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Personal meanderings about Canada's Wonderland post COVID


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Two fully lost years for the travel and leisure economy that is a big part of border areas will be a significant loss, but I see a full closure to all leisure travel staying in place well into next year. Personally, I find it ridiculous that fully vaccinated persons cannot cross in either direction. I worked on the Peace Bridge for 4 years and have crossed over a hundred times. Border checks could be modified and enhanced to require proof of vaccination. Specific to NY, we already have the Excelsior app, designed in part for such use.

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9 minutes ago, JimParker85 said:

Two fully lost years for the travel and leisure economy that is a big part of border areas will be a significant loss, but I see a full closure to all leisure travel staying in place well into next year. Personally, I find it ridiculous that fully vaccinated persons cannot cross in either direction. I worked on the Peace Bridge for 4 years and have crossed over a hundred times. Border checks could be modified and enhanced to require proof of vaccination. Specific to NY, we already have the Excelsior app, designed in part for such use.

I have a few questions/comments for you.

The idea of the Excelsior app, let’s assume Ontario develops its own app, there would need to be some sort of reciprocity hopefully so Ontario’s app would work in New York, if you get what I mean.

Which leads to a question, how does this currently work downstate where you have both those from Connecticut and New Jersey entering Manhattan on a regular basis.

 

 

But nevertheless there appears to be some good news, or at least a blink of optimism. We are to hear about possible plans for the border reopening come Monday.

Furthermore, the Province of Alberta although out west, is dropping practically all covid restrictions on July 1, so we’ll see how that goes. Keep in mind that Alberta is by far the most conservative province in Canada.

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I'm not sure about the downstate/tri state stuff, but i used it last night as proof for our Yankees/Blue Jays tickets, which were in the fully vax sections. When you open the app it has the QR code square. I had to use some info from my vaccine card and set up the profile. The pass became active 14 days after our second shot back in April. You can also present your actual vax card at events in NY as well. 

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1 minute ago, JimParker85 said:

I'm not sure about the downstate/tri state stuff, but i used it last night as proof for our Yankees/Blue Jays tickets, which were in the fully vax sections. When you open the app it has the QR code square. I had to use some info from my vaccine card and set up the profile. The pass became active 14 days after our second shot back in April. You can also present your actual vax card at events in NY as well. 

By vaccination card you mean the CDC card right?

in Ontario at least, there was no physical card given but I was given an email showing my first vaccine so far which basically displayed a virtual Ontario Ministry of Health receipt, which shows when I got my shot and so on.

The headaches around cross border acceptance of this stuff is what concerns me. The awful bureaucracy of it.

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14 minutes ago, disco2000 said:

Does this couple's private charter invoice and guilty plea count as proof of vaccination?:P

https://nypost.com/2021/06/17/canadian-couple-that-chartered-plane-to-cut-vaccine-line-pleads-guilty/

Guilty of entering Yukon, yes that’s right, Canada had borders closed within the country. That shows you the kind of place we live in up here.

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1 hour ago, MisterSG1 said:

Guilty of entering Yukon, yes that’s right, Canada had borders closed within the country. That shows you the kind of place we live in up here.

Yep, definitely a much different and stricter approach than what the US saw.

At it's height, some states didn't want you crossing state lines and if you did you were supposed to self-quarantine for 14 days, but it was all self monitored. 

I believe that Ohio had that "requirement" (which basically meant recommendation) in effect when the park opened last year, yet many people attended the Indiana Beach opening weekend and then attended KI's opening the following weekend.  Mathematically it wasn't possible to attend both and not be in violation, yet nobody got arrested and neither park experienced an outbreak either.

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8 minutes ago, disco2000 said:

Yep, definitely a much different and stricter approach than what the US saw.

At it's height, some states didn't want you crossing state lines and if you did you were supposed to self-quarantine for 14 days, but it was all self monitored. 

I believe that Ohio had that "requirement" in effect when the park opened last year, yet many people attended the Indiana Beach opening weekend and then attended KI's opening the following weekend.  Mathematically it wasn't possible to attend both and not be in violation, yet nobody got arrested and neither park experienced an outbreak either.

That’s another positive thing I forgot to mention, Ontario ended its non essential closure to/from Quebec and Manitoba, yes these “borders” were manned by the Ontario Provincial Police, I do understand that these measures would be unconstitutional in the US. Here in Canada, the law is basically written as “rights apply when we say they apply”. Which is why New Brunswick’s hard border to the rest of Canada was never challenged throughout the entire pandemic. Which I believe New Brunswick has finally loosened its “border” as well.

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There is a border update today (but nothing really substantial)

On July 5, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents can skip the 14 day quarantine provided they are fully vaccinated. However, proof of a covid test before entering Canada as well as a covid test administered at the border crossing will still be in effect. (I assume this means there still is a quarantine in a way, in that you must quarantine until a negative result comes back)

As it stands, this does not change the situation for tourists. I do however think this decision is mostly political, as the Liberal Party since the 1960s has been staunchly anti-American.

Elsewhere in Canada, Saskatchewan will join Alberta in eliminating restrictions on July 11 I believe.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I will be going to the park next Monday with a relative (they have a young one) and thus I will see how the park will run.

So how will it work, will the park be silent? As in no music at all. I know masks are required at all times in the park but knowing Wonderland Security, they might turn a blind eye. My fear of that is not the virus but the angry health enforcers taking matters and shutting the park down.

Also cue the NIMBYs who will be back complaining about the roar of Leviathan despite knowing they bought a house/condo next to a theme park/

(which leads to my only complaint, in my opinion, WindSeeker should have only steady lights as it runs at nighttime, that thing is a huge distraction for motorists on Hwy 400.)

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31 minutes ago, MisterSG1 said:

I will be going to the park next Monday with a relative (they have a young one) and thus I will see how the park will run.

So how will it work, will the park be silent? As in no music at all. I know masks are required at all times in the park but knowing Wonderland Security, they might turn a blind eye. My fear of that is not the virus but the angry health enforcers taking matters and shutting the park down.

Also cue the NIMBYs who will be back complaining about the roar of Leviathan despite knowing they bought a house/condo next to a theme park/

(which leads to my only complaint, in my opinion, WindSeeker should have only steady lights as it runs at nighttime, that thing is a huge distraction for motorists on Hwy 400.)

Let us know how it goes! Thanks for being out eyes and ears on CW!

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13 minutes ago, King Ding Dong said:

The closer to the road the shorter it can be.  

For starters, the position of the freeway to the park is opposite to what it is at Kings Island.

While both parks are east of Hwy 400 and I-71, Wonderland has its “back” facing the highway while Kings Island has the parking lot next to the highway. Coming from a distance the WindSeeker is close to the road.

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15 hours ago, MisterSG1 said:

 

Also cue the NIMBYs who will be back complaining about the roar of Leviathan despite knowing they bought a house/condo next to a theme park/

 

These people drive me bonkers... It's not like they took a quiet neighbourhood and jammed a loud amusement park in there to everyone's protest...


I also will be at the park on Monday...

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So, I came back today with the little one and his parents. And I was surprised how smoothly most things went.

I was expecting the toll plaza to resemble a border crossing and to be questioned right there about the visit and reservation information. But it wasn’t the case, simply showed my Gold Pass and we got in like any other day in 2019.

I was expecting to have temperature taken but only after crossing security, did we have to prove our reservation. 
 

Afterwards, while they get photos in front of the Royal fountains and bridge, I stepped into the international Street Tim Hortons. This was the first of many “growing pains” I noticed there. The entrance to Tim’s is a double door and the left door leads into the queue complete with two switch backs. Yet they had the right door open only, I made a suggestion that they should just open the left door as it leads directly into queue.

While I thought we needed masks on at all times, around this time I was told guests only need to wear masks while in ride queues, on rides, and inside shops.

In Planet Snoopy, I noticed that ride lineups weren’t exactly abnormal considering that guests had to social distance, but the ride ops appeared to be having growing pains, as in “traffic jams” happening on Wonderland’s swan ride where four or more swans were stuck at the end waiting to be cleared.


I noticed this was happening on many rides, with incredible long times between some cycles to sanitize. I understand this is the first day so people are getting it together so I assume they’ll have a better plan as the summer rolls on. As for food lineups there wasn’t really any problems whatsoever with that. As he was a little one and it was a really hot day, air temperature alone was around 34C or just over 90F we never lasted long.

Honoraius will most likely have a better story of how events transpired as I was confined to Planet Snoopy and KidZville. 
 

 

My only real complaint was of the music played. I know this is a contentious issue at Kings Island, but I found the music especially on I Street to be loud. On top of that, they had an over the top CANCON (Canadian Content) list of songs to the effect that I heard two songs completely in French. So yeah, when you hear Glass Tiger, Corey Hart, and Sarah McLachlan songs at the park, it seems more of an obligation to play these songs by someone. I know Wonderland has been wanting to embrace the “Canada” in its name in recent years which I kind of see as somewhat pointless. For the record I was never a fan of shoehorning Frontier Canada into the park.

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After 550 days being closed, I'm very happy the park is now open... Just a few meandering thoughts...

Mask enforcement was hit-and-miss... People in the line for Yukon Striker were being told to keep them on... People were getting on Vortex and taking them off...

Reduced capacity combined with social distancing making it hard to judge how long of a wait a line is... Lines stretch longer because people aren't nose-to-tail... But reduced capacity on the rides means that the lines move a lot slower...

Leviathan, Vortex, Behemoth both had half their rows closed... Yukon Striker I honestly couldn't tell what they were doing... They seemed to be keeping smaller groups to the outside seats of the 8-seat rows, leaving a few empty seats between the groups, or if it was a larger group, they'd have a row to themselves, but some trains they would have people in all 3 rows, some they wouldn't...

Staffing was clearly an issue... Personally I think having a few more food/drink places open and less midway games would've been beneficial to the guest experience... The ones that were open were trying their best, and I'd actually say it went a lot smoother than it normally does this early in the season (I've had a few very, very bad experiences)...

Sledgehammer was running!!! Always a nice surprise...

Saw the new cliff-jumping attraction (from Behemoth so didn't get a photo) and it looks nice... Hope it goes well...

At ticket sales outside the park, the person managing the line was saying that Fast Lane would not be available... It was being sold at the small stand between Leviathan and Drop Tower... I inquired to the price point and she said it was $90... Not sure if it went up during the day... I'm also assuming that was the FLP+ price... Does anyone ever buy the regular Fast Lane??? The FL+ line was full to the start of the FLP+ queue for Yukon Striker, had a few people at top of the stairs on Leviathan and Behemoth, and was empty on Vortex...

So far, merch has taken a step back this year... I've been pretty vocal at my disappointment in the merch at the park over the years, and felt that last year they really did make an improvement... This year, they've let it slip... Hoping that the new/good stuff just hasn't made the shelves yet... But for all you hear about "per cap spending", you need to offer something that people want to buy if you want them to spend money...

The small shops/Fun Pix kiosks at the ends of Leviathan, Behemoth and Yukon Striker have no merch... This is likely because there's a limit on customers in the space, and they don't want people loitering looking at merch and not allowing people in to buy ride photos (which have a great profit margin)...

No merch celebrating the parks 40th season... I did read/hear somewhere that they had planned to sell this merch at the former All The Rage store by Xtreme Skyflyer, but it was closed, so I'm still hopeful...

They've got a ton of branded/themed Squishmallows, and though I'm not a fan of the line myself, I do like to see park-branding on things like this. One of the things they have done well over the last few years is that most of the plushies sold in the park have the park logo/name/initials somewhere on it, nice to see them following suit with the Squishmallows, instead of the generic ones you can buy anywhere that they had last year...

Oh, almost forgot, was looking forward to getting some theme park branded masks... Was going to buy some KI/CP ones last year, but $38 USD for shipping 1 mask put the brakes on that...  Two giftshops, True North Gifts and Canada's Wonderland Gifts both had masks, branded for the park and the newer big-ticket coasters, at a price point of $30-$35... They just looked like a plain black mask with a small logo on it in the corner... 



 

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Honoraius this is mostly in response to you and quoting everything on an iPhone would be a lengthy procedure.

 

First, as I assume you used the Jane Street entrance to get into the park as you came from the North, the access road into the park from Hwy 400 and Rutherford is in bad shape, vegetation is growing and the road is cracking clearly with ruts like a washboard. Wonderland needs to fix this as soon as they can. It’s not their fault as what do you expect from a Park that’s forced to be closed.

 

Mask enforcement will be tricky, I entered the park thinking that masks must always be worn except when eating/drinking but that wasn’t the case. They did say masks had to be worn in tight spaces like the entrance gate to Medieval Faire which I’m sure you saw.

As for masks on rides, is there a definitive reason why this is compulsory. As rows and cars on all rides that are less than six feet apart are closed off if in theory should be no different than two people sitting on their balconies in condos. Is the reason for this because people may cough while on the ride possibly exposing the next rider?

 

Staffing, remember that as I understand, I worked at Wonderland as a maze usher a few years back during Haunt and I was tied completely to the entertainment department. Wonderland workers can’t be shifted like baseball players, the games associates couldn’t simply be moved to food as I understand.

Speaking of my experience of food, at the I Street Tim’s, service there was slow, but the people I assume were new. Surprisingly they willingly took my suggestion of opening the left door immediately. The KidZVille Pizza Pizza had a line that reached the outer switchback but wasn’t long, was completely served within 5 minutes. (There’s just something about Wonderland Pizza Pizza I like better than the real thing)

Most of the food places looked to be open where I was, at least that was the case in the two kids areas.

 

As for merch, I never visited stores but put yourself in their shoes. Twice in Ontario the metaphorical carpet was yanked away from restaurant owners by the so called doctors at Queen’s Park. This happened as we all thought things were getting better. Who’s to say the new thing they come up, the so called Lambda variant is vaccine resistant. It won’t take long to yank the carpet away from Wonderland. As you and I both know, eating inside has been continuously forbidden in Toronto and Peel Region (where I live) since November, Based on prior attitudes, there’s an incredible amount of risk on investing on interesting merchandise just if Doug Ford wants to lock us down again. 
 

Did they take your temperature going in?

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21 minutes ago, MisterSG1 said:

Staffing, remember that as I understand, I worked at Wonderland as a maze usher a few years back during Haunt and I was tied completely to the entertainment department. Wonderland workers can’t be shifted like baseball players, the games associates couldn’t simply be moved to food as I understand.

This is interesting. At Kings Island, it is not that uncommon for let’s say a ride operator to get sent to food and beverage or park services when those departments are understaffed. Some positions, however, can’t just be filled by any employee because additional training is required.

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I understand not every job is interchangeable... But every single basketball shooting game was open, both arcades were open and heavily staffed, while the only drink stand open in the adult section of the park was the one beside True north gifts... Having to join the food lines just to get drinks adds a fair amount of time... The beer stand by Yukon Striker was open, because with the Jays still out of town, people need to buy $12 beer somewhere... I think they would've made more opening a refresh station or an ICEE stand, but it is what it is...

We at at the Pizza Pizza on I-street, and the food was good, way better than my local Pizza Pizza where one time it's burned, next it's raw... The kitchen was well staffed and they were putting out pizzas at a fair clip, the bottle neck was having only one cashier... From joining line to paying took 25 minutes...

Backlot Cafe and Marketplace had nicely printed signage on the windows letting you know that those locations are closed... Due to the indoor dining regulations in the province, this wasn't really a surprise... Hoping some of the smaller ones that were closed are open for the next go-round...

Also, when did they start charging tax on the midway games??? It used to be they were a nice round number, now they're all X.99 + tax...

Yes, I came in off Major Mackenzie and down Jane... We had an 11:00 window, and traffic was far, far lighter do to limiting how many people can arrive at each window... They are doing some construction on Major Mack east of Amusement Drive, but I'm not sure what... Due to this construction, we left through the south exit and got on the 400 off Rutherford... Road didn't seem bad, but I'm likely a bit more rural and with roads being less trafficked, the benchmark for "bad roads" is a little different... With the throughput that road sees, I'm surprised it's in such disrepair...

Speaking of construction, the hospital across the road has progressed well, is it open??? 

No temperature checks were done, or screening questions or anything. They had the standard signs up that all businesses seem to have which is along the lines of "If you have on the symptoms on this list, please go away".

And the website says  "All guests age two and older are require to wear a face covering in all indoor spaces, on rides, and outdoors where 2 metres physical distance cannot be maintained". I'm sure this was set by the province or health unit, and the park is going along because the alternative is not opening at all...

They also were periodically sanitizing the trains, I'm not sure how often. They'd spray it from a bottle, wipe down seat and hand rest, then send the train off empty...  Got to watch in Leviathan's station as they did this, and they actually seemed pretty thorough... 

And I don't think merchandise is an incredibly risky investment... Unless they have a date on them, they can be sold at a later date... It's certainly less of a risk than food which has a shelf-life...

Riptide has new restraints and seats... I didn't ride so I'm not sure how they are compared to the old ones...

The preferred parking sections of the lot aren't there, they've removed most of the big white concrete barriers where they were...

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15 hours ago, FUN&ONLY! said:

This is interesting. At Kings Island, it is not that uncommon for let’s say a ride operator to get sent to food and beverage or park services when those departments are understaffed. Some positions, however, can’t just be filled by any employee because additional training is required.

A friend of mine who is a ride op claims they occasionally move him to admissions, but never to areas like food or games.

At wonderland, if I recall, a games associate is not allowed to ever play the games as a guest. So this creates some sort of minor headaches I believe if a food associate was assigned to games for instance.

When I worked at Haunt we had the option of being in food if we wanted, but this was all well in advance, it wasn’t like “Today, you are going to be placed in Alphorn Funnel Cakes making funnel cakes” when we showed up.

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Yes, Honorarius, the hospital is in fact operational. But remember my comment about NIMBYism, I wonder if patients at the hospital will complain from Leviathan’s noise. In downtown Toronto you see those “Hospital Quiet” signs on the streets (I wonder if that’s directed to drivers or pedestrians).

As for Wonderland Pizza Pizza, I’m not sure of this but do they not use ovens but rather the conveyor belts like seen at the major US chains?

I know the access road may not have seen that bad to you, but compared to the condition of roads in the GTA is very subpar.

As for masks, I understand what you say is the actual policy, but I like many other guests understood at first that the rules were “Masks must be worn at all times except while eating” This was not the case thankfully.


Considering the lame excuse Wonderland made regarding poor shows and merchandise I recall back in 2004, I wasn’t surprised at all to see no merchandise this year. Back then if you recall, park management basically told everyone that entertainment would be lower quality because of the lost revenue the previous year due to SARS. Another friend of mine who’s a big wonderland fanatic told me long before covid hit that 2003 was a particularly bad year for Wonderland. So that’s what I’m basing my reasoning on.

As for preferred parking, I parked right next to one of the jersey barriers, let’s just be thankful those kind of jersey barriers weren’t use in lockdowns to restrict regional travel.

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Yes, they use the conveyor belt ovens (at least at the Internation Street one), which I think leads to the increased consistency in comparison to my local franchise, which I think sets the timer by throwing darts at a dartboard...

The parks post on their own website states:
All guests age two and older are required to wear a face covering in all indoor spaces, on rides and outdoors where 2 metres physical distance cannot be maintained (with limited exceptions, including Splash Works and water attractions

so if you can stay 2m from people outdoors, you can take it off. Why you have to wear it on the ride when you're 2 metres from the next person, I don't know. I think they're just doing whatever they're told by the local health unit as long as it lets them open. If rides and outdoors were 2 separate clauses, I'd expect a comma in there, but I think that's just me being nitpicky...


Forgot to mention the park is now completely smoke free... The million dollar question is will it be enforced, because the old smoking policy certainly wasn't...

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9 hours ago, MisterSG1 said:

A friend of mine who is a ride op claims they occasionally move him to admissions, but never to areas like food or games.

At wonderland, if I recall, a games associate is not allowed to ever play the games as a guest. So this creates some sort of minor headaches I believe if a food associate was assigned to games for instance.

When I worked at Haunt we had the option of being in food if we wanted, but this was all well in advance, it wasn’t like “Today, you are going to be placed in Alphorn Funnel Cakes making funnel cakes” when we showed up.

This is interesting. At Kings Island, a ride operator could work let’s say food and beverage or park services, but they wouldn’t be allowed to work anything that involves money. On the flip side, no other departments could work in rides. Also, at Kings Island, all employees are not allowed to play games as a guest at any Cedar Fair park. So even a Kings Island food and beverage employee would not be allowed to play games while visiting as a guest at Canada’s Wonderland. I believe this policy is the same throughout the chain.

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