Vortex at Canada's Wonderland

Theme Park Tourist reader Dom497 shares his thoughts on what owner Cedar Fair could do to transform Canada’s Wonderland into the “perfect” theme park. Note that Dom’s views are his own, and not those of Theme Park Tourist!

Canada’s Wonderland is the largest theme park in Canada. This fact alone makes it a unique park. But what if Cedar Fair were to take it to a whole new level? What if Cedar Fair brought in new technology that hasn’t been used anywhere else? What if Cedar Fair turned Canada’s Wonderland into a “perfect” amusement park?

Take a moment and think about that -  what do you envision about the park that would make it perfect? Maybe it’s a new water slide or a 500-foot roller coaster or even another carousel! Everyone has their own dream of a perfect world so why not dream of your perfect theme park. Below is what you (fans of Canada’s Wonderland that have sent ideas to me) think would make Canada’s Wonderland an amazing park.

1.Wonder Mountain

Wonder Mountain

Today, Wonder Mountain is used as the prime location of Thunder Run and the highest point of Vortex. It also hosts diving shows, which see professional divers taking a plunge from the top of the Victoria Falls into a swallow pool of water below. But previously, it was used for something else. Thunder Run’s original location was outside of the mountain, so back in 1981 there was no such thing as getting into a mine train and roaring through Wonder Mountain. Neither was Vortex yet in existence.

So what exactly was the mountain originally used for you may ask? Well, if you have ever gone to the park and went to the south part of the mountain, you will see a bunch of fake boulders. Right behind them is a walkway…a walkway that you were once able to climb up which led to the highest point of the mountain where Vortex stands today. You would be able to see everything around the park and beyond. Unfortunately, the walkway closed in 1986 when Wonderland was only 5 years old to make way for the relocation of Thunder Run. Later, with no purpose for the former look-out at the top of the mountain, Vortex was built.

From that point on, Paramount left part of the mountain in a state of disrepair. The mountain was literally turning into a pile of junk, and actually began to fall down piece by piece. In addition to that, Paramount had also ruined the top two waterfalls (which Cedar Fair has repaired).

Today, Cedar Fair is improving the mountain little by little each year in an effort to…to…well who really knows! For all I know, it may be an effort to maybe one day restore the walkway and bring guests back to the top....well that’s what I first thought, but no. I was talking to a official Canada's Wonderland representative about what would need to be done in order to reopen the walkway to the public. They gave an answer that I was not expecting at all:

"It is possible to get to the top of the Mountain right now and walk around. However, we would never open it to the public for a variety of reasons. It is very high, the passage to get to the top and various levels of the inside of the Mountain are used for storage, etc. To answer your questions specifically, Thunder Run would not affect this at all. Vortex would not necessarily have to be demolished but fenced in where it meets the top of the mountain."

Basically, because of the height and the way the mountain was built, it is not safe and no rides would need to be demolished. On that note, the walkway to the top of the mountain will never reopen to the public (as far the representative knows). But even if the walkway were to reopen, there might be some crowding issues as the top of the mountain isn’t as big as you may think it is.

Another thing that I would like to see return is the “eruptions” that occurred from the peak of the mountain prior to 2001. Fire and fireworks lit up the sky and night, pulling in large crowds of spectactors.

Finally, Cedar Fair has been kind enough to let private tours take place when the park is closed to the public. You can go inside the mountain and to the top.

2. Splash Works


Splash Works hasn’t received any new water slides since 2002. It’s starting to get-out-of-date and in my opinion needs something new. Maybe a new looping water slide would look nice. Yes, you read that correctly. If you have never heard of such a thing, just check out the video here. You first stand on top of a door. It then opens and you plummet straight down into a near-loop. After you go over this feature you take another plummet to the end of the slide.

In addition to the lack of new slides at the water park, a brand new paint job of all (or even some) of the slides would be great. Here’s a list of what “upgrade” each current slide should get to make it better:

  • Body Blast: A good paint job would do the trick. Because there are 3 different slides, maybe the colours could be something like: blue, red and yellow (I really don’t know what colours would go together….maybe a bright purple would look nice!)
  • Barracuda Blaster: For this slide, maybe Wonderland could do something like Wet 'n Wild in Florida. Sure I’m taking a long shot of actually believing that this could someday happen…but just bear with me. Over the “bowl” part of the slide, they could construct a “roof” over it making it like an enclosed dome. Inside, add a disco ball hanging from above and a few colourful lights. Once you got all of that, you’re ready for an awesome 30 seconds!
  • Super Soaker: Again, maybe add a few colourful lights/lasers to make it a better attraction. Other than that, I can’t think of anything else that will make any more awesome as it is already at that standard.
  • The Plunge: Not much can be added to this slide. Maybe a good pink/red paint job will make it look new again.
  • Riptide Racer: Some good theming would make the appearance of the slide look a lot better. Because there are 8 lanes, the park could paint 4 lanes one colour and the other 4 another. Then, it could be like “Snoopy vs. his friends *”. With that, Wonderland could have a scoreboard at the bottom of the slide and which every person comes to the bottom first get a point for Snoopy or another character. At the end of the day, you can see who won. The scoreboard part is kind of for kids to have fun with.
  • Whirl Winds: This slide could have the same concept as mentioned above or can just get a nice paint job. That’s basically it for this slide.
  • Blackhole: This slide is perfect the way it is. If you add lights and other bright things to it, the name becomes pointless.

3. "Heaven’s Gate"

What’s Heaven’s Gate? Yes, I know it’s the gate that leads into heaven but let’s talk in roller coaster terms. A roller coaster that reached the height of Heaven’s Gate. Not literally, but maybe a 500-foot coaster. I have a feeling it will happen sometime in the future but not anytime soon. We already have two 400 plus coasters (that have admittedly cost Six Flags and Cedar Fair millions to operate) – I’d love to see Bolliger & Mabillard or B&M attempt to take on the 500-feet mark at Canada's Wonderland.

4. What to do with the empty land?

There are still some significant tracts of empty land at Canada’s Wonderland. One is roughly the size of Splash Works – what use could be made of this site? Another coaster? Maybe, but what type? The fact that Canada’s Wonderland has only one launched roller coaster, a second one (possibly larger than Backlot Stunt Coaster) would probably be a more reasonable choice.

Image © Google

But if you don’t want one ride in that area, you could easily fit in a full themed area with quite a lot of attractions. Doesn’t that sound great? Unfortunately, it won’t become a reality! A few years ago, when Cedar Fair bought the park, in order to reduce the amount of debt they owed, they had to sell the entire piece of land. That land no longer belongs to Canada’s Wonderland and will become the new home of a hospital. With that, there was probably quite a lot of potential with that area, but Cedar Fair didn’t really have a choice.

5. Sledgehammer


Ever since the ride’s debut in 2003, Sledgehammer suffered from significant problems. If you’re lucky, when you go to Canada’s Wonderland, the ride will be open…and then close, possibly with you stuck on it. The park has seemingly invested tremendous amounts of money to keep this one-of-a-kind ride going, and will probably continue to do so. In the end, the question is: When will Sledgehammer get fixed….if ever? Maybe the park can see something that we can’t see that gives a glimmer of hope for the ride. In my opinion, though, it’s time for this HUSS ride to hit the road.

6. The Woodies

Wild Beast

Every year, Canada’s Wonderland gives every wooden roller coaster at the park a refurbishment. Wild Beast and Minebuster still tend to be quite rough experiences. On the first drop on Wild Beast, it’s not too hard to give the person sitting beside you a good slap in the face if your hands are in the air. On Minebuster, don’t be surprised if you walk off the coaster with a few bruises. In my opinion, this rough experience adds character to a wooden coaster. The thing is, is that the woodies at Wonderland may be too rough to fully enjoy. A full rehab that maybe replaces the current track with topper track will at least make the coasters a little less painful.

7. Flight Deck & Time Warp

Flight Deck

In the emails that have I received in the past few weeks, most of them mentioned Flight Deck and Time Warp. Those emails suggested that both coasters may need to “take-off” away from the park. Why? Well, Flight Deck is simply way too rough…probably rougher than Wild Beast and Minebuster (Editor’s note: Flight Deck is probably the most painful coaster I have ever experienced!). When you look at the rules on how to sit during the ride, it will tell you to keep your head back at all times. Follow this rule, and you will not be able to feel your ears by the end of the coaster. Every time a train comes back to the station, everyone has bright red ears. I once tried putting my head forward during the ride but that was near impossible because the g-forces would push you back. For this reason, maybe it’s time for Flight Deck to be replaced by a better and smoother inverted coaster.

Time Warp   

Time Warp on the other hand is also somewhat rough but not a rough as Flight Deck. The turns are what really “kill” you as they are the tightest turns you will ever see (If you are wearing sunglasses, make sure you don’t put them in your pocket). With the existing wide variety of roller coasters at Wonderland, it hard to say if another coaster should take its place (despite the amount of space the ride takes). Maybe a good flat ride would do or possibly just create one new roller coaster out of Time Warp and Flight Deck’s area.

I am almost 100% sure that these two coasters won’t be kicked out of the park anytime soon as they are still popular and the fact that Time Warp is the only flying coaster in Canada makes it even harder to decide its fate.

8. Theming

When Canada’s Wonderland first opened in 1981, each area of the park was truly themed "to the max" as attractions, games, shops, etc…were all appropriately dressed-up. As the years past, the sections began to lose their themes.

  • Medieval Faire: Riptide, Drop Zone and Speed City Raceway are not themed accordingly. Leviathan will be somewhat be themed to the medieval age as the coaster surrounds the mythical creature that lends it its name.
  • International Festival: For those who don’t know, this section of the park was originally themed for rides such as Krachenwagen, Klockwerks and Thunder Run (before it was re-themed to go intoWonderMountain). Over the past years, The Bat, The Fly and Vortex have driven the area out of its original theme.
  • Action Zone, Planet Snoopy, Kidzville and White Water Canyon: These areas of the park have mainly remained in-theme over the past years.

Even though there are only 2 un-themed areas, it would be nice to see the entire park themed to the best that Cedar Fair can manage. Medieval Faire hasn't received a new attraction since 2002 and with Leviathan coming 10 years later, that's the first step to returning the area to what it was like back in the early years of the park.

9. Orbiter

Orbiter is one of the very last HUSS Skylab attractions currently operating in theworld today (although many of the similar, but smaller Enterprise rides are still on operation). What really characterizes this type of ride is what's stopping you flying around in your seat – not a seat-belt, but gravity. You sit in your own seat, close the cage door and hope gravity is your best friend!

Over the years, the ride has lost some of its magic, and even appears to have lost some of its speed. Maybe a good refurbishment will return Orbiter to its original state and start bringing guests back as the ride is literally a walk-on at every time of the day.

10. A (Better) Light Show

Starlight Spectacular

Image © Tantrum Design

In 2011, Canada’s Wonderland introduced a nightly light show called Starlight Spectacular to celebrate the parks 30th birthday. Now that the 2011 season is over, there is no light show to take its place (at least, no announcement has yet been made). However, because Wonderland owns all the equipment used for the show, it is speculated that the show will return in 2012 with a whole new concept. Starlight Spectacular only took place onInternational Street (the front of the park) which left the rest of the park away from the excitement. Now, what if in 2012 Cedar Fair were to “upgrade” the show with lasers, more lights and expand the show so it takes place all around the park? Even just incorporating the formerWonderMountain “eruption” show would improve it dramatically.

Final thoughts

Well, that's brings us to the end of this list of ideas that would help to make Canada's Wonderland perfect. Many of the ideas mentioned above may not ever become reality, but there is always that tiny chance that some will. With Matt Ouimet having taken over as president of Cedar Fair (bear in mind that this guy was the former president of the Disneyland Resort), I get the feeling that he is going to change Cedar Fair as we know it today. I think Ouimet has a few ideas running through his head (maybe some for Canada’s Wonderland!) and will bring some of the magic that he had with Disney to the chain’s parks.

I think that Canada’s Wonderland has a bright future and will attract every single type of enthusiast to the park. The additions of the sprawling Leviathan coaster and Dinosaurs Alive! walkthrough attraction in 2012 will probably add up to be the most expensive investment in the park's history, and there promise to be exciting times ahead.

Special Thanks to: Canada’s Wonderland (for providing info about Wonder Mountain), CWMania (for lending pictures and helping with ideas), generous people over at Flickr (for lending pictures), Screamscape, Theme Park Tourist (for hosting this article) and of course everyone who sent in their ideas.



^Thank you for mentioning all of that!!

For everyone else who said that this article is stupid/lazy, its a "basic" list. It doesn't mention everything that could make the park perfect. To be honest, with all the emails I got, I just took the ideas that came up the most and included my thoughts in them. I could have wrote a lot more things in this article but I said to my self, "Who would want to read a 15-20 point list?". If you don't like the article, there is nothing I can do about it...you can always write your own article on what would make the park prefect....

In reply to by Dom497 (not verified)

Thanks for the article its interesting. I enjoyed reading it. I am wondering if a new slide in the water park would be next. Hope so.

It was interesting to read your article. As someone who grew up in the park (I was teenager, OMG, when it opened) I sometimes daydream "if I ran that place..."

I live in the USA now so I've been to the likes of Hersey Park, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens VA. About a year ago I got to go back to wonderland with my Nephew. He lives out east so that time was his first "real" park. He was suitably impressed and I was happy for him, but I was also glad it was his first because Wonderland just doesn't compare with the seasonal parks down here. In some ways Wonderland is a victim of it's location: it sits in the midst of one of the wealthiest concentrations of population on the continent with no alternative close by. You could park a traveling fair in the parking lot (aka the CNE) and people would wait in line en masse to visit. Cedar Faire doesn't even need to try with this location, the place is a cash cow. It is nice to see the investment in the park of the last few years.

In my Daydreams I see the waterpark all but replaced with a "3 season" waterpark, something like Schlitterbahn Galveston which is really an outdoor park that can be partially enclosed at the flip of a switch (followed by many sliding roofs) I think the weather in region and demand would justify the cost (which is not nearly what it would be to have the waterpark indoors)

I would also like to see international street have a seasonal Christmas event although I don't know if the neighbors have some agreement that would make that impossible. Not the whole park but shopping themed to the season, fake snow and ice on the mountain, maybe a "glice" or real rink in the fountain. A drive through light shown, maybe a seasonal "starlight experience" would all work. Hershey Park does this.

As for rides the big ones are nice, but the park is crowded as it is, so going forward they need to small footprint. An S&S Power El Loco Coaster (maybe twined given the park's attendance), A Eurocoster, etc. There are more than a few compact wood coasters too out there now that can practically be ordered from the catalog and would be nice additions. There are a lot of exciting flat rides out there too that could make a north american debut at wonderland. If you can dig up the concept plans for the now-cancelled "Orlando Thrill Park" you can see that squeezing a lot of coasters can be done in a small footprint. I think the ride density on the south side of the park, removing Kingswood if possible, arranged and themed like a compact boardwalk park, could up the quality of the park and squeeze in a new theme area or fix the disjointed area there now. For an example of that look at Luna Park at Coney Island New York city: In under two years that park has been reborn.

As for the woodies they need to be retracked with new trains, again something being done in several locations in the states with success. If there is a new big coaster in the park, after the two B&M's a wooden or a steel structure/wood track coaster is likely the most cost effective. The latter can be a horror (think any coaster at Mt Olympus) or fantastic (The Voyage at Holiday World.)

A few more up-charge rides are likely no-brainers. Add a sling-shot and Bungee (maybe a skyscreemer) to join the Sky Coaster and you have a "mega super thrill area" where all those teens with season passes can be parted with extra $$$ over the year (and frankly it's fun just to watch those things!)

Finally are all the soft items: better and more shows (Just park a less-expense Cirque-esk tent show in the parking lot for the season or even the shoulder season to attract people) better food (and more reasonable pricing: people already cross the parking lot to eat) and more flowers for the people that come as a family but just wander and watch.

Most of these suggestions reflect what I think is a sad truth about Wonderland: It's days are numbered. The two B&M's just added are re-locate-able (Again, something Cedar Park and others are doing more frequently and successfully in the USA) and much of what I listed is either semi-portable or less capital extensive and site specific then say adding a large indoor attraction a-la Harry Potter. In my biggest Dreams, where wonderland stays forever, they add a parking structure and build out into the lots, the Mountain comes down and is replaced with a bigger one with multiple attractions well hidden and integrated into it, they add a few indoor attractions that can be worked into an even larger Christmas event, and the front gets replaced with a hotel in the Chateau tradition of the classic Canadian CP Rail hotels and a gate that is truly magnificent. I might even think to add an indoor waterpark just for the hotel guests like in Niagara so people will come in the off-season. But those really are silly dreams.

Honestly my biggest hope is the park is sold out of the Cedar Park control. They run the park the same way as all their other parks, and as long as Ceder Faire runs the place they are never going to let it surpass Cedar Point in any regard. That's a Shame because I think Wonderland needs more of the Canada back in it. True, Toronto looks like many USA cities at first glace, but the people are different in little ways Cedar Faire does not get. The Starlight Experience, which was produced locally, is an example where they seem to have gotten that, that show has a ton of little references I think locals get that head office likely didn't notice. The Park needs more of that...

...and a Tim's on international street, can you imagine the revenue!!! And a Swiss Chalet of course! Only in Canada would a Chicken and Rib chain restaurant be called Swiss Chalet and it makes perfect sense!

This article is extremely lazy, in no way does any of this stuff really "take the park to the next level." Anyone can write take out the bad stuff and replace it with good stuff.

In reply to by Visitor (not verified)

Did Coaster Justin write this?

Where's the S&S Screamin' Swing idea? or the Wind Turbines?

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