Cave of the Winds Pre-Show Attraction to Extend Tourism Season
New Facility Featuring Interactive Program Part of $70 Million Park Transformation
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of the new $7 million pavilion at the Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls State Park. The interactive facility, which highlights the natural and cultural history of Niagara Falls, will provide a new year-round attraction in the park and help extend the tourism season. The project is a centerpiece of Governor Cuomo's $70 million revitalization of Niagara Falls State Park.
"The state-of-the-art new Cave of the Winds experience builds on our investments to establish Niagara Falls as a world class tourism destination," Governor Cuomo said. "From improvements in Niagara Falls State Park to new hotels to the Niagara Scenic Parkway, our commitment to the community is supporting tourism, creating jobs and driving economic activity across the entire region."
"Niagara Falls State Park ranks among the world's top tourism attractions, and it is one of Western New York's most important economic assets as well," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who attended today's ribbon cutting. "The upgrade to the Cave of the Winds exhibit will increase its year-round accessibility and add a new dimension to the public's enjoyment and understanding of one of the planet's great natural wonders. Governor Cuomo has made Niagara Falls one of his signature priorities, and the revitalization of the nation's oldest state park is another example of his extraordinary dedication to our region."
At a ceremony today Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul welcomed the community and its leaders to celebrate and unveil the new pre-show attraction provided through the Governor's NY Parks 2020 initiative.
The Cave of the Winds pre-show attraction consists of three new interior spaces in the lead-up to the world-famous redwood decks. The project replaces an outdated complex as well as the former New York State Park Police office and will help eliminate long waits through the implementation of timed ticketing, a common amenity at theme parks around the world.
Timed ticketing will allow patrons to schedule a preferred time to visit and will move patrons in batches of 70 every eight minutes through three new experiences. "Drawn to the Edge" presents interactive and virtual exhibits that tell the story of why visitors and innovators came to Niagara Falls and showcases the way beauty and power co-exist. In the "World Changed Here" space, a theatrical film and object theatre introduces viewers to people like famed visionaries such as landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted and inventor Nikola Tesla and how their work at Niagara Falls impacted the world.
Finally, visitors will "Prepare for Power" when they receive a pair of souvenir sandals before descending 175 feet into the Niagara Gorge to the decks of the Cave of the Winds and the Hurricane Deck. When the decks close for the season, this space becomes a multi-purpose room where a video wall will show visitors the Falls throughout all the seasons. In total, the pre-show experience will provide visitors with a 24-minute comprehensive history of Niagara Falls which will enhance their visit and encourage a longer stay.
Last year, State Parks completed a $5.6 million project to renew the Cave of the Winds Pedestrian Plaza and Stedman's Bluff. The Cave of the Winds Pedestrian Plaza includes improved dining areas and concessions. Stedman's Bluff over-looking Bridal and American Falls has been enhanced with new pavers, new railings, and a new home of the statute to inventor Nikola Tesla, who designed the first alternating-current hydroelectric power plant in Niagara Falls in 1895.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "There is no other experience in the world like the Cave of the Winds. I'm grateful to Governor Cuomo for his investment in Niagara Falls State Park, which is helping visitors better enjoy their visit to Niagara Falls and bolstering the region's tourism economy."
Gerrard P. Bushell, DASNY President & CEO, said, "DASNY is proud to partner with the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to improve upon the remarkable experience that is visiting Niagara Falls State Park. These renovations will spur economic development in Western New York and thrill visitors for generations to come."
Senator Robert Ortt said, "The opening of the Cave of the Winds Pavilion is a fitting way to celebrate the rich history of Niagara Falls. By attracting more tourists to visit year-round, the Pavilion will bring much-needed tourism revenue to Niagara Falls. We must continue to prioritize the revitalization of Niagara Falls as we help this wonder of the world reach its full potential."
Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello said, "The Cave of the Winds Pavilion is a sublime centerpiece and attraction for visitors of Niagara Falls to learn about the culture and history of our area. This investment by Gov. Cuomo further displays the state's commitment to educating tourists about the natural wonder we are fortunate to have in our back yard. I want to thank Gov. Cuomo, Lt. Gov. Hochul and Commissioner Harvey for inviting me to take part in this project's unveiling."
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "We are excited to welcome this interactive new facility that will shine a light on the history of Niagara Falls. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's latest investment, The Cave of the Winds Pavilion will provide millions of visitors with a new perspective on a world wonder for generations to come."
John Percy, President & CEO of Destination Niagara USA said, "As our destination continues to develop, we continue to recognize the need for year round attractions that strengthen our ability to draw visitors to Niagara Falls USA throughout the year. Not only does "the Cave of the Winds" Pavilion meet that need, but it absolutely exceeds it. We are thrilled that visitors and residents will have year round access to this exciting and interactive attraction that not only educates but does so in a fun and entertaining way."
The Cave of the Winds project is part of a $70 million revitalization of Niagara Falls State Park. The Niagara Falls State Park revitalization plan is a multi-year commitment to transform the nation's oldest state park and better reflect noted park designer Frederick Law Olmsted's vision for the landscape. The plan has renewed the park's major viewing areas including Luna Island, Prospect Point, Lower Grove, Three Sisters Islands, North Shoreline Trail, Luna Bridge, and Terrapin Point with new pedestrian walkways, enhanced landscaping, new benches, light posts and railings.Under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 program, the state has made a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor's 2016-17 Executive Budget allocates $120 million toward this initiative.
Niagara Falls State Park is a state and national treasure. Created in 1885, it is the oldest state park in the nation, attracting over 9 million visitors annually.