Our Experience at the Journey Behind the Falls attraction
Taking advantage of the great deals offered by the Niagara Parks Commission’s May 1st Appreciation Day, we decided to revisit the Journey Behind The Falls attraction in Niagara Falls.
In the Late 1800s tunnels were dug more than 150 feet into the bedrock immediately behind the Canadian side of the Horseshoe Falls. The tunnels lead to several spots behind the Falls, allowing for a truly unique experience of one of the planet’s marvels.
The entrance to Journey Behind The Falls is located on the lower level of the Table Rock Welcome Centre. Although we purchased our tickets at one of the Kiosks within the Table Rock Centre, they can also be purchased at the Journey Behind the Falls entrance. The price of admittance to the attraction varies throughout the year but during the spring and summer months it is $14.60 for adults and $8.95 for children 6 – 13. Even so, on this day the cost for visitors was a flat rate of five bucks, so who could complain.
It wasn’t very busy the day we went however, the way the entrance is laid out, you could easily see that it often has to handle large crowds. There were two areas that consisted of the “roped off” maze of isles that you need to travel back and fourth along to eventually get to the actual entrance. We were able to get in though without more than a minute or so of waiting.
Before getting to the elevators that would eventually shuttle us down, the staff have visitors stand together in their respective groups, such as couples, families or tour groups, for a photo in front of a “green screen”. This is for an up sell attempt of a photo of you and your group in front of the Falls when you are leaving.
After the quick photo, we were given a complimentary biodegradable rain poncho to wear during the tour. Unless you want to get very wet, I recommend putting the poncho on right away.
We, along with about 10 other people cram into the elevator for the short, 30 second elevator ride to the tunnels.Immediately after exiting the elevators we could notice a temperature drop of at least 10 degrees. It was so obvious to everyone, we could hear several people comment on it.
Upon entering the tunnels, they were not very large but they also didn’t feel small either. I’m not claustrophobic but unless you suffer from a severe form, I don’t think you would have a problem with it.
The entire system of tunnels really consists of two main tunnels that branch off from each other a short distance from the elevators and then several smaller ones that lead to the actual openings behind the Falls called “portals”.
First traveling down the tunnel that leads to the portals, we passed several signs that explain the history of the tunnels and how they were constructed. They were interesting to read and since the tour is self guided, visitors can spend as little or as much time reading and exploring the tunnels as they wish.
We made our way to the far end where the second of two portals was located. As we turned the corner, you are immediately confronted by a loud, windy white wall of mist and water. The opening is pretty close and guarded by only a small railing to prevent people, mostly children from being able to get too close. It’s a bit hard to see, but there was a lot of mist and water swirling around just outside the portal giving a great sense of how much water was going over the edge.
We then made our way back to the first portal, one we passed to get to this one, and had to walk down a short tunnel to get to it. This one gave a better demonstration of the kind of power that the Falls generates. The amount of air movement, mist and thundering volume created at this point was fairly intense. This portal was closer to the water itself and therefore had much more mist and water pouring in from time to time as the falls seem to move in cycles. The railing stopping people from getting to close here was much further back from the edge most likely because of the amounts of water and mist that was constantly getting in.
We made our way to a small doorway that then led outside to a large patio platform area. This is where you get a real sense of how big and powerful the Falls really is.The first thing that stands out is the sound. Although you can always hear the thunderous roar of the falls the entire time you are in the tunnels, it isn’t until you are actually outside that the sound really hits you.
Another thing that hits you is the wind. Event though the day we went for the tour, there was no wind up top, down here beside the falls it seemed like a small hurricane was blowing through. It was amazing to see how much air flow is created by the thousands of gallons of falling water.
Something else that struck us as we stood looking up at this massive waterfalls was the fact that even though it was pouring down from way above, there was much of the falls still below the level of the platform. It really isn’t until you are right up next to it that you can appreciate just how massive these waterfalls really are.It is interesting to hear other visitor’s reactions to this attraction. As we were making our way through these tunnels, we could over hear some people saying how “awesome” this was, or how much fun they were having while others, particularly one young lady there, mentioned that looking at the portal was just like looking at a “big white hole”!
After some time in the portals, we made our way down to the other tunnel and toward the big show. Passing several people coming the other way it was clear that we were going to get a little wet.
We stuck around the platform and the tunnels for about half an hour before deciding to head back up. The wait for the elevators to go up was a bit longer as a short line had formed at the time we were leaving however we were still up and out within about five minutes.
I could imagine however that the crowds would be larger in the summer months even just for the fact that the mist and wind blowing off the falls would keep anyone cool. I thought this as we exited the elevator to leave and the temperature chance back at the surface was, once again noticeable.