Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

Canada's Wonderland

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Covid-19
Slogan  Thrills Connect
Total  69
Area  130 ha
Province  Ontario
Visitors per annum  3,617,000 in 2015
Opened  23 May 1981
Phone  +1 905-832-7000
Canada's Wonderland
Location  Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
General Manager  Norm Pirtovshek, Vice President
Previous names  Paramount Canada's Wonderland (1993–2006)
Address  1 Canada's Wonderland Drive, Vaughan, ON L6A 1S6, Canada
Owner  Cedar Fair Entertainment Company
Operating season  late-April/early-May through late-October/early-November
Rides  Leviathan, Behemoth, Wonder Mountain, WindSeeker, Flight Deck
Similar  Leviathan, Splash Works, Wonder Mountain's Guardian, Centreville Amusement Park, Vaughan Mills
Profiles
Twitter

Best day ever canada s wonderland amusement park


Canada's Wonderland is a 330-acre (130 ha) theme park located in Vaughan, Ontario, a suburb approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of Downtown Toronto. Opened in 1981 by the Taft Broadcasting Company and The Great-West Life Assurance Company as the first major theme park in Canada, it remains the country's largest. The park, currently owned by Cedar Fair, has been the most visited seasonal amusement park in North America for several consecutive years. As a seasonal park, Canada's Wonderland is open daily from May to September, with weekend openings in late April, October and early November. With sixteen roller coasters, Canada's Wonderland is ranked second in the world by number of roller coasters, after Six Flags Magic Mountain (19 coasters) and tied with Cedar Point (also with 16 coasters). The 330-acre (130 ha) park includes a 20-acre (8.1 ha) water park named Splash Works. The park holds Halloween Haunt, a Halloween-themed event, each fall, as well as special events throughout the season.

Contents

The park was owned by Paramount Parks from 1993 to 2006 and operated as Paramount Canada's Wonderland. When Cedar Fair purchased the park in 2006, "Paramount" was dropped from the title. In 2015, it was the second most visited park in the Cedar Fair chain, behind Knott's Berry Farm, with about 3.62 million visitors.

Predecessors

When Canada's Wonderland was planned the region lacked a seasonal amusement park. Toronto had previously hosted two amusement parks which had roller-coasters, Sunnyside Amusement Park in the west end and Scarboro Beach Amusement Park in the east, but both were closed in the 1950s to build the Gardiner Expressway and housing developments, respectively.

Planning

In 1972, the Taft Broadcasting Company, headed by Kelly Robinson, first proposed building a 330-acre (130 ha) theme park in the then small village of Maple, part of Vaughan, Ontario. Several other possible locations in Ontario were considered, including Niagara Falls, Cambridge, and Milton, but Maple was finally selected because of its proximity to the City of Toronto and the 400-series of highways.

Others had seriously considered the Greater Toronto Area as a spot to build a theme park, among them the Conklin family (whose Conklin Shows ran various midways around North America, including Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition midway). Walt Disney also considered the idea before choosing Florida, rejecting Toronto mainly because the climate was too cold, making the operating season too short to be profitable.

Construction of the park was opposed on multiple fronts. Many cultural institutions in Toronto such as Ontario Place, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the operators of the Canadian National Exhibition felt that the Toronto market was not large enough to support more competition. Other groups that fought the building of Wonderland included a Vaughan residential association called SAVE, which thought the increased traffic would reduce property values. People in the region were concerned that the new park would be similar in aesthetics to a carnival or midway. Some of the concessions the company made included a landscaped berm around the park to reduce noise and modifying the appearance of the large parking lot. Taft was concerned about opposition and flew a group of opponents and regional councilors to Mason, Ohio (near Cincinnati) to show them the positive impact of one of its theme parks on the local community.

Canada's Wonderland was also responsible for changing the master development plan for the province of Ontario. The provincial government wanted to increase residential and commercial development to the east of Toronto in the Regional Municipality of Durham, which includes Pickering and Oshawa, while keeping the lands to the north of Toronto agricultural, as a Greenbelt. The Wonderland promoters were able to convince the province to amend the planning policy for the region, and the park secured infrastructure improvements, including a highway overpass and sewage systems, that were expanded and built out to the site. This infrastructure paved the way for increased development throughout the region.

Concerns were also raised about the cultural implications of allowing an American theme park to open in Canada. Many felt that it would be a "Trojan Horse" for American culture. To counter the criticism, Taft planned to open Frontier Canada, a part of the park devoted to Canada's history. Early park maps show the area encompassing what is now Splash Works, White Water Canyon, the F/X Theatre and the southern part of Kidzville. Taft also proposed including a steam passenger train. While Frontier Canada was never built, several original themes remain in the area. Unlike its sister parks, Kings Island and Kings Dominion, it was decided early that the centrepiece of the park would not be a replica of Paris's famous Eiffel Tower. Instead, the park's designers chose to build a massive mountain, known as Wonder Mountain, situated at the top of International Street. Wonder Mountain featured a huge waterfall and interior pathways that led visitors to a look-out point. Other planned elements that were never built include a hotel and conference centre, which was to have been constructed north of the park.

Construction and opening

On 13 June 1979, Ontario Premier Bill Davis depressed the plunger on an electronic detonating device at St. Lawrence Hall in downtown Toronto, triggering an explosion on the site. Construction began immediately and continued on to early 1981. Canadian companies were partners on the preliminary design and engineering of the project. Construction of the mountain alone involved a dozen local companies under Cincinnati engineer Curtis D. Summers.

Two years later on 23 May 1981, Davis and Taft Broadcasting President Dudley Taft officially opened Canada's Wonderland to the public. The spectacular opening ceremony included 10,000 helium balloons, 13 parachutists, 350 white doves, and a pipe band. Four children, representing the Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic, and Great Lakes regions of Canada, each poured a vial of water from their home regions into the park's fountain. Hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky also appeared as a special guest, helping to raise the Canadian flag. 12,000 guests were welcomed into the park for the first time. The park cost $120 million ($307 million in 2017 dollars) to build.

Kings Entertainment and Paramount era

During the 1980s, Canada's Wonderland and the Loblaws supermarket chain mounted a cross-marketing campaign. Loblaws issued "Wonder dollars" based on customers' purchases, which were redeemable at Canada's Wonderland at par with the Canadian dollar on weekdays. The obverse of the coin featured Wonder Mountain, while the reverse featured the Loblaws logo.

Kings Entertainment Company operated the park during the 1980s and early 1990s. The park's former connection to Hanna-Barbera Productions lessened after Paramount Pictures raised its stake from 20% to full ownership of the park in 1993 and renamed it Paramount Canada's Wonderland. After Viacom bought Paramount in 1994, a successful attempt was made to bring families back to the park by attracting children with original Nickelodeon cartoon characters that were familiar to a new generation.

Many changes occurred in the next decade. In 1996, Splash Works expanded, with a new water slide, a wave pool and a new child-friendly water playground (The Black Hole, White Water Bay and The Pump House). In 1998, the park expanded by adding KidZville, which was mainly designed for infants and children. In 1999, Splash Works expanded for the second time, with the addition of raft rides: The Plunge and Super Soaker.

In 2001, a new themed area called Zoom Zone was added within the KidZville section. Three new attractions were built in that area: Silver Streak (a family roller coaster), Blast Off (a "frog hopper"), and Jumpin' Jet. In 2002, the park unveiled Action Zone, a new themed area replacing the Exposition of 1890, which at the time contained already existing rides and added the Psyclone ride.

Splash Works also received its third and most current upgrade, with the addition of a child water playground area called Splash Island and the removal of Pipeline.

On 11 May 2003, with the park packed with people for Mother's Day, two guests were involved in a fight at the front gates of the park, which led to a shooting death. It was thought to have followed a prior dispute involving the two over a drug exchange, according to York Regional Police. The park has since added metal detectors at the front gate, with additional security.

In 2005, the park introduced Fearfest, a Halloween event featuring various haunted house attractions in different themed areas. Though the section for smaller children was closed off, the park continued running many of the thrill rides during the event, such as the Thunder Run, in which patrons ride a mining type train through a mountain. During the Halloween season, it is re-themed as the "Haunted" Thunder Run, with a darker tunnel and more strobe lights, fog machines, and black-light lit scenes featuring the "skeletons" of miners.

In 2006, the park introduced Spooktacular, a child-oriented Halloween event. The event included children's rides, costume contests and a treasure hunt. Spooktacular was open on weekends during the daytime, while Fearfest remained open at night. Due to very low attendance, Spooktacular only lasted one season.

Cedar Fair era

On 14 May 2006, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company announced it was interested in acquiring the five Paramount theme parks, including Canada's Wonderland. The acquisition completed on 30 June 2006.

In early January 2007, Cedar Fair began to drop the name "Paramount" from all of the former Paramount properties it acquired, as a result, the park has reverted to its original name of Canada's Wonderland. The 2007 season was a transition year throughout the park and included renaming the movie-themed rides since Cedar Fair did not hold the rights to Paramount film properties. By the start of the 2008 season, all Paramount logos and similar references had been removed. In August 2007, Cedar Fair announced that Fearfest would become Halloween Haunt to remain consistent with other Cedar Fair parks, and that Spooktacular would be discontinued. In its place, the park extended its regular operating season until the last weekend in October. Halloween Haunt runs in the late evenings on October weekends.

On 4 May 2008, Canada's Wonderland opened a Bolliger & Mabillard hypercoaster called Behemoth, which held the record for the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Canada, standing at 230 feet (70 m) and reaching speeds of 77 miles per hour (124 km/h).

On 19 July 2009, stunt performer Nik Wallenda walked on a tight rope from the pond area of Medieval Faire to Wonder Mountain.

In 2011, Canada's Wonderland opened a 301-foot-tall (92 m) WindSeeker, making it the tallest ride in the park until Leviathan opened in 2012. The park also announced the addition of the Starlight Spectacular show, which started on 25 June 2011 and ended on Labour Day, 3 September 2011. It was a nightly 'light and sound show' designed to celebrate the park's 30th anniversary; it was shown at 10 pm EST every night on International Street. Canada's Wonderland stated that the total cost for the show was approximately $1 million, with 16 million different colours and 300,000 LED lights. While the show took place at the front of the park (International Street), the highlight was on Wonder Mountain, with many 3D images and colours.

In 2012, Leviathan, a Bolliger & Mabillard Hypercoaster (also classified as a gigacoaster) opened, surpassing the Canadian records set by Behemoth in 2008, becoming the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Canada. Norm Pirtovshek, Wonderland’s general manager, said that the Leviathan as a new attraction would help to spread out visitors. It was also described as part of a “roller coaster renaissance” where theme parks distinguished itself by introducing bigger and faster rides to attract guests. In addition to Leviathan, Canada's Wonderland also opened the Dinosaurs Alive! walk-through dinosaur exhibit.

On 27 May 2012, for the first time in the park's history, Canada's Wonderland hosted a one-kilometre, 5-kilometre, and 10-kilometre run to raise money for the planned Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital that will be built on land once owned by Canada's Wonderland north of Major Mackenzie Drive.

On 30 August 2013, Canada's Wonderland announced that Wonder Mountain's Guardian would open inside Wonder Mountain in May 2014. The attraction is an 4-D interactive dark ride from Montreal-based Triotech. Park management also announced that SkyRider would close Labour Day, 2014.

In October 2014, a man was fatally stabbed at Halloween Haunt.

SkyRider was removed at the end of the 2014 season and relocated to Cavallino Matto in Tuscany, Italy, as Freestyle in 2015.

Near the close of the 2015 season, Canada's Wonderland announced that two new flat rides would be added in 2016 – Skyhawk (a Gerstlauer Sky Roller) and Flying Eagles (a Larson International Flying Scooters). Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimett also confirmed in December 2015 that virtual reality (VR) headsets would be added to Thunder Run in 2016. Available to riders for an additional upcharge fee, the experience is co-developed with Mack Rides, a German amusement ride company. The VR headgear is a type of head-mounted display that animates the entire field of vision to produce a 360-degree 3D experience.

On 26 August 2016, Canada's Wonderland announced that a new flat ride would be added in the 2017 season: Soaring Timbers (a Mondial Inferno). The ride is stated to be the first of its kind in North America. The park also announced a Splash Works expansion for 2017 in the form of Muskoka Plunge, a 60-foot (18 m) tall waterslide complex featuring four "trap-door" speed slides.

Roller coasters

Expand table to see roller coaster information:

Areas

The park has several themed areas. The four original sections include International Street, Medieval Faire, Grande World Exposition of 1890 (now known as Action Zone), and the Happyland of Hanna-Barbera (divided into more than one kids area since 1998). The current areas include the original sections stated above, White Water Canyon (1984), Splash Works (1992), and three children's areas: Kidzville (1998), Zoom Zone (2001) and Planet Snoopy (2010).

International Street

International Street is the park's entry area, similar to the Main Street, U.S.A. sections of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Using a format borrowed from Kings Island and Kings Dominion, both sides of the street are lined with shops, including souvenir shops, clothing stores, restaurants, and candy stores. Wonder Mountain, the park's centrepiece, appears at the end of the street. In the early decades of the park's history, stores sold high-quality imported goods themed to the buildings, and restaurants sold non-standard foods for a North American theme park, such as shrimp, paella, and smoked sausage.

The buildings are named the Latin, Scandinavian, Mediterranean, and Alpine Buildings.

International Festival

International Festival is located in the northeast section of the park. It includes rides and midway games.

Action Zone

Action Zone was originally The Grande World Exposition of 1890 and is one of the original four themed areas at Wonderland. It was made to resemble an old world's fair, with expositions from different countries, focusing on African and Asian themes. The restaurants and washrooms were formerly true to the exposition theme. One of the restaurants was called Ginza Gardens (now The Backlot Cafe) and had a Japanese theme and a Japanese façade. There is also an arcade area (Crystal Palace Arcade) within this section of the park. The Mighty Canadian Minebuster, one of the original four roller coasters, is on the outskirts of the Action Zone and was intended to be the centrepiece of the never-built Frontier Canada.

In 2002, Action Zone was created as a new themed area within the Grande World Exposition of 1890. However, the entire area was later renamed Action Zone.

Medieval Faire

The Medieval Faire section of the park has a medieval European theme in both the setting and the rides. However, rides such as Drop Tower: Scream Zone and Speed City Raceway have no medieval theme. The two original roller coasters, Wild Beast and Dragon Fire had pseudo-Early Modern English spellings (Wilde Beast and Dragon Fyre) before 1997. The stores and restaurants follow the medieval theme, as does the castle theatre (Wonderland Theatre, originally Canterbury Theatre and Paramount Theatre during Paramount's ownership) and a pirate show (originally opened with the park as Sea Sceptre and now Kinet-X Dive Show) in the middle of Arthur's Baye. Wonderland Theatre hosted ice shows from 2006 to 2011, and hosted Cirque Ambiente in the summer of 2012 and 2013.

Children's areas

The children's areas in Canada's Wonderland all began as The Happyland of Hanna-Barbera. The three areas were themed as Yogi's Woods, Scoobyville, and Bedrock; the first was converted to Smurf Village in 1984. In 1993, the Smurf area transitioned to Kids Kingdom, which became Kidzville in 1998. In 2003, Bedrock became Nickelodeon Central. Planet Snoopy, based on the comic strip Peanuts, replaced Nickelodeon Central for the 2010 season, standardizing the park with the rest of the Cedar Fair chain. A fourth themed area is Zoom Zone. Quite small, it is part of Kidzville. Created in 2001 with the debut of Silver Streak, it also contains the small rides Blast Off, and Jumpin' Jet. One of the Kidzville rides, and originally a Kids Kingdom ride, Jumbo Bumps, was removed to make way for these three rides and the new section. Starting in 2004, Zoom Zone was no longer shown on park maps as an independent section. However, since Cedar Fair's takeover, each of the three rides mentions it is in Zoom Zone, and park signage continues to use the name.

The first ride accident in the park's history occurred on 23 August 2003, when the Jimmy Neutron Brainwasher (now Woodstock Whirlybirds) fell apart. Three children were sent to hospital as a precautionary measure.

Children's rides

The rides in KidZville and Planet Snoopy, the two children's areas at Canada's Wonderland, are:

Splash Works

Opened in 1992, Splash Works is a 20-acre (8.1 ha) water park. The water park is home to Whitewater Bay, the largest outdoor wave pool in Canada, and 16 water slides. It is included with the price of admission to Canada's Wonderland and is open during the summer months.

Fast Lane and Fast Lane Plus

Fast Lane is Canada's Wonderland's 'two line' system since 2012, which is also implemented at other Cedar Fair parks. For a cost between $55 and $65 (in addition to normal admission charges), visitors receive a wrist band that enables them to bypass the 'normal-wait' line and enter the 'Fast Lane'. Opting for this benefit essentially allows purchasers to cut in at the front of the line on 18 of the most popular attractions without waiting. In 2013, the park introduced Fast Lane Plus, which allowed purchasers to bypass the lines of additional attractions that standard Fast Lane users would not have access to. An unspecified limited amount of both types of passes are sold each day.

As of April 5, 2016:

Similar privileges are given to guests with disabilities.

Timeline

Today, Canada's Wonderland has over 200 attractions (including games), with over 60 thrill rides. The park holds a number of Canadian records, among them the most roller coasters, with 16. The park encompasses eight themed areas on 330 acres (130 ha) of land, with an artificial mountain as the central feature. In the southwestern quadrant, a 20 acres (8.1 ha) waterpark called Splash Works has over 2 million US gallons (7,570,000 l) of heated water, Canada's largest outdoor wave pool, measuring 36,000 square feet (3,300 m2), a lazy river, and 16 water slides.

In 1983, Canada's Wonderland added the Kingswood Music Theatre, a 15,000 seat amphitheatre that has hosted many "big-name" concerts. After the Molson Amphitheatre opened on the grounds of Ontario Place in 1995, cultural festivals at the theatre became less prominent.

Major attractions by year

Current name in (parentheses)

  • 1981: Park opens with:
  • 1982: Kings Courtyard (The Courtyard)
  • 1983: Kingswood Music Theatre
  • 1984: White Water Canyon, Smurf Forest (until the 1990s)
  • 1985: SkyRider
  • 1986: Thunder Run (formerly Blauer Enzian)
  • 1987: The Bat
  • 1988: Racing Rivers
  • 1989: Timberwolf Falls
  • 1990: Jet Scream
  • 1991: Vortex
  • 1992: Splash Works: Whirl Winds, Body Blast, Splash Island Kiddy Slides
  • 1993: Kid's Kingdom play area (later renovated and renamed Candy Factory)
  • 1994: "Days of Thunder" – Motion Simulator Movie Ride (Action Theatre – Currently Playing "Monsters of the Deep 3D")
  • 1995: Top Gun (Flight Deck)
  • 1996: Xtreme Skyflyer; Splash Works Expansion: Wave Pool, The Pump House, Black Hole,Speed City Raceway
  • 1997: Drop Zone: Stunt Tower (later renamed Drop Tower: Scream Zone)
  • 1998: KidZville, James Bond – "License To Thrill" (feature at Action Theatre), Taxi Jam, The Edge Climbing Wall
  • 1999: The Fly; SplashWorks Expansion: Super Soaker and The Plunge; "Dino Island II: Escape from Dino Island 3D" (feature at Action Theatre)
  • 2000: Cliffhanger (Later renamed Riptide), Scooby-Doo's Haunted Mansion (Boo Blasters on Boo Hill)
  • 2001: Shockwave; Zoom Zone (new kids area) including: Silver Streak, Blast Off and Jumping Jet; "Stan Lee's 7th Portal 3D" (feature at the Action Theatre)
  • 2002: Psyclone; SplashWorks Expansion: Riptide Racer, Barracuda Blaster and Kids Sprayground
  • 2003: Sledge Hammer, Nickelodeon Central (replacing Bedrock), "Warrior of the Dawn" (in Action Theatre), "SpongeBob SquarePants 3-D" (feature in Action Theatre), Launch Pad (trampolines; requires separate fee)
  • 2004: Tomb Raider: The Ride (later renamed Time Warp); The return of "Days of Thunder" (feature at Action Theatre)
  • 2005: Italian Job: Stunt Track (later renamed Backlot Stunt Coaster)
  • 2006: "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbara" (feature at the Action Theatre), Nickelodeon Celebration Parade, Hollywood Stunt Spectacular
  • 2007: Coasters 50s Diner, International Marketplace Buffet, Picnic Pavilion
  • 2008: Behemoth
  • 2010: Planet Snoopy
  • 2011: WindSeeker, Starlight Spectacular, VIP Tour Program,
  • 2012: Leviathan, Dinosaurs Alive!, Starlight Spectacular, "Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia 3D" (feature at the Action Theatre), Fast Lane
  • 2013: "Monsters of the Deep 3D" (feature at the Action Theatre)
  • 2014: Wonder Mountain's Guardian
  • 2015: SlingShot, SplashWorks: Typhoon and Splash Station, VIP Cabanas
  • 2016: Flying Eagles and Skyhawk, Special Events (throughout the season), "Robinson Crusoe 3D" (feature at the Action Theatre), Mobile App, The "Stars of the Peking Acrobats" (show at Wonderland Theatre), Ye Soccer Tournament, VR on Thunder Run
  • 2017: Soaring Timbers, SplashWorks: Muskoka Plunge
  • Current name in (brackets)

    Location

    Canada's Wonderland is east of Highway 400 between Rutherford Road (Exit 33) and Major Mackenzie Drive (Exit 35), 13 km (8.1 mi) north of Highway 401, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) north of Highway 407 and 64 km (40 mi) south of Barrie. It is bounded by Highway 400 to the west, Jane Street to the east, Major Mackenzie Drive to the north and an access road approximately one kilometre north of Rutherford Road to the south. Originally when the park opened, its surroundings were largely rural, however the suburban sprawl since the mid-2000s has resulted in it being surrounded by housing and shopping plazas on all sides. The park has two public entrances and one entrance for staff, deliveries, and buses.

    Public transportation

    Regular transit access is provided by York Region Transit (YRT), while GO Transit and MiWay run special services. The bus loop at Wonderland is located near the northeast corner of the park, and is accessible from the service entrance on Jane Street, north of Major Mackenzie Drive.

    Transportation to the Wonderland Terminal is available from the following regional transit organizations:

  • Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) on behalf of York Region Transit: Toronto – Route 165 Weston Road North bus to Canada's Wonderland from York Mills subway station via Wilson subway station. Extra fare is required north of Steeles Avenue.
  • York Region Transit: Route 20 Jane-Concord provides service along the Jane Street corridor from York University to Teston Road. YRT Route 87 Langstaff-Maple serves the park from nearby stops on Jane Street during rush hours only. YRT Route 760 Vaughan Mills/Wonderland services the park from Vaughan Mills Mall, Richmond Hill Centre, Finch Station and Yonge Street from Highway 7 to Finch Avenue.
  • GO Transit: Wonderland GO Bus Service (Route 60) from York Mills Bus Terminal and Yorkdale Bus Terminal.
  • York Region Transit used to provide an express Magic Wonderbus service from Newmarket and Markham, but this service was discontinued for the 2007 season. Route 4 Major Mackenzie no longer serves the Wonderland bus loop. However, it still runs along Jane Street past the park.

    Logos

    The park, from its opening in 1981, was known as Canada's Wonderland. In 1994, when Paramount Pictures (later Viacom) purchased the property, the name of the park changed to include the word Paramount, a practice Paramount Parks implemented with all of its parks in 1993. Prior to that, none of the Paramount-owned parks included Paramount in the name.

    In 2003, Viacom updated the logo of Paramount Parks, and all its theme parks, including Wonderland, to include an updated Paramount logo, even though the logo for Paramount Pictures, the film studio, remained unchanged.

    In 2006, CBS Corporation (split from Viacom in 2005) sold all of its theme park properties to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which in turn, dropped the Paramount prefixes from all five parks (and thus reverted to their original names), and adopted a Cedar Fair logo and font.

    References

    Canada's Wonderland Wikipedia


    Topics
     
    B
    i
    Link
    H2
    L