Month: July 2018

A #TBT to Wonderland’s First Enthusiast Event… #WhatsInTheVault

The Backstory

As I’ve talked about before on the blog, I became a Wonderland super fan back in 2003. Around that time, I was surrounded by amazing enthusiast websites and was active on many community forums. Being an immature kid trying to fit in, I wanted one of my own.

With my new site and forums, we formed a little group of coaster enthusiasts and Wonderland fans.

I used to annoy the park with really dumb questions (and probably still do) and at some point I must have asked if they’d be willing to host an enthusiast event, since I was so jealous of seeing trip reports of events at parks in the US. The discussion got serious and we were offered a 30 minute ERT slot for the new Italian Job: Stunt Track roller coaster in 2005. It was a really basic event but it was free and had one requirement: At least 30 people must be there.

Leading up to the event was a bit hectic from what I remember because we didn’t really have 30 people to list off hand. Thanks to the legendary PCW Junkies who must have brought in at least half of the required number, it happened. I was told this was the first enthusiast event the park had ever hosted.

Event Day

September 3, 2005 rolled around and we gathered at the floral flag for a picture… which I’ve censored for privacy reasons and because the internet doesn’t need my mug on it, even from 2005.

I had a cheesy little day schedule printed out for everyone, which included a few times where we’d meet at certain rides. I don’t think anyone actually did meet up for those.

Once 9:30am came, we were escorted toward the back of the park to the Italian Job: Stunt Track where we enjoyed Paramount Canada’s Wonderland’s newest roller coaster for ourselves. (I don’t have any pictures other than the group photo or any video from the event, unfortunately.)

At the end of the event when the public started joining the queue, we were stopped down the exit path at a table where they had a set of these boxes. Each family/group was given one as they took down our contact information. I was told they’d be holding it so we could try and organize something again but learned that the list was lost once the Cedar Fair transition happened.

The box (the “vault”) contained copies of the Italian Job and School of Rock DVDs, a Mini hat, a small Nickelodeon plush, and this very clean set of pens. Keep in mind that this whole event was free to attend so we were all blown away by the gifts.

I still remember people coming up to me as they were picking up their gifts, telling me “great job” and “thanks for putting this together”. It was a great experience and one of the many reasons why I always feel I’m in debt to this park.

End of The Line

After that event, there were things that were going on that essentially guaranteed there wouldn’t be a sequel. I lost interest in keeping up with a website and forums while dealing with high school and other things…

A New Beginning?

Thirteen years later, it’s interesting to look at how the internet has changed and how the coaster community has changed with it. Social media platforms have made it easier reach so many people, and share information and media immediately. Parks are embracing it. It’s great.

However, I’m a lot more timid and fearful than most because of my past with trying to build up something big on the internet. There was a lot of drama that unfolded but I’d like to think it was part of being a kid with an internet connection.

As I’ve tried to put into words many times, back then I used to focus on the amount of people visiting my websites but I try not to be like that anymore. (Seeing success still feels nice, though…) If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s to do whatever you want that will make you happy, even if that means going to Wonderland weekly by myself just to share some pictures and make bad jokes on Twitter.

July 14 & 15, 2018 Trip Reports – That Mountain View

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Trip Notes

I got to the park as it opened for the day. Today, the automated parking gate didn’t budge for me unlike last weekend when it popped right open before scanning my pass.

With Sledge Hammer running reliably for the season now, I’m back into the same old routine heading into Action Zone without hesitation.

It was a pretty laid back day at the park as I was trying to pace myself to stay for the entire day.

Cirque Canadien is a show I catch pretty much every time at the park. It’s such a high quality production and the little gags the raccoons do seem to change between shows, unless they’re testing things out and will eventually stick to one routine.

A major change has already happened in the show with the removal of the “catching the strawberry” bit which is how the show begins. That entire scene has been removed and they skip right to the winter and hockey sequence. While I do miss that part of the show, this year it was a little strange as one of the raccoons leaves the stage, leaving the other raccoon by himself during the transition between scenes. Now both of them are there during a part that became kind of an awkward transition.

Over in Celebration Plaza, they have new signs that list all of the prices for each food item.

There are a couple of things I’d like to try but I’ve been dragging my feet…

The live street entertainment is Celebration Plaza is great to watch. This weekend, I saw this violinist and a rodeo dude.

I got a kick out of hearing this violin cover of Drake’s “Headlines”.

As the day went on, I was starting to get really tired. I really enjoy just walking around the park so I realized it was time to stop and take a break because I really wanted to stick around until the park closed. I ended up going out to the car to sit and relax for a bit. It might be just me but I find the music in the park has been too loud in certain areas this year.

I made my way back into the park after some quiet time in the car. I ended up at Leviathan to kill some time as the sun was setting. I managed to get a great back row seat.

At Leviathan, I always buckle my seatbelt and let the attendant lower the restraint for me as they used to instruct us to do before. (It makes it easier for them to physically check the belt is buckled.) I ended up surrounded by a rowdy group in front and beside me. The guy beside me went, “You gotta lower your bar or else you’ll fall out,” and proceeded to slam my lap bar into me. I’ve been running in to people like this lately who don’t suspect I’m here every week… not that they should but I like when people just let me be.

As the sun started to disappear and the lights on rides started to come on, I was out with my camera, messing around with the settings, and producing a few neat shots amid a crime scene on my SD card.

I like this dusk shot of Vortex.

Of course, I had to try to get some long exposures of Sledge Hammer. They didn’t turn out exactly how I imagined but I still like them anyway.

It’s kind of funny to look through this set of pictures because it looks like it’s flailing its arms around.

Windseeker is always a favourite to photograph, both by day and night.

I got some really cool shots of Skyhawks lighting, though I wish I realized there was a tree in the way when I was taking them.

And then it was time to catch Starlight: Illumination of Water… I mean Northern Reflections.

I’m still sad we lost last year’s version of the show but I will say that I had a more enjoyable experience viewing the mountain by itself instead of with the fountains getting in the way. I think the format where the fountains add to the show instead of headline the show is far superior. That’s just my take on it.

It was funny to see the projections throw up a temperature warning on the right side of mountain during the last quarter of the show.

I had a great full day at the park and I’d like to do it again soon. Now that I have a car, it was a nice change of pace from having to rush out the gate immediately after the show to find the next bus on my long transit journey home.

Meals

For lunch, I had the naked burrito bowl from Backlot Cafe. This time, I tried the chicken and was offered nacho chips. It was a nice large hearty meal. I found the sauce they use on the chicken to be far too sweet for my liking so I’ll probably do beef next time.

For my second meal, I decided to try the crispy chicken tender wrap from Chicken Shack. I thoroughly enjoyed the wrap but the fries were hard and cold so I threw them out.

 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Trip Notes

I honestly wasn’t even planning on going to the park today with the long day I had yesterday but I had a great sleep so I felt energized enough to make the morning trip to the park. I got to the park at around 9:30am. The automated parking toll worked today but I still get my pass scanned regardless if the gate is already up or not.

There was ERT in Behemoth area so I got some rides in early, including one on Backlot. It was surprisingly smoother than I remember from last year.

I heard there was some change to Skyhawk recently so I had to go check it out myself. No, it wasn’t this hilariously gigantic sign.

The change has to do with the wings. They’ve put a really harsh limit on how far you can push and pull the wings. I’d say it’s actually less than halfway of how far you could tilt them before. It takes longer to get a good swing going and I couldn’t get my spin up to a fast enough speed so I only got five flips today when my average is usually around 35. If you had trouble figuring out how to flip before… GOOD LUCK.

Wandering into Celebration Plaza today, it really hit me that we’re already mid-way through July as they were setting up Celebration Canada’s special live entertainment for the second half of July. They were setting up the set for the Craz-E-Crew Stunt Show where the West Coaster Lumberjacks have been performing.

The Earth Rangers will also be back again this year to showcase some animals.

I decided to check out the app for any coupons as I saw they were promoting some on FunTV. I was thrilled to see they were offering one for 50% off Frappuccinos at Starbucks. I decided to try the Funnel Cake Frapp that was mentioned a few times when they were covering some of the special food offerings at the park as the season was starting up. Checkout CPFoodBlog for details.

I’m not exactly sure what the Funnel Cake Frapp is supposed to look like but I’m pretty sure this was missing things… It was basically just vanilla. Still good though and for $2.50 you can’t go wrong.

Today was meant to be a leave-after-lunch kind of day but I ended up riding Sledge Hammer and a few other rides so I stayed longer than expected.

I caught another Cirque Canadien performance. It’s becoming routine.

After Cirque Canadien, I took a couple more rides on Sledge Hammer before pulling myself away and going home.

There are still remnants of the extra security measures put into place after a security threat in the Greater Toronto Area on Thursday. Sometimes we’re so caught up in having fun and defending the safety of rides that we take for granted the security details around the park. I feel safe at Wonderland which is why I call it a second home.

Meals

For lunch, I had the Southwest Burger from Coasters. It’s still one of my favourite meals to have at the park.

July 7, 2018 Trip Report – Hammering Out Problems

Trip Notes

Today was the first time parking in the lot in many years. (Last time was during the Paramount years…) I got on Jane Street at around 10:10am and took about 15 minutes to get through the tolls and parked.

I purchased my parking pass online a few days ago and was given the option to register my plate number. According to other Twitter users, the experience with the automated parking toll gate system is all over the place so I had my card ready to scan assuming that it wouldn’t work. Once the car ahead of me went through the open gate, the gate closed completely but immediately sprung back up while I was still approaching the window so I’m assuming that’s from the camera reading my license plate. I still had my hand holding out my pass anyway so it was scanned even with the gate already open. (I think it feels weird just driving through.)

While waiting in the line at the parking tolls, my excitement went through the roof as I saw Sledge Hammer cycling in the distance. It was confirmed on Twitter by Grace (Communications Director) that it was waiting for a part so I was coming today with the expectation that it would still be down.

I made a bee-line straight to the ride (I think I’ve written this line in many trip reports now). It was kind of humorous to find it in an e-stopped position. After a bit of recovery time, the ride was reopened!

The ride was performing incredibly well. Over the course of the day hovering around the ride, I only saw it down for a combined 20 minutes or so. It was powering through cycles and wasn’t producing any concerning noises (for the most part). I’m so happy for it.

All of this refurbishment work looks like it’s paying off. It sounds great and it rides great. It’s so much smoother!

I spent a lot of time around Sledge Hammer but I still managed to catch a few other things around the park. I happened to be walking through International Street when the Peanuts characters came out at the Floral Flag to have a little dance party. I always love seeing performances in this plaza.

I caught the 6pm Cirque Canadien show. I was very nitpicky about the show last weekend and I regret it. Everyone was fantastic this weekend!

The Mike Walmsley Band was performing in the afternoon in Celebration Plaza. They’re a talented group and I love hearing them at these events!

I was hoping to stay late to play with my camera again but I was getting really tired so I decided to take off around 7:30pm. I had a great day!

Meals

For lunch, I had the fish and chips from Coasters. It was good.

For my second meal, I had the crispy chicken sandwich basket from Chicken Shack. It was hilarious picking up the order because there happened to be two other Matthew’s waiting so the guy distributing the orders got a little confused but was really fun about it. Great meal!