A Full Year of Thrills & Fun
There was a lot of excitement going into 2019 with everything happening at Wonderland, namely the debut of Yukon Striker and Winterfest! With the extension of the “Wonderland season” into November and December, it really does feel like four seasons of fun.
This year also included my second journey down to Ohio for Cedar Point, but during the planning, I decided to go a little bit further!
Wonderland and the Ohio parks had me going from May to December, so then what season would you call January to April? Well…
It’s Project Building Season: Building Sledge Hammer, Again!
I tend to go a bit insane during the off-season as my routine of running out to Wonderland every weekend gets cut off at the end of October (at least during years prior to 2019), so I made sure to have a project to work on to keep me preoccupied. At the beginning of the calendar year of 2019, the beginnings of a second Sledge Hammer model (yes, there was a first model) came to life. This time, I had the objectives of making it beefier than the first and actually functional!
The project started off strong as I kept a nice pace, being completely focused on the project every weekend right up until Wonderland opened for the 2019 season. I was able to make big steps toward the goal of having a model that moved and ended up with video proof that I was getting close. Unfortunately, it was just not working out as issues were constantly arising with it that I didn’t see it making it to the end. By the time the 2019 Wonderland season began, I stopped working on it. And by the end of the 2019 calendar year, I ripped out half of the electronics in it to leave it as a basic static model.
And then I turned it into a Christmas tree.
It certainly looks better than the original model so I’m not completely sad that it didn’t work out. I learned so much while building it that I’d like to take on another ride model again at some point. I’m still indecisive on what to do for this off-season but hopefully I’ll come to a decision sooner than never.
A Summer of Fun in Ontario and Ohio!
Striking Gold at Canada’s Wonderland (Passholder Preview Night)
Right off the bat, the Wonderland season was already proving to be an exciting one with Yukon Striker and it’s fantastic single rider line and bin system. I used both of those regularly throughout the season.
I normally never attend passholder preview night because it’s too much for me to go to the park after work. Yukon Striker convinced me to go, though I ended up regretting it because I was in rough shape the following day.
But still, I met some friends that day and rode what would be the coaster I’d ride the most in 2019 which I hadn’t thought would be possible since I didn’t know it would have a single rider line.
Going to Cedar Point, as is Tradition (Cedar Point 2019 Trip)
Last year’s Cedar Point trip came at me fast since I wasn’t planning to go at the beginning of the year but suddenly decided to mid-summer. It came so fast that I couldn’t believe it happened when I got back. Since then, I wanted a trip to Cedar Point to be an annual thing so I was glad to have made it down there again this year to start what I hope will be a long tradition into the future! I’m the type of person that will repeat things until I get bored of them, and I’m absolutely not bored at all with Cedar Point. There were things I skipped last year that I absolutely loved experiencing this year, namely the train and Gemini. I can’t wait to get back down there again next year!
Diving Deeper into Ohio at Kings Island (Kings Island 2019 Trip)
While planning the trip to Cedar Point, I figured it would make things more interesting if I kept going to Kings Island. Kings Island has always been a park I’ve wanted to visit since I was a kid because it was Paramount’s flagship so it got the more interesting installations that I saw so much of online.
For some reason, the disbelief of visiting Kings Island didn’t quite hit me as hard as my first time at Cedar Point, but I still enjoyed my time there. I was able to experience coasters that were very new to me since I haven’t ridden that many. Rides like Banshee, Beast, and Mystic Timbers stood out as my favourites at the park, though it was interesting to see others like Delirium and Backlot (and the outside of the Tomb Raider building) that I saw so many pictures of back in the days when those were new.
That being said, this park feels off even though I know it’s rich in history and memories for the locals. I think running into dead ends and seeing the terrible placement of Italian Job in person (they really did nothing to fix the “back” of the ride that clearly wasn’t meant to be seen) are probably what form this opinion that I’m sure people are going to disagree with. If anything, I’d guess people may feel that way about Wonderland which has some similar quirks.
The nighttime Beast ride was pure bliss, and I am looking forward to Onion if I make it down to KI again in 2020.
Celebrating Culture (Wonderland Food Festivals)
One of my favourite times of the Wonderland summer season is when they host their Taste food festivals. This year, they had Taste of Greece, Italy, and Mexico (new for 2019). I also throw in Oktoberfest whenever I talk about the Taste festivals since it’s also about cultural food and live entertainment.
I didn’t really like the food at Taste of Mexico but thought the entertainment was the best out of all of them, and I really enjoyed the food at Taste of Greece but felt the entertainment was cut back quite a bit compared to previous years (I think it may have been because of the rain that weekend). Despite the mixed experiences, I’m looking forward to them again next year!
That’s a Nice Lookin’ Drop, Eh? (Rollercoasters, Eh? 2019 ACE Event)
This is my second year attending the annual Rollercoasters, Eh? ACE event at Canada’s Wonderland. This year, we had a chance to walk down into Yukon Striker’s tunnel and the rooms underneath the station. There was also another fantastic Q&A session with Peter and Colin from maintenance/construction and electrical, respectively. And it’s always nice to meet up with people at this event, no matter how briefly.
Facing My Fears of Haunt!
Looking back, I never really understood why I was so afraid of the mazes at Haunt. I used to think it was because of how traumatic my first and only maze experience was over a decade ago but, since then, a little startle during my once-a-year visits to Haunt when I wasn’t wearing No Boo didn’t affect me as much as I thought it did. After a stupid situation with me buying the No Boo necklace too quickly and ending up spending $1 more than I needed to, I angrily left it at home and braved the haunted park without it.
I quickly realized… I’ve been missing out.
By the end of the Haunt season, I couldn’t wait for night to fall so I could run into the mazes before the lines got long. I ended up doing them all, even though I originally planned to do just one or two. I actually wanted to keep repeating some of them because they were so good. Admittedly, I do enjoy going through the mazes with other guests who are more scared than I am because it’s fun to see reactions. I’m an easy target for the monsters in the mazes but it’s all in good fun.
I’m glad to have “unlocked” a season that I basically ignored in previous years.
A New Holiday Tradition at Winterfest!
Winterfest blew my mind. Seriously.
Between all of the decorations and the amazingly professional performers, there was so much to explore! I couldn’t believe the quality of the first season of the event. Everything seemed well thought out (though I think the heavy crowds right from the beginning surprised them).
Never. Gets. Old. pic.twitter.com/I5ZY1e1tfw
— Matt (@CoasterCircuits) December 26, 2019
I’ve never been a huge fan of singing shows at Wonderland but that’s essentially what Winterfest is all about so I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t enjoy it. Turns out the live singing performances at Winterfest are the best I’ve ever seen at the park. I absolutely love the Tree Lighting Ceremony, Cool Yule, and Holly Jolly Trolley because the performers are so precise and their voices and body language bring so much life and emotion into each show.
I also loved Tinker’s Toy Factory because, while it shared songs with the same show at other parks, Wonderland’s is a stunt show with the cirque-style performances we’re used to seeing at Canterbury Theatre. The singing is not as strong as in comparison to other shows (I think part of it may be due to quick modifications to the original Tinker’s script, and issues with audio mixing), but that’s okay because I don’t really see that being the main point of the show. The show has such a perfect flow as they’ve slotted in each cirque act into the script so gracefully. If we’re being honest, I prefer it over the Tundra cirque show that was new this summer.
With all of the crowding issues they had this year, I think it’s expected that Winterfest will be expanded for next year. I hope that the quality of everything we’ve seen will stay consistent as it branches out further into the park. They did such a great job with the last-minute expansion in Frontier Canada that I have a lot of faith that they can expand elsewhere in the park while keeping the same quality.
Winterfest also got me to skate which is something I’ve tried to get myself to do in previous off-seasons but never did. I even bought my own pair of skates and am trying to find places to skate this winter.
All in all, it was a fantastic debut of Winterfest at Canada’s Wonderland and I’m sure a lot of people will be back next holiday season!
Shutter Sounds All Season Long
Last year when I wrote my year-end blog post for 2018, I talked about how I was focusing more on taking pictures and less on trying to upload as much to YouTube as I had in the past. I think this attitude worked out well as I never felt “stressed” to make a video, even during times when I promised myself I would (for special events, like Taste of Mexico or Winterfest). My only issue was not having videos to reference when I felt like talking about certain things on Twitter or including them in my year-in-review YouTube music video. But it’s not the end of the world. Aside from taking video to make sure I have at least something “just in case”, I feel like I’m going to take an even more lazier approach to YouTube in 2020. But we’ll see how it goes.
I try to stick with the attitude of making videos I would want to watch, because I literally do watch my own videos especially over the off-season. I loved how my Winterfest video turned out because it highlights all of my favourite shows and scenes. I’m definitely going to be listening to these holiday songs well into the Spring.
With the new camera, I felt like it was easier to take pictures with results that I’m going for. I love spending time trying to get a good long exposure picture in the evening at the park!
And aside from long exposures, I am able to get shots like these which would not look nearly as good with my point-and-shoot!
As for video, it did make it more fun having the two lenses to play with, as well as having an external microphone for better audio quality.
I’m glad I made the investment toward a better camera as it has made taking pictures and video more fun. However, I do think I need to put the camera down more often since I’m inclined to skip rides because I have the camera bag with me. I started leaving the camera at home toward the end of the Winterfest season and is something I feel I need to do next summer, especially when I’m visiting other parks.
Happy New Year!
Thank you for visiting the blog! It has been a very fulfilling year and I’m looking forward to another great year of visiting Wonderland and sharing my thoughts, videos, and pictures. I wish you all the best in 2020!