TRAVEL BLOG: Toronto is a Wonderland

Toronto is massive. I will start by saying that though this was my third visit, I still haven’t seen much. I don’t like overloading myself with museum after museum, exhibit after exhibit. After a while, I don’t remember where I saw what and I mix up information. I’m just a simple man who loves roller coasters. Which is why I traveled four hours round trip on transit to go to Canada’s Wonderland.

Wonderful Wallet Thinning
Aside from the wallet gouging which I will get into in a moment, the place is pretty nice. It reminds me of Disneyland in that no-matter-how-wide-the-walkways-are-there’s-always-crowds sort of way. I also realized that Cedar Fair who own Canada’s Wonderland also own Knott’s Berry Farm which is why I felt strangely like I had been there before. I did in fact pass Charlie Brown and Snoopy in mascot form but didn’t stop to get a selfie with them as they were very busy hugging and posing with smaller children.

Listing prices with the tax included is against some regulation I believe. Or against the consumer. Either way, it was $70 to get in the door – that’s with the tax – and before I even got on a ride I realized how busy it was. Thus, into another queue I went for a Fast Lane pass which consists of a time-saving wristband that made me feel possibly like a rock star, cutting to the front of the line. That set me back $80 because I opted to be able to Fast Lane on the two greatest and possibly the only two rides worth going on: Behemoth and Leviathan. Maybe it’s that I have a high tolerance for coasters, but I require vertical drops and loop after loop in order to be sufficiently satisfied with my ride. That is why after going on several other, nice enough rides, I decided that I should get my money’s worth.

After going on Behemoth four times in a row, I felt slightly nauseous. Probably from hunger. So off I went to find something to eat that would leave me enough in my wallet for bus fare home. I’ve never had “poutine” with chili cheese goo on it before and it was nice enough for cheesey fries. It was not poutine however. It only set me back a whole $9, so for a meal without any nourishment it was cheap enough. There was a Subway in the park but I don’t believe in spending over $12 for a foot of vegetables on bread. That’s without any beverage to wash it down. Wonderland also features the refill cup – much like Playland with the Hellevator version – which sets one back about $15 but with a day’s free refills, it probably balances out.

I would like to emphasize that the longest wait time I had for a Fast Lane ride was maybe 15 minutes, 20 if we’re counting time loading onto the ride. There were people I passed on my Behemoth tour that had been waiting for over two hours at that point. I chuckled to myself about this fact right before hooting in glee as we dropped from a height of 230 feet.

My favorite ride has to have been Leviathan. My first time on the ride, the attendants saw I was alone and pointed out the open spot in the very front row. Well, I am not one to pass an opportunity like that. So after climbing the first lift hill, I realized that I couldn’t see the track in front of me. I don’t usually cry but the wind forces from the drop and the loops were enough to make me shed an involuntary tear. Suffice it to say, I went on Leviathan another three or four times before the day was over.

Speaking of, I arrived shortly after the park opened. By the time I got inside and got my wristband it was maybe just going on 11a.m. and the place was already jumping. “The kids will leave early, that’ll clear a lot of these families out,” I told myself. By 9p.m., I was still surrounded by tiny tots who were barely tall enough to go on some of these rides. I spent my entire day there, leaving the house at 8a.m. and not getting home until after 11 p.m. A day well spent.

A Reminder of Home
I swear I didn’t spend all of my four days in Toronto going to amusement parks, as much as I would have loved to. I also had a great time walking around the various areas like Chinatown, Chinatown East, the Gerrard Indian Bazaar as well as Kensington Market. I didn’t realize until after I had walked a block or two that I had in fact been there last summer, but it was still a hip place. I saw so many cool things in the Blue Banana store and had to restrain myself from spending any money, knowing full well that I would be going to the greatest amusement park in Canada the next day.

So, surviving on water and old granola bars, I managed to keep myself free of cool magnets and wallets that are folded up maps or that look like American hundred dollar bills. I’m a sucker for a cool wallet, which is why I currently rock one that looks like an old Nintendo controller. Sometimes people comment on it and one time at a gas station in Nova Scotia, the guy behind the counter pulled out an identical one and we had a silent and pure “broment.”*

Toronto is full of amazing things and places and people and with a transit system that can actually accommodate large events like the Pan Am Games, I have a certain level of respect for the place. I was flabbergasted when I left a BlueJays game – on the night a record was set: all 30 teams played and every home team won their game – that the trains weren’t packed. In fact, I actually got a seat and had a normal and uneventful ride home.

Conversely, any event at Roger’s Arena in Vancouver (which I almost called GM Place, oops) causes the Skytrain to be a madhouse for hours before and after. Nine times out of ten, I’ll opt to walk to a station farther into downtown and try to get on from there, or I’ll do what many do and take the train backwards to Waterfront and hope to get a seat while it does its turnaround. (I still remember the first time my mom and I stayed on the train to do this and I still feel the slight pang of “Oh no, what if this one is out of service and no one told us? What if I have to live here for the rest of my life?”)

Even if Translink adds extra service (I don’t think they do) the worst part of the night isn’t that the Canucks lost, it’s that I have to try to get home to North Vancouver. And of course, the 210 is done and now it’s the 209 milk run.**

Anyway, the Jays won and I had a great time for $20. That’s the cost of one ticket or two beers at Roger’s Centre. No joke, $10.50 for domestic, $11.50 for import. I asked the fellow how much a baseball cap costs and it was a whopping $45, $48 for a different colour scheme. That’s the cost of a decent seat! But alas, almost everyone there was decked out in blue and I felt very welcome and part of the crowd as we did the wave and chanted for Tulo and Jose.

So there you have it. I spent a few days and a good chunk of change in Toronto and managed to enjoy my solitary adventures. I am off to Union Station – which is easy to get to from just about anywhere thanks to a wide array of bus routes – to catch the train to Edmonton. Three days without a shower and three nights sleeping in a chair. Goodbye luxuries and WiFi.***

* I apologize for the use of this portmanteau but I feel it accurately encompasses the feelings we shared in that minute interaction.

** Why not run both? Have the 210 for the people who actually need to cross the bridge in a timely manner to get home to their families and everyone who lives on that Powell/Dundas/McGill run take the 209. Or the 7. Or the 4. The fact is that without the 211 or the 214 running at those hours, I and everyone else that lives in Lynn Valley, Deep Cove, Seymour etc. need to plan our lives around whether or not we can make the last 210 or if we have to bite the bullet. The incredibly slow bullet.

*** This post was actually composed on said train and therefore will be uploaded when I have Internet access. Most likely in Winnipeg or Edmonton.


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