Overview:A true destination resort, Darien Lake is as much about its huge campground, Lodge on the Lake hotel, Performing Arts Center amphitheater, and full-service restaurants, as it is about its roller coasters, water park, rides, and other more typical park features. That's not to imply that the coasters aren't up to speed; Ride of Steel is among the best anywhere. But Darien Lake attracts a lot of vacationers, and the laid-back vibe is noticeably different than many theme parks.
The hordes of families streaming out after the nightly Laserblast show towards the campground attests to its popularity and its indelible connection to the park. The campground offers decked-out cabins and furnished RV rentals as well as campsites. Since the campground and hotel fees include admission to the park, staying onsite can be a good deal (as well as a lot of fun). During the spring and fall value seasons, it would actually be cheaper for a family of four to stay overnight at the campground and enjoy the park than it would be to pay the daily admission fees to the park alone. The hotel, with its rustic themeing and spacious rooms, is quite comfortable. A lovely path along the lake takes guests to the park.
It's no wonder hordes of guests watch the Laserblast show. With rousing fireworks, a synchronized soundtrack, and shout-outs to Buffalo, Canada, and the U.S.A., the clever 25-minute show is engaging and a great way to end a day at the park.
The Ride of Steel hypercoaster (which used to be known as Superman: Ride of Steel in the Six Flags days) is truly world-class. And the Orange County Choppers MotoCoaster is a fun, launched coaster that blasts riders from 0 to 30 mph in mere seconds. Darien Lake's other coasters are less noteworthy. The Predator is a sharp-looking woodie that delivers a rough ride--and not rough in a good way. The suspended looping Mind Eraser and the shuttle Boomerang Coast-to-Coaster are off-the-shelf rides found at many parks (some even carry the same names). Viper is an older looping coaster that hasn't aged all that well.
Other rides include The Giant Wheel, a circa-1959, 165-foot tall Ferris wheel, the splashdown ride, Shipwreck Falls, the Grizzly Run river raft ride, and the usual assortment of whirl-and-hurl flat rides.
The adjacent water park, which was expanded and renamed SplashTown in 2010, includies a wave pool, lazy river, the Tornado funnel ride, the Big Kahuna family raft ride, and the Hook's Lagoon interactive water play structure.
Between Buffalo and Rochester
Tickets:Tickets to the theme park, known as combo tickets, also include admission to SplashTown, the onsite water park. Water park tickets, which allow entrance only into SplashTown, can be purchased separately. Reduced rates for juniors (under 48") and seniors (55+). 2 and under are free. Admission to both parks is included for guests of the onsite campground and hotel, Darien Lake Lodge on the Lake. Discounted tickets may be available online at Darien Lake's official site. Season pass and group tickets are available.
Performing Arts Center:
Directions:NYS Thruway (I90) to Exit 48A. Go south six miles on Route 77. Look for the the towering red Ride of Steel coaster track.
- Compare rates for nearby Darien Lake-area hotels at TripAdvisor.
- Among its six thrill machines, the park features a tremendous hypercoaster: Ride of Steel
- Orange County Choppers MotoCoaster is a launched family coaster.
- As its name implies, The Giant Wheel is one of the world's larger Ferris wheels.
- The themed Adventure Isle, designed for younger kids, is cute.
- While it wouldn't be mistaken for gourmet fare, the park's two full-service restaurants have decent food.
A new tower ride will open at the park.
New for 2010:
Darien Lake's water park gets a new name and a big expansion with a new lazy river, wave pool, and four-slide tower. The park will also introduce private cabanas and other new amenities.
See the Park:
Official Web Site:
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