H&LA Development Update: Niagara Falls, Ontario

H&LA’s recent research for a project in the Niagara Falls area of Ontario revealed some exciting new hospitality-related developments happening in the area. These developments will have a major impact on tourism, employment, and the general economy in the Niagara Falls area.

  • A new $21 million interactive Titanic museum has been proposed in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This immersive attraction would simulate the experience of being a passenger aboard the doomed ship when it sank in 1912. The company behind the proposed museum, Niagara Falls-based DV3 Imagineering Inc., is currently working to find a site for this project. Assuming the company can secure the necessary funding, this unique new attraction could open within the next couple of years.
  • The Niagara Speedway, a new go-kart track, opened in the Clifton Hill district of Niagara Falls in May 2018. Billed as North America’s largest elevated go-kart facility, the course is spread over four acres, has a maximum elevation of more than 42 feet, and uses karts that can reach speeds of more than 30 kilometers per hour. The Niagara Speedway plans to stay open through the spring, summer, and fall months.
  • Clifton Hill also saw the opening of the new Zombie Attack Theater in 2018. This interactive attraction allows guests to compete with one another while using laser-style guns to shoot down computer-simulated zombies. Admission to the Zombie Attack Theater is $7.99 for adults and $5.99 for children. It is also part of the Clifton Hill Fun Pass, which includes admission to the Niagara SkyWheel, Wild West Coaster, Movieland Wax Museum, and the Ghost Blasters Dark Ride.
  • The new WildPlay Whirlpool Adventure Course opened along Niagara Parkway on the north side of Niagara Falls in May 2017. This new attraction offers ziplining, climbing, jumping, and swinging aerial games, with three separate courses designed to accommodate users of different ages and skill levels. One of seven WildPlay attractions in North America, the Niagara Falls location is also available for private events such as birthday parties, youth field trips, and corporate team-building sessions.
  • In summer 2018, a new inflatable waterpark called Pirate Ship Cove opened at Jordan Harbour, northwest of Niagara Falls. The largest attraction of its kind in Ontario, Pirate Ship Cove features slides, trampolines, bouncy houses, and various obstacles. This seasonal attraction also has kayaks and paddleboards available for rent.
  • In April 2018, the Niagara Falls City Council approved a new hotel tax of $2 per room, effective January 1, 2019. The tax will apply to all overnight accommodations in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and will generate an estimated $5 million annually. These funds will be used to promote tourism and support special events such as New Year’s Eve celebrations, live concerts, and holiday fireworks displays.
  • In January 2018, the minimum wage in Ontario increased from $11.60 per hour to $14.00 per hour. While viewed as a major win for workers, this significant increase has presented challenges for hotels, restaurants, and other types of employers that rely on low-wage labor.
  • A major mixed-use development called the Riverfront Community has been proposed for a site on the south side of Niagara Falls. Plans call for a total of 3,400 residential units, most of which would be geared toward retirees and seniors needing some level of assisted living. The Riverfront Community would offer Chinese-style medical clinics, two parks, and a five-street commercial area with a wide range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment outlets. The plan also calls for a train service linking the development to the Falls, Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, and Thundering Waters Golf Club. The developer behind this project, Hong Kong-based GR Investment Holdings Limited, has stated that, once approved, construction would be carried out in four stages and take about eight years to complete. However, due to environmental concerns and local opposition, it may take two to three years or longer before this project is permitted to move forward.
  • Seneca Gaming Corp. has announced plans for a $40 million upgrade of the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls, New York. Slated for completion by fall 2019, this project will include a new eastern entrance, renovation of the property’s four lobby restaurants, and the transformation of the former Fallsville Splash Park into a landscaped parking lot. All components of the resort are expected to remain open during renovations.
  • Since 2014, state and local officials in Niagara Falls, New York, have been working to redevelop the last remaining portion of the former Rainbow Centre Mall site into a large resort complex called Wonder Falls. As envisioned, this $150 million property will feature 300 guestrooms in a 14-floor tower with a rooftop restaurant and spa. While no official timeline has been announced, backers of this plan are hopeful that the hotel will open within the next two to three years.