Jun 29, 2013

Canada: Wonderland

There was nothing particularly Canadian about Canada's Wonderland, but it was a lot of fun! Tuesday, May 21, 2013.

Ideally every day of a good class trip is a fun day.  Whatever the students are learning or experiencing is memorable, exciting, and enjoyable.  But whether it's Dream World in Thailand, Lotte World in South Korea, Disney World in Orlando, or a day on a cruise ship en route from the Bahamas sometimes it's nice to have a day that is just for fun.  Most, though not all, of our class trips have included a "just for fun day."  This year we chose to spend that day, Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at Canada's Wonderland, an amusement park, not coincidentally similar to Cedar Point or Kings Island.

It was the perfect day at a theme park.  If you want to get the most of your visit to Canada's Wonderland (or any amusement park for that matter) here's what you do.  Choose a weekday early in the season when school is still in session.  Sure you'll get the field trip crowd, but there will still be far fewer people than there would be on a weekend, the height of summer, or on a national holiday.  Next make sure that the forecast is for rain.  If you get lucky (as we did), it won't actually rain but you may get some cloud cover that keeps it from getting too hot.  The forecast will likely keep away a lot of visitors who might otherwise have come to the park.

The result will be free run of the park with no waiting at even the most popular rides.  The Fast Pass would have been a waste of money the day we went. You could get on a flagship ride like the Leviathan or the Behemoth with no waiting, take the ride, run around to the entrance and get right back on again.  Needless to say the kids had a blast.  I'm pretty sure they rode close to every ride in the park.

A coaster car on the Leviathan reaches the pinnacle of the first--and steepest--drop.  Perhaps some of my unease is the sense of utter loss of control on the ride, particularly when you plunge down those drops.  One my students, foolishly (and against the rules of the ride) had his camera out hoping to catch some snaps during the ride.  All throughout the ride I could hear him behind me gasping "Oh my, oh my, oh my".  It wasn't till several minutes after we got off the ride that he realized his camera was gone.  The best we can guess is that it flew out of his hand during the ride.  I felt really bad for him because he had such an open-hearted enthusiasm for everything we did on the trip.  His endearing sense of wonder was especially evident in his zealous picture-taking.  He, of all people, least deserved to lose his camera this way.
As for me, it was a pretty low key day.  I rode the aforementioned Leviathan right at the start of the day, and hopped on a few other smaller coasters, but for the most part I was content to just watch the kids have fun.
I've never been much for roller coasters.  When I was a kid, I tended to get sick on even the most pedestrian rides (and even today I have no interest in spinning rides), and as an adult, I find that I just don't enjoy roller coasters very much.  It's not that I'm terrified to the point of paralysis or that I'm screaming in terror the entire time.  I got on the Leviathan without hesitation, and I would describe my feelings on the ride itself as closer to unpleasantness than to fear. But I just found that the ride was something I was willing to do but not something that I anticipated doing before I got on; something that I endured rather than enjoyed while on the ride; and something about which I felt little sense of accomplishment when it was over. I certainly didn't feel a need to go another round, though I would have.

Perhaps, I just needed to give it more time.  I did find that near the end of the Leviathan I was sort of half-way looking forward to what would be the next drop or loop, and I was surprised to find the ride was already over.  It's possible if I'd taken a few more turns, I might have begun to really enjoy the experience.  And on the Backlot Stunt Coaster, which was given the same thrill rating as the Leviathan but felt
a lot lower on the thrill meter, I did go on multiple rides with a couple of my students and that was fun enough.  Still, if one's motto in life is to enjoy the ride, then it seems sensible that the ride should be enjoyable to begin with.  If it's not, I figure life is too short to spend on something that isn't all that fun.

You probably can't make them out, but my students are on this ride, a short coaster called "The Bat" that slings the riders forward through a loop and backwards the way they came.

Anyway, the important thing is my students had a great day.  The clouds that had threatened rain all day finally unleashed a downpour on us right as we were leaving.  After supper at mall near our hotel in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, caught a popcorn flick, Iron Man III at a nearby cineplex.  It was a fittingly fun ending to a fun-filled day.

A Word on the Hotels

We stayed at a pair of really nice properties during our Canadian adventure.  The Embassy Suites Niagara Falls and the Homewood Suites Toronto Airport Corporate Centre in Toronto.  Both hotels provided roomy suites, hot breakfast buffets, and swimming pools.  The Homewood Suites was particularly sumptuous.  We were able to get massive two bedroom, two-bathroom suites with full kitchens and living room areas for around $250 a night.  The service was outstanding throughout our stay, and the amenities including free parking were plentiful.  In addition to the free breakfast they offered complimentary dinners for free as well (though we never got to take advantage of those as we never got back early enough in the evening for the meal).  I highly recommend both properties and would definitely stay there again.

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