Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Maid of the Mist and White Water Walk - Niagara Falls

The Adventure Pass for Niagara Falls gets you into four attractions: The Maid of the Mist, White Water Walk, Journey Behind the Falls and Niagara's Fury.  I reviewed Journey Behind the Falls and Niagara's Fury yesterday so you can read about them on that post. Today I will review Maid of the Mist and White Water Walk.
Maid of the Mist from the beginning of the line up.
When I was a kid I was terrified of Maid of the Mist and refused to go on it any of the numerous times we visited Niagara Falls.  I did finally get cajoled onto it as an adult and it was .... totally not scary. Like, at all.  I have no idea what I was so afraid of.  I think it is actually scarier to watch from above than it is to be on the actual boat.  Luckily, my kids do not have any fear of boats heading directly towards the Falls so they were in for a trip on Maid of the Mist.
The sea of blue people boarding the boat.  My daughter liked the look of all of the blue people on the boat.
They loved it.  Of all of the things we did on our trip to Niagara Falls this time, Maid of the Mist was the favourite of my husband and the second favourite of all three of the rest of us (we each had different number ones - more on that later).  You get quite close to the Falls, closer than the observation deck on Journey Behind the Falls for instance so be prepared to get quite wet.  Fear not, they provide you with a disposable rain poncho.  All told, the boat ride is about 30 minutes.
The American Falls with a bunch of American tourists no doubt craning their necks to get a view of the Canadian Falls which are better.
Maid of the Mist is the only one of the Adventure Pass attractions that does not have timed admission.  You have to just show up (with your tickets) and get in line to get on the boat.  We went on Maid of the Mist around 2:00 p.m. on a sunny Sunday so I would suspect that is a reasonably busy time to do it and the line up wasn't bad.  Well, it was fairly long but it moves quickly which cuts down on the boredom and whining for the kids.  From the time we arrived at Maid of the Mist until the time our boat left was probably 30 minutes but that included about a ten minute walk down to the loading area and getting the poncho and having your picture taken etc.
Getting soaked by the Falls.
When we were done with Maid of the Mist we headed to White Water Walk.  Most of the attractions at Niagara Falls are pretty close together, the walk from Table Rock Welcome Centre to Maid of the Mist is probably 10 - 15 minutes (although you can take the WeGo bus between the two as well) but White Water Walk is quite a ways away so you will need to take the WeGo bus out to it.

White Water Walk has timed admission so you have to sign up for a time and then can enjoy the attraction at that particular time.  This is to make line ups more manageable I assume.  The bus ride out to White Water Walk was longer than we expected (it takes about 15 minutes) so we were a couple minutes late for our 3:00 admission time.  When we arrived, we were surprised to see that there was a fairly long line up.  Like the good Canadians we are, we got in line and waited patiently for our turn to go in.  After a couple of minutes the line had not moved an inch and it occurred to me that maybe we didn't need to be in the line since we had the scheduled admission time.  I wandered up to the front of the line and asked and was told that we did have to wait in the line.  I asked if it was a problem that we were a couple of minutes late and the attendant said "no, it's fine, it isn't busy enough for us to bother with timed admissions."  We were in line for well over 30 minutes so I would hate to see what it is like when they are busy enough to bother with timed admissions.  This was the longest line up we encountered at any attraction in Niagara Falls by the way.
Checking out the rapids at one of the observation decks.
Eventually we were shuffled into an elevator that took us down to another dank tunnel.  So exciting!  Well, this one wasn't quite as exciting as the last one but it leads to the boardwalk along the Niagara River where you can get a great view of some of the biggest standing waves in the North America.  The boardwalk is about 1 km at most and it includes a couple of viewing platforms.  There are also some handy dandy information panels along the boardwalk that explain why the water is such a beautiful aqua colour and just how intense the rapids actually are (class 6, the highest you can go in the rapid classification scale!)
Admiring the colour of the water.
That is all there is to White Water Walk.  It is just a nice, shady walk along the rapids.  I thought my kids might think it was a bit boring after all of the other excitement of the day but my oldest daughter actually picked this as her favourite thing we did at Niagara Falls, so shows you what I know!  Now, having said that, my daughter is particularly fond of walks and nature, her birthday party this year is a hike in the park followed by a picnic, so not all kids will find it quite so enthralling, but it is a nice relaxing break in the day.  I was left wondering though, how they can get away with charging admission to look at the rapids when they aren't allowed to charge admission to look at the Falls(I assume they aren't allowed since I am sure someone would if they could).
Cham Shan Temple across from White Water Walk.
Some things to keep in mind:

  • If it is a hot day you are going to roast in your rain poncho while waiting for  Maid of the Mist, so don't put it on until you are on the boat.
  • We were there on a fairly busy day so the boat was packed to capacity.  If you have kids you are going to want to beeline it to a side of the boat so they can get a good spot at the railing, otherwise they won't be able to see anything.  It doesn't matter where on the boat you are, you get a good view from any spot at different times but little ones will need to be at the railing.  
  • You will get really wet, so cover anything valuable.  
  • Once you get in line you won't really be able to go to the bathroom so the kids should go before getting in line.
  • The Maid of the Mist has its own stop on the WeGo line so you can take the bus right to the entrance.  
  • There are some restaurants and stores right by the Maid of the Mist so you will be able to get a drink or something to eat before or after your ride.
  • White Water Walk is really quite out in the middle of nowhere so you might want to do this one first or last.  The bus ride is about 15 minutes so allow enough time to get out there. The only other thing around  White Water Walk is the Cham Shan Temple which is right across the street and is pretty interesting.
  • The elevator system at White Water Walk is not optimal.  They only have one elevator which has to take people down and up and it can only fit about 8 people so it will take a while to get down and up.

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