Canada's Wonderland Trip Report - 6/8/2012
Finally, it was time to cash in. Ok, so Megan had a new coaster bonanza at Cedar Point, but as a normal person, it’s not something she cares to keep track of. I do, and while it’s not the definitely not the most significant reason to visit a park, counting coasters is a nice way to quantify my commitment to this pretty absurd hobby. The two new parks on this tour so far were small, and Cedar Point hadn’t added much since my prior visit, so in one trip to Canada’s Wonderland, I was looking to add double the number of new coasters I had hit at the three previous parks combined.
But really, the most important thing about visiting an amusement park is to have fun, and this park always seemed like a great place to do it. They have a deep and diverse collection of coasters, and if there’s one great thing about a coaster park, it’s variety. Unfortunately many of the entries really weren’t all that novel to me, and some were rather infamous and ubiquitous clones, but there was no question we’d be able to fill the day coaster riding without having to repeat ourselves.
Then again, I wasn’t all that optimistic that we’d even have the chance to get multiple rides on even our favorite coasters. It was a summer Friday, the weather looked to be beautiful, and we’d had some amazing luck with crowds so far, so it was time to pay the piper. But even before the trip started, I heard the place can get nice and busy. Apparently, it’s the most attended seasonal theme park in North America. Who knew?
To be honest, I hadn’t heard much about the park beyond that. Any park with 15 adult coasters is always on definitely on the map, and while it has expanded greatly over the last several years, it was on my radar back when I was growing up on the East Coast. Granted, I never had a chance to make a visit, but that was at least partly because it didn’t quite have the same allure as some other major parks in the eastern time zone.
We became a bit more familiar with it before and after a visit to La Ronde, which is widely considered the other major Canadian park. The comparisons were made, and I was glad to see them line up favorably towards Canada’s Wonderland, so it was an easy call to include a trip there as part of our long weekend in Toronto. It had been a Paramount Park, and given the similar size and the recent conversion into the hands of Cedar Fair, it seemed reasonable to put it on par with Kings Dominion, and that gave us a good enough idea of what to expect.
It was a little odd to have to study a park that’s so big, so close, but there wasn’t a ton I knew about it. Most of the information I’d come across before deciding to visit was about Behemoth and Leviathan, two recent major additions. The press for these two B&M hypercoasters, the former topping 200 feet, and the latter as the first B&M coaster to go over 300 feet, was impossible to ignore, and they cemented the park as a coaster destination.
Quantity had definitely been there, but it never seemed like quality was the strong suit of the coaster lineup before these new coasters. You’ve got your Boomerang, your SLC, a Wild Mouse, and a Corkscrew as some of the most common coasters in existence. Throw into that a TOGO standup and a Volare, and you’ve got even more clones, and clones with pretty unpleasant reputations. Still, the park looked scenic, the headliners looked phenomenal, the operations were rumored to be tolerable, and it was a day I didn’t have to go to work. What more could we have asked for?
I did ask for a transportation consultation from the helpful folks at the front desk. I’ve never seen such an urban and active Courtyard before, but with conferences, restaurants, and a location in the heart of Toronto, it seemed like the place to be. As a result, the staff was beyond professional, and explained that despite the morning rush, driving is the most efficient and flexible option to get to the park. Hell, we were paying $30 a day to park it, we might as well get some use out of it.
After our night out on Thursday, we didn’t have all that much time to sleep in, as we wanted to budget a lot of travel and traffic time into our commute. Fortunately we were outbound while the brunt was inbound, so the worst of it was just navigating unfamiliar city streets. I tried to keep my patience, let our GPS do the thinking, and avoided any damage to the rental car.
Once we were onto the highways, it was a smooth ride into the suburbs. We had left around 8:30am for a 10:00am opening, but that included some extra “early positioning” time to make sure we weren’t at the back of the pack surging towards Leviathan. Any new coaster creates pandemonium, but one with stats like these and which looms over the entrance to the park, no less, brings a whole new level of madness.
Just a bit before 9:30am, we arrived at the park, paid our parking lot fee, and hunted for a spot in the growing crowd. We definitely were not the earliest arrivals, but the massive lots still had plenty of room, and we were at least a heck of a lot closer to the main gates than we were to the tollbooths. With pre-purchased (and pre-printed, thanks to the terrific business center back at the hotel) admission tickets in hand, we headed for the busy entrance.
As many of the major parks do, guests are mercifully allowed into the park in advance of the official opening time. We weren’t sure of the exact procedures, but we were glad to have taken care of the security screening and ticket taking a good bit before 10am still. Just a tip, if you’re planning on eschewing park rules by packing a gourmet meal’s worth of food, apparently refusing to return the items to your car for more than five minutes means the rule doesn’t apply to you. I don’t know who was more deserving of ire, the guest who was obviously in her own little world, or the security guard, who clearly got tired of being berated and gave up the fight. Why do we always get stuck behind these jackasses when trying to enter parks?
Once into the park proper, we took about three seconds to take in the customarily impressive Kings/Paramount entrance vista, and we soon focused our attention to Leviathan. Without checking further down into the heart of the park, the entrance to our right into the Medieval Faire easily seemed like the most direct option.
There was already an impressive crowd assembled, and as the minutes passed it grew larger behind us as we inched closer, trying not to lose it whenever inconsiderate folks pushed their way past us. It’s hard to accuse someone of line jumping when we weren’t in an official queue, but this was easily as frustrating. I just felt bad for the handful of employees who needed to squeeze through in one direction or the other. You’d have thought they’d already be used to this sort of frenzy this season and avoid the area altogether.
A new coaster, especially one as impressive as Leviathan, is definitely something people go crazy for, and the excitement was palpable as the top of the hour approached. Once it came, there was an unabashed free-for-all as people ahead of us as well as behind us made an all out sprint. Of course we weren’t going to partake in such desperation, but we gave it a suitable effort.
It was a little ways to get to the ride’s entrance, seeming longer with each step as we got passed left and right. We were around the corner and found the end of the line in the middle of a nicely themed courtyard. The queue was filling slower than people were joining it, so the backup was understandable, but it was just a couple minutes before we were safe(r) from line jumpers.
Eyeing the unused (and shortly opening) queuing, we were definitely ahead of the pack, and seemed to be saving a good amount of time by coming here first. I always wonder if I’m better off getting through a different part of the park while the early morning rush hits the premier attraction. After chatting with a queue attendant, it sounded like the modest wait we were looking at here was nothing compared to what it would be, based on him ballparking the crowds anyway.
The modest wait ending up being another 15 minutes once inside the queue, and we were able to get the second to last row, and boarded just after 10:20am. Without much time to commend ourselves, we were out of the station and directly on the massive lift, eager to experience B&M’s first entry past the 300 foot mark. Honestly, I thought it was something I’d never see.
But riding is believing, and we were scaling one of only four lifts that reach this impressive plateau. Unlike the Intamin instances, it’s a pretty standard lift mechanism, not taken nearly at the speed of the elevator lifts on Millennium Force and Intimidator 305, but noticeably faster than your average B&M ascent, and easily tripling the speed with which we climbed Dragon Mountain just than a week ago.
I had just enough time to speculate what this coaster had to offer. The 200+ foot realm is rarely entered by anyone beyond B&M and Intamin these days, and a comparison is natural. I have to give Intamin the slight edge thanks to the two aforementioned coasters, along with Superman at SF New England. But it’s slight, as the Goliaths at SF Over Georgia and La Ronde plus Nitro provide some stiff competition. Both companies have entries lower in my rankings as well, but the my general preference is for the wildness that Intamin leans towards over B&Ms trademark gracefulness. That’s not to say B&Ms are never wild nor Intamins aren’t graceful, but I’m talking broad strokes.
My snap judgment was that Leviathan, with its massive hills and wide curves, would not pack the high-G and airtime intensive punches I savor on these type of rides. Just check back to my Cedar Point trip report to see how ambivalent I am about Millennium Force. Even so, as we climbed higher and higher into the sky, I had little doubt I was looking at a major contender for the upper reaches of my coaster rankings.
The drop is straight, steep, and long. Down below is a forceful pull-up through a short tunnel and directly into a tall but still quick banked right turn, which twists back level and ramps down to the ground. A very low and graceful hill makes a slight left and dips back down before suddenly shooting skyward towards the first serious parabolic hill of the circuit.
It provides a prolonged but not aggressive float, and leads directly into an overbanked hairpin U-turn that simply soars above the park’s entrance plaza. Now on the “back” portion of the out-and-back footprint, there’s another low hill and slight right twist, followed by another airtime hill with about the same moderate level of intensity. Almost like repeating the first half, but at a lower altitude, a banked left turn is taken at the top of the next hill sending the trains back towards the station. The turn drops slowly, but rises steeply, and with some serious height and speed left to burn, the final brakes are met.
What follows is the longest, steepest brake run I’ve ever encountered, and despite traversing almost 5500 feet of track, seems to have ended prematurely. Mostly that’s because what was just experienced was a hell of a good time, and not because the ride approaches anything that could be considered short, bit it’s an odd return to the station nonetheless.
As you may expect, I walked off the ride very, very pleased. It is an immensely enjoyable coaster that provides serious speeds and some moments of intensity. However, overwhelming, it is not. You may consider me a spoiled enthusiast for saying so, but as much as I loved the ride, I couldn’t say I had a mind-blowing or eye-opening experience. Again, to be clear, it was an absolutely fantastic coaster, and it easily reaches the upper-echelon of my rankings. But placing at #19, is as clear a statement of my admiration as it is of the fact that I’ve experienced better. For those playing along at home, I placed it behind Nitro and ahead of La Ronde’s Goliath in the B&M hypercoaster food chain, all of which are ahead of Intamin’s SF Darien Lake and SF America Supermen, and way behind their others.
If anything, it made me that much more eager to compare it to the other B&M hypercoaster in the park, Behemoth. But given our location and its capacity, we’d be saving that for later. Quickly ruling out a repeat ride here first, we knew it’d be smarter to make as efficient work of the park as possible. That meant it was time for some capacity slugs.
In what we hoped was more an indication that we were ahead of the crowds than its popularity, things were quiet nearby in Wild Beast’s station. We found an empty row toward the front of this Curtis Summers out-and-back design, and caught the next train out. I’m always glad to get to experience a new wooden coaster. They’re just so much harder to find, and almost always unique, at least compared to so many steel cookie cutter coasters.
Sadly, I’ve come across too many of these mediocre efforts. Despite the nice layout, the ride never really amounted to all that much excitement, and somehow still provided a pretty consistent vibration. Such rattling is forgivable when a coaster is performing some aggressive maneuvers, but how it was this bumpy through some pretty straightforward hills and turns, I have no idea.
Trading in mild disappointment for a guarantee of being underwhelmed, I went next door to Bat, one of the previously railed-against clones. I shouldn’t condemn Wonderland too much for a lack of creativity, as this is actually one of the earlier Boomerangs, and the 5th oldest still operating in its original location. None of this was any consolation when I saw a bit of a wait, and while a bearable 20 minutes were needed to get through the handful of cycles, it was tough as a single ride unable to get the station attendant’s attention.
Despite this installation’s longevity, or perhaps because of it, the ride it offered when I was eventually aboard was pretty forgettable, though not entirely unpleasant. While not the absolute worst of its type, I momentarily admired Megan’s lack of credit whoring before recommitting myself to the handful of Vekoma clones I had yet to deal with.
A clone prompting less dread was Fly, a Wild Mouse found close by, just past the landmark mountain at the center of the park. Whatever advantage we had gained by getting Leviathan out of the way early had evaporated, clear to see thanks to the busy queue. It wasn’t into the overflow area, but it was a long slog from just inside the queue entrance to the station. Taking the better part of a half hour, the wait was made more difficult to endure by the occasional paid line cutting provided by the park’s Fast Lane service. If only they allowed me to pay money to break another park rule; I would have loved to knee one of these people in the thigh.
Give the busy day and the low capacity of the ride, the wait wasn’t really all that unreasonable, and we got our turn in due time. As you’ll probably hear a few more times, this ride was about what you’d expect it to be. It’s one of the slightly extended versions, so that’s a plus, and the turns and dips were as fun as they were jarring.
Megan had temporarily joined me for the Wild Mouse, but it was no surprise I’d be on my own for the next two attractions. Cutting across the center of the park, I had my sights on two of the most infamous coaster models, and I wasn’t about to waste my breath asking her to come along. I loved her too much for that.
Ok, so maybe all Vekoma SLC’s aren’t a travesty of engineering and physics. Flight Deck is this park’s installation, otherwise indistinguishable from any other, save for the modicum of military theming, the first lick we’d seen since the medieval treatment of Levithan’s courtyard. Immersion this was not, but it was a nice touch.
The line I was looking at was busier than the visit to Fly, but with two trains running, I was into the station and had my seat in a pretty tolerable 20 minutes. Despite the empty station and assigned rows, I lucked out getting the second, and I was optimistic as one would dare be climbing the lift.
Not even to the bottom of the drop, my hopes were dashed. More precisely, they were savagely hammered out of me. I’ve been on my share of SLCs, so I knew how bad it could get. As it turned out, I had no clue. For some 60 seconds, I endured some of the worse head-banging I’ve ever come across. The original Outer Limits: Flight of Fear restraints were a padded dream compared to this onslaught. Just to provide some unexaggerated perspective, once the final brakes came and put an end to the misery, there was a full stop, followed by a couple crawling right turns into the station. Inexplicably, my ears were getting boxed during the post-brake return to the station.
A little disheartened, I knew I wouldn’t be finding any mercy next door at the vaguely island-themed Time Warp. The Zamperla Volare is possible the most infamous coaster model in current production, and while I didn’t deem Rye Playland’s installation as the absolute worst coaster I’ve ridden, I found much of the criticism to be fully warranted.
Another busy but moving line was thankfully cut short by the existence of a single rider branch. Unfortunately it was only accessible once 80% of the way through the queue, but I bit the bullet and decided to play dumb and squeeze my way through the crowd once I got a bit closer. Granted, I let folks know I was a single rider headed to the single rider line as I made my way, but apparently that wasn’t sufficient explanation for all. Most stood aside without reaction, some were actually quite helpful in informing their friends, but one genius stood out with his snide comment that I still had a ways to go. So much for all Canadians being friendly.
I told him with a facetious nod that I had it under control, and once past the 80 or so people, I was ready to fill in an empty spot with no additional delay to anyone I had passed. Thanks to my aggressive tactics, I turned what probably would have been a 30 minute wait into half that, and almost immediately had my place in one of the most awkward coaster vehicles to ever exist.
Longing for the relative comfort of a B&M or Vekoma flying coaster car, the metal and fiberglass cocoon would be my vehicle for the next minute or so. I braced for the worst climbing the clever spiral lift, and we were quickly into the dipping, twisting, and twice flipping wild-mouse-esque layout. The bad news is that all the jerking and jostling is felt all over your body, and while it wasn’t as brutal as the beating I got on Flight Deck, I was soon again glad to be back on the ground. I appreciate the novelty of this design, and I love the personal flying vehicle concept; I just can’t deny the disappointing execution.
One-third of the coasters were now under my belt, and my reward for the penance paid on the last two coasters would be Behemoth. Meeting back up with Megan and seeing a line extending from the queue’s entrance, we deferred instead to lunch. Skipping slightly closer offerings at Subway and yet another Coasters diner, we opted for a counter service place selling a little Mediterranean food.
If anything, the line looked reasonably short. Only problem was, it just didn’t move. It seemed to be a combination of understaffing, poor order processing, and absolutely no sense of urgency from the staff. I try not to be one who blindly rails against inefficiencies as a sort of personal entertainment, but when the group of teenagers in the line next to me started talking amongst themselves about how crappy the service was, I was inclined to agree. What bummed me most was when a supervisor walked in, surveyed the situation for about twenty seconds, and then was back out the door. Apparently everything was running as expected.
The twenty minute wait wouldn’t have been so painful if I wasn’t the 4th person in line. I was just relieved to have the meal – nothing harms my mood more than being hungry during inconvenience. Megan had some unremarkable chicken fingers, though my gyro was actually pretty tasty. I just feel bad for the poor saps behind me in line who were just trying to get their free soda refill.
With the little rest, we headed back to Behemoth and saw the line doing pretty much the same thing that it had been before the meal. We were quickly into the queue, where it was easy to see both that only one section of the queue house was being used, and that with the three trains running at a pretty consistent rate, the line was moving just fine. Glad to be zipping through and getting a bit of a break wait-wise, our only concern was the pretty egregious line cutting we saw both ahead of and behind us. Having the last portion of queue exposed to the nearby midway is not a great way of keeping people from line jumping, though idiots will be idiots no matter what, right?
In about as long as it took to get our lunch, though seemingly much faster of course, we entered the station and headed right for the back row – where else? Knowing what B&M did on the other side of the park, I was pretty excited to test of the anchor of this area. Its stats are only diminutive when compared to the likes of Leviathan; 230 feet tall and 5300+ feet long is more than all the steel you’d need to make an amazing coaster.
The layout takes La Ronde’s B&M hyper, a fun but straightforward out-and-back affair, and adds a bit of a twist finale. It’s still got a slightly predictable layout, but to me hypercoasters have made just going up and down over and over a blast, so I’d be the last person to dare complain about a lack of creativity.
We were loaded into the rearmost two seats, as the staggered train design opens things up ever so slightly, though mostly it just changes the station configuration a bit. Enjoying the bird’s eye view of the other end of the park, we quickly climbed the lift, and from the back row, no time is wasted getting thrown down the first drop.
It started things off perfectly, giving great speed and forces at the bottom of the drop, and a massive floater hill creates some amazing airtime up and over the top. It’s quickly back down and up into a vertical U-turn, and the return course is three consecutive airtime-laden hills. All this leads to the mid-course brakes, which leads riders into consecutive helices: a pretty crushing 540 degree downhill spin to the right followed by a nicely banked 270 degree upwards twist in the opposite direction. That dips into a pretty solid bunny hop, and then it’s back up, into the brakes.
Without reaching the same heights or raw speed as its cousin across the park, I immediately assessed the ride as being particularly more forceful. The airtime was more pronounced, and the Gs definitely had more of an impact. It felt a little weird giving the smaller, older coaster more credit, but if SF New England’s Superman was also at this park, it would top them both.
Still, each are terrific coasters in their own ways, and it’s a rare event for a new coaster to make my top 20 – let alone two in one day. Leviathan landed just inside, but Behemoth gets a few extra notches at #14. With regard to other hypercoasters, Nitro is the only one between these two, and SF Over Georgia’s Goliath is the only B&M hyper that’s higher.
We had a feeling, given our remaining options, that Behemoth would stand as the best ride in the park, but there were still a few stops to look forward to. Knowing pretty well what we were in for, Megan stuck it out as we went next door to Backlot Stunt Coaster. We’d just ridden the Kings Dominion version the year prior, and found it enjoyable enough.
It was no surprise to find another sizable line, about halfway into the queue, underneath the service road overpass. Without any major switchbacks, it seemed doable, and it managed to be less than half an hour before we were up to the Fast Lane merge point. From there, the attendant was not just meting folks though, but attempting to assign specific rows, despite the fact that we were across the final bridge, and easily 50 feet from the entrance to the station.
He awkwardly assessed the situation, took his best guess after peering through the fencing, and sent us on our way. When we arrived, it was obvious he had made a mistake, as the gates had just opened, and our row was full, and another row was empty. I like to think we did him a favor and increased capacity by hopping into the available seats just in time, but I suspect we just messed him up. I realize the multi-train, boarding from the same side as unloading set-up messes up the bag storage situation, but there’s got to be a better way on these coasters.
Like the Kings Dominion version, there was a noticeable but understated launch, a decent spiral, some twisting and turning among themed elements, and then a hectic, if bumpy, finale. Unlike that version, all the special effects were disappointingly missing. Instead of the whizz of simulated bullets and an impressively authentic fireball explosion, the helicopter wagged pointlessly at us in a rather unintimidating manner.
What modest excitement this family thrill ride offers really is enhanced by the small but appreciated special effects scene, and without it, the whole thing just seemed to fall flat. Sure, the physical effects and even the props were the same, but it was a pretty sad indication about how much the park cared about putting on a good show for its guests. Or at least attempting to.
Continuing the loop around the park, the next entry is the Mighty Canadian Minebuster. Despite the misleading name, it’s not a Mine Train, but rather a pretty straightforward wooden coaster; an out-and-back plus helix design from Curtis Summers of Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters. I like to think I have a kinship with rides built in my birth year, but a line almost back to the queue entrance was not the camaraderie I was looking for.
Megan was out again, wary of the reputation this ride has, and irreparably pessimistic after our morning run on Wild Beast. I got through the mostly-shaded with the help of my sans service but game-laden cell phone, and after 20 minutes or so, came to the attendant at the station’s entrance. I was let in and chose the second row, happy to avoid sitting over an axle.
The ride offers a predictable but pleasant run, and interacts quite well with the adjacent water park. I was a little surprised; after all the warnings I expected worse. It wasn’t glass smooth, but definitely tolerable, and the hills offered some fun. The circuit finished with a wild helix that is definitely over the top, but a solid finish to what seems to be a pretty decent wooden coaster.
Having smartly sent Megan on to meet me by Vortex, I was off to endure SkyRider before meeting back up. The memory of King Dominion’s TOGO stand-up, Shockwave, was still rather fresh in my mind, so this was up there with Time Warp and Bat as the most dreaded rides in the park. Here the line didn’t lag all that far beyond the station, and in a few cycles I was there. Unfortunately, I was then able to see no station attendant, and a jam-packed loading platform with easily a dozen riders queued up for each row.
Normally, six cycles with two trains running wouldn’t be much to worry about. Dispatching every two minutes would mean 12 minutes of waiting. Heck, even three modest minutes between runs would be under 20. Unfortunately, “normal” and “dispatch” have nothing to do with each other on this model coaster. The restraint system here is as perplexing as it is archaic, and running two trains was beyond pointless. A dispatching train would spend one minute running the circuit, and then sit on the brakes for four more. That’s what I was doing with my phone while waiting for this riding, timing out dispatches at five minutes per.
Trying to hunt possible single riders in my otherwise randomly chosen row only made me more anxious, but as the crowd ahead slowly dwindled down after some 20 minutes, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. When the gates opened next, I quickly and unabashedly made one combined move of asking the entering single rider if I could join while passing the pair ahead of me. Like on Time Warp, I think I confused them more than got actual clearance to pass, but I was ok with the knowledge that I was causing them no actual harm.
Forgive the obvious segue, but the harm was provided by the ride itself. Minus some nice Gs through the loop and some manic airtime at the top of the next hill, the ride is just a mess of pointless hills, awkward turns, and a pretty brutal helix. The short 2200 foot course may keep you from having to ever beg for mercy. Instead, it just seems like riders hit the brakes with an equal mix of relief and aches.
With just one headlining coaster left, I backtracked around the lake and caught up with Megan outside the entrance to Vortex. The line shot just outside the packed queue house below the station, but I was optimistic that with two trains and rather simple loading procedure, we were looking at a coaster worth its wait. We had encountered only a few of those today.
Along with the previous TOGO stand-up, this Arrow suspended coaster is a relic of a bygone era, and a rare one at that. Fewer than a dozen were ever built, and more than half have since been demolished. Still, this quirky novelty has its fans, myself among them, and some of the better implementations offer a coaster experience that is wildly unique. Supposedly Vortex was among the more highly regarded.
What the best suspended coasters do is effectively take advantage of their natural terrain. Vortex tries to match as it climbs up and over the park’s centerpiece manmade mountain, and then executes much of its layout over a small lake of dubious origins. There aren’t any other hills or ravines to interact with, but they don’t really seem to be missed.
The slow dismount from the lift onto the mountaintop provides a scenic diversion almost in league with Expedition Everest, minus all the authenticity. It gives a well-timed pause to contemplate the ride ahead, and soon trains shoot down off the side and are chugging along into a field below. The train snaps to the right and then rises to the left, and again the pods are banked to the max as they dive back down to the grass below with another sharp right turn. The side-to-side wildness repeats several times over, now mere feet above the water, and after countless twists and some serious swinging, the trains climb back up to the final brakes.
Unlike a few of its more famous brethren, it’s only got the one lift, but that just mean its course is taken in a single, uninterrupted frenzy. While it may lack the blur of hills and trees of Ninja at SF Magic Mountain, or the scenic and iconic river-side maneuvers of the ill-fated Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Vortex proves that a well-designed coaster can rest on its own supports, even if not relying on natural terrain. It lived up to its reputation as a solid entry in the genre, and ends up a terrifically fun coaster, and one that should be appreciated as much for its thrill as its rarity.
Not that all the remaining coasters – and there were a few - were lowlights, but we were definitely taking a step down in expected enjoyment. Heading into the mountain we were just on top of, we joined a full queue for Thunder Run, a powered Mack Mine Train. We snaked through the lower portion of the queue rather quickly, but were a bit disenchanted to see the extent of the queue on the second level. It’s a long, 38-passenger train, but with some pretty inefficient operators, empty rows seemed to go out every time. I don’t know how they weren’t able to load the station fully despite only running one train with a double circuit, but they found a way.
Our wait managed to be just under 30 minutes, and we found a spot towards the back of the train. I was expecting very little, and I managed to get a bit more out of the experience than that, as the ride winds in and out of the mountain with a good frenzy, and there’s even a token attempt at special effects. The dragon-looking thing makes a bolder appearance on the second circuit, though it didn’t do much more for me than the strobing Christmas lights in the finale. Still, it’s a nice attraction for the little ones, and entirely tolerable for adults even.
Heading to the back corner from the middle of the park, we were hitting the last unvisited area – Kid Town. Ok, so maybe it’s officially Kidsville or something like that, but let’s not split hairs. My interest was in a couple more interesting children’s coasters, both of which were really halfway between junior and full-fledged.
First was Silver Streak, a Vekoma Suspended Family Coaster, a mild, non-looping spinoff of their interminable SLC product-line. As a Vekoma coaster you’d actually be ok subjecting your kids to, it’s not to be missed, and another packed queue was no surprise. We bit the bullet, but after no more than 10 minutes, a delay was encountered. At an estimated 20-30 minutes of downtime, we weren’t interested in sticking around - not with other coasters yet to hit. I didn’t catch the cause of the issue for certain, but it may have been a biological spill of one sort or another. Gross.
The other coaster is adjacent, but accessible around several corners, and we joined the queue for Ghoster Coaster with little hesitation. Folks ahead and behind us were balking, and even we were surprised to see a winding line from just inside the entrance, into a packed station rather far afield. The two trains running meant we moved at a reasonable pace, mostly entertained by some surprisingly cute kids anticipating one of their first coaster rides.
Once inside the station, we were smart to avoid the rows where one of the trains wasn’t accepting passengers, and about half an hour after getting in line, we were aboard the Summer/PTC family double out and back coaster. It was shades of yesterday’s Comet throughout the entire circuit, and a humble thrill was surely had by the youngsters. I was happy to enjoy the nice ride and some mock screams, and glad not to get bumped around too much.
Working our way back over to Silver Streak, Megan was lost to a Dairy Queen stand selling some obscene Blizzards, and I was again on my own. The delay seemed to have shorted the wait somewhat, but it was still busy and I again used my phone for much needed distraction as a wound through the unadorned back-and-forth queue. I had no luck signaling the station attendant that I was a single rider until I was just outside the station, but I did end up saving a cycle. That kept the wait closer to 20 minutes than 30, and I hopped into my disappointingly unpadded seat.
Akin to Ghoster Coaster, it’s far from the most ambitious thrill ride out there, but it seems to please its intended audience rather well, and I certainly wouldn’t complain about such a feat. The twists and turns give a fun thrill for the initiated, and again I was fine taking in the breeze, and getting another coaster under my belt.
And then there was one. It had been a long day, frustrating at times with some odd and occasionally inefficient operations, but I was very happy to be able to get on all the coasters. I did take a close look at Taxi Jam to confirm that adults were indeed not allowed, so I had to settle for #15 of the day, Dragon Fire. We just had to go clear across the park to get to it.
Back into the Leviathan madness for the first time since early in the morning, it wasn’t too tempting as we bypassed surely a slammed queue. Granted, with three trains going the line would have moved at a rather satisfying pace, but even a modest estimate would have put the wait at 60-90 minutes, and neither of us had much left in the tank for that. Don’t forget, this wasn’t just a long wait at the end of a day of solid waits, but this was Day Six of being on our feet. Don’t read that as complaint – far from it. Even in the moment I knew this trip was a huge success. Still, we had endured a lot visiting these four parks, and we were all but spent.
The last square in what felt like a day of coaster BINGO was Dragon Fire, an aging Arrow double loop, double corkscrew that opened with the park along with Ghoster Coaster, Minebuster, Thunder Run, and Wild Beast. As the only looping coaster in the park for several years, and a quadruple one at that, surely this ride was met with much acclaim.
Today I saw its lack of popularity with some ambivalence. Finally I’d be getting on a coaster with almost no wait – but as is often the case with coasters on a busy day: you get what you wait for. So the ride wasn’t a complete travesty, but it did a pretty good number on me – so much so that it knocked free all the remorse over calling it a day and heading home.
So that did it – 15 new coasters, and easily seven hours spent in line, both totals easily surpassing the previous five days combined. I certainly would have liked to avoid the latter tally, but there’s no question how rare the former is for me these days, so I wasn’t about to grumble. I was definitely proud to stand my ground by getting through the park while boycotting the line cutting service, and I was even more proud to have hit 330 coasters.
I tried not to look at the park just as the coaster bonanza it is. Obviously there are plenty of other non-coaster rides that round out the park quite well, we just didn’t have the interest on this particular visit. I don’t deny that part of this malaise was thanks to some less-than-stellar operations, but our average 30 minute waits for each coaster were not inconceivable on such a busy day – it just forced us to hit only the essentials.
Overall the coasters weren’t run horribly, as I appreciate the pretty consistent two and three train operation where possible. It’s just that after three days at Cedar Point, you get used to a certain level of efficiency, and that definitely isn’t met here. Had we not just come from there, and had the crowds been a little lighter for us, I probably would have found the place pretty enjoyable. As it was, I was equal parts tired and satisfied that we had gotten on everything we wanted to.
And that’s all you can really hope for when visiting a park in the summer. I always say I don’t hold large crowds against a park so long as they do their best to manage them. Canada’s Wonderland put in an acceptable effort (though not much beyond that), and if nothing else, kept all of the coasters going pretty much all day without incident. That alone was something to be thankful for, and I definitely had that in mind as we headed towards the front of the park, taking one last look at the ornate entry plaza, and calling it a visit still with several hours left in the operating day. We threw ourselves into the fading rush hour traffic, and went back to enjoying metropolitan Toronto.
We had one more day of sightseeing: a museum, meals, and a solid hit of local culture. The next morning we checked out, got into our small but venerable Fiat, and were on our way to Buffalo. There we caught a flight to San Francisco via Chicago, and our vacation come coaster tour was instantly just a memory. Fortunately it was still rather vivid, and I suspect we’ll be reminiscing over the highlights for a while to come.
I couldn’t say that our visit to Canada’s Wonderland was the absolute highlight of the trip, but it was mostly enjoyable. It was a hectic day, and while the forgettable operations, handful of generic coasters, and lack of immersive theming left us way short of being blown away, the diverse collection and generally pleasant park environment made it worth the trip. No question, Leviathan and Behemoth are coasters to behold, and are worth enduring cloned Vekomas and slow operators several times over. Simply put, maybe don’t plan a visit to Canada’s Wonderland immediately after a few days at Cedar Point, but make sure you do plan a visit.
It also sounds like you and I have similar tastes in parks and coasters.
Canada's Wonderland has never been high on my priority list, despite being relatively close to home. It just seemed like a bunch of clones, or mediocre coasters. I've never really been one to seek out coasters just to ride them. Rather, I try to go to parks that have significant attractions.
Well, that is certainly the case with Canada's Wonderland now. With the last two coaster installation, Cedar Fair has come out and said that this is a flagship park of the company - certainly one of their three most prized possessions with Cedar Point and Kings Island.
It wasn't on my to-do list before, but I'm pretty sure I'll be making it there next summer. It's TR's like yours that have swayed me to go.
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
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Haha, drachen, I’m impressed you got through it in two sittings! Thanks for the compliment. Agreed, growing up in upstate NY, it was definitely a lot closer than a ton of the parks I went to on the east coast, but it was never a place I was drawn to. I wanted to hit the Busch Gardens parks, Kings Dominion, and of course CP – nothing about Canada’s Wonderland really seemed compelling.
I’m glad you’re making a visit; it really is a nice park and a huge one at that. I think outside the B&Ms and Vortex, there wasn’t much I found to rave about coaster-wise, so I definitely have the park behind a few of the other former Paramount Parks, including Kings Dominion, and even Carowinds. But even if you skip over every clone, you’ll still have a great day on some awesome rides.
ANd every time I get off of an SLC, I think to myself, "That was more painful than I expected...why did I ever ride."
Hmm, I wouldn’t say I’m even that fond of Boomerangs, just that their depth of unpleasantness doesn’t seem to sink as low as some of the worst SLCs I’ve been on. At the same time, the occasional smooth SLC (e.g., Hangman at Wild Adventures) is actually quite exhilarating. At the end of the day, rarely is either found to be pleasant, and as I mentioned in the TR, I envy my wife for her non-credit whoring! :]