Upon departing from Chautauqua Choo-Choo Train Station, trains chug past the abundant attractions sprawled throughout the park during four-minute rides. Had the train existed at Midway State Park when it first opened as a trolley park in 1898, its 15-mile-per-hour jaunt would have surveyed a landscape dotted with playing fields, tennis courts, bathhouses, and a dancehall. These days, America's 16th oldest continually operating amusement park shelters the spinning and twirling cars of a Tilt-A-Whirl and other rides. A three-sided, 24-foot climbing wall challenges participants to spite gravity's tyrannical reign before ringing the buzzer at its peak, and guests in the helicopter ride can adjust their height with a bar attached to the aircraft. Elsewhere, youngsters captain a kiddie boat or steer retro-modeled cars past a miniature roadway's street signs. Between rides, visitors can munch on cotton candy while peering out toward the shores of Chautauqua Lake from one of several picnic areas.
It is estimated that 3,500 snow leopards currently make their home in the wild, where they use their claws and predatory stealth to scale central-Asian cliffsides in search of wild goats and rabbits. These secretive cats rarely let out so much as a purr, preferring solitude to contact with humans and even each other. Nevertheless, humans have helped their dwindling population grow in recent years through conservation efforts at zoos and habitats throughout the world.
Safari Niagara counts itself among the world’s safest havens for these downy cats. In working with the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the animal park provides a home for snow leopards and more than 500 other species of mammals, reptiles, and birds. The park’s conservationists lead educational presentations on threatened species and aim to shape children into the world’s future caretakers through up-close interactions with the park’s most social residents. Alpacas, river otters, grey wolves, and falcons are among the many animals that prowl the 110-acre facility, which also hosts an amphitheater where guests can watch musicians shimmy and shake in their natural habitat.
Perched at the bow of the pirate ship, the captain's parrot braces for stormy weather. But in the case of the pirate-ship inflatable at Pirates Plank, the feeling of choppy waves isn't generated by water below, but by the youngsters hopping on it. Kids can also jump around on a Pirates of the Caribbean–themed bounce house before navigating around the tranquil ponds decorating the 18-hole miniature-golf course.
Elsewhere, Pirates Plank hosts races on its go-kart track, gamers in its video arcade, and players in its batting cages aiming for homers or to hit balls back into the machine they came from. The snack bar keeps visitors reenergized with tasty treats, and birthday parties entice attendees with unlimited soda and popcorn, arcade tokens for each guest, and mini-golf passes for future visits.
Quarterback Jim Kelly captained his teammates to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances during his 11-year pigskin-tossing tenure, earning himself the distinction as the first and only Buffalo Bills player to have his number retired in the franchise's hall of fame. Since being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002, Jim has visited universities, Fortune 500 companies, and healthcare organizations to deliver speeches that impart his insights on teamwork, leadership, and how to milk a football for its gatorade. Through his website, Jim dispenses an array of authentic and signed mini and full-size helmets, jerseys, footballs, and new autographed memorabilia each month. Jim also remains committed to his charity and outreach programs, including Hunter's Hope, which Jim and his wife founded after their son was diagnosed with Krabbe Disease, the Kelly for Kids Foundation, which raises funds for disabled and disadvantaged youth, and Jim Kelly Football Camp, which teaches youngsters football fundamentals and ballet routines from The Nutcracker to incorporate into end-zone victory dances.