There are many places in Niagara where thrill rides and cotton candy can be enjoyed together. Although most parks are located directly at the falls, many of them are close enough to enjoy for an afternoon or all-day. These attractions are very popular and are usually open during the summer.
Martin’s Fantasy Island
Small amusement parks like this have a special charm that is home-grown. Martin’s Fantasy Island on Grand Island is all you would expect from a small amusement park: clean and family-friendly with a variety of smaller rides as well as some larger ones. You get a single price admission to all three parks: a traditional amusement park, a petting-zoo and a small waterpark.
The Silver Comet, a major wooden roller coaster, dominates the skyline. However, patrons will also find bumper cars, spinners, train rides and kiddie rides on the premises. There are even small shows venues such as a Wild West shootout. Accessible from the main park, the small waterpark has slides, wave pools, and a lazy stream.
Martin’s Fantasy Island’s size and accessibility is great. It also has many midway rides. Some sections, like the “west-ern towns” section, remind visitors of Six Flags. The low admission price (only $25 per day) and the wide selection of attractions may be a surprise to some visitors. This park is great. My favorite attraction is the small pond with canoes with aqua “training wheels”. Even little kids can enjoy this area without worrying about tipping.
The smaller, but equally well-known Marineland is Niagara’s answer for Sea World. It offers a mixture of rides and aquarium attractions. Many of the attractions are suitable for children under five years old and their families. A number of shows are rotated on a regular basis. Marineland is home to a number of big animals, including Beluga Whales and Killer Whales. These animals may be available for visitors to view up close, and they can even be petted. The shows can include dolphins, sea-lions, and even walruses. Visitors can feed the swarming fish in the pond, or even meet land animals like bears and deer.
There are several standard amusement rides. The world’s largest steel rollercoaster is worth mentioning, which spans 30 acres. The park’s tower ride, which is 60 miles an hour high, allows you to feel the thrill of being propelled up at 60 mph. It is so well placed that anyone viewing Horseshoe Falls can clearly see it. Marineland is huge, with many attractions spread over large areas. Don’t expect to find a Disneyland or Sea World experience where so many rides are squeezed into one area.
Six Flags Darien Lake
Six Flags Darien Lake is about 50 miles from Niagara Falls. It can be considered a vacation spot all on its own. There are over 30 Six Flags parks worldwide. These parks are primarily for the Buffalo area. Six Flags amusement parks are a staple of world-class amusement parks.
This Darien Lake theme park’s history begins in 1964 when it opened its first campground. The park started to create attractions around camping in the sixties and seventies. It was a fully-fledged park by 1982. Premier Parks purchased Six Flags in a series of ownership changes. In 1999, it was renamed “Six Flags Darien Lake”.
Six Flags Parks is known for its roller coasters. Darien Lake does just that. You will find many other favorites, including spinning and churning machines, a raft ride and numerous gift shops and eateries. Darien Lake has a waterpark.