Does your family enjoy Amusement Parks & Theme Parks? Here are a few you’re going to love in Southern Ontario.
Vaughan, Ontario (about a 30-minute drive north of Toronto).
This is both a water park and amusement park, with some of the biggest rollercoaster rides in North America. Kids and adult thrill-seekers will enjoy this. For more details see my detailed 2-page article on Canada’s Wonderland.
Canada’s Wonderland is one of North America’s biggest amusement parks and the largest in Canada. It’s a huge draw for local families and a big Toronto tourist attraction as well. What makes it special is that it’s actually two parks in one: a 20-acre waterpark with wave pool and water rides, plus a sprawling, traditional amusement park with rides, live shows, and other entertainment…altogether over 300 acres of thrills.
The park is located 30 km north of Toronto (about a half-hour drive from downtown). It opened in May 1981. About 3 million visitors a year pour through the gates, even though Wonderland is only open from June to October. In other words, this place is busy! You’ll find it a little quieter before the school year ends or after school begins in September. Weekdays are less busy than weekends. And early in the day and late at night the lines for the rides are shorter too.
Rides at Canadas Wonderland
At Canada’s Wonderland, you’ll find more than 65 rides including 15 roller coasters. The biggest roller coaster is the Behemoth Roller Coaster which features a 3-minute ride at up to 77 miles an hour with 85-degree inclines.
There’s also the Top Gun (a hanging roller coaster), a kiddie roller coast called Scoobi Doo, and the Haunted roller coaster for those who enjoy mixing different types of terror at the same time.
You’ll also find gentler rides like carousels, train rides, and Swan Lake – what the park calls “milder thrills”.
Adventure Village in Confederation Park
Offers mini-golf, rock climbing, an arcade, and bumper cars, etc. Not far from Wild Waterworks (see below). Nice location in a regional conservation area, so after the rides you can take the kids for a picnic in the park, walk along the beach along the shore of Lake Ontario, or stop for an ice cream cone at Hutch’s or dinner at Baranga’s.
Big Splash Waterpark with wave pool and slides. Funworx Indoor playground, rock climbing, mini-golf, etc. Part of the Bingeman’s Camping Resort.
Located on Centre Island, one of the islands forming Toronto Island Park. Part of the fun is the ferry ride over to the island; the short, inexpensive trip offers a grand view of the Toronto Skyline from the lake (cheap cruise!). Rides, a small petting farm, and a wading pool. Geared to younger kids (7 and under).
Thunder Bay, Ontario
This park turned 90 years old in 2011! It features a historic carousel, midway rides like the rollercoaster, bumper cars, and the tilt-a-whirl.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
This is more of an Animal Park but I’m including it here because they also have features of an amusement park, such as costumed characters and thriller rides like the “Skyscreamer” tower (according to my great-nieces who just went this summer for the first time, this is the BEST ride!).
The marine animals – the killer whales, dolphins, belugas, sea lions, seals, and of course the walrus! – are the main attractions here. People flock from miles around to see their trainers and the animals interact in live shows designed to entertain and teach. At Arctic Cove, your kids can feed fish to a beluga just as they’d feed treats to a pet dog. The zoo also houses black bears, deer, elk, and bison.
RIDES at Marineland Ontario
SkyScreamer is a big favorite in the rides department. Marineland also has the world’s largest steel roller coaster, Dragon Mountain, and over a dozen other rides. These include:
- the ToppleTower (which makes my stomach churn just looking at it!)
- Viking Adventure (shaped like a ship)
- and for a great view, The Skyhawk.
One of my nieces (another sister’s daughter) used to work here putting kids on and off the rides, and she warns that the line-ups can be long at times, so bring your patience (and sun-hats and cold drinks).
Bumper cars, go-karts, mini-golf, video games, and batting cages in the sports dome are just a few of the entertaining attractions here.
One of the old-time favorite theme parks. We went here as a child, and I distinctly remember arguing with a friend that indeed there WAS a Santa Claus because I had MET HIM in PERSON that summer. Has themed rides such as the Christmas ball Ferris wheel, cruises, trains, a splash pad, and of course Santa! A camping area too.
This is a theme park geared to younger children with rides like the merry-go-round, miniature train, Ferris wheel. Your kids can pose with costumed animal characters, play in the splash pad, or visit the Castle. Adults and kids alike will enjoy the small zoo with a pair of Canadian lynxes, porcupine, hawks, and peacocks.