Gridlocked traffic and mismanaged crowds mar holiday


The SNAFU that is the State Park and Maid of the Mist in peaks season is in full effect.

Saturday morning I went to do a walking tour scheduled for 9 a.m. At 8:40 a.m., the Discovery Zone parking lot by the Aquarium was shut down, perhaps reserved for employees.

I arrived at 8:45 a.m. in front of the Hard Rock Cafe to meet my guests. We had about 35 people.

Lot 1 was already closed. Traffic was gridlocked. There were limited signs warning visitors of the traffic issues. Parking at the ancillary lots was market driven and at max-price, as much as $40.

The line for the Maid was 45 minutes to an hour. It snaked through turnstiles on the way to the elevators. It was worse the day before, extending to the Discovery Zone lot.

How is it there are not timed Maid tickets available? It makes no sense. I still prefer our electric boats to the big, stinky Canadian diesel ones but the ticketing system is archaic.

Guides hang out in the same space while waiting for the return of the boats – we don’t take the boat ride. One of my colleagues offered an observation.

“I tell my guests ‘there are 3 days of the year I never want to visit here, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day,’ I am only here because you choose to be.’ ”

Every guide has his or her own schtick. Some are theatrical. Others are strong on history. I like to think my strengths as a guide are the beginnings of the park, the Great Gorge Railway, the Maggadino family and nature.

I can never complete a tour without talking about the Cataract House and John Morrison.

I also have the privilege, for the right crowd, of telling the tale of Black activists and immigrants in Niagara Falls today but save that one for the appropriate audience.

Overall, it is a good time but it could be so much better.

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