My son and his best friend both have June birthdays. This year they gave each other passes for Canada’s Wonderland, an aptly named theme park just north of Toronto.
Life is too short for long line-ups, hence springing the boys from school yesterday to avoid the crowds. I’m all truant like that. As a teacher, I happen to know the last days of school are fluff. Besides, I made the boys answer math questions in the car ride on the way up.
We arrived at the park at 10am and stayed until closing. We definitely got our money’s worth. The kids’ energy was endless. My energy had an end, but as corny as it sounds, the joy on their faces kept me going. I welled up twice watching their excitement. I’m getting sappier in my old age or possibly, I had heat stroke.
Ten Tips For Making Your Trip to Wonderland Extra Wonderful.
1. Do NOT buy your tickets at the park. If you plan on going more than once, get a season’s pass when they are offered in the spring at the lowest rate. Otherwise, buy tickets online and print or purchase at Shopper’s Drugmart for a reduced rate. They’re still crazy expensive, but if you spend ten hours at the park like we did, it’s a pretty good deal.
2. Wear comfy shoes. Duh. Pack an extra change of clothes and leave in the car for moist or dirty emergencies. And throw in a few towels even if you’re not planning on going to the water park. If if rains, you’ll be glad you had them.
3. Parking is $12. I hate paying for parking but it’s a necessary evil I suppose. Get to the park early to claim a spot close to the entrance. This will make trips back to the car easier. Reapply sunscreen whenever you make a trip back to your “home base”..aka..the car.
4. Do NOT buy food at the park. Pack a lunch, snacks and lots of drinks in a cooler. Leave it in the car. Picnic on a grassy spot outside the park. It’s healthier and you’ll save about $8,000. With your savings, treat yourselves to a funnel cake. Just show your hand stamp to get back into the park.
5. Confirm with your children BEFORE you get to the park that gaming, gift shops and rides that cost extra are not part of the deal. Honestly, do you want to spend $20 to win a purple plush monkey? Having this pact ahead of time will lessen their disappointment when you drag them out of “Ye Old Candy Shoppe.”
6. Designate a meeting spot in case of separation. Instruct little ones to seek out a Wonderland employee to assist them if they get lost. Pick up a wrist band from guest services – they’re colour coded according to height so you know which rides your children are tall enough to go on. Write your cell number on the inside of the wristband.
7. Use the map to plan your strategy. Remember to factor in show times. The Wonderland productions are beyond fromage, but I love them and the kids do too. My husband on the other hand would rather gouge out his eyes and ears, but it’s air conditioned and an excuse to sit down, so he sucks it up. Also, don’t poo-poo the kiddie area even if you have older kids. The Sponge Bob 3D show, Ghoster Coaster and Silver Streak coasters are over there and they’re great. Who knew? I didn’t. We actually stumbled upon them by mistake (thanks to my questionable map reading skills).
8. If it rains… you can leave the park and return later in the day when/if it clears up. Show your parking pass and you won’t have to pay again. Where or where to go while waiting out the storm? How about across the street to one of the biggest and best malls in Canada? Hello….Vaughn Mills! The kids love the Hockey store and the Bass Fishing Outlet.
9. Plan your departure…either before or after rush hour traffic so you’re not stuck on the 400 with the hordes of weary commuters. If you’re really organized, you’ll have packed a light “on the road” dinner to eat on the trek home. Or if you’re like me, you’ll be making a Happy Meal run to keep the tired kiddies happy. I realize this goes against the “healthier” spiel from tip # 4 but…tired and hungry people need cheeseburgers. It’s a scientific fact.
10. MOST IMPORTANT TIP – stay away from the park on gorgeous, sunny, peak holidays. The line-ups are stupid. STOOPID. Try to go in May and June while most kids are still in school. Or, in the fall. Hopefully your child’s teacher will understand. If not, lie and say your kid has a dental appointment. What?
P.S. Also stay away from “The Great Canadian Mine Buster.” In reality, it should be called, “The Great Canadian Spine Buster.”
Have fun everybody! See you on the coasters!