Niagara Falls is a very popular tourist destination and the main attraction is the Falls themselves. As one of our group had never been to Niagara Falls before, we decided to try to hit the major attractions in the short time we had there.
On the Canadian side of the Falls, Niagara Parks offers various Adventure Passes that bundle together tickets to different attractions for a discounted price. As we only had one full at the Falls (the other day being spent in the Niagara Wine Region), we just went with the ‘Classic’ pass, which included the following:
- Hornblower Niagara Cruises
- Journey Behind the Falls
- Niagara’s Fury
- White Water Walk
- Two-day WEGO Access (hop-on, hop-off bus)
- $100 in bonus coupons
When we arrived in Niagara Falls, we saw that there was a Welcome Centre just across the street from our hotel. So, that made it easy for us to exchange our voucher for our Adventure Pass – which was a plastic card attached to a lanyard. Wearing the pass on a lanyard made it very easy to spot everyone that had an Adventure Pass (which was a LOT of people). When we got the pass, we were booked times for the Niagara’s Fury, the Journey Behind the Falls, and the White Water Walk. The Hornblower Niagara Cruise did not have specific times – instead you just got into line and got on the boat. It was suggested that we do the cruise first.
Being the Fourth of July, it was a tad busy – so the line-up was quite a ways down the street just to get to the entrance. Then you wound down a few stories to some elevators – where you were transported down to the river’s edge. The first stop was the obligatory photo (against a fake background) that seems to be a mandatory requirement for every attraction in Niagara. Then we made our way through a tent to get our passes scanned, and got our poncho to wear on the boat (a red one). Then we had to wait in a line for the next boat to come in. We ended up being close to the front of the line for boarding, so we were able to get onto the boat and to some great spots right against the rail at the back left of the boat. It had taken about 40 minutes to get through the line-up and onto the boat.
The boat left the dock and did a cruise past Bridal Falls (which are on the American side). Then it continued to Horseshoe Falls (on the Canadian side) where we got to experience the mist of the falls up close and personal. There is a reason why you are given a poncho to wear. Luckily it was a hot day, so the water was quite refreshing. This is definitely a worthwhile experience if you are in Niagara Falls. It’s hard to understand the thunder and fury of the falls unless you are right in front of them.
The Welcome Centre had booked times for our next 3 attractions: 4:00pm for Niagara’s Fury, 5:00pm for Journey Behind the Falls, and 6:40pm for White Water Walk. Around 3:30pm, we decided to go catch the WEGO bus to take us to Table Rock – where Niagara’s Fury and Journey Behind the Falls were. There were a number of people at the bus stop when we got there, and we had to wait about 10 minutes for a bus to arrive. When it did, we were right at the door when we were told they couldn’t take any more passengers. Luckily there was another bus right behind it, and we were able to get on that one.
When we arrived at Table Rock, I was surprised to find that there were no signs pointing a person to the attractions. There was a large building, but it had no signage of any kind. We assumed the attractions were in there, so we went to the nearest door. Inside the building were a number of shops and restaurants. We happened upon Journey to the Falls shortly after entering the building. However, it took us wandering through the entire building until we happened to see some small signage on an escalator that pointed us to Niagara’s Fury. We took the escalators up one level, but it still wasn’t obvious where the attraction was. We finally managed to find it, and were able to go right in. This time we were handed a blue poncho. And of course, they had to take a souvenir photo before going in.
At first, you are put into a small room with a screen. People were sitting on the floor when we got there, so we sat down too. We were shown a 5 minute animated film with a beaver and an owl explaining the history of Niagara Falls. After that film was over, doors to the main theatre opened. We walked into a 360 degree theatre that also had some various effects (there is a reason for the ponchos). We were shown about a 10 minute film of various views of the falls. At the start there were winter landscapes, and snow fell on us from the ceiling. Later, there was water splashed on us and lightning effects. I have not included any pictures as photography was not allowed in the theatre. The attraction was okay – but I don’t know if I would’ve actually paid specifically to go see this (I only went because it was included in my pass). This might be fine for families for small kids, but after being on the cruise, it was a little lame.
We were out of the theatre with about 45 minutes until our time slot for Journey Behind the Falls. We went to the line-up for this, and asked one of the employees whether we could join the line up now even though our time wasn’t until 5:00pm. I was told that we had to wait until 5:00pm to even get into the line. So, we wandered around the Table Rock area until it was time.
Finally it was time to join the line. This was another very long line up. We started the line in the main hallway of the building. From there we slowly moved into a room past the ticket counter. Then it was down some stairs for yet another souvenir photo, and then we crawled along the zigzag queue in this hot room until we finally made it to the elevators that take you down to the falls. As we had been in the hot sun for most of the day, standing in this stuffy room for half an hour made me feel a little light headed. But we finally got on one of the two elevators and arrived into some nice cool tunnels.
Once at the base of the falls, there are two portals cut into the rock, where you can watch the falls flowing right in front of you. There is also an observation deck that is located right next to the falls. It is a really interesting experience, which I would do again – but only if I didn’t have to wait in line so long.
It was almost 6:00pm by the time we got back up to the top of Table Rock again. Our last attraction was for 6:40pm. But we were beat from heat and the standing around, so we decided not to bother with the White Water Walk, as we were tired and hungry. We used the WEGO bus to take us back to our hotel.
Overall, the Adventure Pass came in handy for our vacation. The Hornblower Niagara Cruise and the Journey Behind the Falls was definitely worthwhile. Niagara’s Fury is something that you can easily miss. Unfortunately I can’t say anything about the White Water Walk as we didn’t do that. We didn’t use the WEGO bus as much as we should’ve, but I could see how it would be very handy – especially if a person was staying further away from the falls. In writing this, I just realized that we were never given the $100 in bonus coupons that we were promised. So, I have no idea whether I would’ve actually used any of the coupons or not.
I am glad that I bought the pass ahead of time, as it did save time in that you didn’t have to buy tickets at each attraction. However, being a holiday weekend, the queue for people with tickets far exceeded any queue to buy tickets, so I’m not sure if much time was saved. But I do feel that the convenience of it was worth it.