A true destination resort, Darien Lake is as much about its huge campground, Lodge on the Lake hotel, Performing Arts Center amphitheater, and full-service restaurants, as it is about its roller coasters, water park, rides, and other more typical park features. That's not to imply that the coasters aren’t up to speed; its Ride of Steel is among the best anywhere. But Darien Lake attracts a lot of vacationers, and the laid-back vibe is noticeably different than most other theme parks.
The hordes of families streaming out after the Ignite the Night-Colorblast show towards the campground attests to its popularity and its indelible connection to the park. The campground offers decked-out cabins and furnished RV rentals as well as campsites. Since the campground and hotel fees include admission to the park, staying onsite can be a good deal (as well as a lot of fun). During the spring and fall value seasons, it would actually be cheaper for a family of four to stay overnight at the campground and enjoy the park than it would be to pay the daily admission fees to the park alone.
The hotel, with its rustic themeing and spacious rooms, is quite comfortable. A lovely path along the lake takes guests to the park.
It's no wonder hordes of guests watch the Colorblast show. With rousing fireworks, a synchronized soundtrack, and shout-outs to Buffalo, Canada, and the U.S.A., the clever 30-minute show is engaging and a great way to end a day at the park.
Darien Lake was part of the Six Flags chain of amusement parks. It sold the New York park in 2006. It is now operated by an independent company, although in May 2018, Six Flags announced that it was in negotiations to purchase the operating rights. Darien Lake may become a Six Flags park again.
The Park's Rides
New for 2018 is Tantrum. The steel coaster takes eight passengers in a single car up a 98-foot vertical lift only to send them soaring down the other side at a beyond-vertical, 97-degree drop. The ride includes an upside-down “pretzel” inversion and an acrobatic element known as an “Immelman” turn.
The Ride of Steel hypercoaster (which used to be known as Superman: Ride of Steel in the Six Flags days) is truly world-class. It is virtually identical to Superman Ride of Steel at Six Flags America in Maryland. The two thrill machines make the cut for the country’s best steel roller coasters.
The Orange County Choppers MotoCoaster is a fun, launched coaster that blasts riders from 0 to 30 mph in mere seconds. Darien Lake’s other coasters are less noteworthy. The Predator is a sharp-looking woodie that delivers a rough ride—and not rough in a good way. The suspended looping Mind Eraser and the shuttle Boomerang Coast-to-Coaster are off-the-shelf rides found at many parks (some even carry the same names). Viper is an older looping coaster that hasn’t aged all that well.
Other rides include the 185-foot-tall Blast Off drop tower; The Giant Wheel, a circa-1959, 165-foot tall Ferris wheel; the splashdown ride, Shipwreck Falls; the Grizzly Run river raft ride, and the usual assortment of whirl-and-hurl flat rides.
The adjacent water park, which is included with admission, has a nice assortment of slides and rides. Attractions include a wave pool, lazy river, the Tornado funnel ride, the Big Kahuna family raft ride, the Swirl City Slides (which features a bowl ride), and the Hook's Lagoon interactive water play structure.
What’s to Eat?
Unlike many seasonal parks, Darien Lake offers two sit-down restaurants. Beaver Brother’s Lakeside Cafe is a full-service eatery with a variety of options, including steaks, chicken, pasta, and kids' meals. It is open for lunch and dinner and serves a breakfast buffet. Maria’s Italian Kitchen serves pizza, pasta, and other Italian fare. Other dining choices include Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar, which features Buffalo wings, Beef & Beer, which serves roast beef sandwiches and brews on tap, and the fast-food chain, Subway.
Performing Arts Center
Located adjacent to the theme park, the 20,000-capacity amphitheater stages major national touring concerts and festivals. Performing Arts Center tickets include admission to the theme park on the day of the concert. See Darien Lake's concert schedule for more information.
Admission and Location Info
Tickets to the theme park include admission to SplashTown, the onsite water park. The park offers reduced rates for juniors (under 48") and seniors (55+). It also offers a reduced rate for visitors arriving after 5 p.m. Children ages two and under are free. Admission to the park is included for guests of the onsite campground and hotel. Discounted tickets and special deals may be available online at Darien Lake's official site. Season pass and group tickets are available.
The park is in Darien Center, New York, which is located between Buffalo and Rochester. The address is 9993 Allegheny Road, Darien Center, NY 14040. To get their by car, take the NYS Thruway (I90) to Exit 48A. Go south six miles on Route 77. Look for the the towering red Ride of Steel coaster track.
Darien Lake offers a huge campground with cabins, guest houses, RV rentals, “glamping,” and 1200 sites for RVs and tents. The campground includes a well-stocked general store, an arcade, a laundromat, and a gift shop. Pets are welcome.
The park also offers the Lodge on the Lake hotel, which includes standard rooms and suites. Amenities include a pool, and a cafe. Rates at the hotel and the campground include free admission to the park and free parking.