Vaughan, Ontario – Saturday, September 15th & Sunday, September 16th, 2012
I somewhat inexplicably found myself in Canada for a long weekend in September of 2012. Not that I just woke up in a strange room and realized "Hey, what are all these Canucks doing here?" But by that point in time I had been graduated from college for five months and still had no solid leads on a job, so obviously my top priority should have been to ride more coasters...?
And in retrospect, I'm very glad I made the decision to go! In addition to getting to use my Cedar Fair pass on two days at Canada's Wonderland, I also got to meet up with my friend Chris from Toronto, and saw a handful of good films at the Toronto International Film Festival. (The best I saw was a Spanish silent film called Blancanieves, based on the Snow White fairy tale but set in 1920's Seville.) And all for just a couple tanks of gas and a couple of nights at a cheap hostel, a memorable and close-to-home weekend trip that would be much harder to complete once I actually did land a job on the opposite side of the continent.
I was last at Canada's Wonderland in 2005 when it was still owned by Paramount and the Italian Job Stunt Track was the big exciting new ride. How the times have changed...
There's something big here that wasn't here last time. Hmm...
Canada's Wonderland has a similar masterplan to the other former Kings Entertainment (Kings Island, Kings Dominion) and Marriott (Great America in Chicago and California) parks, with a long fountain basin splitting the main entryway and a big weenie icon at the very end.
Unlike the Eiffel Towers or double-decker carousels of those other four parks, Canada's Wonderland went with a mountain range as its weenie, a creative decision that seemed eerily prescient of their eventual acquisition by Paramount over a decade after opening in 1981.
First thing in the morning, the crowds all form around this castle entrance to the Medieval Faire section of the park.
The ropes drop, and we're politely and Canadianly walked back to the attractions.
Of course we're on our way to Leviathan, the park's new for 2012 B&M giga coaster. But I'll get to that later...
If instead of hooking right into Medieval Faire from the entrance, you were to instead hook a left, you'd find yourself facing this globe and row of flags belonging to the Grand Expo themed area, now known as "Action Zone" (which is regional theme park code for "We really don't feel like giving these rides a unifying theme.")
Action Zone Carousel. Isn't it action-packed?
Ugh. Even though I visited once before in 2005, back then I had the good sense to skip no less than *seven* of the park's less desirable roller coasters, meaning on this visit I'd have a lot of extra credit clean-up to do in addition to all the new stuff. And unfortunately that means a Vekoma SLC.
Just looking at this picture is painful.
As I recall, Flight Deck ranked in the bottom half of Vekoma SLCs I'd been on. Not the absolute worst, but nothing like Thunderhawk in its opening year.
But the all-grey paint scheme has the unfortunate distinction of making the ride look like it belongs in the junk heap. At least the more colorful SLCs can be nice to look at from off-ride...
Somehow the Vekoma SLC wasn't the worse production model steel headbanger that Paramount decided they could install within a 100 meter radius.
At one point in history a human being looked at this and thought, "You know, for fun!"
I still can't believe this Volare car design was ever approved for general ridership by some of the stricter engineering codes in Europe and elsewhere. Look at the restraining device. What's to keep you from slipping out through the bottom if you let your feet drop out from the step ladder, especially if you're in the smallest 20th percentile of riders?
This ride is scary not because you're afraid you might fall out to your death, but because you're afraid you might decide you *want* to fall out.
Still, the Archimedes's Screw-like lift is kinda cool to watch and experience.
The best part of the ride.
The rest is pretty brutal.
I think part of the issue is the vehicles hang too low off the track, stretching out the center of gravity and causing the cars to whip and shake around the tight curves.
Time Warp gets more brutal as the ride gets closer to the finish.
Yet if Canada's Wonderland (especially when it was under Paramount) has one of the worst collections of roller coasters (and they somehow rival Cedar Point for sheer number), they managed to assemble one of the best collections of modern flat rides in North America.
I'm not saying that the Sledge Hammer is one of the best flat rides, although it certainly is one of the most interesting to watch. The construction looks more like a giant plastic toy than a million dollar piece of engineering.
The ride experience is a bit awkwardly paced, but mixes airtime with spinning seat force, and there's even a bit of a social component with the inward facing seats. Sadly since Huss has fallen out of favor, these sorts of ambitious flat rides seemingly born out of a weird R&D session aren't as common anymore. A fluke of the early to mid aughts.
Psyclone is a Mondial Revolution, similar to the Huss Giant Frisbees. I'm curious how Paramount/Cedar Fair were able to name an amusement attraction Psyclone when Six Flags had been using the same name on their wooden coaster that still existed four years after this ride was built. Maybe because Six Flags never registered the name in Canada?
Action Zone also has Orbiter, a Huss Giant Enterprise.
Enterprises are one of the purest examples of an attraction as a physics experiment.