Canada's Wonderland

12th August 2005

This park has been renamed since this trip report was written. It was formerly known as Paramount's Canada's Wonderland.

Paramount theme parks are not as numerous as the ubiquitous Six Flags chain. At the end of last year there were six parks in total; five in North America (Kings Island, Kings Dominion, Carowinds, Great America, and Canada's Wonderland) and one in Spain (Terra Mitica). Canada's Wonderland was the only one of these that I'd yet to visit. The Spanish park is now under new management, but the photographs I have from the time clearly show the words "A Paramount Park". As such, I am quite happy to claim that I have visited six of the five Paramount theme parks. But I digress.

Canada's Wonderland

When planning this visit, I wasn't altogether sure that it would be worth making the long drive to Toronto for a park like Canada's Wonderland. Although there were thirteen coasters and a powered coaster, none of them looked to be worth the effort. The most interesting was the new for this year Italian Job Stunt Track, in itself an identical ride to that installed at Kings Island; everything else looked on the face of it to be missable.

It was drizzling rain when we arrived at the park, which comes with advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, those who had any choice would probably try to reschedule their visits, resulting in shorter queues than there might otherwise be. On the minus side, certain attractions might not operate in poor weather. Fortunately, though the weather came and went all day it was never severe enough to force ride closure.

We made a spontaneous decision to try and hit the rides with the longest anticipated queues first, reasoning (correctly) that everything else would have next to no wait. The line for Italian Job Stunt Track (#529) had already hit thirty minutes by the time we got to it. I only noticed two differences between this model and its brother in Kings Island. First, the queue line followed a different route around the edge of the ride, presumably due to landscaping constraints. Second, the water splash effect at the end of the ride appeared to be absent in this version. To be fair, though, I couldn't see well enough to determine whether the pipework was actually there; it is possible that the effect was simply not working.

I had heard a number of less than positive remarks about the state of the wooden coasters at Canada's Wonderland. As such, I was pleasantly surprised by Mighty Canadian Minebuster (#530), which was a fairly decent ride if a little on the jarring side.

The TOGO-built stand up coaster, SkyRider (#531), proved for the most part to be a pleasant surprise. It seems to me that the Japanese must have some form of strange alternate anatomy, as the whole idea of air time on a stand-up coaster is really not a particularly bright idea for the average caucasian male. When you factor out the layout, however, the quality of the ride was a lot better than I remember from the other two TOGO standup coasters I've experienced, with the first drop and loop in particular being very good fun.

Having previously experienced a Zamperla-built "Volare" flying coaster, it is safe to say that I was not enthused about riding another one. I had warned James and Andrew that this would almost certainly be the most uncomfortable coaster they had ever ridden. As things turned out, Tomb Raider (#532) wasn't half as bad as I had expected. There were several moments where riders were slammed sideways with considerable force, but the overall ride experience was nothing like as unpleasant as the Austrian version.

It was a relief to disembark from the SLC, Top Gun (#533). The best thing to be said for this model was the theming, complete with rotating radar antennae and assorted aerial gubbins. The coaster itself was second only to the prototype models in terms of brutal roughness, with one fellow passenger remarking loudly (and in colourful english to be sure) about his plans for the ride design team should he ever meet them in real life.

After three mediocre coasters we decided to go for what I had anticipated to be the best ride in the park, namely Vortex (#534). It turned out that my prediction was right on the money. The ride layout was such that the swinging of the cars was utilised to maximum effect, and the impression of relentless speed worked really well. The train tracked very smoothly other than one noticeable jolt (oddly enough in the brake run, when the train was hardly moving!).

A quick spin on Fly (#535) brought us over to the Vekoma Boomerang. Having ridden far too many of these over the years I wasn't expecting a huge amount from Bat (#536). While waiting I did notice some variations from the standard model; first, the reverse lift mechanism utilised a cable rather than a chain, and had a substantially larger tow car then I have seen elsewhere. Additionally, the train was an Arrow-built model instead of a Vekoma; perhaps it was originally operated on one of the other coasters in the park?

At any rate, the ride operator in charge turned what otherwise would have been a generic model coaster into my second favourite ride of the day, entirely by means of an enthusiastic running commentary. At one stage, when the rain picked up for a while, he commented that he was running one of the wettest rides in the park. For another ride, he decided to give a countdown for when the lift mechanism would release with the train dropping (10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 54321!). His cheerful attitude was infectious, and kept things interesting for those of us waiting in line. As we disembarked at the end, he was leaning out from the operators control booth asking every person going down the exit ramp if they had enjoyed their ride.

If anyone from the park is reading this, the employee operating the Bat on my visit is the single most enthusiastic and friendly employee I have ever seen at any park anywhere, even more so than the good folks at Holiday World. Maybe you should offer him a job in your training department!

A brief lunch break took us nicely to the powered coaster, Thunder Run. We had to wait a few extra cycles to board this as the staff appeared to be having difficulties with the braking mechanism. One train load of people received four consecutive rides, as the train kept overshooting the stopping point in the station. In due course we were on board, and as luck would have it the problem had been solved by the end of our ride.

Canada's Wonderland

Neither James or Andrew had ever done a Rapids ride before, and since we were all wearing ponchos it seemed as good a time as any to introduce them to one. I don't recall anything particularly memorable about this one one way or another.

Two more cookie cutter credits were ticked off next. First up came the Silver Streak (#537), a Vekoma Family Inverted coaster. This one was my fifth out of seven installations of this model. The remaining two are in Australia and Utah respectively, both of which may take a while! Next came what is technically a custom design but which felt like every other Corkscrew I've ever ridden, the singularly unremarkable Dragon Fire (#538).

My taste in music is recognised to be about four decades older than me. As such, it may seem an odd decision for me to follow James and Andrew into the School of Rock show. I assumed, correctly, that the live version of the show would probably consist of cover versions of assorted chart hits, none of which I would be likely to know. Nevertheless, they were all performed with a charm and enthusiasm that made the music impossible not to enjoy. My only real difficulty with the show was the lack of any real connection with the movie; it felt more like a generic music show, using the name only so that a decent number of guests would visit.

We were next in line for Drop Zone when it broke down. One of the cars didn't get off the ground, and the others stalled at the top. After a few minutes wait some engineers arrived and began lowering the cars slowly back to earth so that those who wished to do so could disembark. Most took this option, with only three people in total electing to wait while the ride was reset. As things turned out it was only about five minutes before things were moving again. As we approached the top Andrew asked me if we could see Niagara Falls from here. I could scarcely keep the laughing out of my voice as I pointed out that we were more than one hundred miles away!

From the top of the tower it was easy to locate the station for Wild Beast (#539), which we had somehow managed to miss in our circuit of the park.

Having previously enjoyed the version at Kings Island, I insisted that we join the queue for the Scoobys Haunted Mansion dark ride. The version here does not have the huge capacity of its brother in Ohio, and as a result the wait was nearly an hour even though at first glance the queue did not appear all that long. The scoring system in my car was not working properly but nevertheless I did enjoy the ride.

Canada's Wonderland

A quick ride on Scooby's Gasping Ghoster Coaster (#540) meant that we had now completed all the coasters in the park bar Taxi Jam, and a rapid check of the height requirements there showed us that this would be one credit we would not be getting today. It would be interesting to know if the maximum height requirement here is a recent addition, as I have not had problems before.

Given how tired we were it was agreed to finish up the day with two more rides on Vortex, in each end of the train. It was determined that the front seats were better than the back, though there wasn't much in it.

We could not leave, however, before riding the one interesting flat ride I'd had my eye on all day. As regulars here will know I do not really have the stomach for spin rides, but will always make an effort to try something unusual, especially if I have never seen an equivalent before. Sledgehammer is, to my knowledge, the first installation of a HUSS Rides Jump-2. Rather than try to describe the ride in words I will instead point readers to the Rides official web page. All of us enjoyed this greatly, though we were glad that we had left it to the end of the day; more than one cycle would have presented problems!


Canada's Wonderland

Reports from this park: