defunct version at Busch Gardens WIlliamsburg (pre Apollo's Chariot days), everyone faced the center of the ride going sideways! These rides are so much fun and I believe the only remaining example that actually runs as intended is at Carowinds. If you do a YouTube search for Happy Sailor ride, you'll get an idea of what this ride can really do on the European Fair circuit!
Thanks for the report. I haven't been to Marineland since 2005... maybe it's time for another visit.
BitterOldHag wrote:So Marineland only runs Hurricane Cove in one direction? That kind of stinks. The ride is a Mack Sea Storm, and the boats are built to rotate 180 degrees. During the program, half the boats will swing backwards, then the other half will, then everyone goes backwards, and on some including the defunct version at Busch Gardens WIlliamsburg (pre Apollo's Chariot days), everyone faced the center of the ride going sideways! These rides are so much fun and I believe the only remaining example that actually runs as intended is at Carowinds. If you do a YouTube search for Happy Sailor ride, you'll get an idea of what this ride can really do on the European Fair circuit!
Thanks for the report. I haven't been to Marineland since 2005... maybe it's time for another visit.
wow. .had no idea the boats were supposed to move around too.
to be honest tho, we loved it just as that Turtle/Kangaroo hybrid it's operating as.
and will actually be at Carowinds in about 6 weeks (no idea they have this ride, operating as intended). .will have to try this out there!
After relaxing in our room for a while, I started to lay out stuff to pack, for our return to Austin the next day
But it was only 7pm or so, and I told Nick that I knew he was tired, but it was our last day in Niagara Falls and so I wanted to get out and wander around a bit. I didn’t need to buy anything, as we had all our souveniers purchased. . .but we were staying just about 1 block from the Clifton Hills entertainment area – heck, we’d been watching the Ferris Wheel and the Dinosaur Mini Golf’s volcano from our room every night.
He wasn’t thrilled with the idea of me walking around alone (despite how safe the area seemed to be), and after I reminded him that we *had* to eat something for dinner anyways – since we hadn’t eaten a meal since breakfast at the hotel that morning . . . we got dressed and headed out for a stroll down Victoria street, towards the Ferris Wheel.
It's absolutely a tourist area – besides the Ferris Wheel, and the Mini Golf, there’s also multiple arcades, a bowling alley, several escape rooms (including a “zombie type” one, a mirror maze one, and a funhouse themed one), several spookhouses, and even a Ripley’s Believe it or Not, the upside-down house, and a couple of wax museums. There was also a really neat go-cart track, with gas powered go-karts that we had seen the corner of from our hotel, but hadn’t realized it was “Mario-Super-Kart” type, with the winding ramps (this apparently had opened recently, as it looked brand new and was doing brisk business). We stopped and watched it for a bit, and did a lot of looking at the attractions, but didn’t actually ride/do anything. . we just sight-seed. There’s a Pink Panther themed ‘swinging balloon” ride on top of a building over here too. . with apparently a view of the falls, but it didn’t seem to be open. (I’d seen some past reports that there used to be a WWF themed ARM Drop Tower here too.. but didn’t see any indication it ever existed now).
yep, that's a pink panther balloon ride there on that building (Pic from right here at TPR, Canobie Coaster's "Credit Run" trip report)
Would have been fun to play the mini-golf, or to go-kart, or even ride the ferris wheel. . but truthfully, it had been a long day so when Nick declined to want to do any of the attractions (I didn’t even drag him into any stores!), I didn’t really fight him on it. Besides, we did have to eat something for dinner.
There are also a ton of restaurants here, in addition to the IHOP, Denny’s, and Hooters right next to our hotel, a short walk (down some steep-ish hills), brought us to not only fast food places (Burger King, Tim Horton’s steakhouse), and a ton of ice cream shops. .but also a Rainforest Café, and a Hard Rock Café.
Nick decided, I think based on the amount of walking, that we’d go to Rainforest Café, since I wanted a “sit down” place, and it was the first restaurant that caught my eye. . but looking at the menu, it was a bit expensive (expected, it IS a tourist place), and the food was a little too. . . fru-fru. The other option was the Hard Rock, that was a little further down the hill towards the falls. . but I knew they had more of the type of food Nick would eat (Hamburgers, sandwiches, etc. ). So in the entrance to Rainforest Café, we decided (I convinced him) to keep going down the hill, and we’d go to Hard Rock instead. Which would still be expensive, but at least we could get burgers.
One thing to note too is that this was a Wed evening, and there were SO many singer/songwriters sitting on the food/bar patios playing. It was really nice to be around that much music, even if the majority of them (at *least* 4) were singing U2 covers
Anyways, so we headed down to the bottom of the hill (me promising him that on the way back, we’d cut thru the Bowling Alley/Ferris Wheel area, as that was way less steep. . . since he still hadn’t brought his cane with him). . and we walked down to the Hard Rock Café Store (which is where the entrance to the restaurant is from outside the building). The Store clerk immediately pounced on us (CUSTOMERS), and I told her we were coming to eat, but if they had any KISS shirts I’d look, since I always try to get KISS shirts from the various Hard Rocks. She told me they did, and she would find them for me, after I told her we’d come back after we ate.
We went up the long staircase into the main restaurant (it turns out the main entrance is inside the fancy hotel there, and attached to the mall that also is attached to the other Casino in Niagara Falls). . . and it was meant to be, as what were we greeted by as soon as we came up the stairs into the Restaurant Lobby? An autographed Peter Criss Drumhead (KISS drummer). . .LOL. . meant to be!
They seated us immediately, although brought us way, way back into the restaurant . . as it was filled with at least 50 kids all in matching green shirts (school group?). . and past a large dining room that was being set up for what looked like a reception after a wedding? (who knew Hard Rock hosted these things??). So we get put way back in the last room, and seated at a table next to. . . . . .the bratty kid from MarineLand Gift Shop, and his Dad/Sister!! I S**t you not! I looked at Nick, and he just gave me a WoW look. . . .LOL. If you’ve been in a Hard Rock, you know the walls are covered with memorabilia, so while looking around, I happened to catch the Dad’s eye, and so said “oh, hi. We saw y’all earlier at MarineLand”. . and he responded with “oh? Funny” .. and that was pretty much the end of our scintillating conversation – I didn’t feel the need to engage to ask if they had enjoyed it or anything. . besides, they were being served as we sat down so were only next to us for about 10 minutes or so. And yes, the child continued his antics from earlier in the day: getting up a lot from the table to run around instead of eating, not really touching any of the food on his plate, but picking at his Dad’s food. . and then (what would have made me crazy) is when his Dad paid the bill, he immediately picked up the check sleeve, to see how expensive the meal was, while his Dad just sighed and focused on the little girl (who also didn’t eat much of her food). MY Dad would have spanked the crap out of me if I had behaved like that. .but oh well. It was a nice little reminder from the universe that I shouldn’t have been frustrated with the kid earlier in the day, since the universe put us next to each other at dinner time later. . a nice little, “SEE??? Not that bad”. . .LOL
This was also the most quiet Hard Rock I’ve ever been in! the usually blasting music, was more of a background sound that didn’t interfere with order taking, or anything. I even commented on that to the waiter, and he said they keep it at a level that people can talk. Maybe in the Canadian Hard Rocks, but certainly not in the USA ones I’ve been to! In Atlanta, I’ve never left a meal there without a sore throat from yelling over the music!
Also amusing were the videos playing, that often seemed to not have much to do with the songs (and certainly not the original videos for some of the Queen, or Judas Priest songs they were playing). .the server also responded (when I queried) that “yeah, we have to use a lot of live or special made videos to play in here). . LOL
The food was really good – Nick had a BLT type sandwich w/ Onion ovals, and I had a Pulled Pork with a side of Poutine (hey, we’re in Canada, I’m gonna have Poutine). It was so much food, we couldn’t finish it, but we asked for to-go boxes. . something no one else seemed to be doing (I even said to Nick that you can tell the restaurant is attached to a fancy/expensive hotel, as folks are just wasting good food, and not caring about the cost). . .but yeah, we took our leftovers (and ate them in the airport the next day).
We finished up our meal, went back thru the restaurant (as they were starting to plate for the reception, so I think we timed it perfect that we were leaving as the large group was coming in), and went back down to the Hard Rock store. I had told the saleslady we’d look, so I waited for her to come out from the back – she had scattered the moment we came down, which I figured meant they didn’t have the KISS shirts she told me they had. And of course, they did not – tho she claimed they “must have JUST sold, since they were on the rack when her shift started”. . suuuuure. And the look of confusion when I said to her, “I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Peter Criss drum head at the top of the stairs, since I had asked you for KISS shirts, when we came in”. . told me she had absolutely no idea what band I had been asking about.
No worries tho. .we had leftovers, and were full, fat and happy. Stepping out from the Hard Rock tho, I realized how close we were to the edge of the Falls, as we had come out behind some gardens we had seen the prior day on the tour, while driving up Falls View. So although he protested a little bit, I dragged Nick across the street, so we could take a few “artsy” pics, and get one last really good view of the falls.
All in all, it had been an excellent trip.
It was starting to get dark, as we took our time walking back up to the hotel room, tossed our leftovers in the mini-fridge (for tomorrow), and started packing. Or I should say, I started packing. . LOL..I told Nick to just sit and watch TV, while I got everything ready to go for the next day’s flight.
We turned in fairly early, setting an 8am wake up, to ensure we had plenty of time to get across the border, make it to the airport, return the car, and catch our flight.
In the morning, we actually woke up before the alarm, and showered and checked out on the TV in the room, before heading down to the car. I had gotten very simple directions to the Rainbow Bridge the night before from the tour kiosk lady, and we were on our way. No wait at all to cross over the bridge, and tho the google directions were (again) confusing as all hell, at least was able to follow the signs and we were on our way to Buffalo. . on the American side this time.
This is when we hit the first rain of the entire trip. . skies just opened up and after a quick heavy shower, we had drizzle for much of the drive. But other than this, we had had some perfect weather for our whole vacation, so I wasn’t gonna complain.
About 10 minutes past the Rainbow Bridge, we passed an Amusement Park, Fantasy Island. . although it wasn’t open for the day yet. Now, we could have stopped and just waited 40 minutes for it to open, grab a couple of rides, and still make our flight (and some folks have since said that we shouldn’t have judged it, and stopped). .but the truth is? It looked like a sketchy carnival from the freeway, and the wild mouse (painted hot pink) looked like it had seen some better days, and appeared to have peeling paint all over it.
So looking sketchy, and combined with Nick worrying about getting to the airport to return the car on time? We passed. . . besides, we had already gotten our ride fix the day before at MarineLand (or at least, *he* had)
So we continued on, and other than getting lost once (dear, if your job is to navigate, you need to tell me that we should take Exit 16, before we are actually PASSING Exit 16. . . yeah, so missed the turn, and had to backtrack a bit).. we made it to the airport and car return garage with no issue. We only used about 1/16th of a tank of gas too. . . so we likely COULD have gotten by with no rental car, tho it was still nice to have if we needed it.
We go the car returned, checked bags, and went thru security (forgetting the water in with the food, that they confiscated from Nick in his pre-check line). . . I went thru regular security line and (surprise) got chosen for additional pat-down. That wasn’t annoying, tho the guy at the end of the Xray scanner that STOOD THERE GETTING DRESSED while everyone else was stuck behind him waiting to get our stuff off the conveyor belt, was . . just a bit. We had plenty of time, so wasn’t an issue, but yeah. . be aware of those around you. . sheesh.
Then we went to the food court, bought drinks to replace what got confiscated (and bear claws for the plane), and sat and ate our Hard Rock leftovers. Just as good the next day.
Pretty uneventful day back, tho it was a long day, with two fairly long flights – the flight back went from Buffalo to Orlando, then two hour layover, before Orlando to Austin. . so we got back to Austin around 6:40 pm, after flying all day. . . . and right into the Texas heat. Bleh.
By the time we got to the car, paid the parking fee, and got home (Wendys’ drive thru for dinner), it was almost 9pm, so a quick shower and then into bed. Luckily had a few days before we both had to go back to work, since we needed to recuperate from the exhausting, but great trip.
Thanks for reading!
Last set of pics:
the new GoKart "Super Mario" track.
you go UP this portion, and if they hadn't had an employee at the top of the spiral telling folks to slow down? bet you could get some good airtime on that "bump area" up there.
King Kong's butt.. hanging off Ripley's
one of several Spookhouses in the area.
and yes, over the Burger King? that IS a giant Frankenstein's Monster eating a giant Whopper
Bowling, and a ferris wheel. it's a very touristy area
standing in front of the Rainforrest Cafe, looking down on the American falls (and the fairly steep hill)
it was meant to be! what we saw upon climbing the stairs to the Hard Rock Cafe
artsy shot, thru the garden gate, of the falls
stepping thru the gate to the other side, for a glimpse of the American Falls
awww. . our final picture in Niagara :(
on the plane, headed back with my "old person" reading glasses.
(and yes, I DID wear my same shirt from the prior night, since I had only worn it out for the evening, after changing from MarineLand) :)
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