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Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 10:33 am

GCEDC board approves tax exemption for Darien Lake's new attractions

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake, darien lake theme park, GCEDC

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a final resolution for an application for assistance from Darien Lake Theme Park Resort at the March 30, 2015, board meeting. 

Darien Lake Theme Park Resort is planning to add new attractions for its 2015 operating season, including a 75-foot “super loop” thrill ride and dual waterslide complex speed ride.
The company was approved for a sales tax exemption of $180,000 and the planned capital investment will total an estimated $2.5 million.

“The tourism industry is extremely competitive so enhancing our attraction through new rides and investments in other amenities is critically important to our business operations,” said Chris Thorpe, general manager, Darien Lake. “The support of the GCEDC allows us to make these investments and maintain our reputation as a popular and fun tourism destination and remain competitive against other attractions in the Northeast.”

“Darien Lake is one of the most impactful economic contributors to our local economy, providing over 400 full-time equivalent jobs and approximately 2,000 seasonal positions each year,” said Wallace Hinchey, GCEDC Board chairman. “It is in the best interest of our community to help Darien Lake remain a popular tourism destination and the resulting economic benefits in doing so.”

Monday, March 30, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Construction begins on new ride at Darien Lake

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park

We may still be waiting for the weather to warm, but the folks at Darien Lake are certain spring will arrive some time soon and they'll be ready with two new rides come opening day May 9.

Pieces of Rolling Thunder are rolling into the park and being assembled now and work will begin soon on the new water ride, Brain Drain.

Season pass holders will be able to get a preview of Rolling Thunder during a special event May 8.

Brain Drain will open May 16.

Photos submitted by Tipping Point Media.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Darien Lake ready to hire 2K seasonal workers

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake, darien lake theme park

Press release:

The region’s largest seasonal employer is looking to fill 2,000 open positions across its operations, including amusement park, water park, lodging, entertainment, food, and retail departments.

Darien Lake has already begun accepting applications for the upcoming season with some positions starting as early as April. The park will open for the 2015 season on May 9 with full, daily operations beginning June 15.

“With two thrilling new rides being added to the park this season, we’re in need of more energetic, and fun-loving employees than ever before,” said Darien Lake General Manager Chris Thorpe. “Darien Lake is a great career-starting opportunity for all Western New Yorkers as our team members routinely develop experience in guest service, operational processes and small business entrepreneurship."

Immediate opportunities are available in food service, park services, ride operations, retail, accommodations and campground housekeeping. Other opportunities are available in games, gift shop sales, aquatic operations, skilled trades and park maintenance, entertainment, guest services, security, and safety. Darien Lake is seeking energetic, friendly applicants of all backgrounds who are interested in helping us create memorable experiences for our guests.

Interested applicants can apply online at www.DarienLake.com/jobs or call the Darien Lake Job Line at 585-599-5108.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Darien Lake rolls out two new rides for 2015

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park, tourism

Darien Lake Theme Park draws thousands upon thousands of visitors from all over Western New York each summer, but General Manager Chris Thorpe says Genesee County residents are going to be especially pleased with what they find at the park this season.

Two new massive rides are going to add a lot more value for season-pass holders, he said, and local season-pass holders are an important customer base.

"We are excited to present these two new attractions this year," Thorpe said. "We think it cements us as the best entertainment value in Western New York, particularly from a local perspective. For Batavia residents, local Genesee County residents, our season pass will offer so much more this year. We're excited to give them the opportunity to come out and visit the park frequently, over and over, to see what a great value we are."

The new rides are called Brain Drain and Rolling Thunder.

Brain Drain is a massive, seven-story waterslide that offers twin free-fall drops through tubes that loop and cross, with riders zooming through at 38 feet per second until they're blasted into a pool of water at the base.

Riders start in an enclosed launch capsule, with both riders dropping into the tube simultaneously when the floor beneath them gives way.

Roling Thunder is a compact steel loop that stands 73 feet at its apex and propels 24 riders at time through a closed loop on a high-speed train. The ride hangs passengers upside down and rockets back and forth through the loop.

Construction will begin soon and the rides are expected to be ready for opening day, May 9.

The expansion gives the park 47 rides for visitors to choose from, with enough variety to please all guests, Thorpe said.

"There's so much to do, but what's even better, is there's something for everybody in the family here," said Thorpe, who is originally from Buffalo and first started working at Darien Lake in 1995, rising to the level of general manager, transferring to other theme parks for the past couple of years and now returns home.

Noting how important Darien Lake is to the local economy in the jobs it creates and the tourism dollars it attracts, Chamber President Tom Turnbull said it was great to see the theme park adding rides.

"One of the things I've learned from our friends at Darien Lake -- they've kind of schooled me on the amusement park business -- is how important attractions are in driving attendance," Turnbull said. "To have not just one new attraction, but two new attractions means, I think, we can expect a banner year at Darien Lake."

Adding rides is a departure from last year's strategy to draw visitors to the park, using entertainment, such as the Harlem Globetrotters, a Latin music festival, and, of course, Nik Wallenda to draw in crowds.

To be sure, Wallenda brought guests to the park, but he's moving on to other venues this season and Thrope said the new rides are a good fit for what the park already offers.

"We'll still have our traditional entertainment in place, the magic shows and things like that, but last year's focus was Nik Wallenda, which was a very strong attraction," Thorpe said. "This year, we're going more with a hardware focus and looking at attractions that will peak people's interest."

The park will still work to maintain its identity as a destination with strong Western New York roots, Thorpe said, a branding effort begun by park management two seasons ago.

"It's important for us to be woven into the cultural fabric of Western New York and those things like the Anchor Bar and Tim Horton's and all the local vendors we work with are critically important to our success," Thorpe said.

Chris Thorpe explaining Rolling Thunder.

Tom Turnbull

Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Photos: Harlem Globetrotters at Darien Lake

While at Darien Lake for the Gus Macker Tournament, I found out three members of the Harlem Globe Trotters were inside the park putting on a show. I got just the tail end.

Herschend Family Entertainment, owners of Darien Lake Theme Park, also own the Harlem Globetrotters.

Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Photos: Gus Macker Tournament at Darien Lake

For years, the Gus Macker Tournament has been played in Buffalo. This year, for the first time, it was played at Darien Lake Theme Park. The tournament was spread over Saturday and Sunday (some Saturday games were delayed to Sunday because of rain). I showed up in time for a portion of two games and the final championship game of the day (among various divisions). The team in the light gray tops won 20-6.

To purchase prints, click here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Photos: Color bombs galore at Darien Lake's 5K

post by Howard B. Owens in 5K, Color Me Rad, Darien, darien lake theme park

Thousands of people from throughout WNY were at Darien Lake Theme Park today for the 2nd annual Color Me Rad 5K. The event isn't a real race, but for participants, it's obviously real fun.

Color Me Rad benefits Special Olympics.

Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Photos: Nik Wallenda performs for the first time at Darien Lake Theme Park

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park, nik wallenda

Nik Wallenda, "The King of the Highwire," performed at Darien Lake for the first time on a 750-foot-long wire stretched over one of the lakes.

He performed with is wife, Erendira, and Nick Slimick and Alec Bryant, who were making their professional debut. Slimick and Bryant are graduates of a high school in Sarasota, Fla., where they studied circus performing.

Wallenda drove a specially equipped motorcycle across the wire, which was 150 feet above the water at its apex, with Erendira and either Nick or Alec on a trapeze bar attached below. At the apex, Wallanda performed a handstand on the bike seat on one trip. On another he stood on the seat. On other trips, Erendira and the two young men performed stunts. The final trip was just Nik and Erendira and they performed barrel rolls at the far end of the wire.

This isn't the show Wallenda will be performing at Darien Lake this summer.

The show this summer will be in the Galaxy Theater (to be renamed the Nik Wallenda Theater). Shows start June 24 and run through Sept. 1. The 10-week run will feature two performances every day (4 p.m. and 7 p.m.) except Monday.

The hour-long show will feature top aerialists and stunt performers, Wallenda said. The finale will feature the Wallenda Family Pyramid on the Wire, untethered high above the stage.

During the show's run, performers will entertain park guests with wandering performances throughout the park, called "pop up performances." There will also be a regular interactive 20-minute show on the Gazebo Stage.

Wallenda said one reason he agreed to perform at Darien Lake is he that felt the need to give back to Western New York after being so warmly embraced during the run-up to his highwire walk over Niagara Falls.

"When I got off that cable in Niagara Falls, I said there will always be a piece of my heart that is in this region," Wallenda said. "This community has embraced me. It's been amazing. I get goosebumps.

"I think this shows my commitment to this region, to Western New York and Toronto," Wallenda said. "The community has been so good to me."

More pictures after the jump:

Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Darien Lake to host 3-on-3 basketball tournment in Jully

Press release:

City officials, Gus Macker organizers, Darien Lake executives, and members of the Police Athletic League joined together outside Buffalo City Hall this morning to announce that the Gus Macker tournament will be returning to Western New York this year. Genesee County's Darien Lake intervened to save the tournament, which would have otherwise been canceled this year.

“We’re excited to be able to bring the tournament back (here),” said Gus Macker organizer Scott McNeal. “Darien Lake offers the necessary space and infrastructure for the thousands of players and families that come to participate in and watch the games.”

This Gus Macker tournament is the second-largest out of 38 locations nationwide, with more than 3,000 players and spectators annually. The three-on-three tournament attracts both male and female players, 78 percent of whom are under the age of 24, and 47 percent of whom are under 17. 

“As Western New York’s family-fun destination, the Gus Macker Tournament is a perfect fit for us,” said Darien Lake spokesman Vince Nicoletti. “We’re very excited to be hosting the games this year and look forward to continuing this great ... tradition.”

This year’s tournament will take place on July 19th and 20th across Darien Lake’s sprawling parking lots, which will be converted into basketball courts with four to six featured games taking place inside the park itself. Darien Lake will also be keeping the Police Athletic League as the event’s charitable beneficiary.

Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 12:11 am

Photos: Opening day at Darien Lake

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park

In another sign that spring is really here, Darien Lake opened to the entire public today (season pass holders had access last weekend).

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