Marineland, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Dragon Mountain is a noteworthy coaster. It has amazing theming, lots of tunnels, and most of the ride is hugging the terrain. Yes, the theming seems to be only half-complete, but the part that is done was very well done. The coaster itself is an old Arrow looping coaster, so it wasn't perfectly smooth. It was still worth two rides.
It was a very hot day -- the hike up to Sky Screamer was a killer, but the S&S drop ride was superb. On each ride, the program had two launches -- one blast up, then another blast down. (Imagine CP's Power Tower, but with blast up and blast down combined in one program.)
The other flat rides were OK. There old europe theming, but I couldn't figure out why - it didn't seem to fit with anything. The kids were having a lot of fun and there were more than enough rides in the kiddy section to entertain the masses. (No, we didn't ride the kiddy coaster.) On the plus side, Marineland appears to be adding more kids rides.
The amusement park staff are not the best trained. In fact, we saw a girl vaguely training another operator. She muttered about which buttons to press to start and stop the ride, "we don't use this button - I don't know what it does", and never once paid any attention to the guests. During her training session, she allowed no less than 3 under-height riders get on Magic (similar to a scrambler). The height marker is right beside the turnstile, screwed into the wall -- it's not hard to check. We saw another operator try to measure a boy going to ride the Wave Swinger, and his father insisted "He's OK" even though he was several inches below the line. The ride operator allowed him to ride. These two incidents really weirded us out.
The marine animal staff were much more knowledgeable and eager to interact with guests. The day we arrived, Arctic Cove was closed several hours while they introduced several buluga whales that just arrived from Russia. It was interesting to hear the staff describe the whale facts and individual habbits.
The Aquarium Dome is where you can find the seals and some other creatures, and it's also the only air conditioned place in the park. You can go cool off in the AC while watching the seals between shows, either from the stands above the water, or in next to tank windows below.
The King Waldorf Stadium is a huge open-air theater (with guests protected by a roof) where the dolphins, most sea lions and a large walrus perform. Since it is outdoors, the light is perfect for taking great pictures. And the show is excellent!
Everywhere throughout the park, there were stations to buy animal food. The only animals you could feed but not touch were the bears. If you're travelling with kids who like to touch and feed animals, prepare to open your wallet. $2 for bears, deer, fish, etc. $9 for the whales.
The whale habitats (Arctic Cove for buluga's and Friendship Cove for killer whales) were amazing, and the bear exhibit was very well designed. The dolphins, sea lions, walruses and seals were not in natural looking habitats, but they certainly were at home in their respective tanks. However, the deer, elk and buffalo were in habitats that reminded me of the parking lot -- no grass, no tress, just dirt, sh#t, and fences. There is more foilage in my local mall than in these habitats.
All in all, it was a good day, but I don't need to go back for a few years.
Not sure how well this place does as I've never really seen a crowd there. It's not much of a ride park but I've never had to wait more than one or two trains for Dragon Mountian. Last time I was there seemed like there was more employees working than guests.
Ride operations are also kind of strange. They seem to be very efficient and strict on Sky Screamer. They'll try to get you to empty everything out of your pockets. While in the rest of the park it's very lax, most ride ops having conversations rather than watching the rides much. They're all generally very nice otherwise, and efficiency is never really a problem since there's no need for it.
I've always had a soft spot for Arrow loopers and Dragon Mountain one of the best. Kind of reminds me of an unfinished Loch Ness Monster. Also like Loch Ness you can't see a whole lot of the ride besides a couple loops. Has weird structure bridges throughout the ride that seem like there was intended to be some more theming in place. Would be kinda odd that they decided to finish it 20 years later. Also the queue is really scary and dark, can barely see in front of your face and there's always kids trying to scare each other hiding in the rocks which can be a bit unnerving.
Would be great if they added another coaster. Weird though it's obviously in a pretty good location but again never seen a crowd there. Possibly I just went on a few off days.
I found the walkways interesting, considering they were SO wide....probably the widest walkways I have EVER seen in a park.
The animals ARE the main draw. We enjoyed them, especially the deer and that adorable baby (I assume it was a baby) killer whale that kept showing off. I did NOT like Dragon Mountain. The kiddy coaster was fun for the credit at least. :-) The flats were enjoyable, especially the Falcon.
I found the park to be very quaint and tranquil. I could spend all day there just walking around (and yes, there is A LOT of walking!) taking it all in. The arcade wasn't too bad either. We ate in the main restaurant near the arcade and the burgers/fries were VERY good.
VERY beautiful park! Absolutely gorgeous! The staff we encountered were very nice and I don't remember anyone being half-assed about the rides, then again the park was dead that day.
The landscaping was nice, but I do agree the deer need a lot more shade. They were sweeties (until they found out you didn't have any food then they were a little more apathetic..lol.)
The whales were more like "Well, if you have food I will show off but if you don't, I will do what I damn well feel like doing". lol.
I can definitely see myself visiting the park again, plus the drive TO the park is absolutley beautiful (Niagara Falls). :-P
The only gripe I had was the walk TO the S&S Tower. Whew!
*** Edited 6/28/2005 3:16:52 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***
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