A new exhibit and movie that Niagara Falls tourism promoters hope will make things easier on tourists, especially in the off-season, is open at Niagara Falls.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul cut the ribbon Monday on the $7 million Cave of the Winds Experience, which opened a couple of weeks ago in the former State Parks Police station on Goat Island.
Although the cave is closed for the winter, the exhibits and the eight-minute movie give tourists something to do indoors during the cold months.
"When you came here, you could look at the falls and get back in your car and go," said Cindy Abbott-Letro, chairwoman of the Niagara Regional Parks Commission. "You really had no one to tell you about the history of this magnificent site."
There was nothing available to explain anything about the parks, or its significance as the first state park in the nation or the site of the first large-scale hydroelectric generating plant.
Now, that story is told through the exhibit room, called "Drawn to the Edge," and the movie, entitled "The World Changed Here."
"Even though the lower decks are closed for the winter, we now want this to be a year-round destination," Hochul said.
During the tourist season, visitors who want to experience the Cave of the Winds will have to buy timed tickets and go through the exhibit and movie room before they descend the elevator 175 feet to the cave, thus cutting down on the long lines that have become a trademark of the attraction.
"You'll still need that poncho and expect to get drenched. That's one of the best parts," Hochul said.
As part of the makeover, the statue of Nikola Tesla, the scientist who designed the first alternating current generators at the falls, has been moved from the edge of the Goat Island parking lot to Stedman's Bluff on the northern edge of Goat Island, overlooking Luna Island.
The scaled-down shoulder-season tour, which includes the exhibits and movie and also takes visitors into the Niagara River Gorge, is open from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. daily through Nov. 26. From Nov. 27 to April 1, the exhibits and movie will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.