||SAMANTHA KEMP-JACKSON, Chic Savvy Mama
One of my favourite commercials from childhood was one that promised a world of fun and fantasy for a mere car ride to Upper New York State (not a far drive from Toronto, where I lived). I begged my parents to take me to Darien Lake Theme Park Resort, but we never made the trip and I always wondered what existed in that faraway, magical place.
Chic Savvy Mamma Samantha with her twin toddlers at Darien Lake. Photo by Samantha Kemp-Jackson
So when I was invited to visit Darien Lake with my family, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, this was finally the chance — many years later — to see if the theme park lived up to my childhood expectations.
In short, it did. And then some.
Here’s what parents need to know when planning for a day or weekend excursion to the theme park. Either way, it’s time and money well spent.
For me, one of the enticing aspects of visiting Darien Lake was the proximity to my home in Toronto. As many other Southern Ontario residents know, Upper New York State is a reasonable car ride from many urban centres in Ontario (in my case an hour and 45 minutes). As well, the park is easily accessible from Niagara Falls, N.Y., located within an hour of the falls between Buffalo and Rochester at exit 48A on the New York State Thruway (I-90). Visitors simply turn right after the tollbooth and head south six miles on Route 77.
I stayed with my family at the Lodge on the Lake Hotel, which was great, considering my husband and I had three small children in tow. We stayed in a standard room, which included two queen-sized beds as well as the requested cribs for my twin boys that were ready when we entered the room.
Photo courtesy of Darien Lake Theme Park Resort
Our room was clean and comfortable, and easily fit three small children and two adults. Outfitted with a small fridge and microwave, it was easy to keep our perishable snacks cooled for later consumption; also, all rooms have free wireless Internet. The Lodge on the Lake is situated close to the theme park, with a few minutes of scenic walking around the lake to get to the main park entrance.
If you’d like a more rustic experience, the park offers a variety of options, from fully equipped cabins to a campground for tents and trailers. The cabins are cozy and comfortable, with all of the charm you’d expect from a rustic dwelling. They’re equipped with a TV, fridge, stove, microwave, full bathroom and furnishings. If you’d prefer to sleep outdoors, the park allows families to pitch a tent and sleep under the stars. Both the cabins and campground are situated close to the lake, yet are within walking distance to the park, allowing visitors to enjoy the outdoors while being close to amenities and park offerings.
If you like amusement parks, then you’ll love Darien Lake. It has something for everyone, from the youngest tots to adults. Let’s face it — visitors to destinations like Darien Lake are looking for the best rides and a variety of activities and shows that will entertain the kids.
Photo courtesy of Darien Lake Theme Park Resort
As a mom, I was looking for things that would entertain my kids, particularly my two-year-old twin boys, so I was happy to find that Darien Lake specifically caters to the younger set. The Thomas & Friends Full Steam Ahead Live show was lively, with songs and audience participation that kept the kids engaged. And my twin boys were excited to see Thomas close up. The show runs until Sept. 5.
Are you and your kids roller-coaster fanatics? Then you’ll be in coaster heaven with six roller-coasters at the park ranging from scary to really scary — they’re not for the faint of heart. Thinking “it can’t be that bad,” I went on the XX, the wooden coaster by the main gates. Let’s just say I was wrong in my estimation. If you want a thrill and enjoy being truly frightened and exhilarated at the same time, check it out.
For other thrills, there’s the MotoCoaster, which launches brave souls into the air and, judging by the steady-moving line, was clearly a favourite (participants must be minimum 48 inches tall). For the really adventurous, check out the Mind Eraser and Predator roller-coasters (not recommended for smaller kids).
A highlight of our visit was the water park, which is designed for all ages. If your kids are excited about the prospect of hitting the H2O, they won’t be disappointed. From the Lazy Days Lagoon to the Big Kahuna, parents can choose the appropriate activity for their kids, depending on their age level. My daughter and I enjoyed a relaxing ride in the Floatation Station more than once. The water park is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, weather permitting.
All in all, the trip was a positive experience for my family. Perhaps the most succinct review of the weekend was offered by my seven-year-old daughter, who, unprompted, remarked: “I love Darien Lake and I never want to leave!”
Overall score: 4/5
Would I visit again: Absolutely!
For more information on Darien Lake Theme Park Resort, visit godarienlake.com.
Samantha Kemp-Jackson is a mother of four, with three under the age of eight, including identical twin toddlers. She blogs about her experiences of being a frazzled mom of many at Multiple Mayhem Mamma.
Date Added: July 21, 2011 | Comments (0)
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