Could Buffalo ever capitalize on its snow? Back in 2011 a friend of mine came up with a zany idea that Buffalo could become a winterland attraction where families would fly up from the south to experience winter elements of fun. He included an image (seen here as a gimmicky prop) and added, “Let’s embrace our reputation. Call Disney and create the first cold weather amusement park. Ice rinks, toboggan runs, heated ferris wheels, snow ball cannons… think of how many kids in Florida, Arizona and Texas have never experienced snow.”
Back then I gave my friend a “thumbs up”, and never though about it again until another friend asked me if I ever heard about the idea the “someone” had to create a winter themed snow park. She even had the image that was sent to me in 2011. I told her that I hadn’t thought about that idea since it was first (very loosely) brought to my attention.
Back then the idea seemed like a stretch. Today, while it’s still a stretch, a number of projects have lifted off the ground that would make an idea of this sort appear a bit more realistic. The skating rinks are coming (HarborCenter and RiverWorks are underway). Ideas of a cable car system have been floated as a transportation mechanism from the Inner to the Outer Harbor (and various other places – see here). Hotels are being built to give people places to stay in close proximity to the Canalside. There’s no reason that Buffalo could not create its own version of a year ’round ferris wheel, with the DL&W Terminal as an entertainment hub (with Metro Rail pulling right inside). I’m not exactly talking about calling Disney – Buffalo could create a stylized cool factor without the cheese factor. Take a look at this video by Poor Boyz Productions that shows skiers taking to the slopes… inside abandoned buildings in Detroit:
This is an extreme example, but it shows that if the right team was put into place, you can invigorate the collective imagination of people by converting abandoned grain elevators into the types of places where winter dreams are made of. Who is to say that we can’t build snow ramps for skiers and snowboarders? If you look at the video, and the resources that those guys have available to have a fun time, then it’s not so far fetched to think that Red Bull could could create some spectacular installations for demonstrations that would surely draw some crowds.
Buffalo already built the world’s largest ice maze that is in the Guinness Book of World Records (photo Joe Cascio). Let’s build a permanent one that is open throughout the year to inspire the imagination.
This would be fairly cheap to do in the larger scheme of things and would be an instant hit. If given the right resources, these types of ideas are plentiful if the right political and business leaders buy into the idea.
And don’t forget about the International Weather Experience Center (see Facebook). The concepts have all been floated for years. It would be nice to see some more of them come to fruition to capitalize on our winters. Some day Buffalo will be an attraction during the winter. It’s just going to take some creative thinkers and some open minds to make it a reality.