Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Clifton Hill - Niagara Falls

The view from the top of the Sky Wheel.
So this is part three of my review of our latest trip to Niagara Falls.  You can read about Journey Behind the Falls and Niagara's Fury on this post and you can read about Maid of the Mist and White Water Walk on this post.
How small everyone looks from the top according to my daughter.
We went to Niagara Falls two years ago and bought the Big Fun Value Pass which gets you into the Guinness Book of World Records Museum, The Fun House and a few others.  That one is pretty good for little kids but now that the kids are a bit bigger we went for the Clifton Hill Fun Pass which grants you admission to the Sky Wheel, Great Canadian Midway, Ghost Blasters, XD Theatre,  Movieland Wax Museum, and one of Dinosaur Adventure Mini Golf or Galaxy Glow in the Dark Mini Golf. The passes cost $26 plus tax per adult and $20 plus tax per child.

The sound at the top isn't as nice as the view!
We started with the Sky Wheel which is goes 175 feet high.  I like rides, but I have mentioned before that Ferris Wheels are the only rides that scare me and they scare me even more when my kids are on them too! So, I was hesitant about going on a giant Ferris Wheel with the kids but it was fine.  They are enclosed which made it much less scary (for me).  In fact, I would go so far as to say that it was not scary at all.  We went on a sunny Sunday in the early evening and we only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes or so which was great.  The ride lasted about 10 minutes which was pretty good for an amusement park type ride.  You do get a great view of the Falls and the attractions all along Clifton Hill.  One thing to keep in mind, when we were at the top for a while the wind picked up and it sounded like a high pitched scream.  It only lasted for about a minute but imagine someone shrieking for one full minute and you will have an idea of the noise.
A somewhat unorthodox approach to a golf swing, but she scored 89 which she thought was great since it was the highest of all of us.
After the Sky Wheel we went to Dinosaur Adventure Golf which is right next to the Sky Wheel.  It was a lot of fun, in fact this is what my youngest daughter picked as her favourite thing out of all of the things that we did in Niagara Falls.  The dinosaurs are really big and the volcano erupts which was a big hit with my kids although they seemed surprised (every time!) that it was hot when the fire blew out the top of the volcano. It took us about 30 - 40 minutes to play the 18 hole course and we were not setting a blistering pace, although we did have to call it on a couple of holes after my youngest had not managed to sink the ball after ten or so strokes.
Chilling with a baby dinosaur
We grabbed some dinner after mini golf and you won't have any trouble finding somewhere to eat right near by.  There is a Wendy's, Boston Pizza, Burger King, Ruby Tuesdays all within sight of the mini golf course.
Have I ever mentioned that I am a world class Skee Ball player? I mean, if they had classes and international competitions and whatnot for Skee Ball.  
After eating we went to the Great Canadian Midway which is like Playdium or Chuck E Cheese in terms of the games that are on offer.  Things like skee ball, whack-a-mole type games and driving games.  They all seemed suitable for kids in the sense that they weren't too violent or anything but I didn't do an exhaustive search of every game since my kids liked the easier games best anyway.  We got 40 tokens between the four passes which was enough for each kid to play for close to an hour.  I think we were only supposed to get 20 since the passes say you get 5 each but somehow we got 40!  Again though, my kids play the easier games which tend to only take one or two tickets so if you kids are playing the more advanced games they may go through tokens more quickly.  You can, of course, buy more - $10 will get you 25 tokens.  You get tickets when you play the games which you can turn in for prizes when you are done.  It is the same deal as Playdium and Chuck E Cheese, after an hour of playing you are likely to walk away with a stretchy lizard or something but my kids were happy with it.

Inside the Midway is the Ghost Blaster ride and the XD Theatre.  Ghost Blaster is basically the same as Boo Blaster at Canada's Wonderland, a haunted house ride where you shoot up ghosts and other spooky creatures.  At least, I have heard that is what it is like, my kids were too scared to go in.  The woman who was working the ticket booth assured us that it was less scary inside than it was outside but my kids were not convinced.
All ready for take off at the XD Theatre.
We did check out the XD Theatre though.  It is basically a 3D movie with seats that move and shake and whatnot to make it seem like you are riding a roller coaster, in this case in space (hence the name, Space Coaster).  I swear there is something wrong with my brain because 3D movies do nothing for me, but this one was still pretty fun and I did instinctively put my arm out to keep my younger daughter safe (my older daughter is on her own apparently!) a couple of times so it must have been pretty realistic.  My kids LOVED this thing.  They are still talking about it, so it is worth checking out.  The ride is about 8 minutes long, and they can get 18 or so people in at a time so you shouldn't have to wait too long.  My older daughter did have one suggestion though, they should have a fan or wind machine so you feel like the breeze is going by you on the roller coaster.
My daughter could at least identify this as an Egyptian guy.
The last attraction on the pass was the Movieland Wax Museum.  It was getting late and the kids were pretty tired but we went by to check it out and discovered that my kids are not pop culturally savvy.  They didn't know who any of the people were other than maybe Katie Perry, although even her I had to name for them. We don't have cable and they are too young for movies like Pirates of the Caribbean (although they did at least know that the Johnny Depp figurine was "that pirate") and Twilight and I am too young for movies like the Blues Brothers, so they were at a loss.  I would say that this one is better for older kids, maybe teenagers and up.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Sky Wheel runs year round, day and night since the gondolas are climate controlled.
  • All of the attractions covered under the Clifton Hill Fun Pass are within about 2 minutes of each other so there won't be much walking. 
  • The Great Canadian Midway, Ghost Blasters, Galaxy Glow in the Dark Mini Golf, Movieland Wax Museum and XD Theatre are all indoors so you can do them any time of year.
  • At most of the attractions, your fun pass lets you sort of jump the line.  Sky Wheel for instance has a separate line for fun pass holders so check before you line up in case you don't actually need to.

Thanks to Christine Lynn who helped arrange everything and answered all my questions for our trip to Clifton Hill.

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