Must see sights, must play activities, can’t miss attractions; Niagara Falls has no shortage of excursions to ﬁll your holiday. From natural marvels to world-class entertainment, prioritizing your Niagara vacation can be overwhelming, leaving many with the sense that while they may have seen and done a lot, their vacation really only scratched the surface of Niagara’s attractions. If you are looking for an organized, convenient and thoroughly exciting day, Magniﬁcent Tours seasonal Scenic Tours are a hassle-free way to experience some of the thrilling sites, rides and shows Niagara has to offer. Including over 40 sites and attractions, a 48 hour WE-GO transit pass, free hotel pickup and drop off and plenty of perks for you to enjoy later, this $130 dollar trip for adults and $65 dollar trip for kids is a great way to see Niagara Falls, especially if you are short on time and don’t want to worry about transportation or waiting in lines. Our group embarked on a fantastic day, reacquainting us with this lively tourism city.
Table Rock Welcome Centre; Niagara’s Fury & Journey Behind the Falls
Following a quick welcome by our friendly and knowledgeable tour guide and driver Cheryl, our bus pulled out of the Marriott Fallsview Hotel and headed towards our ﬁrst stop; the Table Rock Welcome Centre, home to the interactive 4D ﬁlm Niagara’s Fury and the underground tunnels of Journey Behind the Falls. With time to spare, we were given time to browse the gift shop and one million plus Niagara Falls themed items and Fury themed children’s toys. One big perk of this tour? Being able to skip every line – a deﬁnite positive in a city that sees over 14 million tourists a summer.
Niagara’s Fury took us on an interactive 4D journey into the natural evolution of Niagara Falls told through the eyes of animated Canadian woodland creatures. Following a cute and short animated ﬁlm, groups are migrated onto a seemingly ﬂoating platform surrounded by water and a 360 degree seamless screen. You will be superbly thankful for the ponchos you were given – this show may be indoors, but viewers are subject to the same natural elements as they would be standing outdoors in the mist.
Temperatures drop 20 degrees, soapy snow covers the platforms and you are sprayed, jolted and tilted as this interactive show throws you into the falls . But, be fore-warned; if you are not a fan of being sprayed with water, stay in the back – the front row receives a little more than a gentle spritz. Following Niagara’s Fury, we were guided out of the digital falls experience and right into the underbelly of the real gallons of water. Deﬁnitely continue to hold onto that poncho; again, you will be glad to have it. A quick elevator ride takes you down 125 feet into the tunnels carved out directly behind the sheets of the Canadian Falls.
Featuring 660 feet of indoor and outdoor tunnels and walkways, the multiple openings allow for drier photo ops in front of the 13 stories of free-falling river water. The sound is thundering, the sights are jaw-dropping and it makes for an all-around hypnotic experience.
En Route: Henry Oakes Estate, Water Control Dam, Dufferin Islands, Toronto Power Plant, Niagara Parks Greenhouse, Mount Carmel Monastery & More
There is not a single slow moment on this tour as the drive proved to be just as entertaining as the attractions it leads towards.
Following a brief history on the Niagara Parks Commission and the important role they played in growing tourism in the Falls, our group was treated to a lively education on many of the historic buildings lining the banks of the Niagara River. Weaving intriguing anecdotes that moved the bus ride along quickly, Cheryl regaled our group with facts as we drove past the estates of unsolved murder victim Sir Henry Oakes and the retired Toronto Power Plant that is set to be converted into a museum. Between educational narratives, she supplied historical anecdotes as we witnessed the abandoned iron barge that has been stuck in the canal since 1918 and plenty of stories about the countless daredevils to test their will against the rough waters. We attempted to circle Dufferin Island – a hub for the Niagara’s Winter Festival of Lights each winter – but unfortunately the roads were closed. But our group was given an overview of the Festival of Lights and a sneak preview of a few of the massive light displays.
Upon arriving at the famously tall Skylon Tower, our group was sent straight to the outdoor yellow bug elevators that run alongside the Tower which ushered us 775 feet up the tower wall to the revolving building on top.
Once at the top, tourists were given the opportunity to visit both the 360 degree indoor and outdoor observation decks that tower over 770 feet above the Horseshoe Falls. Offering 80 miles views in every direction, this spot is a perfect photo opportunity and we were offered immaculate views of Niagara.
“Not only is the view spectacular but the food in the restaurants at the top is really incredible,” explained Cheryl, a native to the Niagara Region who has been with Magniﬁcent Tours for the past 20 years.
Back on the ground, The Skylon Tower offers a large indoor amusement area, fun centre, food court, gift shop and 4D theatre.
Though the tour does not allot you time to take in these side attractions, they do give you a free return trip ticket to the top and time to check it out and plan your next trip over.
En Route: Goat Island, the Illumination Tower, The USA’s Bridal Veil Falls & Hollywood & Daredevil Hot Spots
On our way Souvenir City for lunch, Cheryl continued to entertain passengers with lesser known facts about popular destination stops not included on the tour. We were ﬁrst pointed towards Goat Island, an island off of the rapids where farmers used to take their livestock to secure them from predators.
Unfortunately following one unseasonably cold spurt of weather, all of the livestock froze to death apart from one single goat, renaming the island in his honour.
On a brighter note, we were shown the Illumination Towers, home to the 21 industrial sized, 250 million candle strength lights that have illuminated the Falls 365 days a year since 1925; Cheryl explained how the lights are soon to be converted into a digital system.
Appealing to the crowd, Cheryl pointed out a few spots along the river that have been Hollywood sets for fan favourite movies over the years, including Jim Carey’s Bruce Almighty, Marilyn Munroe’s movie Niagara and John Candy’s ﬁlm Canadian Bacon. For daredevil enthusiasts, Cheryl identiﬁed the location where famed daredevils would plummet over the falls in barrels, with parachutes, jet skis and more.
Once arriving at Souvenir City, a 15,000 square foot tourist haven featuring a cafeteria, chocolate shop, glass blowing artisans and gift shop, we were given 45 minutes to grab a quick bite and peruse Canadian paraphernalia.
Though the food was ordinary cafeteria style, Souvenir City’s Chocolate World featured unique candy and offered free tastings of their homemade fudge.
High above the Niagara Gorge, we were given a quick pit stop to absorb the ferocity of Niagara’s whirlpool and rapids. Featuring some of the most dangerous and unpredictable level six rapids in the world, the 1800 foot whirlpool is worthy of its Devil’s Pool nickname.
It is estimated that the whirlpool formed approximately 4,200 years ago by the upstream erosion of the Niagara Escarpment by the Niagara River. Today, Niagara’s 750 acre reservoirs and control gates have slowed Niagara Falls’ level of erosion by controlling the amount of water that falls freely on a daily basis. This has decreased erosion from ﬁve feet every year to one foot every ﬁve years.
Featured above the whirlpool is the Aero Car, an antique cable car that has been transporting passengers across the one kilometer width of the whirlpools since 1916. Below, we caught a glimpse of the Whirlpool Jet Boat tours that speed passengers directly into the whirlpool and along the rapids. Both attractions were not included in the tour, but Cheryl made sure to explain to us how to get back if we were interested in returning to give either, or both, a try.
En Route: Niagara River Recreational Trails, Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture, Whirlpool Golf Course & Power Plant
Taking a scenic route towards our next stop, we were introduced to the Niagara River Recreational Trails, a hot spot for picnics, biking and hiking along the Niagara River, renowned Whirlpool Golf Course and picturesque Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, home to the exclusive School of Horticulture. Receiving only 12 students a year, the school does not feature a single indoor classroom, but instead 100 acres of outdoor workspace allowing for a fully hands-on, three year program. Included on the land is the Butterﬂy Conservatory; an attraction that houses 2000 butterﬂies that are released daily into a tropical setting for you to go and visit.
First built in 1950, Niagara Parks Floral Clock is a popular stop along the Niagara Parkway, ﬁlled with crowds throwing a quarter into the wishing well and relaxing on the grounds.
The clock, made up of 16-24 thousand ﬂowers, features two faces a year which commemorate a different annual event being celebrated in the community.
Hornblower Niagara Cruises
While headed back downtown, our waterfront route was swapped for a ride down the famed Clifton Hill towards the new Hornblower Boat Cruises. Though everyone is pretty exhausted having just passed the ﬁve hour mark in the tour, every single face lights up when we are given our second poncho of the day and escorted onto the 700 person Hornblower vessel.
This legendary boat tour is like no other, and the new boats do not disappoint the 150 years of tradition set by Maid of the Mist. First warming us up by pulling up next to the Bridal Veil Falls, we are granted a ﬁrst row seat straight into the heart of the Horseshoe allowing for an up close experience of the sheer power of the water. We had a choppy day on the water, leaving us very impressed by how close we managed to get to the thundering falls. We were soaked, but we were thrilled. Though it ﬁnished off our six hour excursion, it was deﬁnitely a highlight and a perfect way to ﬁnish off the day. Interested in booking tickets on the tour? Visit magniﬁcentniagarafallstours.com