TR: Labor Day weekend at Canada's Wonderland and Marineland

Associated parks:
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Thursday, September 8, 2005 2:54 PM
Labor day weekend meant three days away from work, and a mini-trip to Canada’s Wonderland and Marineland.

Saturday was Canada’s Wonderland. Since it was brand new and I had never ridden one before, I headed straight for Italian Job: Stunt Track, thinking that the shortest line of the day would be early in the day. Wrong! The line started at 1:15. Oh well, I thought this would be the only really long line of the day. Wrong again. Maybe it was the hype surrounding the ride. Maybe it was the fact that I’ve been on several other launched coasters (Dragster, Accelerator, Flight of Fear, etc.) but I was not terribly impressed with this one. It wasn’t bad, but it felt to me like essentially a long uphill helix, a drop, stop, wait for the fire to start, a tunnel, and drop and the end of the ride. I’ll ride it again, but I’m not going to be crushed if I miss it.

Since we were right there, we went over to Mighty Canadian Minebuster. Wow. Lots of airtime (I sat car 1 set 2). My only complaint was that the lap bar tightened up a notch on the bottom of the second drop. Unusual for PTC’s. Skipped SkyRider right then (didn’t immediately want a headache, nor did I want to wait 1 hour for a standup). Went over to Tomb Raider: The Ride. Having been on both Vekoma and B&M flyers, this one definitely looked different. Loading was surprisingly quick, and the lift hill mechanism definitely was unique. It wasn’t a rough ride overall, but I’m still partial to B&M flyers as the best, though this ranked better than Vekoma’s. I did like the layout on this, as the sense of flying was a bit more enhanced versus B&M’s due to the close proximity to the ground and ride structure. From Tomb Raider went over to Top Gun. While I’ve been on rougher Vekoma’s, this was not worth the 1:25 wait we had for it. It might have been better if the theming was still present in the line.

From Top Gun, went to Vortex. Wow! What a ride. The cars seemed a bit strange running without the back car (why, I do not know. I can only image due to the forces in the back of the train.) The drop off of the mountain is great, but swinging over the lake at high speeds has to make this on of the best, at least in comparison to Iron Dragon, Top Gun at PKI, and Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens. The shaking of the entire ride near the brake run when a train comes to a stop also shows the power of this ride. Thunder run was next. A neat ride, though it could use a bit more theming on the inside segment.

A quick bite of dinner followed. Then it was off to the calm coasters of the children’s area. Silver Streak and Scooby's Gasping Ghoster Coaster both were decent family coasters. The Fly was next. I’m becoming partial to spinning mice, but this was pretty decent for a standard mouse. Wild Beast completed the wooden coasters. The ride looked like it had promise, but I got very little airtime and it jostled me a bit more than I would like. Dragon Fire was a typical early Arrow, though I was quite surprised at its smoothness (or maybe I’ve gotten too used to the Megaloopers and their roughness…) Finally it was back over to Sky Rider. Very slow loading, with 6 minute dispatch times. I rode this TOGO better than PKD’s, but I’m not very fond of standups anyways, so I doubt I’ll rush onto it again. Put a second run on Minebuster and Vortex (Both as impressive as before) and finished off the evening as the park closed on the bumper cars.

General Observations:
The park was extremely crowded, and really needs a few “people eater” capacity rides. Italian Stunt Job was running a 1:10 dispatch, yielding about 600 people per hour capacity. Beyond that, Tomb Raider had at least one car on the side as did the Fly. Dispatch times seemed on the slow side, especially for Sky Rider. The Dragon Fire could have used three train operation, but the coaster only has 2 trains, as the third was transferred over to the Bat. Vortex could have used the 4 extra seats from the last car. Maybe someone else can shed some light as to why they are gone.

Sunday -> Marineland
I went to Marineland for one coaster, Dragon Mountain, and it was not disappointing. Got to the park around 11:00 or so. Since we were spending most of the day here, we took our time and saw the animal shows up front first and then headed back into the ride segment. When we got there, they were running empty trains, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, after one empty train was dispatched, they loaded up and sent a train full of people. Two trains later, the second train was added on and I rode on the first run of the day for the second train. The lift hill on this is the energizer lift hill… it keeps going and going and going and going and changes chains and going and going and going and going and going and going and going. But, the ride is very good, and for an Arrow, quite smooth again. On return I saw the third train sitting on the transfer track. I can’t image that they ever need to run three trains on this coaster, though it certainly is long enough to warrant three trains. Rode a couple of more times and then headed to some of the animal exhibits. Climbed up on the top of the mountain to ride the drop tower. What a view of Niagara Falls! What a climb to get there!!! Had a wrap for lunch and took our time hitting the rest of the park. Didn’t ride the childrens coaster (way to long of a line for a Miler). Rode Dragon Mountain a few times more. Headed to the falls for dinner and the evening fireworks show.

General Observations:
Wow is there a lot of walking (I knew this going in, but I still was surprised.) I don’t know much of the history of this park (there isn’t much online… anyone have any?), but it seems like it has a lot of potential. The drop tower is neat, though the restaurant and other facilities are not finished as of yet, even though the ride has ran for two years now. Dragon Mountain has theming that really reminds me of Fire and Ice at Islands of Adventure. If only the volcano and Niagara falls theming on the ride had been built (I suspect money may have been the problem). Wear good walking shoes and carry a water bottle with you… Drinking fountains are few and far between. For a one coaster park, it’s a good one.

Other side stop:
Monday stopped at the Fort Erie railway museum. While not coaster related, they had quite a few pictures of Crystal Beach and the other amusement parks of the area. Pretty neat.

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Thursday, September 8, 2005 3:51 PM
Unfortunately, Labor Day weekend, or any weekend for that matter, is not a great time to go to Wonderland. I attempted to go on Victoria Day weekend, and the lines for everything easily topped 2 hours.

The dispatch times at Wonderland seem to get slower and slower every year. I remember Skyrider's line going really quickly several years ago, but this year even when the line is in the station you can wait up to 1/2 hour. The only line that seems to go quicker than it looks is Vortex, which is my favorite coaster there anyway.

Tomb Raider not a rough ride? That's definately the first time I heard that one :P

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Saturday, September 10, 2005 5:52 AM
Cool TR! I did that same trip last Labor Day weekend (PCW/Martins/Darien Lake....skipped Marineland) and I remember PCW being PACKED!

This past May we visited PCW/Marineland/Darien, then I went on to Seabreeze (which was a MUCH better time to visit these parks, ESPECIALLY PCW)

I enjoyed PCW a lot more this time around, lower crowds, etc. Although I am not THAT crazy about the coasters minus IJ:ST and Thunder Run, I really love the park.........the most beautifully landscaped park I have been to, let alone Paramount Park (the only one I haven't been to yet is Great America in Northern Cali.) My favorite thing about PCW is the flats.....the Sledgehammer, Shockwave (although I hear the Topscans are in danger of being removed right now)

Marineland is absolutely beautiful. Although there was much more walking involved than I anticipated it was well worth it. Dragon Mountain isn't something I see myself riding again but I would go just for the atmosphere and the animals. The killer baby whale was really fun to watch.

Maybe they could install some type of escalator for those old people like me you doesn't feel like walking up that long........steep........hill to the S&S Tower. ;-)

-Tina

*** Edited 9/10/2005 9:53:54 AM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

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Monday, September 12, 2005 1:06 PM
Oh, PGA is *definitely* the most beautiful of the Paramount Parks...

Wow, and not even a winky! :)

PGA makes MiA look like BGW...and Wayne Brady makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X... ;)

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Monday, September 12, 2005 4:12 PM
Wanna know something ironic?

Labour Day itself was the DEADEST good-weather day I've ever seen at the park (aside from pre-summer days). It was amazing. Especially considering it was Italian Day too.

If only I didn't have an open to close shift that day. -_-;;;

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005 6:58 AM
^You mean PCW is the prettiest Paramount Park, Bill. ;-)

-Tina

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