Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls had extended a public invitation last week to people interested in setting a new world record for the most people howling like a wolf for a one minute.
On Canada Day, 849 participants gathered in the back parking lot of the resort and gave it their best howl, easily smashing the previous record of 294 people.
“This event was two years in the making,” said Craig Maguire, Great Wolf Lodge entertainment co-ordinator. “After all the planning, I can’t tell you how cathartic it was to finally hear the volume of all those wolf howls.”
Matt Hansen was visibly nervous as he eyed a large tube high up on a platform at Great Wolf Lodge.
“Completely,” he said. “I’m scared. I can’t even go on a roller coaster.”
The Toronto man, on the 49th visit to the lodge with his family, was rewarded with the chance to be the first to go down a new waterslide that was officially opened April 13 as a part of Great Wolf Lodge’s celebration of its 10th anniversary in Niagara Falls.
The slide is known as the Wolf Tail waterslide and has riders travel 248 feet in just eight seconds. Starting in a “launch pad” located in the highest portions of the lodge, a trap door opens and sends the rider into a 20-foot vertical drop followed immediately by a 360-degree loop.
This American chain of resorts first opened its doors in 1997 in Wisconsin, followed by additional outposts across the United States, including Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Ohio. The first—and thus far only—location outside of the U.S. is in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Beloved by families, Great Wolf Lodge is best described as a resort-meets-waterpark with a glamping ambience. Rustic in decor, a log cabin theme pervades the property with such touches as totem poles at the front entrance, antler chandeliers, and a fishing cabin-themed guest service counter.
From CNW Group press release seen on Yahoo! Finance Canada:
Great Wolf Lodge has been awarded the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) Award for Excellence in Human Resources and was also a finalist for the Air Canada Business of the Year Award.
The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) hosted the annual 2012 Canadian Tourism Awards, presented by The Toronto Star and VISA Canada. The awards were presented at a gala dinner ceremony at the Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec on Tuesday November 20, 2012.
The Canadian Tourism Awards are presented annually by TIAC to recognize success, leadership and innovation in Canada’s tourism industry.
I’ve lived in the Niagara Region for most of my life and have worked in Niagara Falls for 12+ years. After all that time, one thing I had never done was take a helicopter ride around Niagara Falls. Last week I had the opportunity to do just that, and it was awesome!
Our trip started on Victoria Avenue right across the street from the Great Wolf Lodge. This is where the “Heli-Hafen Terminal” is that is run by Niagara Helicopters. On the day we were there, helicopters were coming and going every few minutes, so we got a good look at them taking off and landing.
Once you go inside, there is a ticket counter, and then a nice little gift shop. My wife and kids went to the restrooms first, and said they were clean and bright. Once they were back down in the gift shop, we were ready to go.
There is a video playing on a couple of screens as you walk up towards the helicopter, but we weren’t given a chance to watch them. I’m not sure if they were just promotional videos, or if they were for safety. There is also someone there taking some pictures of you that you look at after you land.
The helicopters are Bell 407 models. Apparently they are the quietest model of that size of helicopter, but they were still pretty loud. It didn’t hurt at all, but they were just loud. Two of my children covered their ears. Once you get loaded into the helicopter, the attendants give you some headphones to put on. They do a great job in cutting down on the noise, and also play an audio tour as you fly.
The ride is open to people of all ages and each helicopter can seat up to six people. There are five seats in the back, and there is a seat next to the pilot. My wife and three children accompanied me. Four of us sat in the back and my middle child sat in the front with the pilot.
Taking off was significantly different than in a plane. There seems to be all sorts of preparation that happens in a plane. You are then going down the runway and finally take off. In the helicopter, one second you are on the ground, and the next second you are up in the air. It was quite quick!
The tour lasts about 15 minutes and takes you up the Niagara River and flies you over the Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls. You also get a good look at the various tourist districts (including Clifton Hill), as well as the hydro generating facilities on both sides of the border.
The view is spectacular! We were lucky enough to go on a bright, clear day and you could see a long way off in the distance. The Falls looked great. There are other ways to see the Falls (Skylon Tower, Niagara SkyWheel, etc), but there is no better way to see the whole river like that. The Autumn/Fall colours were on full display in the gorge and they looked beautiful. My kids were a little disappointed that the helicopter didn’t fly lower into the gorge, but it is obvious that they don’t do that sort of stuff for safety reasons.
The ride itself is remarkably smooth, especially as you are moving. As the helicopter hovers in a spot so you can get a nice view, you can feel the helicopter vibrating/shaking a lot more. My wife was not keen on going up in the helicopter as she is kind of afraid of heights, but she enjoyed the ride and only grabbed my leg a couple of times. The kids weren’t bothered by it at all.
After landing, you are directed into a small room where they show you the pictures they took of you. The pictures are $25 each and are cheaper if you buy a few pictures together.
If you watch the video that I’ve put together below, my 5-year-old daughter says it all. The last second of the video is us landing, and my daughter enthusiastically says, “That was fun!” My sons said the same thing. My 8-year-old son said, “It was wicked! I want to do that every day for the rest of my life!” That son sat in the front and thought he was a “mini co-pilot”.
The ride truly is a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip. It is definitely not cheap (the tickets are $82-$132), but there are always deals around. I’ve seen Groupon-type deals, deals with hotels, and more, so be sure to ask around before paying full price. Even then, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with the experience.
I took lots of pictures. As always, you can see some of the thumbnails below. You can see all of the thumbnails and all of the larger size images in the Niagara Helicopters in Fall 2012 gallery.
Note: The Niagara Falls Image Gallery now has 3,590 images in 272 categories.
I also recorded some video clips and I’ve put them together into a 2 minute HD video. You can view it below or directly on YouTube. As I noted on the video description, I apologize for some of the unsteady camera work. There were some parts of the ride that were shakier than others, and the more zoomed in I was with the camera, the more noticeable the shaking was.
There are 26 hotels participating in the Sleep Cheap Charities Reap 2012 event. The prices are $35 per night for a standard room, $45 for a Fallsview room, $65 for a whirlpool room, and $85 for a room with access to a waterpark.
There are 4 attractions that are offering something special for the event as well.
5651 River Road
Bird Kingdom is offering 2 for 1 admission during the Sleep Cheap event
5781 Ellen Avenue
On Wednesday, November 14th and Thursday, November 15th, attend the 8:00 pm performance for $15.00 (all ages) with half the proceeds going to Sleep Cheap charities.
Limited tickets are available. www.gregfrewintheatre.com
Skate at the Gale Centre
4171 Fourth Avenue
Cheap Skate for a loonie per person minimum donation to Sleep Cheap charities, enjoy a family skate on Tuesday, November 13 from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
5200 Robinson Street
It’s only a Toonie to the Top of the Skylon Tower during Sleep Cheap for adults and just a loonie for children 12 and under
The U.S. parent of Great Wolf Lodge has been sold to an asset management company.
An affiliate of Apollo Global Management, LLC and Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. announced a merger deal in which Apollo will acquire Great Wolf, which owns 11 outdoors-themed hotel-waterparks across North America, including one in Niagara Falls, for approximately $703 million, including the assumption of the company’s outstanding debt.
Apollo will make an offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Great Wolf common stock for $5 per share, which represents a premium of 72.9 per cent over the six-month average of Great Wolf’s share price ending on March 12, a premium of 50.4 per cent over the ninety-day average of Great Wolf’s share price ending on March 12, 2012, and a 19.3 per cent premium over Great Wolf’s closing stock price on March 12, 2012.
It is not known how the transaction will affect the Niagara Falls operation, which is owned and operated by Ripley’s Entertainment. The falls location opened in April 2006.