Monday, July 8, 2013

Niagara's Fury and Journey Behind the Falls - Niagara Falls

Checking out the Falls.
There are literally hundreds of things to do in Niagara Falls, you couldn't possibly do it all in one trip - believe me I tried.  I have already covered some of the attractions in the area in a previous blog post but we made another trip to the area to try out some other fun stuff.   I am going to divide this last visit into at least three posts.  This one will cover Niagara's Fury and Journey Behind the Falls.
One the WeGo bus.  You don't actually need it to get to either of these two attractions since they are in the same building and right by the parking lot, but you will need it to get to White Water Walk and maybe Maid of the Mist depending on how much your kids like to walk.
We had the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass which gets you into four attractions: Maid of the Mist, Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara's Fury, and White Water Walk. It also includes transportation on the WeGo shuttle bus service for two days.  You can do all four in a day without too much trouble (we did!) but it will be a full day.  Since the bus pass part is good for two days, I assume the other attractions are also doable over two days if you are staying overnight.
Table Rock Welcome Centre - photo courtesy of Niagara Park.
For Niagara's Fury, Journey Behind the Falls and White Water Walk you need to sign up for particular times to enter the attractions.  There was a showing of Niagara's Fury starting about 15 minutes after we arrived which was perfect.  Niagara's Fury is in the Table Rock Welcome Centre, on the upper level.  The Table Rock Welcome Centre is the closest building to the main parking lot so it is a good place to start any visit to the Falls since you can visit the bathrooms and get something to eat or drink if you need it.
This is what happens when I let my husband take pictures. That is me and the girls in our first of several disposable rain ponchos at Niagara's Fury.
I had no idea what Niagara's Fury even was really, other than it was billed as a 4D experience.  I thought it would be a movie so I was a little surprised when I was handed my first (but not last!) disposable rain poncho at the entrance.  We went into the theatre where we watched a movie about a beaver who travels back in time to learn about how Niagara Falls was formed.  It is basically an Ice Age rip off but the kids liked it well enough. I found out later that the movie is called Furry Falls which is funny (to me) because my daughter read the sign for Niagara's Fury as Niagara's Furry and was baffled.  Anyhoo!
The kids liked the time travelling beaver movie well enough but this was me during most of it.
Then the movie ended and I was like, "uh, what?  what did I need the rain poncho for?"   Turns out that the beaver travelling through time and space was just the warm up movie.  After that one is done, a set of doors open up and you go into a circular theatre with hand rails placed throughout the room. Ok, rain ponchos and hand rails, say what?  Niagara's Fury starts up pretty quickly by plunging you into darkness (i.e. turning off the lights), making it suddenly cold and shaking the floor (hence the handrails!) and making snow fall from the sky. Ok, "snow" but still, fun.  All to simulate what it was like in the ice age.  It then goes on from there with water pouring on you at various points and the floor moving to make it seem like you are travelling down the river and over the falls and that sort of thing.  There is also thunder and lightening at various points.

We all liked Niagara's Fury quite a bit with my oldest daughter and husband liking it the most.  That is probably partly because I don't do well with 3D type movies in general and my youngest daughter found some of the dark parts and the thunder a bit scary.  "Scary but still good!" she informed me afterwards.

The show runs about a half an hour total but that includes the Furry Falls part, so Niagara's Fury proper is probably about 15 - 20 minutes or so.
All dressed up and ready to go for Journey Behind the Falls.
About 20 minutes after Niagara's Fury finished we had our appointment for Journey Behind the Falls, which is also located (well, at least the entrance is) in the Table Rock Welcome Centre.  My older daughter wrote an "All About Me" type book for school this year and in it she talks about what she wants to do with her life.  Her list of life goals included (but were not limited to): visit Pluto, be the first person to see a live giant squid (she has since been scooped on this one by Dr. Edith Widder), become a great artist, have a fancy car, meet Queen Elizabeth and go behind Niagara Falls.  So, scratch one off the bucket list for my oldest daughter eh?  I was also pretty excited since I went once when I was a kid (on one of my many trips with relatives from England) and loved it.
Checking out one of the portals.
It is pretty much the same as it was when I went 30 years ago which is good because it was awesome then and it is awesome now.  The only thing that seemed different were the rain ponchos.  I am pretty sure you used to borrow a sturdy proper rain slicker and then return it when you were done whereas now you get a disposable one.  I could have also sworn that you borrowed rain boots so I packed socks just in case.  Turns out you just wear your own shoes so my frenzied search for four pairs of matching socks before we left was all for naught.  On the upside, I now have four pairs of matching socks which is something of a miracle in my house.
My husband pretending to turn off the falls.  I laughed.  
So, having donned our second disposable poncho of the day we headed down in the elevator to Journey Behind the Falls.  When you get off the elevator you are in a long dank tunnel.  Now, call me crazy, but I thought that was pretty exciting!  First off, that is a feat of modern engineering don't you think?  I mean, they built tunnels, long ones, way far down, under and behind the falls just so we could amuse ourselves by getting a better view of the Falls.  I tip my hat to all of the engineers and construction workers who made that happen.  
Despite the fact that she looks like a drowned rat, she did enjoy Journey Behind the Falls.
You can either go down the tunnel to the portals or go out to the observation deck.  We started with the tunnel to the portals.  The portals are pretty much what they sound like.  Nooks carved out of the tunnels that allow you to look out at the back of the waterfalls.  There isn't actually a whole lot to see per se, I mean, water is water you know? but just the fact that you are standing behind the falls looking out at all that water is exciting.  Once you are done basking in the majesty of the falls you can head out to the observation deck to get a good look at them from down low.  Be warned you will get wet (hence the rain poncho!), especially if it is a windy day like when we went.  The view is great from the observation deck.
My kids' favourite thing, checking out gift shops.  
Some things to keep in mind:

  • I would highly recommend wearing shoes with some tread on them since it is wet and slippery at most of these attractions and you have to do a lot of walking in general at Niagara Falls.  Flip flops will be the death of you at Niagara Falls.
  • Pretty much every attraction has a gift shop at the entrance and the exit so be prepared for kids to want to look around and nag you for flashlights with their names on them, giant jawbreakers and stuffed dogs with giant eyes (things that I actually ended up bringing home with me).  
  • There are no lockers or baggage check area at either of these attractions so you will have to make sure your backpack or purse or whatever is well covered by the rain poncho.  You will also want to keep your camera and phone covered as much as possible.
  • There are no bathrooms once you get down the elevator so make sure the kids go before then head downstairs.
  • For some reason the pre show, Furry Falls, is shown in a theatre that can easily hold 50 people but only has seating for about half of that.  So you may actually have to stand while watching the antics of a time travelling beaver.  
  • If you are going to do these two attractions you really should just go for the Adventure Pass.  It is cheaper to buy them online.  They are $46.95 per adult and $34.95 per child online.  They are about $20 more if you buy them in person at Niagara Falls.  Kids under six are free.  You can also get the passes using airmiles
  • At Journey Behind the Falls (and Maid of the Mist) they take your picture and then offer them to you for sale when you are done with the attraction.  They were 2 for $25.  Now, the thing that cracks me up about these pictures is - if there is one place in the world where you don't need to green screen yourself in front of Niagara Falls, it is at Niagara Falls.  You know what I mean?  If you want a picture of you and your family in front of the Falls you can find a friendly tourist who will snap one for you.  Just don't ask my husband to do it for you.      
  • There are tons of other things to do in Niagara Falls that are educational and interesting for kids, things like Laura Secord's Homestead and the Floral Showcase that are quite affordable that we didn't get to this year.  Next year we plan to ride the bike trail that follows Laura Secord's route so we will check those out then on a more mellow trip.
  • There are fireworks several times a week at 10:00 over the summer, so check the schedule to see if they will have them when you plan to be there. 
Thanks to Holly Goertzen at Niagara Parks who answered all my questions and arranged everything for our visit. 

You can read about Maid of the Mist and White Water Walk at this post and about Clifton Hill at this post.                                                                                                                                                                          

1 comment :

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