Now that you know how the story ends, here is what happened in the meantime…
In an effort to distract me from the great anxiety gripping me around the throat, Toby suggested we go play American tourist while we waited for a customs broker to return our calls. There was nothing to be done to remedy our situation, beyond what we had already done. We knew we were stuck on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls for at least 48 hours, so I made an effort to surrender my worries to God and enjoy this unexpected extension on our romantic getaway.
We decided to go play at Clifton Hill. Clifton Hill is one of the major tourist promenades of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Reminiscent of Las Vegas, this street contains a number of gift shops, wax museums, haunted houses, video arcades, restaurants, and themed attractions. Unlike the Vegas Strip this touristy street is completely G-rated and popular with families.
Although this area of the falls is touristy and tacky, there was something fun about strolling among the neon lights and crazy buildings that made us feel like teenagers on a date.
What drew us to Clifton Hill was a coupon we recieved for a discounted Fun Pass. This Fun Pass offered admission to six different Clifton Hill attractions for $25.00, an incredible discount when compared to the cost of paying individual admission prices. We thought $50.00 for a day of fun and distraction from our customs troubles to be well worth the price.
We began our tour of Clifton Hill at the first experience included in our Fun Pass: Movieland Wax Museum.
The laughs we enjoyed at the expense of some very sad looking wax figures made the cost of the passes worth every penny. I don’t know when I have laughed so hard.
While there were a few realistic representations of famous stars, most of the wax figures were only recognizable because of the signage or the staging.
I thought this figurine was the most realistic of any we saw that day!
Our next stop was The Great Canadian Midway where two more of the attractions included in our pass were located. The first was the Wild West Coaster, which was a fun 4D ride.
We took our seats. This unique theater had seats that moved with the 3D cartoon, taking us and 18 other visitors on a rollercoaster ride with a cowboy and his horse through old abandoned mines.
It was cute and kitschy. The kids would have loved it!
Also located in the midway, on the opposite side of a room filled with hundreds of arcade games, was Ghost Blaster.
This was an actual ride. We climbed into our cart and entered a world of black lights and glow in the dark ghosts that we had to shoot with our laser guns. Our ride kept track of the points earned by each target we successfully hit with our laser beam. It was fun.
Toby killed me, as he always does with these sort of rides, earning a top score while I hovered near the bottom of the leaderboard.
Our next stop was the Niagara Skywheel.
This was located next to the Dinosaur Adventure Golf, which was also included in our Fun Pass.
The Niagara Skywheel, which opened in 2006, stands 175 feet tall and offers visitors magnificent views of both the Horseshoe Falls and American Falls.
We got in line for one of the 42 enclosed passenger cars. I am terrified of heights and there is no amusement park ride I hate more than Ferris Wheels. I will ride the most thrilling of coasters and love them, but that slow crawl of a Ferris Wheel passenger car up to the heights of this one, terrifies me…
But the promise of amazing views and great photo opportunities, propelled me to set aside my anxiety and climb aboard.
The views were even better than promised.
And I did fine, until are car stopped at the top of the wheel so we could enjoy the view.
The ride that normally offers 3 revolutions, extended for an additional 3 revolutions because of low crowds. Because there was no one else in line the generous workers thought we’d enjoy an extra-long ride, but instead my heart kept dropping to my stomach each time we would pass the platform, thinking we were getting off, only to discover we were in for another ride up into the sky. Just when I thought we’d never get off, our passenger car came to a stop and we were released.
Because my heart health hadn’t been tested enough in the last 12 hours, we decided to elevate my heart rate even more with the final experience included in our Clifton Hill Fun Pass…
This, like the Wild West 4D show, involved sitting in a moving seat that took visitors on a ride while immersed in a 3D movie. This experience differed a bit though, as we were also armed with laser guns that allowed us to interact with the 3D movie on another level as we battled zombies that were popping out of the screen at us.
I know it sounds horrid, but as a closet fan of zombie thrillers, I LOVED this attraction. It was like stepping into The Walking Dead.
I can’t handle most horror movies. Zombie shows are the only horror films I can handle, and only because I believe that zombies are one threat I could actually outrun. 😉
It was a blast, by far the highlight of the day for me.
We competed against the other visitors that filled the theater. Toby represented magnificently, earning 2nd place in the tally of zombies killed. I spent more time screaming than shooting and came in second to last, earning a score only slightly better than an 8-year-old girl whose hands were pressed against her eyes the whole time. 😊
From there we headed to Adventure Rooms Escape Room. Toby had booked an appointment for 2 to “The Case of the Missing Finger” escape room. Our scheduled time was 6:30pm. We picked this particular escape room because they accepted parties of 2-8 people. (With many escape rooms you must have a larger group, or they combine you into a team with other guests.) We also chose this escape room because of the level of difficulty. With a success rate of only 25%, we thought it would be an awesome challenge to try to beat the odds as a team of 2.
We love escape rooms, and this one was the best we had ever visited.
The challenge was to escape from a locked room before a 60-minute timer ran out by solving a series of codes and clues that eventually led to the code or key that allowed us to escape.
We figured if we couldn’t escape Canada then we would spend the evening trying to escape handcuffs…
Who knows it may have proved useful practice for our next international border crossing. At that point we didn’t know how our border crossing adventure was going to play out so we categorized the Escape Room experience as both recreation and education. 😊
This particular Escape Room challenge began with Toby and I both being handcuffed to the wall, out of sight of each other. To free ourselves to begin the escape room challenge we had to come up with a 4-letter code that unlocked a chain on my side of the room which lowered a cage containing handcuff keys to Toby’s side of the room. Once he had unlocked himself and then me, we began searching for clues to unlock a series of doors which led from one puzzle to another. Just when we would think we had reached the end of the game we would discover another layer to the mystery, like the secret room hidden beneath the table and carpet. We had an awesome time flexing our mind muscles and flaunting our teamwork ability. Like a well-oiled machine we killed the challenge, escaping from the room with 7 ½ minutes to spare.
It was SO MUCH FUN!
The experience was eerily reflective of parenting…not the searching for missing fingers part 😊, but the frantic race against the clock, the solving one puzzle only to discover behind what you think is the door to freedom another locked door, and the panic that you will never escape!
With both parenting and escape rooms the key to success is to:
Think outside the box.
Always have a plan B, C, D…
Work as a team.
Know your strengths and the strengths of your teammate.
Use the bathroom when you have the chance.
The solution can always be found if you look hard enough.
Expect the unexpected,
And laugh…laughter makes any challenge bearable!
After an awesome day playing “accidental tourists” in Niagara Falls, Ontario, we ended our fun day with a stroll by the falls to enjoy the magnificent view of Niagara Falls lit up at night in a show of changing colors.
This day of fun wasn’t planned. It was a day born out of disappointment that ended up being the highlight of our Canadian vacation.
Just remember: when God closes a border, He opens a window.
Here’s to making lemonade!