Family Getaway to Niagara Falls Avenue Resort and Fallsview Indoor Waterpark

Winter was mild this year, but certainly not without challenges.  Since February we’ve replaced the hot water heater, paid over $1k in vet bills, repaired the car, a broken window in our daughter’s room, the garbage disposal, and now… the fridge died…  Calgon take me away!  Do they still make Calgon?  What was that stuff anyway???  Sorry, I digress…  The family needed a getaway badly, when what happened to appear in my e-mail inbox?  Egg-ceptional Easter Getaway at the Falls Avenue Resort for $199.  We bit and booked the deal.  Was it a good value?  Keep reading to find out.

Niagara Falls is a quick and easy getaway for our family – only 90 minutes from our Rochester, NY home.  Therefore, it wasn’t a big investment if the deal was a bust.  Falls Avenue Resort is a cluster of 4 hotels, a water park, and entertainment complex on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.  We stayed at the Hampton Inn at the Falls, across the street and behind the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark on Saturday, April 7 (the day before Easter).  For $199 CAD we received a standard room for 1 night, four 2-day waterpark passes, kids eat free breakfast & dinner, 4 passes to the Danny Zzzz Magic and Hypnotism show, and 4 passes to each of the MGM Great Movie Experience, 4D movie theater, and Adventure City Funhouse, Bumper Cars, Mini Putt, and Tour Bus Swat Team (whatever that is).  Oh, I almost forgot, each child received a chocolate Easter egg from the Hershey Store too.  Whew…

The package description said, “$300 in show, dining and attractions passes.”  We figured – what the heck? We only wanted a room, let’s see what the waterpark, attractions, and show are all about.  There’s a lot to cover in this review, so I’m going to break it into sections: hotel, dining, waterpark, and attraction passes.  If you want the nutshell version, here goes: our hotel package was a great deal for a 1 night getaway plus the waterpark, take advantage of “kids eat free” early dinner at the Sheraton’s Fallsview restaurant, see the hypnotist show for a novelty, and squeeze in the Adventure City stuff as you have time (if you run out of time, skip it).  It’s a great value for a weekend getaway – especially with the free parking and full buffet breakfast included at the Hampton Inn.  Want a more detailed depiction?  Continue below…

The Hotel

We arrived at the Hampton Inn by the Falls around 4:00pm Saturday, checked in quickly, and received a 2 queen bed room on the 4th floor.  The elevators were very slow, but we were patient.  When we opened the door, we were pleasantly surprised.  The main room was quite spacious, with 2 ample, plush queen beds, and a large picture window facing Niagara Falls.  You couldn’t see the Falls directly (it wasn’t advertised you could), but you could see the attractions of Clifton Hill, and the spray from Niagara off in the distance.  The room was clean; the beds were soft and comfortable; and there was plenty of space for our family of four.   Our guestroom also had a 32” flatscreen TV and free Wi Fi, but we never turned on the TV (very rare for our family) or tested the Wi Fi (very rare for me) during our stay.

The room showed some signs of age.  The plates covering the electrical plugs were loose.  The handles on the closet doors fell off (they were adhered with double sided tape).  However, none of these things detracted from our stay.  The bathroom was small for 4 people in the room, and water pressure in the shower could have been higher.  However, we were quite satisfied with our room, stay, and location.  Plus, parking was free – compared to $10 – $19/night for the other hotels of the resort complex (keep that in mind when booking Niagara Falls hotels; I hate paying for parking!).

Here’s the only real complaint about the Hampton Inn at the Falls – they needed better signage to point the way to the water park and rest of resort.  We walked the block to the casino entrance, but it never occurred to us we should walk into the parking garage to get to our destination.  A sign here would have been very, very helpful.  Instead we walked all the way around the casino, up, around, and down Clifton Hill.  This was very inconvenient especially when one family member has mobility issues.  Other than that, we would definitely recommend staying at the Hampton Inn at the Falls.

Dining

The kids eat free dining offer was for “early bird dinner” at the Sheraton’s Fallsview Restaurant.  From 5:00-6:00pm, purchase one adult dinner buffet, and receive one child dinner buffet free.  Upon arriving at the restaurant, it was apparent this deal was not exclusive to our hotel package.  It was an everyday discount, and there were signs posted throughout the hotel.  Mind you, this is not a complaint, just making people aware of a great family dinner treat at Niagara Falls.  Everyone can take advantage of this one.

We expected a family-style restaurant buffet, but this upscale dinner buffet easily exceeded our expectations.  Our 11 year old commented “you know it’s fancy – they have butter balls.”  Can’t argue with that…

The adult buffet is pricey – $40 CAD/person, but the food was very good – much more than mac & cheese and chicken fingers.  There was plenty of fresh salads and produce, carved prime rib, a station where they prepared fresh fish, shrimp, mussels, pasta, and plenty of sides.  To end your meal, there was an extensive dessert bar with many cakes, tortes, pies, and cheesecakes.  In addition to the very good food, the view was incredible – huge windows overlooking Niagara Falls.  It was serene to sit and gaze at the cascading water, and the servers allowed us to relax and have a leisurely dinner.  Our final bill was around $100 CAD, divided by our 4 person family we felt as though we definitely got our money’s worth.

We could have returned the following morning for a kids-eat-free breakfast buffet.  However, our hotel had a free breakfast buffet for everyone, and we took advantage of that – I must get my free waffles!

Lunch was a bust, as we ate at the KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut food court.  Service was very slow, food was sub-par, and one of the servers warned my wife to watch her purse because of thieves that steal them off the backs of chairs.  We appreciated the warning, but were concerned the area wasn’t safer.

Waterpark

After our free Easter breakfast, we headed over to Fallsview Indoor Waterpark.  The waterpark sits on top of the parking structure attached to the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls – Fallsview Hotel.  Walking through a garage, doesn’t quite set the – whisked away to a tropical oasis – mood.  However, once inside the waterpark, it’s easy to forget you’re on top of a parking garage.  The waterpark has a number of water slides including: twisty tube slides, speedy body and mat slides, and the requisite swirly “toilet bowl” plunge.  There’s also a large wave pool, a climbing splash playground with 1,000 gallon dump bucket, and even an outdoor pool with basketball hoops (surprised me for Canada, but there were people out there).

The girls and I had a great time swimming and sliding at the water park.  Mom decided not to go in the water, but relaxed with a book at the Planet Hollywood Beach Club snack bar.  For a holiday weekend, we expected big crowds, but it wasn’t bad at all.  Waits for the slides were not too long – except for the swirling “Canadian Plunge” bowl, but those are typically very slow lines.  The park was a little smaller than others such as Great Wolf Lodge or Splash Lagoon and could have used a lazy river ride.  However, with admission tickets included in our hotel package, the price was right to spend a few hours swimming, slipping, and sliding.

Attraction Extras

OK, last, and definitely least, let’s discuss the free attraction passes.  We received a coupon sheet with a number of passes for Adventure City – a glorified arcade located behind the Sheraton and Crowne Plaza off Clifton Hill.  If we wouldn’t have had free passes, we definitely would have skipped the arcade.  It was a little dark, a little dirty, and a little sketchy.  We rode the “Tour Bus Swat Team” – a quick shoot-em-up carnival ride.  It was good for a laugh, but regular admission price of $6.99 CAD/person is, to be blunt, a ripoff.  Ride it with your free passes, but do not pay for it.  We also rode the “Combat Cars” bumper cars, which, again, was a typical carnival/fair attraction.  The mini-golf was closed, being refurbished (or condemned, not sure which), and our girls were too old for the Funhouse.  However, the coupons are good for any attraction in Adventure City, so the girls rode bumper cars again, and again, and again.  We made sure they washed their hands afterwards.

Next, we strolled over to MGM’s Great Movie Journey – this attraction was bizarre and out of place at Niagara Falls.  A disinterested, ho-hum tour-guide walked you through a couple of rooms with scattered artifacts and replicated props from movies.  There was a straight jacket and mask similar to Hannibal Lector’s from “Silence of the Lambs,” some sort of alien from a random sci-fi movie, and a video montage of scenes from James Bond movies you could probably watch on YouTube.  Again, it was good for a few family laughs, but I would have been very disappointed if we paid money for this attraction.

The Hershey Store was, well, a store.  It was a fine store, the salespeople were friendly, and happily distributed free plastic Easter eggs filled with chocolate kisses to the girls.  We ate free samples of fudge, and purchased yummiful Hershey’s chocolate milkshakes.  Warning: the delicious shakes are HUGE; we definitely should have shared one milkshake for 2 people.  However, this was one “attraction” where you got your money’s worth – compare $5.95 for a huge milkshake vs. $6.99 for the Adventure City SWAT Team Tour Bus.

The final part of our attraction package was tickets to Danny Zzzz – hypnotist, illusionist, mentalist, and magician.  Our daughters are big fans of magic, and this show was the top thing they wanted to experience during our weekend (even more than the water park).  We exchanged our voucher for tickets to the 8:00pm show after dinner.  Danny Zzzz performed for nearly 2 hours with a mix of magic, comedy, and hypnotism.  We all enjoyed the magic and comedy, but were a little bored with the hypnotism.

I was even selected to be on stage.  I tried to relax my mind and body as much as possible, but try as I might, the hypnotism did not work for me.  For a free show included with our hotel package, Danny Zzzz provided 2 hours of family entertainment, and we can’t really complain about that.  We would have loved to see a little more of the magic/mentalist tricks, but it was fun to take the family to see a live show.

Overall, what did we think?  Our family thought the one night Falls Avenue Resort Package was a great value.  For $199 CAD we had a fine hotel room within walking distance of the Clifton Hills tourist area and two days of passes to the Fallsview Water Park.  That price itself was a good value.  We also highly recommend the early bird “kids eat free” dinner buffet at the Sheraton Fallsview Restaurant.  Besides the water park, the Falls Avenue Resort attraction passes we could take or leave – although it was a novelty to see a live magician/hypnotist.  The Adventure City passes and MGM Great Movie Journey were OK to pass the time while waiting for dinner or a show, but do not go out of your way or pay extra money for these “attractions.”

All and all, our 1 night, Easter weekend getaway was just what our family needed, and we would definitely have no problem returning to the Falls Avenue Resort.  However, next time we would spend less time at the resort “attractions” and more time seeing Niagara Falls itself.  Speaking of which, we couldn’t visit Niagara Falls without seeing the natural wonder – so on our way home we stopped on the American side to gaze upon the rushing water of the cataract.  Don’t worry, just to be on the safe-side, and in order to preserve the Falls for everyone to enjoy in the future, Evie made sure we turned off the water as we were leaving…

If you want to see more photos from our family weekend getaway to Falls Avenue Resort, click here to view the full photo gallery featured below.

So what do you think?  Have you been to the Falls Avenue Resort or are you planning a trip to Niagara Falls?  Share your thoughts below, I’d love to read about your experiences too.  To stay up to date on more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

Disclosure: AdventuresbyDaddy.com received no consideration or compensation from the Falls Avenue Resort, Hampton Inn at the Falls, or the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark for this review.  Everything described in this article was paid for by the author, and all opinions expressed are my own.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.