I’ve enjoyed going to Canada’s Wonderland ever since it opened in 1981. I still remember the excitement and thrill of riding roller coasters like Mighty Canadian Minebuster, Dragon Fyre and Wild Beast for the first time back when I was a tween, and I credit Wonderland with making me the ride thrill seeker I am today.
Canada’s Wonderland has changed quite a bit over the years, with the addition of many new rides, eateries and the Splash Works waterpark (now with private cabanas!) One thing that hasn’t changed is the park’s ability to bring a smile to my face, and now my kids’ faces too.
My husband and I both love roller coasters, so while the kids were younger we always had fun watching them on the smaller rides of Kidsville and Planet Snoopy, but couldn’t help be a little sad that we were missing out on some of our favourite thrill rides and coasters on family trips. On more than one occasion we’ve visited Wonderland on our own, just to go on the “big rides” like Behemoth, Leviathan, Sledgehammer and Minebuster. We even did the Xtreme Skyflyer one time – now that was scary (but fun!)
We’ve always had fun at Canada’s Wonderland, with or without kids, and as our kids got older we’ve enjoyed experiencing the excitement of them tackling new rides. Much to our delight the repertoire of rides we can go on with our kids has expanded each year, making each family visit a little more adventurous.
One of the ironies of life though, is just when our kids get old enough to do fun things together (like ride the thrill rides and big coasters) they want to hang out with their friends instead of mom and dad. It seems to be pretty common that once kids hit the tween or early teen years that most of their requests to go to Wonderland involve hanging out with their friends, not their family. I certainly remember those days, so we try to strike a balance between family visits and visits with friends.
We decided to kick off the start of summer with a family visit to Canada’s Wonderland the day after school officially ended for the year. I was excited to ride some of the more adventurous rides now that the kids are older. Normally we try to plan a visit for a less busy weekday, and often visit when the weather is a bit cooler, in the hopes of there being smaller crowds and lineups. Not this time – the weather was forecast to be in the 30’s (and feel like 40+). Needless to say, we got an early start and were there right for opening at 10am.
Our son has autism, and one of his biggest challenges when he was little (and even sometimes now) is having to wait. Wonderland does have a system available for individuals with disabilities, including autism, that allows you to go to certain rides and get a pass to come back and ride the ride at a specified later time without having to line up. We decided to try without getting a pass (patience is a skill we’ve been working on) and luckily the lines were not terribly long at any of the rides we went on so it was not an issue. (Purchasing a Fast Lane pass is another option for anyone not wanting to wait in line.)
We had tons of fun going on some of our kids’ favourite rides, along with some new ones. We all went on Klockwerks (my son’s favourite for several years now), Thunder Mountain, Vortex, Windseeker and Wonder Mountain’s Guardian.
My daughter and I also went on Pysclone, Sledgehammer, Flight Deck and Behemoth. It was her first time on Behemoth and she LOVED it. Yay!!
Next time we’ll tackle Leviathan (my favourite coaster at the park.) Reaching a height of 306 feet and speeds of up to 148 km/hr, this coaster is definitely not for the faint of heart!
We packed our swimsuits and towels expecting to spend lots of time in the water at Splash Works due to the high temperatures, but in the end we were having so much fun on all the rides that we didn’t even make it to the waterpark. I think the ride lineups were shorter than I expected because so many people were over in Splash Works keeping cool! Of course we made sure to drink lots of water and other cold drinks during the day, and were able to cool off in the many shady areas around the park.
All in all, it was a very fun way to spend time together as a family, and we all left tired but happy. We can’t wait for our next visit!
When you do decide to let your tween or teen loose at Canada’s Wonderland, here are a few tips to help ensure their day is a safe and fun one:
- Be advised no cell phones, cameras, GoPros or selfie sticks are allowed on rides except Swan Lake, KidZville Station and Jokey’s Jalopies (which are all in KidZville so they probably won’t be on those anyway.)
- When taking group photos never hesitate to ask a Canada’s Wonderland employee to take it so everyone is in the picture.
- There is park-wide wifi so they can keep in touch with you – and their friends – quite easily, without running up their data charges on their phone.
- Make sure they take a park map so they know where First Aid, guest services, restrooms etc. are at all times. Another option is to download the Canada’s Wonderland app before they go – it has the same information but may be easier for kids using their phones.
- If you’re dropping them off I’d suggest planning a pickup/ drop-off location in advance, since the front entrance can get quite busy during operating hours. Please also be aware there is designated drop-off zone, which does require the kids to walk across the parking lot to the front entrance.
- Make sure they have lots of sunscreen, a hat and a closed bottle of water to take in during the hot summer days. Nobody wants to get heatstroke on their summer vacation.
Thanks to Canada’s Wonderland for arranging this fun day for us. We were provided with free passes for purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.
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About Kathy Sima
Kathy is a blogger and freelance writer and mom of two teens who gave up her career as a financial advisor when her son was diagnosed with autism at age 3. When it comes to parenting, Kathy truly believes there is strength in numbers and knows that sharing stories and strategies with other parents has helped keep her sane (so far!)