Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Canada's Wonderland is an amusement park located in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. It opened in 1981 and was Canada's first major amusement park. From 1994 to 2006, the park was owned by Paramount Parks and was known as "Paramount Canada's Wonderland". When sold to Cedar Fair in 2007, the park reverted to its original name. The park also holds the record for second most roller coasters in a park along with Cedar Point at a total of sixteen roller coasters, just one behind record-holder Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Several years after the successful premiere of its future sister parks, construction for Paramount Canada's Wonderland began in June 1979. Because of the convenience of traveling from Toronto, a 379-acre site in Vaughan, Ontario was selected as the perfect location for the new park. The park opened two years later on May 23, 1981 with four themed areas: International Festival, Medieval Faire, Grande World Exposition of 1890, Hanna-Barbera Land. Upon entering the park on International Street, the site of Wonder Mountain and its waterfall that empty into the lake in front reminds the visitor that they have a wonderful day ahead of them filled with fourteen possible roller coaster opportunities. When the park originally opened, visitors could walk up the mountain and view the park around them from the Wonder Mountain Walkway. Five coasters premiered with the park along with twenty-one other rides, including an Antique Carousel.
Canada's Wonderland holds the unique title of being the only Paramount park with two coasters designed to commemorate the legendary Coney Island coasters, with The Mighty Canadian Minebuster and the Wild Beast. The Mighty Canadian Minebuster, a Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster (PTC) wooden out-and-back roller coaster designed by Curtis Summers was modeled after a coaster from Coney Island in Ohio called the Shooting Star. Minebuster reaches heights of ninety feet and speeds of sixty-two miles per hour while traveling its 3,828 feet of track. When it opened, the ride was the longest and largest roller coaster in Canada. The second part of the Coney Island coasters is Wild Beast, which was designed by PTC after the Wildcat design of Coney Island fame. Wild Beast, which was originally spelled Wilde Beaste, features a double out and back and a figure 8 design. Riders might recognize this ride, as it has sister coasters known as Grizzly at Paramount's Great America and Paramount's Kings Dominion
Canada's Wonderland also featured two steel coasters when it opened. Dragon Fire, which features a simple but thrilling layout of two vertical loops and a double corkscrew before a helix up into the brake run was manufactured by Arrow. It breaks from their own traditions as it loops counter clockwise whereas other loopers manufactured by Arrow go clockwise. The park also featured Blauer Enzian, a Mack powered Mine train coaster and Scooby's Gasping Ghoster Coaster, a PTC junior wooden coaster.
No rides were added until 1984, when an Intamin white water rafting ride called White Water Canyon was installed. 1985 brought the addition of SkyRider, a Togo stand-up roller coaster that was similar to the now defunct King Cobra at Kings Island. The ride takes riders through a loop, sharply banked curves and a helix all while standing up. In 1986, Canada's Wonderland decided to move the Blauer Enzian, lengthen the track and wind the coaster through the parks focal point: Wonder Mountain. The coaster was renamed Thunder Run and is now a themed runaway mine train. The influx of new and/or improved coasters didn't end there, as The Bat took residence in the park the very next year. A Vekoma Boomerang model, the train for the ride was actually the extra train from its nearby coaster relative, Dragon Fire. Riders feel more than five times their weight (5.2 gs) while speeding through the standard Boomerang course.
The park took a slight break from installing new coasters, opting instead to add water slides, a log flume called Timberwolf Falls, a looping starship from Intamin called the Jet Scream for the next three seasons, respectively. But the break from coasters didn't last long, as the park installed Vortex in 1991, making it the first and only suspended coaster in Canada. Again using Wonder Mountain to make the coaster more interesting, Vortex climbs the mountain for its lift hill and plunges down it for its first drop. A suspended coaster from Arrow like its King's Island sister Top Gun, Vortex swings its riders over both land and water. SplashWorks water parkwas added in 1992 with six attractions, and in 1993 Kid's Kingdom, a themed play area was added.
In 1994 Paramount Parks purchased Canada's Wonderland, and the presence of movie-themed rides began that year with Paramount's Action F/X Theater, a motion simulator ride that first featured a ride based on the Paramount blockbuster Days of Thunder. The first movie-themed roller coaster was born in 1995 with Top Gun. A Vekoma inverted coaster, or suspended looping coaster (SLC), Top Gun was the first major attraction installed after becoming Paramount Canada's Wonderland and was also Canada's first inverted coaster. Riders simulate flight on the mega coaster, going at top speeds of almost fifty miles per hour through five inversions in their "open cockpit."
The 1996 season brought an expansion of SplashWorks and the installation of the 170 foot tall upcharge Skycoaster Xtreme Skyflyer. The next year brought another upcharge attraction, the go karts called Speed City Raceway, but it also brought a common Paramount attraction with Drop Zone: Stunt Tower. The 230-foot Intamin second generation drop tower is different from its sister attractions in that the mode of transportation is not a ring, but a four-abreast vehicle.
The addition of the Kidzville area in 1998 brought the park its tenth coaster with Taxi Jam. A steel junior coaster designed by Miler Coaster, Inc., the ride ensures that children have a way to ride a coaster, whether the reason they can't ride the bigger coasters is because of their height or their nerves. The area also premiered with several new or re-themed rides. The next year brought yet another expansion to SplashWorks and also The Fly, a Mack Wild Mouse coaster. The Fly was custom designed with an initial fifty foot drop at a top speed of thirty-five miles per hour.
For the next four years, Canada's Wonderland would add a new flat ride each year, along with other major expansions to the park. Cliffhanger, a Mondial Splashover top spin ride featuring two gondolas which spin separately was added in 2000. The next year brought Shockwave, a Mondial Topscan which rotates and twists riders in almost every direction up to heights of seventy feet. Psyclone swung into action in 2001 as a Mondial Giant Pendulum which swings riders up to an angle of 120 degrees at a matching height of 120 feet. The ride offers riders many moments of airtime. The streak of Mondial flat rides ended in 2002 with the Huss manufactured Sledge Hammer. The giant Jump 2 ride accelerates riders both up and down while spinning at top heights of eighty feet.
During the streak of adding flat rides, several new kid-themed attractions along with another SplashWorks expansion and finally a family coaster were added. The themed Sally interactive dark ride Scooby Doo's Haunted Mansion was added in 2000. Silver Streak, the Vekoma inverted steel family coaster was added in 2001 in the new subdivision of Kidzville called Zoom Zone. The suspended family coaster travels an inversion-less minute long course making riders feel 2.2 gs at some point after an almost fifty foot drop. The Action Zone was founded in 2002 with the addition Psyclone, the same year that the upcharge 3D virtual reality Cyber Sez was added. Another upcharge, this time the Euro Bungee Launch Pad was added in 2003, along with the addition of Nickelodeon Central.
The 2004 season brought the Canada's first and only flying coaster with Tomb Raider: The Ride. The Zamperla Volare flying coaster features a unique spiral lift hill which uses hydraulics to carry the car filled with four riders to the top of the ride. The thematic concept of the ride is that the rider is caught in the impending doom of the implied tomb and uses the only vehicle of escape, the unique coaster car, in order to escape. Riders are inverted two times in Heartline rolls (spiral) in the more than minute long ride.
The very next year brought Canada's Wonderland fourteenth coaster, The Italian Job: Stunt Track. Designed by Premier Rides, it was the first roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland to use Linear Induction Motors (or LIMs) instead of a traditional lift hill. Riders are able to experience what it's like to be a Hollywood stunt driver in their own MINI Cooper S that feature audio special effects. The drivers dodge near collisions, race through tunnels and barely miss huge explosions triggered by a helicopter. Like it's sister coaster at Paramount's Kings Island, the ride boasts numerous stunts (including several launches) but is still promoted as a family coaster.
Big news came to the park for the 2006 season, just before the summer was out in full force. On May 22, 2006, Cedar Fair announced that they bought out the entire Paramount chain for $1.24 billion dollars. The Cedar Fair chain doubled in size and many changes were underway for the entire chain in 2007. The first and only change heading to the Canadian park for its first year under Cedar Fair's management is the Paramount name being dropped, making the park Canada's Wonderland once again.
In 2008 came Behemoth, a B&M Hypercoaster with an initial drop of 230 feet, a hammerhead turn, a 540 degree helix, and relentless airtime. It became Canada's largest roller coaster.
In 2012, Canada's Wonderland unveiled a new roller coaster even bigger than Behemoth: Leviathan. Leviathan is a monsterous giga coaster with a 306 foot drop. It ranks as the seventh tallest and eighth fastest roller coaster in the world.
Canada's Wonderland truly is a park that aims to entertain the entire family. Many of its coasters hold records within Canada and its variety of flat rides make it a very enticing park for thrill seekers. For the non-thrill seekers in the family, the park features well shaded areas and grouped ride entrances so that the non-rider can stay seated in the same shaded area while the thrill-seeker can fulfill their need(s) for thrills.
Featuring nine themed areas including a twenty acre water park, over 200 attractions, over sixty rides, with fourteen roller coasters, it's no wonder why Paramount Canada's Wonderland draws over three million visitors per year. If ever in the Toronto area, visit Wonder Mountain and all of its surrounding rides, for there are sure to be a rides that will satisfy your need for speed, airtime, inversions, g-forces and excitement.
Present Roller Coasters (16)
|Back Lot Stunt Coaster||Premier Rides||Launched||2005||Operating|
|Behemoth||Bolliger & Mabillard||Hyper Coaster||2008||Operating|
|Dragon Fire||Arrow Dynamics||Sit-Down||1981||Operating|
|Fly||Mack Rides||Wild Mouse||1999||Operating|
|Ghoster Coaster||Curtis D. Summers||Wooden||1981||Operating|
|Leviathan||Bolliger & Mabillard||Giga||2012||Operating|
|Mighty Canadian Minebuster||Curtis D. Summers||Wooden||1981||Operating|
|Taxi Jam||E&F Miler Industries||Kiddie||1998||Operating|
|Thunder Run||Mack Rides||Powered||1981||Operating|
|Wild Beast||Curtis D. Summers||Wooden||1981||Operating|
|Yukon Striker||Bolliger & Mabillard||Dive||2019||Operating|
Past Roller Coasters (1)
|SkyRider||TOGO||Stand-Up||1985||September 1, 2014||a park in Italy|