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    Photos from Ghost Blasters (inside the Great Canadian Midway)

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    As I mentioned yesterday, we went to Niagara Falls last week to play. Along with going to Wizards’ Golf, we also went through Ghost Blasters. I tried to take some photos with my phone. But it’s hard as I’m moving and still trying to beat my wife’s score! 🙂

    Anyway, here are some photos (some are blurry) of inside Ghost Blasters. You can certainly get a sense of the colouring and theming.

    A couple of changes in the Great Canadian Midway

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    There are a couple of minor, but new, changes to the Great Canadian Midway on Clifton Hill. Near the entrance was a booth where you could buy tickets and get information. It used to be a circular booth. It has changed to be a square. There are now 2 people that can work in it.

    With the arrival of the new XD Theater, they have changed the sign on the outside of the building.

    Great Canadian Midway renovations are done

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    The renovations that were being done in the Great Canadian Midway on Clifton Hill seem to be done now. There are more signs for Wendy’s inside the midway, new flashing blue/red/white lights going around half the midway, new sign above the redemption area, and a brand new ride. There is used to be a motion simulator there, but it has been replaced with a newer/better one, called XD Theater. It takes up less room, and you can actually see it before it starts. It looks pretty nice. I haven’t been on it yet, but look forward to it.

    Things to do in Niagara Falls: Great Canadian Midway

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    Over the next few entries in this weekly feature, I’m going to write about the 3 arcades that are in the main tourist area. Calling them arcades probably isn’t fair. When I think of an arcade I think of a small dark area crammed with video games and pinball machines. The arcades in the tourist area are giant, open spaces with classic video games, bowling, sports simulators, and more. The 3 operations are the Great Canadian Midway (HOCO Limited), Marvel Superheroes Adventure City (Canadian Niagara Hotels), and SkyQuest (Skylon) (also called Skylon Entertainment Centre or Skylon Fun Centre). To start of the series, I’ll write about the Great Canadian Midway.

    gcm_sign.jpg

    Prior to 2002, HOCO Limited used to have their Dinosaur Park Miniature Golf and Dazzleland Arcade right at the street on Clifton Hill. When construction started, the miniature golf course was moved to a portion of the Comfort Inn Clifton Hill parking lot, and Dazzleland was taken out entirely. In its place a huge Boston Pizza (largest in Canada) and a 60,000 square foot entertainment complex was built.

    Inside Boston Pizza (the upper level) is a bar and games area called Sports Zone which is essentially a continuaton of the games downstairs. Upstairs are several Bowlingo lanes, a sports simulator (soccer, hockey, pitching, etc) and many other sports-related games. Although there are a couple of things that younger children would enjoy, the games are mostly for the teenager or adult crowd.

    Downstairs is where most of the games are, and this is really what is considered the Great Canadian Midway (GCM for short). It’s quite an impressive site as you walk in and you see such high ceilings lit up and games as far as you can see. There are 2 rides inside the GCM that cost more to go on. Cosmic Coaster (previously called Fun House Express and FX Thrill Ride) is a roller coaster motion simulator and Ghost Blasters is a black-lit ride where you shoot at targets that are ghosts. I’ll cover both of these in future postings.

    There are games for people of all ages. There are games that are very easy that are aimed for the small children. They have miniature versions of some of the more popular games such as Skee-ball that is about 1/3 the size and little basketball hoops. There are the traditional carnival types games such as spraying water at a target to make a boat move along a track, a hammer drop game to see how “strong” you are, and more. There are also many of the “pusher” games that are almost like casino games. These games consist of a platform full of tokens with a small bar constantly pushing at the edge of it. As you drop tokens onto the platform, the pusher may push that token into another token, causing some tokens to fall off the platform. In this case, and in almost all of the other games, you get tickets for how well you do in the game.

    As can be expected, the prizes you get when you redeem the tickets are pretty useless, but everyone still gets excited about it anyway. If you spend enough money and earn enough tickets, there are some big prizes such as DVD players and more.

    Inside GCM is also a snack bar and public washrooms. There is also an entrance to the Wendy’s on Clifton Hill.

    Overall I think that the Great Canadian Midway is a fantastic place to visit. The games are fun and my 2 kids love it. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

    Some of the new operations on Clifton Hill are open

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    On Friday many of the new operations on Clifton Hill opened for the first time. It looks like the only thing that is NOT open is the go-kart track.

    Right behind Kelsey’s is the new Zombie Attack attraction. It is a motion simulator (similar to the one in the Great Canadian Midway) that also has a great interactive shooting feature. You shoot zombies. I’ve had a chance to go on it once, and it was a lot of fun. I was very impressed.

    Beside Zombie Attack and right behind Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium are a couple of new food outlets. They have the look of carnival/fair food trucks. They sell pizza, hot dogs, French fries, milk shakes, pop, funnel cakes, ice cream cones, Dippin’ Dots and more. I’ve had a funnel cake, and it was delicious. I’ve also tried the pizza and it was decent.

    Across from Zombie Attack, Funnel Cakes and Hot Dogs & Pizza is the new Speedway Game Zone. This is essentially an extension of the Great Canadian Midway. There are a bunch of games, a redemption counter along with some washrooms.

    Here are some pictures of the new operations…

    More fun for families promised for Clifton Hill

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    Some big changes are coming to Clifton Hill.

    Demolition has already begun on the Comfort Inn, a long-time fixture on what is billed as Niagara Falls’ “Street of Fun.”

    The site, which was home to a motel for more than 60 years, will be the home of a new Go-Kart Coaster track, according to Joel Noden, director of marketing for HOCO Entertainment & Resorts. HOCO owns several properties on the hill including the Niagara SkyWheel, Dinosaur Adventure Golf and the Great Canadian Midway arcade among other things.

    “It’s the signature piece,” Noden said of the Go-Kart attraction that will have riders will spiral up three or four stories high before they race down to a surface track below.

    “It’s like a roller coaster,” Noden said.

    Comfort Inn, Niagara Falls closing in October (UPDATE)

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    From the Vanmeer Free Press:

    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”

    Keeping things fresh at HOCO

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    Strapped into articulating yellow chairs and wearing 3D glasses, riders on the new XD Theater ride on Clifton Hill don’t know what they’re in for.

    But as the lights dim and the massive screen in front of them comes to life, they’re suddenly aboard a futuristic roller coaster hurtling them around huge rocks, above bottomless pits and through lava-filled caverns.

    The adventure is the latest attraction inside the Great Canadian Midway on the south side of Clifton Hill. The buildings and businesses on that side of the street are owned by HOCO Entertainment and Resorts.

    The Oakes family has been around in Niagara Falls since the 1920s, when mining tycoon Sir Harry Oakes built and moved into what is now known as Oak Hall. Today, his grandsons Harry and Phillip Oakes run HOCO and its portfolio of tourism-related businesses.

    The brothers have long believed that to be successful, they must stay current.

    “Our basic business philosophy is you have to continually get better,” said Harry Oakes. “If you stand still, you get steamrolled. That continual improvement applies to any business – whether it’s tourism or manufacturing.”

    Twitter updates for 2012-05-11

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    • A couple of new and improved (bigger) Raptors outside of Dinosaur Adventure Golf on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls http://t.co/BExQMi78 #
    • Just went on the XD Theatre in the Great Canadian Midway. It was awesome!! #
    • Checking out XD Theatre (@ Great Canadian Midway) http://t.co/M1HGhbHV #
    • Another great day in Niagara Falls. Looks like a great weekend! http://t.co/WimemCic #
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