Drivers, start your engines — a massive, roller coaster-like go-kart racetrack is now open in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Tourism company HOCO Limited unveiled its new “Niagara Speedway” attraction on the Clifton Hill entertainment strip this week.
“It’s like go-karts on steroids,” said Harry Oakes, HOCO’s president, in a statement. “You drive on a road course for a portion of the race and then spiral up … to about 40 feet, and then come down a long hill … kind of like the way a wooden coaster would be.”
Expect to see some multi-million dollar changes taking place near the top of Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls.
Older buildings like the Comfort Inn are slated for demolition, businesses like Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum and Kelsey’s Restaurant are being renovated or expanded, and new interactive entertainment features are being added to the mix.
“Once the Comfort Inn is removed we will have a four-acre site available and that’s going to be expansion for our Clifton Hill entertainment facilities,” said Harry Oakes, president of Hoco Limited, that owns and operates a number of attractions, restaurants and shops on the south side of the street.
The Comfort Inn closed early last month, all the essential services were cut off on Monday, and large excavators were expected to be on site Wednesday or Thursday to begin taking down the building.
“We are going to be busy this winter so we are just cranking up right now,” said Oakes. “It’s kind of the next phase in our multi-plan, master plan that we have for the whole site. The construction that is going to take place over the next several months is about 20,000-square feet of renovations and about 30,000-square feet of new buildings, along with extensive streetscape site work.”
The Vanmeer Free Press has confirmed the Comfort Inn on Clifton Hill Niagara Falls is closing it’s doors on October 12th, putting up to 50 people out of work, some people will be given jobs in other areas within the parent company officials say. The Inn is one by Hoco Entertainment who also owns a Tim Hortons and The Great Canadian Midway. Hoco’s Joel Newdon told the VFP “changes in market conditions” prompted the move. “We are looking at different strategies it was a business strategy more than anything”
If you’ve been to Niagara Falls more than once, you’ve probably noticed the name Oakes on a lot of things. There is Oakes Garden Theatre, Oakes Park, and more. These are all named after Sir Harry Oakes. He was a prospector who discovered gold in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, and then bought some property in Niagara Falls. At one point he swapped the parcel of land where Oakes Garden Theatre now stands with another parcel of land. The name lives on with HOCO Entertainment & Resorts (Harry Oakes COmpany).
Anyway, yesterday I came across a video that the Museum of Northern History (housed in the Sir Harry Oakes Chateau) posted to YouTube. It is only a couple of minutes long, but talks a bit about Harry Oakes’ early years. You can see the video below, or on YouTube.