Everyone knows the song for Marineland – and when I say everyone, I mean everyone who has watched tv in Canada in the last decade. I have been watching that ad on tv for years and have been pining to go see dolphins and whales and have just as much fun as everyone in the commercial. There is something about the ocean, and ocean creatures that I love. It’s probably from growing up land-locked in the middle of Canada – the sea takes on a romantic quality. So, our holiday to Ontario had to include a trip to Niagara Falls to see Marineland. I was stoked. I had our trip booked, and then I decided to look at the reviews for Marineland. I was crushed after reading the reviews. It appeared as though no one liked the place, that they though the animals were mistreated and that all in all it was a horrible place. What to do – there was nothing to do but continue as planned with our holiday.
The day dawned on Marineland day and I was in agony – would it be ok? would we hate it? We arrived via the tourist bus that runs in Niagara Falls (which, by the way, is an excellent way to get around inexpensively and easily), there were no lines and we walked in, my map anxiously clutched in my hand. Our first stop was to see the seals. It was an odd building. There was an above part with auditorium-like seating where you could look down into the tank at the seals swimming about, and then a below part where you could look into the tank from the side through some sort of plexiglass stuff. There were also a series of other small aquariums with fish down there too. It was ok. It was a bit sad that the seals just swam around and around in circles, but I guess that is the nature of keeping animals in captivity.
Next we set off to see the deer. And it dawned on us that Marineland is HUGE. And when I mean huge, I mean the area is massive. You cannot even imagine how big when you are there because it is in a forest. Really, on the map things look like they are right next to each other but when you are standing at an attraction you see only trees everywhere you look. So plan for an excessive amount of walking. We finally made it to the deer. It was a huge enclosure and they just let you loose in with a bunch of deer with the intent that you buy deer food and feed them. We were mobbed a bit a first but when they realized that we didn’t have any food they left us alone. These must have been the fairly gentle deer because there was a separate closed off area for the rest of deer. We spent some time watching these ones – some of the males were fighting with their antlers which was interesting, and one poor guy was fighting with the fence and kept getting his antlers caught in it. After that we hiked for what seemed like miles up to see the rest of the land animals (bison, other types of deer like animals and bears). I have never seen so many bears in one place. There must have been at least 50.
And then to the Belugas. You can pay a bit extra and you get to feed a beluga whale which I opted to do. It was so much fun. An attendant helps you and you can stroke their heads and throw fish in their mouths. I loved it. I know that it’s just the way they are but Belugas always look like they are smiling. There were also viewing stations underground through plexiglass where you could see them all swimming around. There was even a nursery tank which had about five of the most adorable mummy and baby Belugas. That tank had an attendant that sat at a desk and wrote down everything that the babies were doing. We also saw the one Orca whale. He made me quite sad – he looked so big, swimming around and around alone is his little tank.
We went to the main show twice, at 1 and 3 ish, I think. The first show lasted about 25 minutes and the second about 20. They were pretty good. The trainers had dolphins, seals and Belugas that they swam with and got to do tricks. It had a bit of interaction where a couple of children ended up being soaked which I’m sure their parents hadn’t planned for. And for the grand finale of the show they brought out the walruses! They were so big – it kind of blows my mind that they can even move around on land. The first show had two large lady walruses and then the second show had one large male.
And that was pretty much our day. We had lunch at the cafeteria which had basic hotdogs, pizza, hamburgers and what I think was rotisserie chicken which looked like it was all cooked in house. The food was ok. There were little food kiosks scattered around the park that sold drinks, ice cream, popcorn and whatnot, but many of them were closed, presumably because it was after Labour day. Oh, and the rides. Also scattered throughout the park were amusement park rides. I think they were included in the price of the ticket but we didn’t go on any as I tend to get motion sick. A few seemed to be closed but I didn’t know if that was because we were in the low season or if they were being repaired.
So, all in all, what was my opinion of Marineland? It was ok. I loved the Belugas and the show was pretty good. I wasn’t a huge fan of all the walking and the limited food choices. (Although they do encourage people to bring their own food for picnics). The orca and seals made me a bit sad, but I just have to trust that they are being well cared for. If I lived there I might have thought about paying an extra $5 onto my entrance ticket for unlimited seasons access, but I don’t think that I’d go out of my way to go back. I am glad we went though, I don’t regret our visit at all.