A few weeks ago, while planning my trip to Niagara Falls, I decided to reach out and see if I could get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Aero Car and Niagara’s Fury. The Niagara Parks Commission loved the idea and immediately started setting up tours for me.
I had heard about Niagara’s Fury, the 360-degree immersive theater show for years and believe it or not, I was looking forward to it just as much as seeing the falls themselves. If you’ve ever seen any of Disney’s Circle-Vision 360 films (O Canada, Timekeeper, America the Beautiful, Reflections of China), this presentation is very similar. Niagara’s Fury, however, is crammed full of special effects.
This one-of-a-kind attraction was executive produced by PGAV who coordinated all the media, audio and special effects.Niagara’s Fury is actually broken into two parts, starting with an eight-minute animated pre-show. It follows the journey of a beaver that is forced to write a school paper on Niagara Falls. Through a dream sequence, he is whisked away to the ice age where he is given a history lesson on how the falls were formed.
After doing half a dozen attractions surrounding Niagara Falls, this is the only attraction that actually gave this kind of information in a very understandable, relatable and easy to understand format that both kids and adults can understand. Most importantly, it’s very well written and extremely clever.
The extremely high quality animated film was produced by Blur Studios. Seriously, it’s by far the best animation I have seen that was specifically made for an attraction period. They also created the ride film for The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood as well as a Spongebob Squarepants simulator ride film that appeared in all the Paramount parks.
The main theater attraction was created by Technifex, who also created the fantastic Titanic attraction at Fox Studios Australia. If you have ever been to a Disney Circle-Vision presentation, there are a total of nine curved screens with a camera in-between each one to project across the theater. Niagara’s Fury uses a complete 360 wraparound screen with nine digital projectors hidden in the ceiling that angle downward for a perfectly seamless experience.
One hundred guests at a time enter the theater-in-the-round and board a custom built 35-foot-wide motion based platform. This platform can sway back and forth in synchronization with the film as if you are floating along the Niagara Falls. It can also go through extreme vibrations during a glacial avalanche or to simulate the current going over the Falls. To make sure guests don’t fall all over each other, grab rails were affixed to the platform for those who might have a problem with the motion.
Near the beginning of the main attraction, the theater simulates being near a glacier. Guests experience a temperature change from 75 F to 40 F in less than three seconds thanks to two air handlers that brings the room a frigid blast.
The ceiling is crammed with effects like fog machines, water spritzers, fans, snow machines and smell cannons to simulate scents like pine trees.
Just below that, speakers are placed above guest’s heads that are so powerful they had to dial them down during previews because they were rattling shot glasses off the shelves in the nearby gift shop.
Ponchos are given to guests before entering the theater and believe me, you will get wet. Over 170,000,000 liters of water are used in Niagara’s Fury. Through the use of 50 horsepower pumps, 56-foot-wide waterfalls are created just below the screen. In addition, the area surrounding the viewing platform is surrounded by a small “moat” with water cannons hidden in them to give that extra splash.
Ultimately, Niagara’s Fury was created so Table Rock (the visitor’s center a few steps away from Horseshoe Falls) could have a year round attraction that didn’t require guests to be outside in the frigid winter months. All in all, it’s a fun and educational attraction that’s a hidden gem in the Niagara Falls area that if you’re an attractions fan like myself, you need to take the time to see while you’re in Ontario.