Niagara Falls History: Maple Leaf Village

Maple Leaf Village was located near the Rainbow Bridge exit. A kid-friendly amusement park and shopping mall, the site was full of rides and a classic fairground feel.

Maple Leaf Village Amusement Park History

The park opened in 1979 and was mostly stocked with ‘flat’ rides familiar to most showgrounds – carousels, bumper cars and so on. But it also had a ferris wheel that was claimed at the time to be the largest in North America, and quickly added more modern rides like an electric rollercoaster. The centrepiece was the three-storey mall, with a live show theatre alongside shopping opportunities and numerous museums (including a Ripley’s-esque ‘That’s Incredible!’ attraction and an Elvis Presley museum).

The amusement park kept strong attendance through the 1980s as Niagara Falls grew its tourism numbers and the park itself constantly changing and updating its available rides and attractions. Maple Leaf Village was still going strong in the early 90s, but new ownership would be its undoing. York Hanover Hotels, who took over park management in the late 1980s, went bankrupt and finally auctioned off the park and its assets throughout 1992.

Maple Leaf Village Rides Throughout the World

When the park’s fate was sealed, many of the rides and carnival-esque attractions were sold off and moved around the country – Maple Leaf Village rides went to Darrien Lake, Vancouver, Conneaut Lake Park and so on. The ferris wheel went further abroad, ending up in Asia. The mall itself stayed open until 1995, when it was shut down and the building was eventually converted into Casino Niagara in 1996, then the first major casino in Niagara Falls. It kept much of the original mall’s façade.

Maple Leaf Village Legacy

Many of the Maple Leaf attractions live on in some form or another since the official closure of the park. Clifton Hill still boasts mini-golf, a max museum and Ripley’s. The Skywheel that towers over the area is not the original ferris wheel from the park, but it’s the same size at about 53 metres in height and does the job just as well. Although the amusement park might be gone, much of what made Maple Leaf Village great is still around and Clifton Hill still carried the same family-fun spirit the original fairgrounds once had.