21 October 2012

A day at Niagara Falls

As part of last summer's school break plans, we saved up our pennies to see Greg Frewin's show "Imagine" at the Greg Frewin Theatre in Niagara Falls.

Kidlet and I made the trek to Niagara Falls through the pouring rain and arrived mid-afternoon during a light drizzle.  We made a quick check in to the theatre box office to make sure our tickets were there (they were!) and to get the parking pass for the car.  (Did you know that ticket price includes free parking anytime after 9am on the day of the show?)

From the theatre it's a short walk to Clifton Hill (the "Street of Fun" by the Falls) and a five to ten minute jaunt (depending leg length and ease of distractibility – SkyWheel! Fudge Factory! Ice cream! Wax museum!) to the Maid of the Mist at River Road and Clifton Hill.  Two silver linings to it being a rainy day: 1) we were already decked out in our finest rain gear and were suitably dressed for the iconic boat ride next to The Falls and 2) the line ups were super short!  (Sadly, we weren't able to see any rainbows in the mist itself, but we were warm and dry!)  Exit through the gift shop...

We wandered through the area, grabbed a bite to eat and explored a little more.  Then back to the car for a dash to the Butterfly Conservatory.
Note to Ontario families:  We used a coupon for a free child's admission (as long as we paid for an adult admission) from our "Ontario 2012 Fun Pass" booklet which was given to us at the end of the school year.  The conservatory was FABULOUS!  Highly recommended!

Back to the theatre.  We were seated with a wonderful young couple from New York.  We were later joined by wonderful company from Ohio and Vancouver Island.  The table next to us had plenty of children aged 4 and up – I had as much fun watching the reactions of all the children as I did watching the show!
Tip: Arrive as early as you can to ensure good seating (the box office will let you know what time is best). 
Note to parents: Bring along some distractions for little ones (such as crayons with paper, playing cards, books, quiet hand-held video games etc.) to help pass the time between arriving for the best seating and show time.  We were lucky that the delightful couple from the Rochester area, kindly joined us in a game of Crazy Eight Countdown  and the time flew by! 
If you think your child would be scared sitting right up close to the tigers at level one, level two offers an equally good view of the stage along with the sense of a physical barrier between you and the big cats.

The theatre also has some entertainment while you wait: tiger and magic trivia on the big screen!  In addition, there was a creative pre-show animated short from the Vancouver film school.
Note to parents:  Some of the kids 8 and under in our area found the short a little scary at times.

My favourite part was a fabulous video promoting Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp.  It put a big smile on my face!

As for the show itself, how could you not be entertained by helicopters, a bowling ball, an invisible deck, Oreos, tigers, talented ladies, fire, milk, tigers, a dog, doves, tigers, Chuck the Duck, and macaws?  Did I mention the tigers?  What's not to like?  (Throughout the show, one of our evening's companions could be heard muttering, "How did he do the thing with the duck?")
Note to parents of young children:  The last big illusion, which I'll refer to as the Assistants' Revenge, was a little tense for some of the younger children.  But it ended with happy faces!

After the show there's an opportunity to have your photo taken in the same cage with a tiger!  (Well worth it in my opinion.)  Technically, you're not really in the same confined space as the tiger, but it sure looks like that in the picture.  The tiger trainer is right there, which made this parent feel a whole lot more relaxed about the experience.  Part of the profit from the items in the magical gift shop, including the photo sales, are used to support a tiger sanctuary.  After the show, you can queue up for an autograph from Greg!

Needless to say, Kidlet and I had an absolutely wonderful time at the show!  A picture with a tiger, a souvenir from the gift shop, and the chance to chat with Mr. Frewin himself!

As impressed as I was with the show, I was equally impressed with all of the staff at the theatre.  Everyone was friendly, professional and customer focused.  Huge thanks to:  the very patient box office staff (Caitlin, Roxanne and Nina), the ushers, the fabulous assistants who we met while in line for having our photo taken, Johnny Ferrara the tiger trainer, the gift shop staff and all of the fabulous people who kept things orderly and moving for the post-show autographs. 

Thank you Greg et al, for a most magical ending to our wonderful day in Niagara Falls!

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