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???
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?