Thanks to my brother, I got the opportunity to see the Greg Frewin magic show Wednesday night in Niagara Falls.
I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I was born and raised in the Falls, and it's interesting to see how much it has changed in the last few decades. Whether the change is for the better or worse is debatable, but the reality is that the Falls is dependent on tourist dollars - and a good quality, family-friendly attraction can be a very good thing for the area.
First, the magic show itself. I'm of the skeptical persuasion, and I was prepared to be underwhelmed, or, at the most, whelmed ;)
Instead, I was pleasantly surprised! While not completely flawless, the show was both amusing and amazing. I prefer sleight-of-hand stuff over "disappearing lady" tricks, and there was a good mix of both, in addition to a lot of audience participation. Some of the tricks were a bit repetitive (how many times can you oooh and awww over the same stunt?), but it still managed to keep me entertained and wondering just how some of it was done.
My one criticism was the use of animals in the show - tigers, a dog, a goose, a parrot, a cockatoo (or something similar), and of course, the traditional doves. It's not so much the use of the animals on stage (but one does have to wonder just how stressed they get with the loud music and bright lights), but what happens to them when they aren't on stage. I'm not a big fan of privately-owned exotic animals, especially large cats, but I do realize this is a bigger issue (and one that most zoos are complicit in, as they keep producing an excessive number of babies, without anywhere for them to go but into private hands). I don't believe that the tigers (and there are four of them) spend their off-time in a enriched environment that provides them with both mental and physical stimulation, and that is imperative for any animal, especially a large, intelligent, powerful carnivore.
But that's my issue, and may not be of concern to others.
So, overall, I would recommend the show itself.
Now, the venue.
It's a nice room, with both booths and tables, set up to hold a large audience while still providing everyone with a good view of the stage. The booths are nice for large groups (six or more), but the tables (which seat eight) are shared with other smaller parties. I'm not sure I'd want to go in a small group and be seated at one of the tables, but again, that's me :)
We didn't have the optional buffet, but it is catered by one of the better local restaurants, so I'm sure the food is good, keeping in mind it is a buffet (i.e. it's not gourmet fare).
When we first got there, the rest of the party was still looking over the drinks menu, and I asked for water.
To which the waitress replied "Bottled water?". Fair enough, and thanks for clarifying. When I asked if there were any other options, she replied that there was tap water, but the quality was poor.
Let me back up a step. This was a special show, put on for local people in the industry, so the servers should realize that most of the people in the room are from the area, and not tourists. You know, people who live there. And quite possible drink the tap water in their own homes.
I don't have an issue with the waitress trying to up-sell me to a bottle of water, I have an issue with her trying to do so in a deceitful and, frankly, stupid manner.
I eventually got my glass of tap water, no harm, no foul. Not a big issue, and not one that would prevent me from recommending the show to a tourist.
I am, for the first time in my life, actually contemplating calling the liquor board and lodging a complaint. And this is what will prevent me from recommending this attraction to anyone.
Again, keep in mind this was a show put on for industry insiders. Those that work in area attractions, hotels and restaurants, with the hopes they will in turn recommend the venue to tourists. Which is the main reason to have an industry night. If you were the ones arranging it, would you try to scam your audience?
My sister ordered a margarita, and my brother and I decided to split a "pitcher" of cosmos, which was advertised as a "savings" over buying three separate drinks.
If there was 3 ounces of alcohol between all of the drinks, I'll be a monkey's uncle.
The margarita tasted like salty lime koolaid, and the cosmos tasted like poor-quality cranberry juice. There was NO evidence of any alcohol at all in the cosmos, and if there was any, it was nowhere near the ounce-and-a-half to two ounces that is standard in a cosmo. Again, the pitcher was supposed to contain three servings, which means a minimum of three ounces, and more standard for a cosmo, 4.5 - 6 ounces of alcohol. The margarita was around $7 (going on memory here), and the pitcher of cosmos was a whopping $24. Which would have been fine, except the quantity wasn't enough to pour two full glasses, let alone the three is was supposed to fill. We would have been better off buying two separate drinks for around $7-9 each.
Niagara Falls has a well-deserved reputation for crappy, over-priced restaurants, and that's one BIG reason why many tourists either only come once, or stay for a only a short period of time. A lot of effort has gone into diversifying the attractions in the area, to get more tourists to come during off-season and to stay longer.
And I applaud most of these efforts.
But until the local restaurants realize they can't keep treating tourists like shit, trying to pawn off insanely priced crap on customers they never expect to see again, it won't work.
If this is how they treat people that they want good recommendations from, how will they treat a tourist?
So, no, I cannot recommend this attraction, at least without a warning. If you do go, don't order any alcohol. Or stick to bottled beer, and ask for it to be opened at the table.
Oh, wait... maybe making the alcohol disappear from the drinks was supposed to be one of the tricks? If so, well done!