Families in the Greater Toronto Area have always known about Canada’s Wonderland. Heck, we’ve grown up with it. The amusement park is THE destination for summer fun, and I can fondly recall my first visit, because, well, I was 16 years old.
I know! It’s kind of crazy that it took me so long to get there. But I was raised by immigrant parents who just didn’t have amusement parks on their radar as something they’d like to do with their kids. So, for the most part, I was a late bloomer when it came to going places and doing things.
I’ll never forget my first roller coaster. My BFF assured me we’d start out with a “tame” one, and having no frame of reference, I trusted her implicitly. So, she took me on the Vortex. YES, I said the freakin’ Vortex. After descending from the ride, with my heart in my throat and my tummy ready to be turned inside out, I had just one question for her… the same I have today:
DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A TAME RIDE TO YOU???
Sigh, I fear that may have put me off roller coasters for good. Or maybe it was because she dragged me on The Bat, Mighty Canadian Minebuster and the now defunct Jet Scream immediately thereafter.
Regardless, I decided that a fear of heights combined with a penchant for motion sickness did not make for a good thrill ride companion. Hence, I politely let my BFF know she could stick my Season’s Pass up her a**, and suggested she find another friend to join her in anything roller coaster related. (I did make use of my pass again that summer – we saw All 4 One in concert. Yes, All 4 One!)
Therefore, along with a disastrous Wonderland grad night where I lost my then-boyfriend and had to make do with an annoying “frenemy” all night long, my experience with Canada’s Wonderland was extremely limited. However, since I always make a concerted effort to expose my boys to the places and things I missed out on as a youth, I jumped at the chance to participate in “Blogger’s Day” at Wonderland.
And what has changed since 1997? Oh… everything.
First things first, Canada’s Wonderland is less than 30 minutes from our home, and often, visitors to Toronto may write it off because it’s located in Vaughan, about 20 minutes north of the city. So technically, if you’re staying downtown it’s not really a convenient “tourist” destination.
But hear this; hire a cab. Make plans to carpool. Jump on a bus. If you’re visiting the Greater Toronto Area at any point this summer, be sure to add Canada’s Wonderland to your itinerary. You simply won’t experience anything like it anywhere else in Canada –
“It’s really no wonder that Canada’s Wonderland is Canada’s premiere amusement park. It’s where families come to spend quality time with each other and their good friends, g-forces. Only Canada’s Wonderland has Leviathan, a new roller coaster in 2012 that boasts speeds of 125 mph with an 80-degree drop. The park also features such thrilling rides as Vortex, Shockwave, Behemoth and the 301-foot WindSeeker. And for the kids, there’s Planet Snoopy and the new Dinosaurs Alive! Seven acres of Jurassic fun with over 40 life-sized dinos. And if you like water park thrills, Canada’s premiere amusement park features Splash Works, a 20-acre water park featuring The Plunge, Super Soaker, the Lazy River and enough thrill rides to leave you and your family closer and prunier than ever. It’s what happens here every day at Canada’s Wonderland. Thrills Connect.”
As we walked through the gates, a feeling of familiarity immediately washed over me. Wonder Mountain, the park’s centerpiece, was visible in all its splendor – a comforting reminder that the theme park has been loved throughout the generations.
As we navigated the park, familiar and not-so-familiar sights and sounds flooded my senses. Carnival games, face painting, food stands and the famed coasters. Without stopping to savour the surroundings, we made a beeline to Planet Snoopy, because with the temps soaring to almost 41°C with the humidex, we wanted to ensure that the boys were able to experience the kiddie rides before the heat became unbearable.
Now obviously back in ’97 I’d had no need to tour the kids section, so it was just as new for me as it was for the kiddos. Immediately impressive was the fact that the rides were literally stacked side by side, so there was very little walking in between. We could hop off one ride and do the next in sequence, ensuring we made the most of our time in the park. Bonus: Blogger’s Day was the day before the last day of school in Ontario, so the park was extremely under-crowded. Score!
Upon entering Planet Snoopy, the Peanuts Putt Putt course invited us to come in and stay a while. Normally, the boys love a good round of miniature golf, but today, more thrilling rides awaited.
First, we enjoyed was a very tame train ride via the KidZville Station. The boys had fun being “conductor” of their very own antique train as they navigated through the beautiful scenic surroundings of the railroad. Choo-choo!
We jumped on Jokey’s Jalopies next, where Ryder was convinced he was driving us around the track. “Slow down!” we cried as he navigated the hairpin turns. Okay, so there were no hairpin turns. But our 5-year-old enjoyed the experience nonetheless; so much so that we went around the track a second time.
When Ryder tired of Jalopies, I rode with him on Taxi Jam, a steel coaster for kids. It’s designed to be a child’s first coaster at the park; with tickling bumps and drops, the themed ride is just scary enough for children as young as 3 years old. Of course, our 3-year old wants nothing to do with roller coasters (what can I say, he’s a mama’s boy), so I rode with his big brother instead.
Next, the boys soared through the air in a mini hot air balloon at Frequent Flyers. The ride is designed for kiddies only, and floats just high enough to please young thrill-seekers. Can you spot Ryder waving as he floats past?
A few minutes later, the boys were back in the air for Snoopy vs Red Baron. (As you’ll see below, Ryder gave it two thumbs up.) I wasn’t kidding when I said the rides were back to back! If you’ve got young ones and are looking for the perfect way to spend a day, Planet Snoopy does not disappoint.
Just before lunch, we decided to try one more ride – Chopper Chase. Chopper Chase is a helicopter monorail where kids and adults can either sit back and enjoy the ride, or increase their speed by pedaling around the track. The meandering track offers an elevated view of KidZville, including the spot where we’d later grab some world-famous Beaver Tails.
Deciding it was a good time to take a break from the heat, we made our way to The Marketplace International Buffet. The slightly upscale restaurant (by park standards, anyways) has an enviable variety and selection, including pizza, pasta, roasted chicken, a taco bar, a large salad bar and other quick and tasty options. The dessert station with self-serve soft-serve tops off the meal. While I didn’t think the food was particularly fabulous, the boys seemed to enjoy their meals and since the restaurant is heavily air conditioned, it was as good a place as any to cool off. A great option if you want to get out of the heat and enjoy a variety of cuisines. (The meal was included as part of Blogger’s Day; otherwise, I’d be more likely to grab a slice of pizza in the park.)
Another Blogger’s Day perk were tickets for face painting! So as soon as we finished our meal, we headed out to get “inked”. Ryder settled on a gecko, and Reid… well, let’s just say that his love of “fooky fiders” is alive and well. I insisted that they both get small pictures that didn’t take up their entire faces, as both my boys sweat buckets in the heat and I didn’t want their face paint to transplant to their t-shirt sleeves as they mopped their faces (it happened, anyways).
After the face painting, my husband and Ryder took on Ghoster Coaster, one of three wooden roller coasters at the Park and one of the original four roller coasters that were at the Park when it opened in 1981. “This children’s wooden coaster takes riders over exhilarating drops, tickling camel humps and snappy bank curves,” << hence, I opted to skip it, and took Reid on the Character Carousel instead. Hey, we know our limit and play within it!
Sometimes, the most fun you can have at Canada’s Wonderland is simply squatting and playing with dead leaves.
When we were quite certain that the boys had had their fill of Planet Snoopy, we took a quick stroll around the park to take in some of the new and classic Wonderland rides. First, I’ve decided that I will ride the new Leviathan coaster for exactly $100,000 and not a penny less. Do I have an offer of $99,999? Keep it – cause I’m not doing it. One of the biggest and tallest roller coasters in the world, riders are dropped from 306 feet at an 80 degree angle; travelling over 5486 feet of track at speeds reaching 148km/hour. Soooo not my cup of tea.
Tell me: WHO goes on a ride called Night Mares? “You’ll be tilted 90-degrees, while spinning through stomach teasing loops – Standing up!” No thanks! You can just see the Drop Tower in the background.. another No-No.
As we crossed over to the carnival area, my husband became convinced that he could win a game of Milk Can (he couldn’t) to win me a stuffed banana (which I didn’t want). Still, I guess it’s the thought that counts!
Moving on, we paused to enjoy the welcome mist right in front of Wonder Mountain. My favourite picture of the day!
Finally, we cooled off with a Wonderland tradition – Icees, of course! Oh – the concentration on their faces as they enjoyed what Reid calls, “Popsicle Juice!”
And that, friends, was our most spectacular day at Canada’s Wonderland. We definitely plan on returning a few times this summer; after all, there’s still Dinosaurs Alive to encounter, and I *may* even be persuaded to ride a roller coaster or two! (Disclaimer: I probably won’t be persuaded.) However, as you can see, families with young ones can enjoy a fun-filled day at Canada’s premiere amusement park.
Have you visited Canada’s Wonderland? What is your favourite ride?
Ella Pretty Blog
Looks like so much fun – I didn’t even know about some of the kiddie rides like the mono rail one! We usually go to wonderlands once every summer with the kiddies – and mainly stick to Planet Snoopy – though the hubbies do wonder off to do the “are-you-crazy?” rides :-)
On my first trip to Wonderland in my early 20s, my sister suggested we ride Top Gun together (I think that is what is called – all the upside down loops and hanging-free legs…) I learned my lesson pretty quickly and only stick to kiddie rides now – they are completely in my comfort zone and so much fun! And when the kids are older and want to do all the upside down rides? It’ll be 100% daddy duty :-)
LOL Ella – my husband HATES that I don’t like roller coasters, because he is a thrill-seeker. We need to team up and all go together!
This place looks AMAZING!! I looove amusement parks. The closest to me is Playland at the PNE in Vancouver, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what I see in your pictures! You must have had such a fun time with your boys there!
It was such a delightful family experience! Wonderland is know for its thrill rides, but I had no idea it had so much entertainment for wee ones too!
Wow! I have never been to Canada’s Wonderland but your photos makes it look like such an AMAZING place :-)
I really love amusement parks – some of my fondest memories growing up were of my parents taking my sis and I to the child orientated one near our home (Tinkertown), the Red River Ex when we were a little older, as well as various ones through our travels..
I am so one who feels brave, hops on the scary rides and before the ‘drops’ happen think to myself: “Holy ****, I changed my mind!!!!” hah :-)
Glad to see you had such a great time with your fam!
Hahaha I can certainly relate to the “Holy ****, I changed my mind!!!!” phenomena! But then I feel like such a loser because my 5-year old is saying, Faster! Faster! LOL
Have never been there yet.
The last time I went on a coaster, I made them let me out before it started. I introduced my daughter to them by telling her they give stomachaches and who would want to do that to themselves? (I know, bad mommy.) But now she asks me to show her the “stomachache-rides!”
Hahaha you’re my hero Michelle! I love that you tried to pawn them off as inducing stomach aches :)
They also put on a decent fireworks show for July 1st
Yes, they do!
GREAT post, so much pictures and really informative. Now I really want to go to Canada’s Wonderland!!
Oh, you would love it Karine – especially if you’re a thrill seeker!
I’ve never visited unfortunately! I couldn’t even push the play button on your video because I knew I’d get motion sick (yes, I’m that sensitive to it) lol I went on a roller coaster (terror machine) at Expo 86 to try and impress a boyfriend…… it was not a good idea lol
Thanks for the post, this really does look like a wonderful place!
LOL Anne, sometimes I feel motion sick watching the video too :)
It has been years since I have been to Canada’s Wonderland so I am sure it has changed a lot. Maybe one of these summers we will have time to visit it when we are in the Toronto area!
You simply have to put it in your schedule Judy – so much has changed, and there’s SO much to do with the family now!
I’ve been there tons. As a kid, I loved it. Now as an adult, I love the rides, but not crazy about all the riff-raff that hangs out there.
I think when we were younger we had a much higher tolerance for teenagers :)
Awesome pictures Lena – I’ve never been to this amusement park but it looks like you all had a real blast! On reading your detailed post I’m tempted to visit this Canada’s Wonderland for some Summer fun. Thanks for sharing.
Thank Marissa! I definitely think you should go!
I have never been to Wonderland, much like you , rollercoasters and I don’t get alone. However, we just got home from vacation in Charlotte, NC, where we went to Carowinds, an amusement park owned by the same company as Wonderland. Planet Snoopy was a hit with Liam!!
You absolutely have to go back to Wonderland to see Dinosaurs Alive! AT Carowinds, we easily spent an hour and a half looking at the dinosaurs! Liam was amazed!
Given how much fun Liam had at Carowinds, I am sure that there will be a trip to Toronto to hit Wonderland in the near future!!
Aw, so happy to hear that Planet Snoopy was a hit in Charlotte, NC! And yes, you can bet I’ll be returning to see Dinosaurs Alive, I’m so sorry we missed it!
I was also at that All 4 One concert! I think I may have also seen Paula Abdul that summer. My goodness, now I feel old!
SHUT UP. That’s too funny! If memory serves me correctly, Crystal Waters opened up for them!
I live in BC now and miss Canada’s Wonderland – lots of people out here don;t get it and say well, we have the PNE, but it’s not the same. I grew up right when Wonderland was built and opened and saw it evolve. And now there’s SNOOPY? That almost blew my mind when I read that today – ah wistful sigh.
Wistful sigh – you wouldn’t believe how much Wonderland has changed. Hope to get you back here for a visit soon!
I went once over 10 years ago… had a great time… some day i plan to take my kids
Definitely a great plan Francine!
Wow – I remember trips to Canada’s Wonderland in the 80’s – used to take my daughter there a lot for the kiddie rides, and I used to go to concerts at the Kingswood Theatre. I haven’t been there for years now… thinking it’s about time to pay it another visit – avoiding the killer coasters and rides of course (like you, Lena, my body just can’t handle them). Glad you and your kids enjoyed it :)
I definitely think you should plan a visit this summer, Flora. Even for non-roller coaster lovers, there is so much to do! I need to go back with the grandparents so they can watch the kiddos while my husband and I go on the water rides :)
Gotta get there and try the new rides out!! What a way to go!!!! (just kidding) I usually go with my kids who are all teens now and fearless!!!! Ahhhhhhh! thats all you hear when i get on rides i laugh and scream Sooo much fun!! (some of the rides hurt you head and neck Iadvoiid them now) The water park is fun too the wave pool is great!!
I can’t wait to try out the water park! Heading there soon for sure!
I haven’t been since I was a teenager, but now I really want to go! You take fantastic pictures! Coincidentally, Wonderland recently came onto our radar this past weekend, as we tossed around the idea of seeing the Canada Day fireworks there — they put on a great show.
I must say, though, that there is a notable contrast between your detailed review of the kid’s play area/rides, and your review of the adult rides… haha
Thank Victoria! And yes, there was a *slight* difference in the way I covered the tame kiddie rides… and the deathwish thrill rides, hahaha!
haha…remember it like it was yesterday :)
You wench. I’ll never forgive you for the whole Vortex thing. :)
Next time you’re going on the ghoster coaster….you silly turtle!
Looks like a lot of fun! Wish i lived closer to a wonderland!
Great place to visit when you’re in town!
Looks like you all had a great time…especially your kids. I try and take my kids every year but with work and life getting in the way, its not always possible.
Hope you can get there this summer!
Looks like a wonderful park to bring my boys too,I just wish we could afford to bring my boys there!
Yes, it can get pricey. But, for roller coaster enthusiasts, it’s well worth it!
Looks like a great time!
We always have a great time at Wonderland!
Oh my! I haven’t been to Canada’s Wonderland in YEARS!! We are heading up next summer, I can’t wait to take the monkeys!
So awesome! Have a great time!
The kids absolutely love going to Wonderland :) It’s a good way to get them out and tuckered out.
It has been so long since I have been, should go back again soon.
You definitely should Pram!
Love Canada’s wonderland! :). Funnel cake is the best!
Ah, I didn’t have one when we went. This year for sure!
Roller coasters freak me out. I can not even go on the younger kid ones that do not go upside down.
Hahaha! Well I can stomach the kiddie coasters, but that’s about it!
I haven’t even been near Toronto for a few decades but if I had I LOVE to go here! Wish you cool swim in the pools around the fountain – beautiful!
It’s so funny, because I often wish the same thing! Totally wish we could swim in the fountain pools!
This looks like such a fun place. Iam in Newfoundland Canada!! Would LOVE to go bring the kids!!
You must come visit us Amy!!!