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.
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.
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.
At Clubhouse Fun Center, everything seems to be in motion. Go-karts zip and roar around an outdoor speedway, arcade games spit out streams of tickets, and dimpled balls roll over the greens of two 18-hole mini-golf courses. Visitors join in the commotion by hopping into single, double, or rookie go-karts to race each other or attempt to catch up with their own shadows on a track featuring a double-fly-over bridge. Nearby, the mini-golf courses lure putters with a sparkling cerulean waterfall, a giraffe stretching its neck high into the air, and the pink and purple towers of a lilliputian castle. Before hitting the arcade, guests can refuel with snacks or lunch at the Treehouse Cafe or the Sugar Shack, where they can plan out future birthday parties to take place in treasure-cove- or treehouse-themed rooms.
Balls hurtle down slick lanes toward clusters of pins at the family-owned Spencerport Bowl. Leagues duke it out at least once daily, and Friday and Saturday nights host the Famous Rockin' Bowl from 9 p.m. to midnight, when disco lights illumine an alley awash in fog. Revelry spills over to CJ's Pub & Grill, where frequent karaoke sessions supply a festive backbeat for burger-and-pizza feasts. Those who still have an appetite for entertainment after bowling can refuel at the on-site arcade.
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.