In 1996 Darien Lake was experiencing the first full year of ownership by Premier Parks. Expansion was the name of the game for Premier, and as seen in the park's 1996 brochure, the park did just that.
This one gets right to the point, the park was spending $10 million in order to totally change their image and ramp up their in-park offerings. Judging from the images on the front cover, a trip to Darien Lake just may include Captain Hook, Popeye, Michael Bolton, and rides that make your eyes large and discolored. I'm sold!
So let's have a look at where that $10 million went, exactly. First up is Nightmare at Phantom Cave, a roller coaster ride in the dark. The ride wasn't very big, and didn't really deliver in the way the park had advertised it - in the end it only lasted at Darien Lake for three seasons.
When Premier took over Darien Lake their water park was really rather small, which is pretty clear when the addition of Hook's Lagoon, a water fun house structure, actually doubled the size of the entire park. Still the addition, like at so many other parks, was a hit and paved the way for future water park expansions.
Even before Premier took over and started expanding Darien Lake it was home to a selection of rides that were already drawing the masses. Here we see Grizzly Run, the park's Skycoaster, and Viper standing out above the crowd.
While those thrill rides were fun the park was in need of a great children's area, and Popeye's Seaport took care of that. Added in 1996 on the former site of a mini-golf course, the area had 12 rides and attractions for kids, all themed around the world of Popeye.
One thing that Darien Lake has always had going for it was the concert series it held during the Summer, and that's why Michael Bolton, in all his frizzy haired glory, was featured on the cover. This brochure advertises that over 30 acts would visit their newly improved amphitheater in 1996.
And if you're coming for a show, why not visit the theme park and even perhaps stay in the park's adjacent campgrounds? Hey, those were renovated as well!
As we all know the park was expanded much more during Premier Parks, until a bit of a drought when they turned into Six Flags and suddenly had a gazillion parks. When Six Flags went bust, Darien Lake ended up with PARC Management via CNL Properties, but that also soured, and now the property is run by Herschend Family Entertainment - probably the best fit for the park in a long time!