Sep 24

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Sep 27

Frightful fun at Darien Lake

The days may be getting shorter and the temperatures cooler, but the season continues at Darien Lake Theme Park — which has undergone its annual Halloween-themed makeover for Family FrightFest, running Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 9

“We have a lot of new things going on, and a lot for families to do,” said Cassandra Okon, Darien Lake public relations manager. “We’re calling it fun for the family, and fun for the fearless.”

On the kid-friendly side of things, a new feature of 2011 is Old McDonald’s Haymazing Adventure, a hay maze near the Adventure Isle kids section … which will undergo its own makeover as Booville for the event.

The Thomas the Tank Engine show at Adventure Isle/Booville will have its own spooky metamorphosis — to Trick, Treat and Dance-A-Long with Thomas & Friends, which features songs to get kids and families up and dancing to “The Twist,” “Limbo” and “Shout.”

“We’re making it Halloween-themed,” Okon said. “It’s a really interactive show,  There will also be, in the Adventure Isle area, pumpkin painting and a trick or treat trail for children. There’s a lot in store for families.”

Other shows for FrightFest include Cliff’s Magic Show in the Grande Theatre and the LaserBlast Spooktacular, which takes place nightly 10 minutes after the park closes.

Besides the child-friendly fare at Adventure Isle, there are also attractions designed for those who like things a little more creepy.

“At night, we call it fun for the fearless,” Okon said. “There are two new things. We’re incorporating a Grim Reaper Barge and a Haunted Grave Yard on the way to Nightmare Acres.”

Guests must pass through the graveyard — and by the Grim Reaper Barge on the lake — on their way to Nightmare Acres, a walk-through haunted farmhouse. And once visitors escape the haunted house, there’s more awaiting them outside in the form of a more spookier maze than the one outside Adventure Isle.

“Once they get through the haunted house, they think it’s over,” Okon said. “It’s not.”

Returning to this year’s FrightFest is the Fright Night Field Trip, a haunted bus tour that goes through the dark corners of the Darien Lake campground.

There is an additional $4 charge for Nightmare Acres, with a $10 fear pass available for both Nightmare Acres admission and front-of-the-line access to Nightmare Acres and Fright Night Field Trip.

Nightmare Acres and Fright Night Field Trip are not recommended for children 12 years of age and under. All children under 48 inches tall must be accompanied by an adult.

Sep 25

2012 Season Passes: Now On Sale!

Buy your new 2012 Season Pass today and get your Family FrightFest admission for FREE! Season Passes now available for $64.99 each and get FREE parking with every four you buy!

2011 Season Pass Holders – Renew your season pass for 2012 and get FREE Bring-A-Friend admission for Family FrightFest!

Sep 12

Family FrightFest Starts this Weekend

Check Out whats New in 2011:

Ticket Prices are $19.99 Adult and $14.99 Child/Senior

May 19

Jordin Sparks and Avery in Concert

 American Idol Winner Jordin Sparks and Pop Rocker Avery Live at Darien Lake’s Laser StageDarien Lake has set the stage for a live performance by Jordin Sparks

Saturday, May 21

with special guest Avery, sponsored by Time Warner Cable. This performance is FREEwith park admission, season pass or accommodation stays.
 WHO:The youngest ever winner of American Idol, Jordin Sparks
was just 17 when shewon the coveted title. In the three years that have followed, Sparks has released


two albums on 19 Recordings/Jive Records. Her self-titled debut went platinum, 


selling more than two million copies worldwide, with the first three singles

going top five and the album’s second single, “No Air” selling four million digital

downloads. Sparks’ second release, 2009’s BATTLEFIELD, debuted on the

Billboard Album chart at number seven, with the first single, also called

“Battlefield,” reaching the top ten on the Billboard Singles Chart. Her second

single, “S.O.S. (Let the Music Play),” topped the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club

Play chart, becoming Jordin’s first number one song.

At the young age of 16, pop rocker



became an internet sensation withover 12 million views on her YouTube page. Her debut single and video, “Love


Me or Let Me Go” reached over one million views in less than three months of 



5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Laser Stage, located at Darien Lake Theme Park Resort, 9993 AlleghenyRoad, Darien Center, NY 14040

its release, landing her a major record deal with Universal. In January of 2011

Entertainment Tonight labeled her, “The next big thing.” Avery is one of the

youngest artists to join the Universal Motown family.

Apr 12

What's happening in 2011?

Darien Lake Theme Park Resort Expands Accommodations,

Announces Summer Concert Series including Pop Sensation Jordin Sparks and Teen Icon Miranda Cosgrove

 Thomas & Friends™ and a Baby Sea Lion Join Entertainment Line-up

Darien Center, NY (April 12, 2011) – Darien Lake Theme Park Resort (Darien Lake), New York’s largest theme and water park vacation destination, opens for the 2011 season on May 14 with new family cabins, six new live shows and three in-park concerts including American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and Nickelodeon star Miranda Cosgrove. In-park concerts are free with admission and to season pass holders.

“One of the best things about Darien Lake is you can stay where you play. Our all-inclusive park resort means families who stay at the park’s hotel or campground have unlimited access to the theme and water park. You can park your car and never use it again during your visit,” said Christopher Thorpe, Darien Lake’s general manager. “And we are budget-friendly too — guests who purchase a Family Four Pack of season passes by May 30, get free parking all season long and bring-a-friend-free coupons.”

New summer entertainment for all ages

Platinum-selling and the youngest ever American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and a guest appearance by Avery kick off the Time Warner Cable in-park summer concerts on May 21. Dance rock sensations Neon Trees with special guest We the Kings take the stage May 28. Nickelodeon’s very own iCarly, Miranda Cosgrove, performs July 16 with YouTube sensation Greyson Chance.

Everyone’s favorite #1 blue engine, Thomas the Tank Engine™, makes his park premiere this summer in Thomas & Friends™ Full Steam Ahead Live! an interactive show for kids. In this fun-filled adventure, kids embark on adventures with Thomas as he experiences timeless life lessons including discovery, friendship and cooperation.

Marking the debut of the first South American male sea lion born in the U.S., Sea Lion Splash: A Family Affair stars a baby sea lion. Freddie joins the sea lions in the Galaxy Theatre exclusively at Darien Lake. Kids and parents have the opportunity to learn about animal behavior and conservation while being entertained by the sea lions’ inherent antics.

In addition to these new shows, the entertainment line-up also includes:

  • Legends of Rock - a non-stop tribute to some of the greatest rock n’ roll legends of all time.
  • Jump, Jive and Swing – a show that “taps” into the rhythms of the Swing era and celebrates iconic and timeless hits. 
  • Countdown to Fun – a new morning tradition at Darien Lake’s Main Gate.
  • Midway Dance Party Blowout – a daily afternoon family party at the Gazebo Stage.


Darien Lake Theme Park Resort Expands Accommodations 

New family places to stay and conveniences

In response to guests’ feedback, Darien Lake has doubled the size of its Brown Bear Cabins area this year. The new cabin additions are built in a “village style” setting with a common play area for children. The play area surrounds the cabin village allowing children another fun way to spend their day, while still being within earshot of the grownups. 

The cabin additions are designed for larger families to spend time together in a relaxed environment, and still be steps away from the thrills of the theme park and water park. Each cabin includes a fireplace, loft, bedroom, fully-equipped kitchen, eating area, wireless internet and a flat screen television. And families can enjoy the great outdoors by relaxing on the front porch or cooking up some fun on the outdoor fire-pit and gas grill.

 Another addition for families this summer at Darien Lake is the Family Care Center. Conveniently located in the theme park, the Family Care Center provides baby changing centers, nursing stations for mothers and enhanced family bathrooms.


Darien Lake Theme Park opens for the 2011 season May 14. SplashTown Water Park opens May 20. All shows and in-park family concerts are included with admission. All-inclusive season passes are on-sale now at Family Four Packs bought and activated by May 30 include free parking and bring-a-free-friend coupons.

About Darien Lake Theme Park Resort

Darien Lake Theme Park Resort is where families Play Together. Stay Together.SM Located near Buffalo, Darien Lake is New York State’s largest theme and water park resort featuring six world-class roller coasters, dozens of family rides, SplashTown water park, the area’s largest water park, and live entertainment. The all-inclusive resort includes a variety of accommodations including the Lodge on the Lake Hotel with Forts-o-Fun suites, Brown Bear Cabins, RV sites and campgrounds. It is also home to a 20,000-seat performing arts center featuring some of today’s hottest musical acts. The park is operated by Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), the nation’s largest family-owned theme park corporation. For more than half a century, HFE has owned, operated or partnered in 26 properties across ten states, including Branson, Missouri’s Silver Dollar City; operating partner with Dolly Parton in Tennessee’s Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country; operating partner in Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park and owners of Ride the Ducks amphibious tours in cities throughout the U.S.

Thomas the Tank Engine ©2011 Gullane (Thomas) Limited.

Artists and concerts are subject to change without notice.

Mar 08

Darien Lake Now Hiring for the 2011 Season

DARIEN CENTER, N.Y. (WIVB) – Darien Lake, New York’s largest theme park and water park resort, will be hiring over 2,000 positions for the 2011 season and participating in several career fairs at local colleges and universities. Interested candidates are encouraged to first, call the Darien Lake Human Resources office for an application at 585-599-5108. Then, visit a local college job fair and find the Darien Lake table at these locations, dates and times:

March 23, 2011
SUNY Geneseo
MacVittie College Union
10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

March 24, 2011
University at Buffalo
N. Campus, Union Lobby
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

March 30, 2011
Union Ball Room
12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

April 5, 2011
Erie Community College South
Building 5, Cafe
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

April 6, 2011
Erie Community College North
Spring Student Center, Cafe
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

April 7, 2011
Erie Community College City
Main Building, Atrium
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

April 12, 2011
GCC Batavia Campus
College Forum
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

April 13, 2011
Rochester Institute of Technology
Louise Slaughter Hall
1 p.m. – 3 p.m

Feb 04

Editorial: Change in Darien

If anyone needed a diversion from a hard winter, this is it: Darien Lake Theme Park Resort has a new operator. Yes, summer is in the future and so is fun at Darien Lake.

The new operator is Herschend Family Entertainment, the same company that operates Dollywood theme park. Herschend took over day-to-day operations of the Darien theme park last week, according to a joint announcement from park owner CNL Lifestyles Properties Inc. and Herschend.

In November, CNL said it was negotiating an early termination to leases on Darien Lake and 17 other properties being operated by PARC Management. The worry wasn’t that the Darien park would close — rather, there was concern about who would take over management. The choice of Herschend appears to be excellent for Darien Lake’s future. Herschend has had a long-term interest in this park, judging from its interest in purchasing it five years ago. Herschend also has a reputation for operating outstanding theme parks.

“Of all the people coming in they are in the strongest position other than Disney” to run a theme park, said Paul Ruben, North American Editor of Park World, an industry trade publication.  “Herschend has a very strong reputation within the industry for operating well-managed, interesting parks.”

He said Herschend’s parks “are not of the cookie-cutter mold of many other parks.” Herschend, thus, is an intriguing choice and breathes new life into hopes that the park can regain its prominence.

Local residents may recall the way the 2006 season ended, with Six Flags shuttering rides, laying off workers and closing early.  PARC Management, the most recent operator, seemed to be setting Darien Lake back on the right path, with new rides, capital improvements and a major waterpark expansion. But it appears economic realities caught up with PARC, which had been leasing from CNL. CNL ended its lease with PARC amidst dispute over lease and loan obligations.

The Georgia-based Herschend owns or operates 27 entertainment properties in 12 states, including seven theme and water parks. Along with Darien Lake, it is also taking over operation of Elitch Gardens in Denver, Colo. The two properties combined have more than 3,500 full-time and seasonal employees. During the 2010 season, Darien Lake had approximately 2,000 employees. With its jobs, sales tax and other revenue generation, the theme park has a huge economic impact on this region. Its importance can’t be overstated.

Darien Lake is scheduled to open May 14 for the 2011 season. Local management is in place, and a grand summer beckons. Here’s to summer and success for Herschend’s newest park.


Jan 29

Darien Lake now linked to Dollywood

Buffalo News

Updated: January 27, 2011, 7:20 AM

“Darien Lake Theme Park Resort is now managed by the same company as singer Dolly Parton’s Dollywood.

Georgia-based Herschend Family Entertainment has begun overseeing all day-to-day activities and now supervises the park’s 3,500 full-time and seasonal employees.

The senior vice president of CNL Lifestyle Properties Inc., which owns the park, said visitors can expect a higher level of guest service and cleanliness.

“There will be new entertainment and new shows,” Curt Caffey said.

“HFE will continue to help the park evolve into the entertainment experience everyone in New York expects it to be.”

The North American editor of trade magazine Park World, Paul Ruben, praised the move. “I think you’re gonna see a well-conceived, well-operated park, perhaps with additional theming introduced. The quality of food and entertainment may go up. [HFE] brings in people who do crafts in the park.”

Caffey said HFE was chosen because of HFE’s track record of safe, high-quality parks, such as Dollywood, which has won an award for being the best American regional theme park.

“These people have a lot of experience operating theme parks,” Ruben said. Every visit I have had, I have found very entertaining. The parks are innovative and have a very unique style about them.”

The companies reached an agreement Monday. HFE is already on the grounds.

Darien Lake General Manager Chris Thorpe said specifics about any new attractions for the coming season may come in the spring but that no decisions have been made thus far.

Thorpe also said the park is performing strongly. “Attendance has been very good. It’s a very strong-performing park. We’ve had many consecutive years of growth.”

HFE owns or is a partner in 24 recreational properties in eight states. That includes its original theme park, Silver Dollar City, in Branson, Mo. It now manages another CNL park, Colorado’s Elitch Gardens.

CNL owns 151 recreational attractions and sites in North America. The Orlando, Fla.- based company has properties for golfing, skiing and elderly housing.

The management decision follows the theme park’s November termination of its arrangement with Jacksonville, Fla.-based PARC Management. PARC Management briefly owned the company before selling it to CNL and then leasing the property.

The theme park was sold by industry behemoth Six Flags in late 2007 after a bankruptcy forced a reorganization. Darien Lake is New York State’s largest theme and water park resort.”


Jan 25

Darien Lake has a New Operator

January 25, 2011, Orlando, FL & Norcross, GA – CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc., owners of Darien Lake Theme Park Resort and Elitch Gardens, and Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), the nation’s largest family-owned theme park corporation, jointly announced today that HFE would assume the day-to-day management of both properties starting January 25, 2011.  Based near Buffalo, New York, and in Denver, Colorado, respectively, Darien Lake Theme Park Resort and Elitch Gardens both include a theme park, a water park and a performance venue.  In addition, Darien Lake Theme Park Resort also includes a hotel, cabins and a campground.  HFE will become the management company for all properties; CNL Lifestyle Properties remains the owner.  Curt Caffey, senior vice president and managing director, CNL Lifestyle Properties and Joel Manby, president and CEO, HFE, made the announcement.

“HFE was a natural choice due to the company’s solid history of operating first-class, successful theme parks with a reputation for top service and guest experience standards,” said Caffey.  “Both Darien Lake and Elitch Gardens already have strong foundations as beautiful, fun and wholesome family parks.  We’re confident Herschend will use its operations know-how to take these attractions to the next level.”

“We are eager to get to work managing the operations at these popular parks.  With 50 years of experience serving millions of guests, and operating a variety of family entertainment enterprises including theme parks, water parks, tour businesses, hotels and campgrounds, HFE is committed to delivering great value while always bringing families closer together. These parks align well with that philosophy,” said Manby.  “Our aim is to make the transition as seamless as possible for the parks’ employees and as transparent as possible to guests.”

As the parks’ new management company, HFE will oversee all operations including supervising more than 3,500 full-time and seasonal employees.

Darien Lake Theme Park Resort is New York State’s largest theme and water park resort. Darien Lake Theme Park Resort provides accommodations at the Lodge on the Lake Hotel with Forts-o-Fun suites, Brown Bear Cabins, RV sites and campgrounds.  It is also home to a 22,000-seat performing arts center featuring some of today’s hottest musical acts.

For more than 120 years, Elitch Gardens has been a gathering place for Colorado’s families and children and the entertainment hub of the community. It was home to the first zoo, first theater, first movie house, first symphony orchestra and continues to be the oldest continually operating theme park west of the Mississippi.

About CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc.

CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc. is a real estate investment trust that owns a portfolio of 151 properties in the United States and Canada in the lifestyle and recreation sectors. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., CNL Lifestyle Properties specializes in the acquisition of ski and mountain lifestyle, attractions, golf, marinas, senior living and additional lifestyle properties. For more information, visit

About Herschend Family Entertainment

Widely recognized as the premier privately held theme park operator in the U.S., HFE owns, operates or partners in 24 entertainment, tourism and hospitality properties in eight states.  Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2010, HFE’s original park is Branson, Missouri’s Silver Dollar City theme park.  In Branson, the company also owns and operates Showboat Branson Belle lake attraction, White Water water park and The Wilderness at Silver Dollar City campground. HFE is an operating partner with Dolly Parton in the Dollywood Company, which owns the Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country water park, both in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The Dollywood Company is also the largest shareholder in the Dixie Stampede dinner attractions located in Branson, Pigeon Forge and Myrtle Beach. In Georgia, HFE operates Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park in conjunction with the State of Georgia, and owns Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta. HFE also owns Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey and the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, as well as Ride The Ducks amphibious tours in Branson, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Ride The Ducks also operates at Newport Aquarium and Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta.

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