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A fan’s review of Canada’s Wonderland’s 2011 season

WindSeeker at Canada's Wonderland

Theme Park Tourist reader Dom497 is a huge fan of Canada’s Wonderland. Here, he shares his thoughts on the 2011 season at the park – was it a hit or a miss?

“Well, another season has ended at Canada’s Wonderland. This past season marked the park’s 30th anniversary, with the addition of WindSeeker and Starlight Spectacular. Let’s take a look at what Wonderland had to offer this season. 

WindSeeker 

In August of 2010, Cedar Fair announced Canada’s Wonderland’s latest addition to the park: a 301 feet tall spinning tower ride called WindSeeker. At the time, the animated video generated lots of hype about the new ride but did not provide a real feel as to what the ride experience would actually be like. Also, original plans show that WindSeeker was supposed to be built beside Jet Scream. Unfortunately, Canada’s Wonderland changed its plans and announced that WindSeeker would not be built beside Jet Scream but would instead take Jet Scream’s spot all together. During the last month of the 2010 season, Jet Scream was closed, dismantled and removed from the park. 

WindSeeker at Canada's Wonderland

WindSeeker towers over Canada's Wonderland.

Construction on WindSeeker continued throughout the off-season, with the tower beginning to go up in March. On April 1, 2011 the final piece in WindSeeker’s tower was put into place. The park had just about 1 month to test the ride before the 2011 season began. Unfortunately, WindSeeker was a prototype at the time and many problems arose. From the ride stopping in the middle of a cycle, to a pair of seats being removed and replaced and even seats hitting each other, those were just some of the problems encountered. 

On May 3rd, 2011, Canada’s Wonderland announced that the new attraction would not open in time for the beginning of the 2011 season…not quite the best start to a new season. After just under a month of delays, on May 24, 2011 the park officially opened WindSeeker with the addition of hydraulic dampers, designed to reduce the amount of movement of the swings when in operation. The ride still experienced problems leading to downtime, but as the season progressed most of these were resolved. After the Knott’s Berry Farm version of the ride was successful in using a much larger type of damper, Canada’s Wonderland added the larger-scale dampers to the ride in early October 2011. 

Starlight Spectacular 

Speculation about Canada’s Wonderland doing something special for the parks 30th birthday began in early 2011. On March 25, 2011, the park announced Starlight Spectacular, a $1 million sound and light show created by Tantrum Design that would take place on International Street every night from June 25 to September 3 at 10pm to celebrate the park's birthday. 

Starlight Spectacular lights up Wonder Mountain. Image © Tantrum Design

No one exactly knew what the show would be like until the premiere night. On June 25, 2011 at 10pm, guests at the park were “blown away” as 3D images and spectacular colours were displayed on Wonder Mountain. From flowers and rainbows to lava and a dinosaur, guests reviewed the show as one of the best created in the park's entire history. The show was the same every night with more and more guests giving it a thumbs-up.

Kinet-X

In addition to Starlight Spectacular, the park introduced another new show called Kinet-X. The show took place at Arthur's Bay, and featured spectacular diving displays. At one point during the bizarre show, the divers began to dance to the Chicken Dance...in French! Yup, you read that correctly. The show lasted about 15 minutes and kept everyone entertained. The choreography was just amazing and boy, did those divers know what they were doing. Check out the video below and see for yourself for just how amazing the show was. Unfortunately, it doesn't include the Chicken Dance scene. Enjoy!

Around The Park 

As expected, Sledgehammer was closed right from the start of the 2011 season. The ride was undergoing heavy maintenance with no sign of opening anytime soon. About two or three weeks into the season, the ride began testing and eventually opened to the public.

Sledgehammer at Canada's Wonderland

Sledgehammer had a troubled 2011 season.

Even though it had just come out of extensive maintenance work, the attraction still had problems. In some cases, it would stop in the middle of the cycle stranding riders up in the air. In this scenario, a crane was brought in to lower the riders one claw at a time. Other reported issues included what felt like a rougher ride and even sounds that came from inside its center column that sounded like steel rubbing on steel. Also, the ride cycle was extended but at the same time a more basic cycle was put into use. It is not known if the cycle change was the result of the number of issues the ride had. 

Vortex received a slight colour change to its trains and cars as the former blue and red colours where replaced with silver and red colours.

Behemoth at Canada's Wonderland

Behemoth remains one of Canada's Wonderland's most popular rides.

Behemoth (always a “magnet” to roller coaster lovers), always had what looked like long lines but were actually short. When riding, the bottom of the first drop seemed to be a bit rougher than previous years. Also, more phones, shoes, and money went flying into the lake below the coaster just like every year. 

Backlot Stunt Coaster at Canada's Wonderland

Backlot Stunt Coaster's decline has continued.

Backlot Stunt Coaster received something of a major change this season. When the coaster first opened back in 2005, it would stop around the mid-course section. A helicopter would come up and “shoot” at riders, fire would send off massive waves of heat and water would be sprayed on you. As many fans will know, these features were taken out when Cedar Fair bought the park in 2007. Even though the effects were taken out, the trains would still stop only to hear sound effects. As of the 2011 season, the entire section was by-passed as the trains no longer stopped in that area. 

In the last few months of the season, Night Mares began to stall in the middle of a cycle (while testing) and caused the ride to be closed for a short time. Maintenance crews got onto the problem fast and were able to fix the ride within a few days. 

Splash Works 

To date, Splash Works still hasn’t received any kind of upgrade since 2002. The water park is in desperately need of some sort of upgrade with the slides getting “old” and guests having a limited choice of attractions. Still, Splash Works remains a great place for a family to cool off on a hot day and enjoy going on slides together. The main problem is that Splash Works doesn’t seem to be on Canada’s Wonderland’s “radar” at this time.

Halloween Haunt 

Halloween Haunt 2011 was as gruesome as ever. Image © Canada's Wonderland

This year’s Halloween Haunt events introduced a new maze called Terror of London and a new show called The Hanging. The maze took place inside of Splash Works and was described as one of the most amazing mazes at Canada’s Wonderland to date, while the show…well, the description is in its name.

The full list of attractions at Halloween Haunt 2011 was:

  • The Asylum (front gate area) - this year, the maze was given a refurbishment with some areas looking the same as previous years while some rooms were brand new. The maze also provided numerous good hiding spots for the scare actors, enabling them to frighten guests easily. 
  • Kingdom of Carnage (Courtyard) - no major changes took place this year, but the maze still provided good scares. 
  • Mother Noose (Courtyard) - this maze was relocated from the laser tag area in Medieval Fair to the Courtyard area of the park (behind Riptide and Dragon Fire).
  • Red Beard's Rage (Courtyard) - this maze received a few changes with the re-theming of some areas. Other than that, everything else remained the same.
  • Clowns at Midnight (bumper cars) - a number of new rooms were mixed in with rooms from previous years. The scare actors blended in quite well with the scenery. This provided solid scares throughout the maze. 
  • Club Blood (near Kingswood theatre) - again, nothing major was changed for this maze. There were plenty of scare actors populating it and it was a “must do twice” attraction because there was more than one path you could take when inside. 
  • Blood on the Bayou (Kingswood theatre) - the theming of the maze was described as quite spectacular. The only improvements that guests suggested were to try to hide some of the monsters better and try to provide more scares. 
  • Cornstalkers (White Water Canyon forest) -as always, Cornstalkers was a popular maze at the Haunt. Smoke that was included in the maze made it difficult to tell which scarecrows were “real” and which weren’t. 
  • Miner's Revenge (White Water Canyon) - received a few touch-ups this year but remained a very disorienting maze with many strobe lights inside. The maze was also so thin and dark that guests were literally doing the conga line from beginning to end. 
  • Terror of London (Splash Works): This was the new maze that was added for 2011. As mentioned above, the theming was amazing but it lacked real scares. 
  • Beyond the Grave (Wonderland Theatre) - the music choices that the park made for this show could have been better and some guests found the show to be disjointed and choppy. 
  • The Hanging (Arthur's Bay) - this was the new show as mentioned above for 2011. The audience really chose how the performance would end as the actors asked the audience if the accused should be hanged or not. Obviously, most of the time, the audience chose that the accused should be hanged. The downside to this show was that it only lasted about 5 minutes. 

Our Thoughts 

In the end, Canada’s Wonderland’s 2011 season may have left some people hanging, but most proud of how much Cedar Fair cares about the park and its guests. The way the park celebrated its 30th birthday and its commitment to ride maintenance and updates to its events (like Halloween Haunt) shows that the park is continuing to evolve. 2012 will see it open B&M’s first ever giga coaster, Leviathan, as well as the Dinosaurs Alive! upcharge exhibit.

Canada's Wonderland entrance

Canada's Wonderland has an exciting 2012 season ahead of it.

WindSeeker may have had a few glitches at the beginning of the season but Canada’s Wonderland was able to fix them. Every new ride encounters some sort of problem after it is built. Leviathan will have problems but with the help of the engineers from B&M, the park will iron them out eventually. If it takes months, it takes months. Safety has to come first.

Overall, this year proved to be a great year for Canada’s Wonderland. Memories were created at the park during 2011, and with the impressive additions on the cards for 2012, many more will be created in the years to come.”

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There is 1 comment.

Your report about Sledgehammer is a bit inaccurate:

-When the ride stops mid-cycle, the arms simply lower slowly by gravity. It is not physically possible to lower the arms "one by one". It takes about 5 minutes for the arms to come down from full-height under gravity.

-The small crane you saw on-site this season is used to remove the linkages that connect the arms to the lifting crown. When they remove the lifting crown to work on the slewing bearing under it that connects to the main cylinder, they remove the links to take all the load off of it. They support each gondola by a temporary frame and jack while they're doing this.

-The cycle is the same as it was since the end of 2003, the year it opened. The only difference is that the pause between "rise" and "fall" elements is extended, but this is controlled by how long it takes to build up pressure in the accumulators.