Niagara Amusement Park & Splash World

Niagara Amusement Park and Splash World[1] is an 85 acres (34 ha) amusement park in Grand Island, New York. It features a theme park, water park, and is adjacent to a KOA campground. The park is owned by STORE Capital and operated by IB Parks & Entertainment.[2]

Niagara Amusement Park and Splash World
Previously known as Fantasy Island (1961–1992, 2016–2019)
Two Flags Over Niagara Fun Park (1992–1994)
Martin's Fantasy Island (1994–2016)
Location2400 Grand Island Boulevard, Grand Island, New York 14072
Coordinates43°1′37.2″N 78°58′14.5″W / 43.027000°N 78.970694°W / 43.027000; -78.970694
OpenedJuly 1, 1961 (1961-07-01)
OwnerSTORE Capital
Operated byIB Parks & Entertainment
Area85 acres (0.34 km2)
WebsiteOfficial website

History edit

Fantasy Island, Inc. (1961–1981) edit

Indian Village

Fantasy Island was founded by real estate developer Lawrence Grant, and was opened on July 1, 1961. It was designed by co-financier and local jeweler Gerald Birzon and constructed by Milton Milstein and Associates.[3] The ownership group was formed under the name Fantasy Land, Inc. before changing soon after to Fantasy Island, Inc. The group had originally planned to call the park Fantasy Land, but changed the name for legal reasons after finding out there was already an area of Disneyland called Fantasyland.[4]

Upon opening, the park occupied only 12 acres (0.049 km2) of land that was divided into five themed areas: Action Town, Animal Kingdom, Garden of Fables, Indian Village and Western Town.[5] Action Town featured amusement rides, Animal Kingdom featured a petting zoo, Garden of Fables featured explorable recreations of fairy tale scenes, Indian Village featured Native American dancers, and Western Town featured a live Wild West show.[6]

To promote the park, WGR-TV aired a live weekly television program on Saturday mornings from 1961 to 1962 titled Fantasy Island Show featuring the park's characters and puppeteers performing for an all-children studio audience. The show's host and protagonist was Buckskin Joe, portrayed by park general manager Clyde "Buddy" Farnan.[7][8]

A 2,500-seat outdoor arena was constructed in 1965 for French lion tamer Jean "Tarzan" Zerbini's circus.[9] Actor Jim Carrey grew up in nearby Ontario and would vacation at Fantasy Island, citing Zerbini's show as a fond memory.[10]

The park was expanded to 85 acres (0.34 km2) in 1974 to make room for adult rides and broaden the park's appeal.[11]

Citing the 1979 oil crisis and rising cost of gasoline, the park reported a 62% drop in profits during the 1979 season.[12] The park was put up for sale that same year.[13]

After dwindling attendance stemming from Western New York's rust belt economic decline, Fantasy Island, Inc. declared bankruptcy and the park did not operate for the 1982 season.

Charles R. Wood Enterprises (1982–1989) edit

The park was acquired out of bankruptcy in November 1982 by Charles R. Wood Enterprises, headed by Charles Wood, founder of Great Escape in Queensbury, New York.[14]

A new themed area called Water World, a water park, was added to the site in 1984. Wood also installed an 800-seat picnic pavilion that was previously used at the 1982 World's Fair.

Arto Monaco was commissioned to redesign Garden of Fables, constructing a castle with moat that was encircled by a horse-drawn carriage he had previously built for Land of Makebelieve.[15]

International Broadcasting Corporation (1989–1992) edit

Allan Herschell Iron Horse

Wood sold the park along with Great Escape to International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) in April 1989 for $36 million.[16] As part of the deal, Wood would stay on as chief executive officer of the park and his son-in-law, Tom Wages, was retained as general manager.[17]

Following the closure of nearby Crystal Beach Park after the 1989 season, that park's famed Comet roller coaster was purchased by Charles Wood at auction in October 1989 for $210,000, disassembled and stored indefinitely at Fantasy Island.[18]

In June 1990, Michael Murach was paralyzed from the head down while performing a high diving act at the park when he slipped on a 3-meter diving board during a comedy act and fell 20-feet, hitting his head on the edge of the concrete pool. Murach was years later awarded damages of $58.6 million after a jury found International Broadcasting Corporation 100% liable for his injury. The end of the diving board was not installed at a proper distance away from the edge of the pool to prevent such an incident from occurring.[19]

In August 1991, 14-year-old Kenneth Margerum fell 60 feet (18 m) to his death from the park's Ferris wheel after his seat dropped from its axle. It was revealed that the park operators routinely removed one or two seats from the ride each day to prevent the ride from moving around in high winds during off-hours. Each time the ride opened, the seats were bolted back onto the frame of the ride. Investigators found that only one side of the victim's seat had been bolted properly, causing Margerum's seat to drop from its axle and subsequently leading to his death.[20]

Attendance began to dwindle as parents became concerned over the park's safety following Margerum's death.

Charles R. Wood Enterprises (1992–1994) edit

Martin's Fantasy Island

Charles Wood reacquired the park along with Great Escape in October 1992 for $14 million when International Broadcasting Corporation went bankrupt. In his second stint of ownership, Wood changed the park's name to Two Flags Over Niagara Fun Park.

Martin's Shows (1994–2016) edit

Martin DiPietro, owner of Martin's Shows, purchased the park and renamed it Martin's Fantasy Island in January 1994.[21] Charles Wood took the original Comet roller coaster and reassembled it at his Great Escape park later that year.[22] DiPietro would install his own roller coaster named the Silver Comet in 1999 that was inspired by the original.[23]

STORE Capital (2016–present) edit

Apex Parks Group edit

Silver Comet

Martin DiPietro sold the park's land to STORE Capital in May 2016, and Apex Parks Group began leasing the property from STORE that same month.[24][25] The park returned to its original name of Fantasy Island.

Reports surfaced in 2018 and 2019 that the general condition of the park had deteriorated, with many attractions not operational due to either mechanical failure or under-staffing.[26][27]

On February 19, 2020, following reports that Apex Parks Group had put the park's rides up for sale, the company confirmed that the park had permanently closed.[28][29] A settlement was reached with the Attorney General's office to refund customers that had purchased 2020 season passes.[30]

IB Parks & Entertainment edit

Gene Staples, owner of IB Parks & Entertainment, entered a long-term agreement to lease the property from STORE Capital in May 2021. Staples also owns and operates Clementon Lake Park and Indiana Beach. The park was renamed Niagara Amusement Park and Splash World and reopened in August 2021.[31] The 2021 season only featured the splash park, with rides being re-added to the park in time for the 2022 season.[32]

Rides and attractions edit

Roller Coasters edit

Name Opened Manufacturer Model Notes
Silver Comet 1999 Custom Coasters International Wooden roller coaster Modeled after The Comet.

Flat rides edit

Name Opened Manufacturer Model Notes
Amazing Flying Machine 2022 Larson International Flying Scooters Replaced the Mind Warp.
Auto Carousel 1961 Allan Herschell Company
Circus 2008 Sartori Rides
Dodg’em 1989 Majestic TM1400 Euro Scooter Bumper cars Acquired from Martin's Shows.
Drop Zone 2015 SBF Visa Group Drop'n Twist A 6-metre (20 ft) tall children's drop tower that replaced Jack and the Beanstalk. Formerly known as Rapunzel! Rapunzel!
Grande Carousel 1961 Allan Herschell Company Carousel
Gunslinger 2022 Eli Bridge Company Scrambler Previously known as the Baltidora at La Feria Chapultepec.
Hot Rod Crusin 1961 Allan Herschell Company Miniature car ride.
Iron Horse Train 1961 Allan Herschell Company Iron Horse miniature train Uses an acquired train from Beaver Island State Park for its spare engine and cars.
Niagara Helicopter Tours 1961 Allan Herschell Company Helicopter ride converted.
Ships Ahoy 1961 Allan Herschell Company
Steel Colt 1983 Zamperla Train ride

Unopened Attractions edit

Niagara Amusement Park owns a large arsenal of attractions that are in varying states of construction or storage. Listed below are rides that have not been opened to the public since the park reopened. Opening years for previously operational attractions are listed below, and the reopening timeline for all are either vague or unclear.

Name Opened Status Manufacturer Notes
Antique Autos 1961 SBNO Arrow Huss / Gould Manufacturing Formerly known as Antique Cars and Crankshaft Cruisers.
Shuttle Loop TBD In Storage Anton Schwarzkopf The Shuttle Loop coaster originated in 1980 as the Laser Loop at Kennywood in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, but was removed in 1990 to make way for the Steel Phantom.[33] It was promptly sold to Mexico City's La Feria de Chapultepec, where it operated as Cascabel from 1994 until a tragic accident on the park's Quimera coaster and ensuing safety inspections resulted in their closure.[34] Cascabel was later dismantled and sold online through the used rides market, for a starting price of US$490,000.[35] In April 2021, prior to the purchase of Fantasy Island by IB Parks & Entertainment, the Cascabel train and parts was spotted at Indiana Beach.[36] After some debate about whether it would be set up at the park, the coaster eventually materialized at Niagara Amusement Park in February 2022.[37][38] It will be the first Shuttle Loop to open in the United States since Greezed Lightning at Kentucky Kingdom (2003–2009).
Caterpillar TBD Under construction Mack Rides A Caterpillar that previously operated at Pavilion Nostalgia Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Flying Witch TBD Under construction Pinfari A dark ride that formerly operated at Rye Playland from 1971 to 2021, replacing Fantasy Island's Rock & Roll.
Giant Wheel 1994 SBNO Chance Rides A Ferris wheel the replaced the Astro Wheel. Formerly known as Gondola Wheel.
Mardi Gras Hangover TBD In storage Larson International A Fire Ball ride that operated at Six Flags Great America from 2018 to 2023. The attraction was delivered to Niagara in February 2024.[39]
Magic Ring 1961 In storage Zamperla
Miner Mike Family Coaster TBD Under construction Wisdom Rides A Miner Mike coaster that previously operated at Knucklehead's Bowling & Family Entertainment in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin from 2007 to 2023.[40] The coaster was set up on a flat concrete pad, but ultimately wasn't completed due to the attraction originally straddling a pit as opposed to flat ground.
Pony Carts TBD In storage Allan Herschell Company Horse and buggy
Revolution TBD In storage HUSS Rides A Frisbee ride that operated at Six Flags Great Adventure as Pendulum from 1999 to 2003 and Six Flags Great America from 2004 to 2023.[41] The attraction was delivered to Niagara in February 2024.[39]
Sea Dragon TBD Under construction Chance Rides A Pirate ship ride that arrived at the park in 2023.
The Serpent TBD Under construction S.D.C A Galaxi coaster that originated at Noble Park Funland in Paducah, Kentucky, where it operated between 1987 and 1988. It was then purchased by LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park in Monroe, Ohio, where it operated from 1989 until the park's closure in 2002. The coaster was picked up in late 2004 by Kokomo's Family Fun Center in Saginaw, Michigan, but spent several years under refurbishment. Serpent operated at the park from April 2009 until 2019, when COVID-19 pandemic restrictions prevented it from running in 2020. Serpent was dismantled in early 2022 and later shipped to Niagara Amusement Park.
Tilt-A-Whirl TBD Under construction Sellner Manufacturing Replacing the park's previous Tilt-A-Whirl that operated from 1992 to 2019.
Wave Pool 1995 SBNO An abandoned Wave pool that replaced Kid Wash.
Unknown TBD In storage HUSS Rides Airboat
Unknown TBD In storage Chance Rides Trabant
Unknown TBD In storage HUSS Rides Top Spin
Unknown TBD In storage HUSS Rides Condor
Unknown TBD In storage Unknown A Pirate ship that first arrived in 2021. The ride has been deemed to be in critical condition and therefore probably won't operate.

Water attractions/rides edit

Name Opened Closed Manufacturer Model Notes
Cannon Bowl 2006 Operating ProSlide Technology CannonBOWL
Dinosaur Pool 1980s Operating Kiddie pool
Double Dare Falls 1984 Operating Water slide Formerly Raging Rapids.
Dragster Drench 2012 Operating ProSlide Technology RACER
Splash Creek 1990 Operating Lazy river
Surf Hill 1987 Operating ProSlide Technology Children's water slide

Former rides and attractions edit

Former roller coasters edit

Name Opened Closed Manufacturer Model Notes
Crazy Mouse 2005 2019 Zamperla Steel Crazy Mouse Twister coaster Replaced Wildcat.
Dragon Wagon 1994 2019 Wisdom Rides Steel family powered roller coaster Replaced Balloon Race. Sold to Beuce Carnival in Canada.
Dragon's Flight 2019 2019 Wisdom Rides Steel family powered roller coaster
Little Dipper 1961 1995 Allan Herschell Company Steel kiddie roller coaster
Max's Doggy Dog Coaster 2013 2019 SBF Visa Group Steel kiddie roller coaster
Orient Express 1998 2004 Wisdom Rides Steel kiddie roller coaster Replaced Dragon Wagon. Sold to Beuce Carnival in Canada.
Wildcat 1972 2005 Schwarzkopf Steel thrill roller coaster

Former water attractions/rides edit

Name Opened Closed Manufacturer Model Notes
Bumper Boats 1970 1995 Bumper boats
Kid Wash 1980s 1995 Splash pad
Old Mill Scream 1986 2014 Arrow Dynamics Log flume Acquired from Petticoat Junction.

Former dry rides edit

Name Opened Closed Manufacturer Model Notes
4x4 Truck Ride 1994 2007 SBF Visa Group Was located where Rockin' Tug is now.
Astro Wheel 1981 1994 Chance Manufacturing Ferris wheel Acquired from The Great Escape and Hurricane Harbor. Sold to Amusements of Buffalo, and later Kissel Entertainment.
Balloon Race 1985 1994 Zamperla A bigger version of Up Up And Away. Sat where the Beanstalk currently sits today. Sold to The Great Escape and Hurricane Harbor.
Bugs 1972 2011 Venture Manufacturing Sold to Martin's Shows.
Chaos 1997 2007 Chance Rides prototype portable version #3
Cinderella's Midnight Magic Wheel 2018 2019 Sartori Rides Acquired from Indiana Beach.
Cinema 180 1961 2003 3D cinema theater Optical illusion film show
Crazy Bus 1997 2013 Zamperla Replaced by Rockin' Tug
DareDevil 2001 2008 Chance Rides
Devil's Hole[42] 1975 1994 Chance Manufacturing Rotor
Devil's Hole 2011 2019 Wisdom Rides Gravitron Replaced Starship 2000. Located where Dragon Coaster was before that ride closed in 1986.
Enchanted Tea Party 2014 2019 Zamperla Midi Tea Cups Replaced Tea Cups.
Flight 2008 2019 Zamperla Sky Flyer Replaced DareDevil.
Flying Bobs 1989 2003 Chance Rides Acquired from Crystal Beach Park. Sold to an unknown location in Mexico.
Giant Slide 1975 2018 Whitehead Plastics Slide
Goosey Goosey Gander 2011 2019 Allan Herschell Company Formerly Blue Goose.
Jack and the Beanstalk 2004 2015 Moser's Rides Spring ride. Replaced Orient Express.
Mega Disk'o 2009 2019 Zamperla Replaced Patriot.
Mind Warp 2011 2019 Technical Park Loop Fighter[43] Replaced Sizzler.
Nitro 2003 2009 Zamperla
Over The Falls 2014 2014 KMG Speed Replaced Old Mill Scream. Sold to a showman in England after only one season.
Paratrooper 1975 1994 Frank Hrubetz & Company Sold to Amusements of Buffalo, and later a travelling carnival in Michigan.
Patriot 1989 2009 ARM Rides (UK)
Rampage 1979 1984 Watkins Trailer-mounted
Rock & Roll Music Express 2015 2019 Bertazzon
Rockin' Tug 2013 2019 Zamperla Replaced Crazy Bus. Located where the 4X4 truck ride was after it closed in 2008.
Rok O Plane 1975 1998 Eyerly Aircraft Company Acquired from Martin's Shows.
Sea Ray 1995 2011 Mulligan Engineering
Sizzler 1989 2011 Wisdom Rides Scrambler
Space Shuttle 1961 1994 Chance Manufacturing Swinging ship ride Sold to Amusements of Buffalo.
Space Whirl 1963 1976 Arrow Development Tea cups Acquired from Century 21 Exposition.[44]
Starship 2000 2009 2011 Wisdom Rides
Super Spiral 1977 2002 Hrubetz This was a round up ride.
Tea Cups 1997 2014 Zamperla Mini tea cups
Tilt & Shout 2007 2019 ARM Rides (USA) Formerly Full Tilt.
Tilt-A-Whirl 1992 2019 Sellner Manufacturing Electric 7 Tilt-A-Whirl
Trabant 1961 1994 Chance Manufacturing Sold to The Great Escape and Hurricane Harbor where it is now a dining platform.
YoYo 1961 1994 Chance Manufacturing Chair swing Sold to Amusements of Buffalo, and later Quassy Amusement Park.

References edit

  1. ^ "Niagara Amusement Park and Splash World".
  2. ^ "IB Parks & Entertainment Official Website".
  3. ^ Futrell, Jim (March 2, 2006). Amusement Parks of New York. Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811732628 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Hirsch, Rose Ann (March 2, 2011). Western New York Amusement Parks. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738574561 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Theme park to mark 50th year; Fantasy Island plans Saturday celebration". July 8, 2011.
  6. ^ Gallivan, Pete; Welshofer, Kate (March 2, 2020). "Fantasy Island reunion: 'Western Town' alumni reunite". WGRZ. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  7. ^ "The Golden Age of Kids' TV in Buffalo – Buffalo Stories Archives & Blog". 22 August 2018.
  8. ^ Hirsch, Rose Ann (March 2, 2011). Western New York Amusement Parks. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738574561 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Futrell, Jim (March 2, 2006). Amusement Parks of New York. Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811732628 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Liu, Qina (February 19, 2020). "From Jim Carrey to Wild West Shootouts: Twitter reacts to Fantasy Island closing". The Buffalo News. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  11. ^ Futrell, Jim (March 2, 2006). Amusement Parks of New York. Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811732628 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ "Amusement Business 1980-03-01: Vol 92 Iss 9 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive". Internet Archive. February 1, 1980. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  13. ^ "Amusement Business 1980-09-20: Vol 92 Iss 38 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive". Internet Archive. September 20, 1980. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  14. ^ "Youngsters need those summer jobs". UPI.
  15. ^ Hirsch, R.A. (2011). Western New York Amusement Parks. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. p. 132. ISBN 978-1-4396-3928-3. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  16. ^ Futrell, Jim (March 2, 2006). Amusement Parks of New York. Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811732628 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ "International Broadcasting v. Turner, 734 F. Supp. 383 | Casetext".
  19. ^ "PARALYZED EX-DIVER AWARDED $58.6 MILLION". December 3, 2003.
  20. ^ "Boy Killed in Fall from Ferris Wheel". AP NEWS.
  22. ^ Hirsch, Rose Ann (March 2, 2011). Western New York Amusement Parks. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738574561 – via Google Books.
  23. ^ "Silver Comet keeps thrill alive for fans of the Crystal Beach roller coaster". August 10, 2013.
  24. ^ Fink, James (May 14, 2016). "Fantasy Island bought by California company". Buffalo Business First. American City Business Journals. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  25. ^ "Real Property Information".
  26. ^ "Complaints and petition signatures grow over Fantasy Island".
  27. ^ "Season pass holders complain about conditions at Fantasy Island". WGRZ. 16 July 2019.
  28. ^ "Multiple reports say Fantasy Island rides are being sold". February 19, 2020.
  29. ^ "Fantasy Island confirms it has closed". February 19, 2020.
  30. ^ "Fantasy Island to refund customers for 2020 season |". 7 April 2020.
  31. ^ Reporter, Samantha Christmann News Business (2 July 2021). "Q&A: Gene Staples, new owner of Fantasy Island, 'fell in love with' the park". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2021-07-07. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  32. ^ "Niagara Amusement Park and Splash World shares progress on rides". News 4 Buffalo. 2022-03-11. Retrieved 2022-03-12.
  33. ^ Bobby (16 June 2017). "Remember the Laser Loop?". Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  34. ^ "Amusement park to shut down after accident". El Universal. October 13, 2019. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  35. ^ "Kennywood Park's former Laser Loop for sale in Mexico City". WTAE-TV. September 2, 2020. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  36. ^ "What's new at Indiana Beach? Off Season Construction Update! April 10, 2021". YouTube. Thrill Ridez. April 11, 2021. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  37. ^ Pastrick, Chris (February 10, 2022). "Kennywood's Laser Loop returns to U.S. — at New York amusement park". Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  38. ^ Nick (February 9, 2022). "Former Kennywood Coaster Coming to Niagara Amusement Park". Coaster101. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  39. ^ a b "Fans of Niagara Amusement Park & Splash World 🎢". Facebook. 2024-02-08. Retrieved 2024-02-08.
  40. ^ Marden, Duane. "Miner Mike  (Knucklehead's Bowling & Family Entertainment)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  41. ^ "Pendulum At Six Flags Great Adventure". Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  42. ^ "86'd Rides vol 2: Hell Hole | The DoD3". Retrieved September 7, 2016.
  43. ^ Rides, Technical Park Amusement (December 20, 2018). "LOOP FIGHTER".
  44. ^ Streeter, Harold (June 28, 1962). "New Rides Show Imagination". News-Press. Retrieved October 18, 2020.

External links edit