With over 400 amusement parks in North America, theme parks continue to be a popular destination choice. Whether it is the Griswold family taking a road trip to Walley World, theme parks are full of memorable fun to keep everyone entertained for the entire day. Even with so many popular ones today: Disneyland, Universal Studios or even the Epcot; Canada’s Wonderland in Maple is one that is closest to our hearts as this was where our parents always took us when we were younger. After six years, we were thrilled to come back and experience the first and largest amusement park Canada has to offer.
From Paramount to Cedar Fair
Many people don’t think about it but there is a deep history to theme parks in North America. Canada’s Wonderland was once owned by Paramount (yes… the movie guys) from 1993 to 2006. When Cedar Fair purchased the park in 2006 it was the second most visited park in the Cedar Fair chain behind Knott’s Berry Farm in California. Yet the vast 330-acre space at Canada’s Wonderland still makes it the country’s largest.
The park features several different themes that include International Street, Medieval Faire, Action Zone, and Planet Snoopy. For summer visitors, Canada’s Wonderland includes free access to its water park, Splash Works, which holds the largest outdoor wave pool in the country. Unfortunately, with the weather being on the cooler side, we didn’t try the water park.
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Wonder Mountain and Roller Coasters
When you first cross the mega entrance gates, you are greeted by Wonder Mountain. This signature mountain is the centerpiece to the entire park and boasts a huge waterfall that professionals dive from at various times in the day. As we entered, Snoopy was conducting to the sound of water jets shooting up rhythmically. People were lining up and children were dancing along. Pulling out the park map, the layout is pretty much the average – food shops, rides, souvenir stores, restaurants and game stalls all scattered around. There is also a children’s area with over 20 rides for various ages that is themed around Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
Furthermore, Canada’s Wonderland has over 200 attractions with 16 roller coasters. Two honorable mentions are the Behemoth added in 2008 and the bigger (and badder) Leviathan added in 2012. If you are looking to let out a big scream (or looking to just lose your lunch) we recommend those two first.
Around the park, there are also a variety of less extreme rides that still test your might. Our favorite was Psyclone where you face outwards on a pencil looking like a pendulum that spins slightly on an angle while soaring up to the sky. Another big joy of ours was The Bat which is one of the original coasters opened in 1987. You are pulled back up a ramp as it slingshots you forward around a few twists and loops. Then at the end, it goes back up another ramp and you do it all again, this time backwards.
Apart from that, you also have the Drop Tower, whose name speaks for itself. You sit outwards as it lifts you to a height of 200 feet (61 m). Then the announce will countdown slowly… 5… 4… 3 and drop you unexpectedly. You fall at a speed of 100km/h for a few seconds going back to the ground.
Packing On Those Calories
When it comes to food, filling the gut quickly is the aim of the game. At Canada’s Wonderland, there is a large variety of cuisine from food trucks selling burgers to sit and dine restaurants offering Indian curries. There really is food for everyone and the food stalls are literally everywhere. One great thing is that the park promotes Canadian food items. From beaver tails to ketchup chips, Canadian expression is a big part of the park. One thing you have to try when at the park is the Funnel Cakes. This freshly cooked mass of batter is served with powdered sugar, soft served ice cream and a whopping scoop of strawberry sauce. Sorry… mouth watering now. Let’s move on.
Let’s Go Fast!
Of course, the greatest enemy for theme parks today are long lines. With more and more people enjoying the day, the lines to the rides tend to drag and those lines can even extend up to 90 minutes! Canada’s Wonderland implemented Fast Lanes in 2012 where guests can purchase a wristband in addition to normal admission charges and cut in front of the line on most of the popular attractions without waiting. This is a lifesaver where you don’t spend most of the day stuck in lines but can repeat the best rides over and over.
Prices and the Verdict
With a ton of attractions and things to do, Canada’s Wonderland is more than an amusement park. As a seasonal park, Canada’s Wonderland is open daily from May to September, with weekend openings in late April, October, and early November. You can easily spend a full day here and better yet, create memories that you will remember forever. Park hours range depending on the month starting from 10 AM to around 8 PM. The water park closes around 6 or 7 PM.
Ticket prices range depending on single entry ($40 CDN), groups or seasonal passes ($87 CDN). We recommend visiting their website here to find the best ticket with your plans. There is also a fee for parking ($20 to $24 CDN depending on the month). Lastly, there are frequent events happening at the park so plan your visit around those will also give you something to look forward to.