Located off Interstate 90, 45 minutes from the Peace Bridge, between Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y. Darien Lake has hosted a wide variety of entertainment since 1964. However, recently the well-known park chose to expand on their success by undergoing a $5 million upgrade that included adding new attractions and amenities.
The all-inclusive park is the perfect getaway, featuring a variety of accommodations, restaurants, a waterpark, and the amusement park itself, not to mention arcade games, sweet treats, go-karting, and live shows. And given its convenient location, a mere hour from the border between Ontario and New York State, it’s an ideal destination for Canadian theme park enthusiasts who may be seeking a change of pace from Wonderland.
Visitors can look forward to more than ever before at the park, with the addition of three new family rides located in Rowdy’s Ridge, as well as new and increased lodgings. Fifteen brand new lakeside cottages come equipped with flat-screen TVs and free WI-FI, while 7 new RV campsites are set to house larger vehicles with more power requirements.
As for the Lodge on the Lake Hotel, there’s no better way to kick back after a long day at the park, or perhaps for a respite halfway through the day. The resort features modern and clean oversized rooms, restaurants, and a pool and patio area that sits lakeside and provides the most relaxing view you can imagine. We found all accommodation rates to be reasonable, surprisingly even during peak season, and some package deals are made even better with the inclusion of breakfast.
All lodging includes free admission to Darien Lake’s regular rides and the waterpark. Visitors can come and go as often as they want.
A short and scenic walk along the lakeside path takes guests right to the park’s entrance, with views of rental cabins, campsites, and picnic facilities located on the other side.
All thrill rides are included with the price of a ticket or a season pass. However, there are 2 more available at the park that are classified as HIGH Thrill Rides and are priced separately. These are NOT for the faint of heart and include the Sling Shot, which launches riders 300 feet in the air at 80 mph for a cost of $20 per rider, and Red Hawk, which allows for up to 3 people to free fall and then soar through the air. Riders, who must be at least 42″ in height, can control when they drop by pulling the ripcord. This precipitates a weightless, stomach-churning drop followed by a 180-foot flight above the park at 60+ mph. Flying solo is priced at $50, a double ride will cost participants $30 each, and 3 flyers can expect to pay $25 each.
If you’re into thrill rides but aren’t quite up to Sling Shot or Red Hawk, take advantage of the park’s 6 rollercoasters including a looping ride called Rolling Thunder, a coaster called Boomerang that loops 3 times then repeats the ride backwards, an old-fashioned wooden coaster called Predator, a 5-inversion coaster called Viper, and the park’s signature coaster, Ride of Steel with climbs of 208 feet and a speed of 75 mph.
Live, in-park entertainment is also included with admission and the line-up changes with each summer, most often featuring live comedy acts, a magic show, and the occasional animal act. The nightly Laser Blast show is a must-see, with energetic performers that will have you dancing on the street. The show lends a festive atmosphere to end the day at the park.
A kiddie section, a vast selection of family rides, and a variety of games are available, as is a waterpark with 3 great rides to help cool guests off on a hot summer day. Cabanas capable of seating 4 people are available at the waterpark for resting and dining and generally overseeing the fun.
Though the age of the park is visibly obvious, the renovations, additions, and upgrades have done wonders to elevate the venue to a new and exciting level. And despite that some buildings appear outdated and weathered, overall the park is clean and well maintained, with affordable price points and attractive package deals.
BHDT reviewers would not classify the park as on par with Cedar Point in Ohio, which is a similar destination in rides, accommodations, and amenities. But we would go so far as to say it outshines Hersheypark in Pennsylvania.