PHOTO: VALCARTIER VACATION VILLAGE
Canada’s best amusement parks and water parks may not be right in your backyard, but these theme parks are destinations in their own right—and in some cases are worth travelling across provincial lines to experience.
These are the biggest parks, with the biggest coasters, tallest water slides, and most thrilling thrill rides in the country. Dive in!
The biggest water park in Canada, Calypso has attractions for toddlers through teens. On 100 acres, you’ll find Canada’s largest wave pool, a Wipeout-style obstacle course, whitewater rafting experience, lazy river, and lots of water slides: racing slides, adrenaline-pumping steep drops, and slides for young kids, and slides where the whole family can ride on a six-person raft.2015 Calypso St., Limoges, ON (45 km east of Ottawa)
The only Six Flags amusement park in Canada, La Ronde is on 146 acres on Montreal’s Île Sainte-Hélène. Forty rides cater to the youngest members of the family to the biggest kids (and the kids at heart). Highlights include a giant inverted coaster (Le Vampire), the world’s tallest two-track wooden coaster, a mini coaster for little kids, an interactive water ride with squirt cannons, and—new in 2015—a (truly terrifying) haunted house for teens and adults.22 Chemin MacDonald, Île Ste-Hélène, QC
What make this amusement park and adjacent waterpark in Edmonton, Alberta, so amazing is not only the rides and slides, but that it’s all indoors—tucked inside an enormous mall the size of 48 city blocks with over 800 stores. Galaxyland is the world’s largest indoor amusement park, with 24 rides for all ages, including several coasters and a ropes course.
In winter, World Waterpark may be the hottest ticket north of the border: you can lounge on a beach, surf in the wave pool, plunge down waterslides, soak in a hot tub, and play in toddler-friendly water play areas. Also here: the world’s largest indoor permanent zipline.1755, 8882 170 St., Edmonton, AB
“Wonderland” is the largest amusement park in the country, with more than 200 rides just 30 km north of Toronto. For coaster-lovers there are two mega-coasters to choose from: Behemoth, with hairpin turns and double helixes, and Leviathan, the tallest ride in the park, with a 93-meter/80-degree drop.
For little kids, there are kiddie coasters, water rides, bumper cars, a bungee trampoline experience, and more. You’ll also find a raceway, drop zone, dark coaster, water park, rafting ride, log flume, splash-play area for tots, and Dinosaurs Alive, with life-size animatronic dinos.9580 Jane St.,Vaughan, ON
What makes Valcartier Vacation Village unique is that it’s a summer and winter playground. For summer, there are 35 waterslides, a lazy river, rough river ride, a wave pool, and slide and water-play area especially for little kids. You can combine a day at the water park with a guided white-water rafting excursion on the Jacques-Cartier River.
In winter, the waterslides and tube rides convert to snow slides and snow rafting runs, forming North America’s largest winter playground. The park also has a 600-site campground.1860 Valcartier Blvd., Valcartier, QC
418-844-2200 or 888-384-5524
Outdoor water park open June–August, rafting May–August; Winter Playground and indoor waterpark open December–March
Western Canada’s largest outdoor amusement park, Calaway Park is a family-friendly park primarily for those with kids under 10, though there are a few attractions for older kids, too. Family fun rides include a log flume, mini roller coaster, bumper boats, train ride and—for bigger thrills—a loop-de-loop coaster and free-fall drop.245033 Range Rd. 33, Calgary, AB
Magic Mountain is Atlantic Canada’s largest water park and is in the process of adding an amusement park component. Phase one of the new portion—with rides for younger kids—will open in mid-July 2015. The water park has steep body slides, inflatable tube slides, a lazy river, a 330,000-gallon wave pool, a hot tub, and a splash pad and pool for little kids.2875 Mountain Rd., Moncton, NB