I feel like every time I mention that I'm from New York to someone who doesn't know me, they automatically think NYC. Well, I'm not from that part of New York and I'm actually kind of glad. I'm probably one of the few people who doesn't mind not visiting NYC. But I'd have to say that being a part of Western New York (also considered Upstate New York by some) is pretty great. We have so many available attractions and fun activities around here that I don't need the hustle and bustle of a busy city.
Out here, we have theme parks, museums, and so much more to keep your family busy all summer long. I had the opportunity yesterday to visit Darien Lake Theme Park Resort for the first time this year. It's always great to see the improvements they've been making to the park lately. I remember when I was a young girl and the park was still run by Six Flags. Unfortunately, after separating from the Six Flags corporation Darien Lake had gone down a bit. But they've since revived the life back into the park and made some awesome improvements.
Darien Lake Theme Park Resort
Darien Lake hosts a wide variety of rides for guests of all thrill seeking levels. With 7 coasters ranging in thrill level, there is definitely something for all ages. If you're just starting out with coasters, I'd recommend starting with The Predator. The Predator doesn't have any loops and is the shortest coaster in Darien Lake's variety. Or even take a ride on the MotoCoaster. The MotoCoaster takes you for a ride on a street bike and only reaches speeds of 40 mph. I tried this one out last year with my 6-year-old and he loved it. Although he was more worried about me than himself. If you're up for a huge thrill, The Ride of Steel has a max height of 208 feet and reaches speeds up to 72 mph. I'd have to say, this is not the ride for me.
Not ready for The Ride of Steel but still want some speed and thrills? I'd suggest the Boomerang. It's a short ride, but definitely not lacking in the adventure department. The Boomerang pulls you up backward only to drop you down into an upside down roll and loop and up another lift hill. Just when you get your stomach to calm down, it drops you again to relive the ride again BACKWARDS!
Darien Lake even has a coaster for the littles called the Hoot N Holler is a great way to introduce the kids to thrill rides with a minimum rider height of 36".
More Rides From Darien Lake
I would have loved to have explored the park more and experience all that Darien has to offer, but only a few hours after getting to the park there was incoming storms and major rides and the water park was closed. While I understand it is for visitor safety, I did not have a chance to experience all of the new things that Darien Lake has. But if you're looking for less thrill and more chill, take a ride on the Giant Wheel to get a great view of the park from above. The Giant Wheel takes riders over 160' up on a slow ride around allowing you to take in all of the beautiful scenery in the park.
Darien Lake has been making improvements. Brand new this season is a new ride/game combination that is sure to entertain. The Strike U Up is a mix between a ride and a game. Requiring four participants, two sit in the seats and prepare to be forced upwards by their partners. The other two participants take a big Whack-A-Mole style hammer and slam on the button to see who can get their partner to the top first. The only thing that we didn't like was that it was not a free game/ride. It does require you to pay $5 to play. Due to the rides closing down before we got to explore more, I can't say whether it was $5 for all four players or $5 per player. I'm really hoping it's not the latter.
Darien Lake has also opened a new NHL themed game called The Slapshot but again we didn't have the chance to test this new attraction yet. On top of these two new games, they've also brought in some new snack options!
Cool Off In One of the Water Parks
Unfortunately, I can't tell you about my personal experience in the water parks. I haven't spent much time in either of them in a couple of years. Because of the incoming storm yesterday, the water park was closed down as we were on our way to check it out. Hosting many different water slides, a super-fun looking kids water park, and more I'm sure it would have been a blast. It's definitely something you should check out during your visit.
One thing to mention, if you'd like to enjoy any shade while at the water park you may have to reserve a Cabana. They have multiple packages available and can be reasonably priced if you're splitting with some friends. The Cabana rentals do include tube rentals, but if you don't book a Cabana you will have to pay to rent a tube for various water park attractions.
Eating at Darien Lake
All the sun, fun, and thrills can definitely work up an appetite. But I want you fully prepared for your visit to Darien Lake. As with most theme parks, the prices are a bit on the high side. But don't worry, there are plenty of options available to feed the whole family without breaking the bank. This is especially so if you're local and looking to buy a Darien Lake Season Pass.
If you purchase the season pass you can add on a meal plan (roughly the same cost as the pass itself) but you get a meal included in every visit you take to Darien. It doesn't matter if you go every day or once a week. With the meal plan option, you are guaranteed a meal.
Wanna know what you can get while spending your day at the park? They have food for everyone! Pizza, chicken wings, burgers, hot dogs and so much more.
Grab a Quick Snack
Cotton candy, kettle corn, and more. If you're looking for some fair-type food, you can try out their new additions to the menu.
Darien Lake has added Salted Caramel Soft Pretzels, Oreo Churros, and Cheetos Popcorn. Can I just say, oh my goodness to the Cheetos Popcorn? I did not get a chance to try any of their new food but I'm sure they are delicious.
We definitely got hungry, even though we were only in the park for about 3 hours. We stopped at the Lakeside Boardwalk to see what they had to offer. After considering the many options I decided on the Grilled Chicken Sandwich Combo and it was surprisingly good, considering they had run out of lettuce and tomato. This was slightly disappointing considering the park still had a few hours left until closing.
If you're looking for budget-friendly alternatives, you can eat at one of their in-park restaurants or grab a whole pizza from the Lakeside Boardwalk. I'd have to say that your best option for the tight budget would be the pizzas. At $8 for a personal pizza, you can spend $12 more and get a large pizza and feed a family of four. I'd have to say that it's definitely a good price compared to their other meal prices.
Even More From Darien Lake
On top of the tons of rides and food options that you'll find in the park, there is still more to enjoy! Need a break from the rides but not ready to go home? Head over toward the main entrance and relax while you test your luck at one of their many games. With plenty to choose from, they have something for everyone. Even the littles.
Stop Here if the Weather is Iffy
There's no need to worry about getting rained on here! We hit the arcade first because it's my son's favorite part of Darien Lake, but I'd recommend waiting if the weather is questionable for the day. The arcade games run about $1 a game, which is a much cheaper option than their outdoor games. They even give you a chance to win a ton of tickets in one go! This one is my favorite. I love claw machines, and this one has great odds. I played about 3 times and ended up scoring over 400 tickets for my son.
Before You Leave!
I know that spending time in theme parks can rack up a hefty price tag. But if you make the trip to Upstate New York to check out Darien Lake, I'd definitely recommend stopping in one of their many shops to grab yourself a cool souvenir from your trip. They have souvenirs in every price range and I'm sure you can find something worth your stop in. From their different boutiques boasting a variety of clothing, accessories, and even shoes and swim suits you can replace lost items or just upgrade from an old swim suit or a pair of flip flops.