Waves, Wolves and Water Parks:
Getting soaked in Niagara Falls
© By Sherri Telenko
Every minute, six million cubic feet of water plummets over the crest of Niagara Falls. So it's about time people started getting wet - for the fun of it. The recent addition of three major waterparks in Niagara Falls gives us three more reasons to visit one of the most popular wonders of the world. Move over honeymooners, this town's big on family fun.
The elegant European-style Americana Conference Resort and Spa was the first to open an indoor waterpark in 2004. At the time, it was the only one of its kind in Niagara Falls and it made indoor pools look like bathtub puddles. Called Waves Indoor Waterpark, it hosts a beach-like wave pool, kiddie zone, hot tub and tube and body slides extending three storeys into the sky. Despite appearing intimidating, kids five and older love the slides. Who knew jumping on an inflatable donut and sailing through a dark tube of harrowing twists and turns could be so fun?
This park's reasonable size allows parents to see kids easily from a seat along the parameter or in the middle of the action near the café. The hotel provides waterpark passes with most hotel stays but allows day access to the park as well for $19.95 to $29.99 per person, along with Tidal Wave birthday party packages starting at $24.95 per person. With the addition of Senses Spa last year, the Americana is equal parts adult and kid creature comforts.
In 2006, the first Great Wolf Lodge opened in Canada. Owned by Ripley's Niagara Water Park Resort, this Canadiana-gone-mad themed-resort is more than a waterpark, although splashing about is definitely the highlight. Complete with spa, mini golf, ticket redemption arcade and five feeding options including pizza and a casino-style all-you-can-eat buffet, a Disney-esque resort like this one designed to keep guests (and their money) on site is long overdue in Niagara Falls.
Decorated to look like the inside of a massive wilderness retreat, the Great Wolf Lodge wows guests the moment they step into the lobby. The main entrance is dominated by a mega-fireplace and realistic-looking animatronics. A moose and bear that talk, tell jokes and offer morning and evening 'shows' greet visitors. This hotel is all about amusing family members, particularly the most fickle: young children.
Of course, no on-board experience is complete without a good soak. So don your swimsuit because the Great Wolf Lodge waterpark is huge
and you'll spend your time trailing the little ones or risk losing them. The park has 13 waterslides - four of them massive tube slides that weave in and out of the lodge walls, each slightly more daring than the previous; a four-storey waterfort with interconnecting ladders and walkways (with rail mounted opportunities to spray those underneath using hoses, buckets of water and mega spray guns); and the mandatory beach entry wave pool that barrages swimmers with walls of waves about every 30 minutes. A giant tipping bucket high on top Fort MacKenzie periodically dumps 4000 litres of water on unsuspecting victims below and, frankly, startles the bejeezes out of toddlers. But they can scamper into one of three kiddie pools or the more traditional activity pool with basketball nets.
One month after the Great Wolf Lodge opened its freshly whittled doors, Niagara Falls had another waterpark; this time claiming to be the biggest. Owned by Canadian Niagara Hotels, the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark is stacked atop the parking garage beside Casino Niagara in the heart of tourist activity. Fallsview services several properties including the recently renovated Skyline Inn, Sheraton on the Falls and Brock Plaza Hotel.
Open to the public on a first-come-first-serve basis (in other words, when the park isn't at capacity with hotel guests, passes are available), this facility caters to bigger kids and those too big to be kids. Complete with wave beach, one outdoor pool and tanning deck, climbing decks, 1000 litre dumping bucket like the other parks, this one adds eight slides several storeys high and eight more a whopping six storeys high.
Clearly, this is not the place for the slide shy. Here, you can plummet down vertigo- inducing body slides, race with a friend along side-by-side tubes, ride a sled-like rubber mat down a few others or raft slide along three more, including one that resembles a giant toilet bowl.
Finally, note that at these and any waterpark, the chlorine levels are high. It's recommended that you shower regularly during your water fun, especially if you are extra sensitive to chemicals. Sanitation aside, the ever expanding Niagara Falls now has more places for wet, wild, humid fun than you can shake a hose at.
Sherri Telenko is published regularly in Southern Ontario regional lifestyle magazines and won NATJA's Best Resort Article Award in 2005.
Sherri Telenko: Americana Conference Resort and Spa, Great Wolf Lodge
If you go
Americana Conference Resort and Spa: www.americananiagara.com;1-800-263-3508
Fallsview Indoor Waterpark: www.fallsviewwaterpark.com; 1-888-234-8408
Great Wolf Lodge: www.greatwolf.com; 1-800-905-9653
When travelling to the Niagara Region, you may wish to investigate the following