Here is the deal: I have a spot in Niagara Falls, NY that is my hiding spot. If you cannot reach me by phone, email, text, Facebook, or find me at home I am hiding on Goat Island in the Niagara Falls area of NY. I decided to take the family to ride the Maid of the Mist yesterday! It turned into a hell of a journey! That is to say the least… I am going to outline the day in a strange format including reviews about different trip related stuff that I will use headings for. Enjoy and let me know if you have any input on it all!
PARKING IN NIAGARA FALLS:
I am assuming that because it is Labor Day weekend parking was an issue. Typically I never had a problem with parking but because I couldn’t find parking this is my parking garage FUN FUN!
We went yesterday in 2 separate vehicles. We both arrived and were surprised to learn we had to pay $30 EACH in cash for parking. The lady was NOT friendly or informative. She was quite miserable to deal with and made me feel a bit stupid for not knowing it was CASH ONLY! Then when we parked (which we enjoyed a 5th floor parking space close to the elevators) we headed in to the elevator area excited to get on our way. We found 3 of the 4 elevators didn’t work and the ONE working elevator was hardly functioning properly! It took almost 9 minutes for it to finally come to the 5th floor and open for us to get on. Once we were riding in the elevator it sounded scary to us and didn’t feel stable. This however would not be the worst part of our experience in this parking garage! Hours later when we arrived back to pickup our car we stood in a line for over 25 minutes waiting for the 1 elevator to come to our rescue. The elevator at that time had already gone up to the 4th floor twice and not opened the door to let the people on it out which meant the same people kept coming back down to the 1st floor entrance without being able to get off the elevator at the specified destinations. Then getting on it was terrifying because we had just stood there listening to the banging noises it makes, hearing the screeching, and watching people getting basically stuck. I have multiple children under 7 and 1 with extreme disabilities so taking the stairs was NOT an option!
How could this be managed by the Niagara Falls region and be in such disrepair! Niagara Falls needs to do better with this! It was the worst parking garage/elevator experience I have ever had.
Niagara Falls Parking Ramps (Parking garage) 40 Rainbow Blvd, Niagara Falls, NY (716) 285-5813
We ate at the Visitors Center across the street from the parking garage and most of the food shops there only accepted cash and were extremely expensive. The kids and I bought 4 hotdogs, 1 drink, 1 order of fries and paid $38. To me that was extremely high priced food and considering the hotdogs were not good quality, the fries were chinsy and not great… then you add in that they only accepted cash and ATM fees were atrocious. WOW, I was disappointed with it all.
Onto the main event:
We decided to do a Niagara Falls Adventure pass. This included the Maid of the Mist, cave of the winds, trolley rides, and the aquarium. The kids were excited about the idea we could do it all! My twins (6) were stoked about riding the trolley. We started at the Maid of the Mist! The wait time, I assume because it was a holiday weekend, was awful at almost 50 minutes total to get into the docking area. We were given ponchos which looked, felt, and wore like a pretty garbage bag! I honestly wish they were the yellow coats from my childhood that they gave you! We were all pretty uncomfortable in the ponchos. Getting onto the boat felt like we were being herded like cattle to slaughter! After the boat launched it was a beautiful trip right up to the falls. We got sprayed, saw an amazing rainbow closer than I had ever experienced before! Once the boat portion ended I was amazed and the lack of structure to get everyone back up to land and to the next attraction people might have been going towards. It was at least 40 minutes to get up to main land.
We decided that since we were forced to wait until 8:40 for our cave of the winds tour we should hop the trolley and see some sites. This all gets really frustrating! We stood in line for the trolley only to find out after 15 minutes that the trolley on side A of the road ONLY went towards the aquarium while the trolley on side B of the road ONLY went to goat island and the attractions there. We moved to side B and waited for the trolley. As we were waiting 2 trolleys pulled up, one in front of the waiting area and the other around a curve in a different location. We were told to go to the trolley in the curve and it would express us to goat island and we would see the sites there. We ran over there to catch that trolley only to be told we would be better off back at the 1st trolley and when I tried to argue the point she was nasty and basically said too bad that we were given the wrong information we would just have to wait for a new trolley. SERIOUSLY WOW! I was pissed off at that nasty attitude. We waited and ended up waiting a total of almost an hour for a trolley. We got on the trolley and went to goat island. We decided to stay there until 8:40 at that point because we didn’t want to miss our chance at the cave of the winds. We decided to grab some food at the food court they have there and it was almost $80 for 5 hot dogs and 2 hamburgers that all came with fries. Oh and 2 fountain drinks. The burgers were not bad and I actually would have preferred them over the hotdog earlier. Ordering the food was interesting because it was all a computerized process where you walked up to a freestanding machine similar to an ATM. Once at the FoodATM you selected the items you wanted via photo selection. You can then pay or print a receipt to pay at the pickup counter. You have to wait once the order is paid for and they will call your number (NOT LOUDLY!) and grab your food from the counter. Condiments were vast and plenty which I enjoyed. The fountain machine was pretty great as well with the option to add cherry, strawberry, vanilla to any of the drinks you choose. The area with tables to eat at was full of seagulls that were constantly surrounding the tables to try and get your food even when you weren’t dropping any food for them.
After food, bathroom stops, and walking to the waiting line for cave of the winds we were exhausted and hoping to not wait any longer in lines. Once they open the doors we watched a short movie about Niagara Falls and then were directed into a room for us to pickup flip flops which we would be directed to wear during the cave of the winds “tour” and I use tour loosely. (This was not a tour in any way… It was a path you walked around on your own to experience touching the water from the falls.) We were then put in line for an elevator which took us down to a long, wet, dreary tunnel. At the end of the tunnel we were all given another poncho (garbage bag) but this one was yellow in color instead of the blue from earlier at the maid of the mist. We really should have had a full body poncho at this area! For starters… it was dark, this area is NOT well lit at night and a bad idea in the dark, it was NOT a safe place for children because the railings were not safe, secure, and had large gaps allowing children who might be out of control to fall threw. People were NOT directed in this area at all and it caused multiple areas of trouble making it very easy for people young and old to wind up hurt. Getting back up to the surface was relatively fast and easy. Once at the top nobody informs you that only 2 trolleys are left for the night or you will be hiking back to the visitors center where you started. We got on the trolley not knowing where Leo was and got off at the visitors center area to start making our way back to the parking garage. This was terrifying because 100’s of people were pushing and shoving to get up the flight of stairs out of the visitors area.
Nothing in this area holds a candle to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Canada does a much better job directing, informing, and running the Falls attraction for visitors. I am pretty sure I will never do this again on the American side.