Does Everyone Love MarineLand?
Is the commercial true? DOES everyone really love Marineland?
Rochester-area readers weigh in
on the Ontario, Canada theme park
MarineLand is located in Ontario, Canada, just south of Niagara Falls. They have the largest killer whale habitat in the world, dolphin and sea lion shows, and an amusement park with roller coaster rides.
Their TV and radio ads feature the popular jingle which every child and adult in western New York can sing: "Everyone Loves MarineLand!" But is it true? Does everyone really love MarineLand? KOA readers feel surprisingly passionate about MarineLand, as you can see from the mostly-unedited comments below. Readers also provide marvelous suggestions for making the most out of a MarineLand trip...so if one is in your future, make sure you read on!
Review from Connie:
- MarineLand is definitely worth going to, my kids love it. For anyone that loves the movie Free Willy movie as we do here, it was filmed at MarineLand in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Review from Bethany:
- I love MarineLand and I definitely think it's worth while to visit there. You can take picnic food into the park and they have a designated area for families to eat picnic lunches (coolers, etc are allowed in). They have children's rides and I have very fond memories of my parents taking me there as a kid.
Review from Anonymous:
- MarineLand is one of the top five ripoffs in our area. Hugely disappointing and does not in any way measure up to its marketing hype.
Review from Monica:
- MarineLand is expensive, yes, especially if you go only once, but last year we got a season pass, for just 5 more dollars and we went three or four times. Absolutely worth it at the price if you go more than once, just carpool with a friend if gas prices really hurt. We chose the other way, stayed overnight at a motel with swimming pool and went two days in a row, a very affordable minivacation.
Review from Cheryl:
- I wanted to comment on the "is it worth it?" question about MarineLand. My girls were 3, 6, and 9 when we went last summer. I was driven to go since we do not plan on purchasing passports and wanted to let the children experience it while we still could. (especially since it is soooo heavily advertised) It is expensive to get in, they have added many new rides since our last time there 5 yrs ago. I think it is something to do once for your child when they are old enough to remember it, we don't have any other places nearby where there is access to the whale and dolphin shows. Feeding the animals is a thrill for the children as well as walking through all the deer. We did shell out the additional $8 per person to feed/touch the belugas and they are really good about letting you take your own photo instead of purchasing their over- priced one :0) The $24 was definitely worth it for the experience. A couple negatives are lots and lots of walking between rides & animals with very little shade and the food is the most outrageously priced concessions I have ever seen. You are allowed to bring your own and definitely should!! Overall it is a great time, but there are plenty of places to go for a lot less cash. There is a place called Zooz that is only a few minutes over the border into Canada and is fabulous, their website is the same as their name.
Review from Cynthia:
- MarineLand - oh what a lot I have to say about MarineLand. Two years ago for my daughter's 3rd birthday we took her to MarineLand after she saw the commercials with the belugas. She loved it, a beluga was born that day (her actual birthday) she went on a few kiddy rides and we fed the fish. Though there is hardly any educational materials and it's about 50 miles from one attraction to the next without much interesting or nice walking in between, this didn't bother us for a 3 year old.
This year for her 5th bithday we were going to go to the aquarium in Niagara Falls and do some of the Falls attractions like Maid of the Mist, etc. But then she saw a billboard or commericial or something and decided she wanted to go to MarineLand again. Well, now all she wanted to do was rides (we could've gone to Seabreeze for that), the belugas were not nearly as interesting to her this year for some reason, not much was if there was a ride in view and they are sort of scattered all through the park, most of which she could not ride so we were constantly having to tell her that disappointing fact.
We saw two shows, the first was tricks by sea lions and dolphins done to music with absolutely NO information about these creatures, their natural habitat or conservation. The second was a walrus feeding which did have some info while they fed them. The other animal exhibits had little or no information or no animals. The info that was available was in one large, not very accessible to wide audiences, not easy to discern key points, high (so not accessible to children) and awkardly sideways label. The amount of space between things and the amount of time a 5-year old wants to get to the next thing did not mesh well.
I'm not sure what their mission or purpose is - I do not think it is not-for-profit educational though, more like amusement park with marine prisoners for a draw. We have done the feed the beluga thing both times and they rush you through it so much it is pathetic and don't tell you a bit about them since there are usually a lot of people waiting in line. Instead while you wait they could have people telling you about the animals or have an audio guide or something useful! And of course the price is outrageous in my opinion. I told my husband we will not go there for at least another 5 years and probably a lot more if ever since the more I think about it the more upsetting I find the whole place. The only thing is I love seeing the belugas and the killer whales so close, so beautiful, so amazing - I guess that's how they stay in business.
Review from Barb:
We just went to MarineLand yesterday and I'd have to say that it is not worth the price... Thankfully I had won our tickets on the WXXI auction, so I only paid about 1/2 price for them. We had a nice day, and none of us hated it (my husband and I went with our sons who are 15 and 9), but there just isn't a lot going on. The dolphin/sea lion/walrus show probably appeals more to younger kids. The rides are either for real thrillseekers (and there are only a couple that would fit that category) or for smaller kids (and, again, not much to choose from). There is a lot of walking and not a whole lot to see. We enjoyed the underwater viewing of the walruses, beluga whales, and killer whales and being at the killer whale tank during their show time was fun. Food selections are miminal and very expensive - I'd recommend packing a picnic and eating in their picnic area. The black bear exhibit was pretty neat and fun to watch them catch food from those who paid to buy bear food (looked like Kix and Fruit Loops to us). The fish feeding area is filled with HUGE carp! And, for $8 you can touch and feed a beluga whale - my boys took one look at the line and decided that wasn't worth it. I had wanted to go to MarineLand because I'd never been, but it definitely goes on my list of "OK, I've been there - don't need to go back" places... As I say, maybe its appeal is greater for younger kids, but definitely plan on bringing or renting a stroller since there is a fair amount of walking between the areas.
A comprehensive review from Jodi:
My girls have been fortunate to have spent a week visiting Sea World, Orlando a couple of years ago and LOVED every minute of it. So did my husband and I. Since then the television has exposed the girls (animal lovers) continuously to the "MarineLand" commercials. They have had it built up in their minds as an aquatic wonderland, after all, "EVERYONE loves MarineLand."
Honestly, I had not been to MarineLand myself in about 30 years. All I could remember was seeing a whale and walking A LOT! It was far from magical to say the least! So I went to a few travel sites on line and read the reviews. They were mostly negative, basically other than the addition of Arctic Cove and a few rides, not much has changed. (Wait there was one major change, the Canadian to American exchange rate is now the same--yikes!)
We have a camper so we decided to stay a couple of nights at King Waldorfs Campground just down the road from MarineLand ($45 per night) and visit MarineLand for the weekend. Other than the employees wearing MarineLand t-shirts and a picture of King Waldorf on the sign, there was really nothing "MarineLand" about it. The campsites are small and sunny. There is a small playground fit for 2-4 year olds, swing frames and no swings, a splash pool and in ground pool. The pool is open 10-8, but when we arrived at 10 we waited nearly 30 minutes for them to open it. For the most part the facility was clean and the staff was friendly. As a Kampground Of America member, I would have been just as happy to have traveled the extra miles to stay at the KOA in Niagara Falls.
We brought with us the double jog stroller as it was to be 90 degrees that Saturday. Mom and dad handled the walk with ease but the kids were grateful for the ride and shade. MarineLand parking is free, but unless you get there right at 9 am, you are going to park far away from the entrance. It was mildly crowded on Friday and borderline out of control on Saturday with all of the cars and busses. The adult tickets we 39.95 and children were 32.95, 4 and under are free. For $5 each you can upgrade every ticket to a season pass. (also, by staying at King Waldorfs, you receive $4 off every admission, up to 6.) At first I thought the fee was a bit high, but considering we went three times that weekend, it brought our average to $12 per person/per visit and we have the opportunity to return any time this season for free.
My kids are not ones for rides, so we avoided them. There was a small aquarium indoors and air conditioned, all freshwater fish no salt water. The Main outdoor show of sea lions, dolphins and a walrus was very entertaining to my 4 and 7 year old. Even with nosebleed seats, you can still enjoy it. We learned the second time around to go early. (each show ran about 7 times daily) The best place to sit is in the center front as the animals come to the glass and pose for you several times and there is little splashing there. Also, they seemed to always pick a child to be in the show from that spot on our visit.
The Killer Whale show is a standing show and they make it very clear which sections will and will not get wet, listen carefully. For safety reasons, they ask that if a child has to lean on the rail to see, that one parent hold on to them. Not only was the staff having to constantly remind people during the show, at one point a parent held their child over the rail so he could splash his hands in the water near the whale. Uh, "killer" whale that is. We brought along rain ponchos and despite the trainer pointing out actual whale poo in the water earlier, my seven year old was front and center in the splash zone and loving every minute of it (her favorite part of the trip).
I am a vegetarian and PETA supporter, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that the staff truly seemed to care for the animals and they did not seem at all neglected or abused. They trainers were eager to tell you all you wanted to know. My favorite part was the Beluga whales at Arctic cove. I've never seen one before and we paid the extra $8 per person to feed and pet one. We came this far, why stop now. "Their heads feel like squishy rubbery Jell-O", to quote my seven year old. The ridiculous part is when they take your picture petting the whale and charge you $24 to purchase it! But a fool and his money soon part as we realized when the 4 year old became scared and mom gave the camera to the seven year old so she could help the four year old while dad was video taping...we forgot to inform the seven year old to take a picture of her sister and the whale, not just the whale! I'll laugh at that story someday.
You can feed just about everything at MarineLand for a fee. The bears, fish, deer, whales, etc. But you have the option to feed yourself for free. MarineLand allows and welcomes picnics in various area of the park. You can bring your own food, drinks and snacks.
My 4 year olds favorite part was the gift shop. The $20 she brought with her bought her a pinching plastic dolphin and whale, an assortment of small rubber sea creatures, a pencil and a small plush Beluga. She hasn't put them down yet.
All in all, it was only a little over an hour's drive away, we have the opportunity to return anytime this season for free and regardless to what I think of the vacation... my girls had a wonderful time and cried on the way home that they will miss MarineLand. So as negative as I planned to write this review, I guess I just can't.
Review from Jennifer:
We have taken our six children to Marineland twice in the last 14 years, and both times we have come away very disappointed. Way over-priced, way too much walking (and we are big walkers) with no shade, not much to do for the price. There are not many rides, and they are spread out all over. The whale shows are nice, but there are only 2 and they don't take up much time. The rest is just a zoo, basically. Both times we ended up bored and ready to leave in just a few hours.
For the money, we have found that African Lion Safari, in Canada, is much better. We go every year and are never sorry! One price includes the safari, 4 animal shows, the boat ride, the train ride, petting zoo and a nice water area similar to Darien Lakes Hooks Lagoon. It is easy to spend all day there and the kids are never bored. Make sure you stay for the elephant swim at the end of the day...it is very entertaining! If you like rides, Darien Lake or Canada's Wonderland are the places to go, not Marineland!
Review from Katie in Hamlin:
We used our AAA cards for a small discount at the gate. A friend of ours meet us there with her two little ones.
Compared to how much we have spent at Firemen's carnivals and other fund raisers, Marineland was not as costly as I had anticipated. Once we have to pay for Cody (under 5 are free), the visits will end because Marineland will cost too much.
Cody and Julie had the park to themselves. We sat in the front row for the dolphin show and stood at the rail for the whales' splash show.
The kids' rides (sized for pre-school aged kids) were fantastic. Cody and Julie were able to ride the lady bug roller coaster repeatedly, as they did the miniature Ferris wheel. A parent was able to accompany the children on each ride.
The food prices were high, but no more so than many other attractions we visit, including the movie theater.
Cody and Julie did not use their strollers except for the occasional short break. They enjoyed running on the long roads between attractions.
Overall, a school day is a wonderful day to spend at Marineland. If Cody was older or we had to feed more people the cost would have been prohibitive. We were in the park from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. I spent $8.99 on four items in the gift shop. Each child received a post card and a magnet. Cody carries his post card with him. He tells each person we encounter about his day at the park.
Next year we will pay the additional $5.00 for the season pass and visit the park before and after tourist season.
The only real negative I noticed was a shortage of staff. The first aid station/infant feeding station was locked. There was a sign noting an alternate location. Once we left the entrance area of the park the only staff people visible were those interacting with the animals. Food and drink were not readily available for purchase. In an emergency, contacting a staff person would be difficult. The park map did not include emergency or guest service phone numbers. If a child became separated from his or her parents, contacting the park for assistance would take too long. The expedient option for the cell phone carrying parent would be to call 9-1-1.
We had a great time.
More information about MarineLand, including rates and show information, can be found at their web site, http://www.marinelandcanada.com. They offer AAA holders a $3 discount off tickets at the gate, so bring that AAA card if you have one!
The opinions expressed above are those of individual KOA readers; this is not an official review from KidsOutAndAbout.com. To submit your own comments or mini-review of MarineLand, you can do so below by clicking "Add New Comment." You may have to log in or create an account and then log in, first. Thank you!