Fun Family Weekend at Niagara Falls

It’s summer break, and that means that all of us – me, my husband, and my two children – are home and looking for things to do and ways to pass the time. This summer is especially significant to us because in the fall Zoey will be starting school and I will be going back to teaching after four and a half years off. I want to do as many fun things as possible, as close by as we can, so that we can really enjoy this time together. This weekend we took our first overnight trip of the summer. I decided I wanted to take the kids, with my husband, to Niagara Falls. I haven’t been there in years, and I always marvel at the sight of this natural wonder of the world. To see it is breathtaking. My eight year old son was impressed as soon as we could see it.

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After walking to the very edge of the Canadian side, and enjoying the many different views of the Falls – all of them spectacular – we let Zander, our eight year old, decide on two places to see in Niagara Falls, among the many attractions. There’s the Guinness World Records Museum, Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks, Ripley’s Museum, The Mystery Maze, The Fun House, The Clifton Hill Skywheel, and a whole whack of others that could have been considered. Ultimately he ended up picking The Mystery Maze and The Fun House, and, $80 and about 20 minutes later, we were done. To be honest, those were likely the most overpriced and underwhelming attractions we could have experienced; however, there was a little bit of fun had, which is the most important thing.

We even had fun with some fierce creatures on our way out of the city!

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We went to our hotel and settled in. The next day we were going to Marineland, an amusement park with both animals and rides, which is only a few minutes outside of Niagara Falls, and we were all very excited.

I think I’ve only been to Marineland once in my almost 41 years. And it was when I was around nine years old. So I was definitely overdue for a visit. Having the chance to take my kids – who love animals and having fun (who doesn’t?) – was a bonus. The day was AMAZING. We were given tickets to feed the beluga whales – thank you Ann Marie! – so we did that as soon as we got to the park. The kids (and Scott and I too) loved it. Kodiak was a sweet beluga!

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We also took in the King Waldorf Stadium Show, where we were able to see sea lions, beluga whales, dolphins, and walruses. The stadium was packed full, and the entire crowd was entertained for the almost-hour-long show.

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After the show it was time to feed the deer. One of the only memories I have of visiting Marineland when I was a kid was of my dad feeding the deer. They swarmed him. So I was a bit timid when my husband asked if I wanted to feed them, after buying some food for them. It was deja vu all over again…

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Above is Dad, in August of 1983.

Below are Scott and Zoey, in July of 2015.

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The deer are very tame and calm, and wouldn’t hurt anyone, but I’m a bit afraid of any animal that is taller than me if standing on its hind legs (which happens to be A LOT of animals – including some dogs – because I am a shorty), so I kept some distance between me and them.

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It was then time for the rides. Here in Ontario there are a number of attractions where kids can enjoy rides. The catch is some of those spots are so crowded that you have to wait in atrociously long lines to ride even the shortest of rides. That was not the case at Marineland. And it was a beautifully sunny and warm day, in July, when places like it are overrun with families. Sure there were hundreds of thousands of people there – the evidence of that was the full parking lot – but things are spread out so that it doesn’t seem like it. (You can rent strollers and double strollers, so the kids won’t tire out walking and parents won’t tire out piggybacking and carrying kids around. We got a double stroller that fit both Zander – a tall eight year old – and Zoey.) And there were lots of rides to go on so there wasn’t one that had terribly long lines. Another fantastic thing about Marineland’s rides was that most were perfect for kids my age. Although the Sky Screamer is one of the most popular rides at Marineland, and Zander was dying to go on it – he’s a daredevil – neither my husband nor I was brave enough to go with him! The next best thing was the Orca Screamer – a mini Sky Screamer – and both Scott and I were able to muster up the courage to experience it with Zander. It was definitely tons of fun for him, and I even got video of him screaming, “Amazing! This is awesome!” even though he didn’t know I was recording him!

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He also rode the Sky Hawk with me twice (but there’s no pictures because hubby doesn’t take pics!), which spins around and also goes high up into the air, and he rode the Viking Adventure on his own twice. That one twisted and turned, and got a big thumbs up from Zander.

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Zoey, our four year old, was also able to spend the afternoon on age appropriate rides, including the Ocean Odyssey…

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…and the Boat Carousel…

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…and the Tivoli Wheel.

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She went on the last two rides several times, because she was having so much fun on them.

We all had a wonderful time, and spent six hours there. It didn’t seem like much time at all, and if we had been staying another night in the area we would’ve stayed longer. And now, as I’m looking at the visitor map, I see that we missed two entire sections of the park! I guess we’ll have to make another trip to Niagara Falls and Marineland to see what we missed this time around. Maybe even later this summer…

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