Darien Lake is a CNL Income Properties and Funtime Parks joint venture theme park resort, located midway from Buffalo and Rochester in Darien, New York. It is located southwards from the New York State Thruway and on the State Highway 77. It used to be owned previously by Six Flags from 1999 to 2007, but is now owned by CNL and managed by PARC management. This is the largest theme park under the PARC banner, and has a camp ground and a theme hotel attached to it. It was started in 1960 by an investor named Paul Snyder, who initially started off with a just a campground, a baseball diamond and a picnic area around a lake. The lake has now come to be called Darien Lake, and has grown from the simple facilities of a town park to a fully developed theme park with lots of rides and other entertainment facilities.
Snyder started off the development of the park by adding two giant slides over the lake in the early ‘70s. Later on, he added more amusement facilities and named it Darien Lake Fun Country. This was followed up by a deal with HUSS Maschinenfabrik, which made Darien Lake the showcase opportunity for North America for the German company. HUSS, in order to sell more of their products in North America, used the Darien Lake installations as an advertisement and display venue. This opportunity led to Darien Lake acquiring attractions like the rides Pirate, Corn Popper and Ranger. In 1982, a Huss and Arrow Dynamics joint venture installed the first roller coaster in the park, The Viper. These rides need Darien Park coupons to go on them.
Half the stake in Fun Country was sold off by Mr. Snyder in 1983 to Funtime Parks in order to facilitate expansion plans for the park. Funtime Parks is a large conglomerate owning the Geauga Lake and Zoombezi Bay parks as well. They decided to drop the name “Fun Country” and just call it the Darien Lake Funtime Park, and also introduced a lot of improvements. They installed a giant Ferris Wheel, the largest one in existence at that point, namely the one which was built for the 1982 Knoxville World Fair. The Ferris Wheel is still a part of the Darien Lake resort. Two large theaters were also built for entertainment purposes, namely the Tops Jubilee Theater and the Lakeside Amphitheater. The Tops theater has now been renamed to Wegmans Grande Theater now. The amphitheater is a large concert arena, where large rock acts have performed, like The Who and Black Sabbath.
1992 saw the introduction of a laser light show named the Laser Light Fantasy. It was initially installed between Barracuda bay and the Giant Wheel. It was later removed to the Lakeside Amphitheater, and the concert events then shifted to a newly built Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, which had four times the capacity of the earlier amphitheater.
The park has come a long way from the initial campground and picnic spot it started out with. While the picnic grounds are no longer accessible to non lodgers, the campground still exists and has expanded a lot. It now hosts twelve hundred campsites, with half being RVs which are rented out by the park. The rest of the sites are meant for camper owned RVs and tents. Campground guests are allowed access to all facilities of the park, which now contains a general store, restaurants, gift shops, and an arcade, which are all open for use by all park patrons entering using Darien Park tickets.