From working on Clifton Hill for 13 years now, here’s a few helpful Niagara Falls vacation tips and tricks on Clifton Hill that I’ve learned through experience.
Know the Best Time to Dine
*Above: Boston Pizza Clifton Hill*
I can tell you through experience, that between 8:00 – 9:00 pm is when the restaurants on Clifton Hill get the busiest during the Spring/Summer and between 7:00 – 8:00 pm for the Fall/Winter. I am going to predict that this is due to the Friday and Sunday Niagara Falls Fireworks shows, which is one of this industry’s biggest draws on the weekends. The showtimes are at 10 pm during the Summer due to it getting darker later, and at 9 pm during the Fall/Winter.
Clifton Hill is a massive tourism draw for our International guests and overseas group excursions. This said, please keep in mind that many people arrive in large groups which could result in longer wait times to be seated should you come at the height of the dinnertime hour. Most of the restaurants on Clifton Hill come equipped with a pager system should you have to wait for a table; and be aware that reservations are not made at many of these establishments, so timing is everything. That said, there is a new app featured by Google that showcases a “popular time” section, along with the business’ address, phone number and hours. The section, which is based on “historical visits to this place,” provides an overview of when a location is likely to be busiest based on previous activity. Click here for more information on obtaining this app, which I find extremely helpful.
Best Time to Avoid Crowds on Clifton Hill
It goes without saying that traveling to Clifton Hill in the Summer is single-handedly the busiest time of the year for us. The weather is perfect, all the attractions are open earlier and later, along with the availibilty of seasonal attractions such as the Hornblower Niagara Cruises and the Whirlpool Jet Boats to name a few. Hiking the gorge is at its height, Niagara-on-the-Lake is flourishing with fruit stands and outdoor patios, and events and festivals throughout the region are abound.
Clifton Hill is a family magnet. Therefore, we are busiest when school is out. If you can manage a getaway prior to late June, that is the prime time to travel here to avoid the craziness, and save some money along the way. September is fantastic because prices are lower for hotel accommodations after the Labour Day weekend, the weather is still warm, the boats are still on the water (ie. Hornblower), both portals remain open at the Journey Behind the Falls, and kids aren’t too deep into their schoolwork yet. Peak season for us is late June to Labour Day weekend (this year being until September 7th, 2015). Keep mindful of all Holiday weekends. And as long as you don’t mind large groups of school kids during the day, May to June is heavy with end of the year school trip bookings at our attractions (see here for our current school group package for the curious minds).
When referring to hitting up the attractions at the least busy times, Clifton Hill is less crowded in the mornings, as many guests are still waking up. On days that feature the Niagara Falls Fireworks shows, many guests have the desire to hopefully catch the show from the Niagara SkyWheel. If this is the case, remember that you are not the only one with the same idea. The SkyWheel does not take reservations, so if the wish is to hopefully be on the ride when the fireworks go off, arrive approximately 20 minutes to a half hour before the show (even earlier on Holiday’s).
Try to do most of the Niagara Falls attractions before the fireworks shows, as once they are over there is a mad dash up the Hill at approximately 10:15 pm. These people are ready to continue on with the fun at the same time that you are, meaning the potential of longer line-ups.
Hours of Operation
Okay, here’s one that many people overlook.
The Niagara SkyWheel has a standard fee of $10.99 for Adults and $6.99 for Children (plus taxes) no matter the time of day, season, etc. Refer to the Niagara Falls Illumination schedule prior to an evening jaunt on the big wheel in the sky. The SkyWheel provides incredible views of the Niagara Falls and the entire Niagara skyline — but go when the lights are still ON! Remember, depending on the time of year, the lights on the Falls are lit usually until Midnight, but the SkyWheel itself can remain open much later. If you wish to go for the enjoyment of it, then by all means go whenever you wish. However, if photos of the Falls lit up is what you are after, be sure to ride within the allotted illumination times. Remember, the sky is dark by 5:00 pm in the Winter too, so if you come during that time of the year, refer to the Illumination chart highlighted above or simply ask a cashier working there when the lights go on and off.
Without a doubt, the Clifton Hill Fun Pass is the best deal for more bang for your buck when doing an abundance of attractions. At a 50% savings off our individual retail prices, it’s a massive savings. During the late Fall and Winter (minus the Christmas season) some attractions can open a little later than the Summer hours of 9:00-10:00 am. If you purchase the Fun Pass during our less busy times and you do not finish all the attractions on one day (you have one year to use up the attractions) and you need to leave early the next morning if you are staying overnight, check the Clifton Hill Hours of Operation ahead of time to assure that you allow yourself enough time to finish them off.
A huge benefit of the Clifton Hill Fun Pass is the avoidance of cashier line-ups. Your cards are VIP, meaning you head straight to the turnstiles and scan your way in.
Dinosaur Adventure Golf Courses
As one of the nation’s largest miniature golf courses, Dinosaur Adventure Golf features two 18-hole courses that you choose from: “Raptor Run” and “T-Rex Trek” (for a total of 36 Holes). But what course should you choose? If your Niagara Falls vacation is family oriented and includes young children than the T-Rex Trek is for you. This course was made slightly easier, and kids will love the opportunity to play a hole inside the volcano — which only this one provides. The Raptor Run is for the competitive families or for the older family; it’s more challenging with trickier holes.
Scariest Haunted House
Clifton Hill has an obsession with haunted houses. Which should you choose? If you have young children, stick to the haunted houses directly on Clifton Hill. While they can be scary, they are managable. These would be “the Haunted House”, “the House of Frankenstein”, and “Castle Dracula”. Looking to terrify yourself? Screamers and Nightmares Fear Factory (both on Victoria Avenue around the corner from Clifton Hill — on opposites sides) are where you need to head. If you need an opinion on the “scariest”, than without a doubt I would head to Nightmares. Bring a change of pants.
Niagara Falls Coupons
We have Clifton Hill coupons on our website available to print off ahead of your Niagara Falls vacation. These are for both attractions and dining savings. Forgot to print them off? No worries. You will find coupon books on site located in the Great Canadian Midway and our Tim Hortons location. If you park in our public parking lot (click here for information), you will receive a coupon book upon arrival full of amazing savings.