What’s more exciting than riding on a roller coaster as a kid (or adult)? Well, nothing. But, if you’re self-isolating or stuck with the kids at home and looking for something exciting to do, Canada’s Wonderland has offered up their rides to bring the amusement park to you!
You can take a virtual ride on 16 coasters, 11 thrill rides and seven family rides with first-person ‘point-of-view’ (POV) videos on Youtube. The kids will love that they can experience some of the grown-up rides virtually, even though they may not, technically, be tall enough to ride in person. Or maybe you can convince your non-ride-loving significant other to give it a try!
How to set up your virtual ride
- Open up your web browser to head to Youtube or open the Youtube app on your TV.
- Place a couple of chairs in front (two by two works best) and have a seat! Some parents with little kids use laundry baskets. Please exercise caution if you’re holding it.
- Go to the Canada’s Wonderland channel (find this through the search function)
- Go to our ‘Playlists’ and choose either Roller Coaster POVs, Thrill Ride POVs or Family Ride POVs.
- Choose your ride, and hit play!
- If you have a VR headset, load the video up on your phone or gaming system to enjoy an even more immersive ride experience!
Our personal favourite
The Yukon Striker is a towering steel monster. It whisks along a 1.1-kilometre track and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 130 kilometres per hour. The track winds its way underground beneath a pond over which the nearby Vortex suspended roller-coaster skims during its run. The Yukon Striker lifts riders up a 75-metre track before plummeting to earth, and veering through a series of four vertical loops at high speed. Its two trains seat up to 24 passengers each in three rows, and the ride is as one member of the American Coaster Enthusiasts describes it, “as smooth as a moving couch.” and now you can experience this ride right from your couch!
Learn to make a funnel cake!
Developing at-home experiences
To staff, Canada’s Wonderland isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place of joy. “We are all missing the park,” says Grace Peacock, Director of Communications. “Even when the park isn’t open, it’s a really uplifting place to just be able to walk through. Wonderland has been a part of my life since I was a little kid, and it has been a place of happiness for so many people. We can’t wait to be that place again, when it’s safe to do so.”
In the meantime, administrative and corporate staff at Wonderland have been working remotely. When it became clear that the typical opening date for the park would have to be delayed, staff began to think about how they could help people have fun at home. As a result, Grace and her colleagues evaluated what resources and skills they had to help achieve that. Naturally, multimedia stood out since they already had lots of point-of-view videos of their rides and roller coasters. “It’s as close as it can be to experiencing the ride itself, as if you were there,” she says. “We knew it was easy to set up, almost like a virtual roller coaster in your home. So, the first thing we did was encourage people to have some fun, to create their own “roller coaster” to sit in while watching our POV videos, and bring the amusement park into their own living room.”
Canada’s Wonderland has also partnered with the Peanuts Online Learning Centre to develop educational worksheets that parents who find themselves home schooling their children can print off. Or there is the writing prompts feature, where kids are challenged to see what kind of stories they can come up with. Perhaps they can solve the mystery of what’s inside Wonder Mountain. For a more tactile twist on thrills-at-home, all the budding roller coaster engineers out there are encouraged to build their own miniature roller coasters, or to design their own amusement parks.
“We’re just trying to pique people’s interest and give some things to do while we’re all at home,” Grace says. “Even though our guests can’t be at the park with us, they can at least bring a little bit of it home with them.”
Keeping the Wonder alive
As the writer of this article, I would like to add a personal note. I grew up just west of York Durham Headwaters, and my family’s annual trip to Canada’s Wonderland was the high-point of my childhood summer. I have fond memories of arriving at the park in the morning just before it opened, and staying until the very last minute before it closed for the night. Of spending so much time in Splash Works Water Park that I dreamed in wave pool as I fell asleep on the drive home. Of sprinting from one ride to the next, and of screaming until my throat was numb at the top of The Bat, only to race back into line for another ride as soon as my feet were safely on Terra firma. It is a tradition that I look back on with so much happiness that I have made sure my son grows up knowing the tradition as well.
That is what’s special about Canada’s Wonderland: it is a business all about fun and memory making. Grace Peacock says, “By looking for ways to engage people at home when they can’t be with us at the park, we are connecting to our guests by offering reflections of better days—both those in the past and those still to come.”
While we at York Durham Headwaters have been witnessing the ingenious and creative ways our businesses and attractions have adapted to these new Covid19 times, there is one thing that has become clear to me which Canada’s Wonderland exemplifies. Our adapting, and our wanting to continue to experience what we know and love even if from home, is about more than helping our businesses remain open. It is about preserving that treasured sense of who we are. We have so many wonderful shared memories and experiences, and keeping them alive and fresh while we wait for the opportunity to enjoy them again in person is about preserving our sense of identity.
So, let’s all go make a funnel cake, build our own roller coaster, and design our own park. Let’s keep the thrills alive while we’re at home dreaming of our Canada’s Wonderland summers, waiting with baited breath for the time when we can get back to Wonder Mountain and to our beloved park.
Story by Katherine Ryalen