Planning a family trip this summer? Just in time for the busy summer travel season, Linda Hung, Senior Director of Theme Parks at FORREC, has compiled a list of the top 5 Canadian attractions to put on your summer bucket list.
There may be no one in Canada who knows theme parks and attractions better than Hung. Her company, FORREC, is the Canadian design firm behind some of the world’s most incredible parks, branded attractions, resorts and retail destinations. Around the world, FORREC has worked on projects including Happy Magic Watercube (the Beijing National Aquatics Center from the 2008 Olympics transformed into a year round water park), the Centara Grand Mirage (a 5-star, 500-room luxury destination in Thailand) and the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum. They’re a proudly Canadian company, and Hung says many of her favourite destinations are right here at home. Here are her top Canadian attractions:
Planning to visit a Canadian theme park? You’ve got to start with the original. Canada’s Wonderland was the first major theme park in Ontario when it opened in 1981, and it remains the country’s largest. The theme park was actually one of FORREC’s first projects – its development was inspired by the natural wonders of Canada. The majestic mountain with the iconic waterfall – known as Wonder Mountain – is the symbol of the park. That’s a FORREC design. Today, Canada’s Wonderland has 200 attractions (including 16 roller coasters – a Canadian record) across 330 acres of land. More than 3 million guests visit the park every year.
Opened in 2013, FlyOver Canada is an indoor attraction located in Canada Place in downtown Vancouver. This 30-minute, virtual flight ride lets you literally “take off” and enjoy a breathtaking flight across Canada, over spectacular landscapes. The footage was filmed by helicopter and plane specifically for FlyOver Canada, and captures incredible scenes that showcase the scale, beauty, and diversity of the country. This is Canada’s first fly theatre like this, although Disney fans will recognize the style of the experience from the popular Soarin’ Over California attraction.
3. Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook, Quebec
While Parc de la Gorge is a beautiful destination for outdoor summer fun, the real magic begins after the sun goes down. In 2014, the park opened Foresta Lumina, an illuminated night walk through the forest. Forest Lumina uses projection mapping, lighting and evocative staging to create an enchanted tale for visitors. Throughout the 2 kilometer walk, you’ll meet characters inspired by the area’s myths and legends, who draw you into an immersive adventure. A highlight of the walk? North America’s longest suspended footbridge, which winds through the heart of the forest.
4. Dynamic Earth, Sudbury
Travelling in late summer? Be sure to check out Sudbury’s Dynamic Earth, and the new Science Park that is being designed by FORREC – it will open in just a few months. The 1,500 square metre outdoor park will include a “slag slide” that allows kids to imagine what it’s like to be molten mining waste, a teeter-totter that simulates earthquakes, pieces of mining equipment to play on and walking trails around the edge of the hilltop property with views of Sudbury and the Vale complex in Copper Cliff. Of course, as always, you can check out the Big Nickel, which has sat on the grounds of Dynamic Earth for more than 50 years.
5. Fort Edmonton Park, Edmonton, AB
If travels take you to Edmonton this summer, Hung recommends a visit to Fort Edmonton Park, Canada’s largest living history museum. In the Park, be sure to check out the Capitol Theatre, a re-creation of Edmonton’s original Capitol Theatre, built in 1929. During the summer season, the Theatre shows the mesmerizing 4-D short film ‘Northern Lights’, which tells the story of Edmonton’s dynamic history from the ice age to present. The authentic feel of Edmonton’s history is captured in this one-of-a-kind cinematic experience that offers one of the coolest Canadian history lessons.