Summer isn't summer until the first plummet down a roller coaster track. Until the first involuntary scream of terror and delight is ripped out of one's throat. Astounding how the illusion of imminent death turns to sheer adrenaline and all worries and stress melt away to be replaced by rubbery legs and ruined hairdos.
Canada's Wonderland has awakened from its winter slumber, slapped on a new coat of paint and opened its gates for hordes of thrillseekers. There is not a new coaster for this season but the Leviathan (the first drop is a huge one) and the Behmoth (even scarier because of the openness around the seats and the lift off on every summit) are incredible rides. And who can resist being shaken up by the two old-school wooden coasters - The Great Canadian Minebuster and The Beast - that have the wonderful illusion of being rickety and ready to fly off the rails?
Wonderland is a family destination and while nothing is specifically gay - except on Gay Day, the PFLAG fundraiser that should not be missed, when it is exciting to see crowds of explicitly gay youth and families that might otherwise be nervous in an environment that is not the Village, having a blast and being totally open - the aim is having fun and no-one is concerned about sexuality, gender or race. Who cares who is beside you in line? Even the obnoxious horny het teens and tweens are more entertaining (the bizarre mating rituals of opposite-sex couples are fascinating from a sociological viewpoint) than annoying.
The roller coasters are breathtaking, the other rides are fun and the ambiance of carny games and cartoon characters unleashes one's inner child - on a sunny day it can't be beat. But even on a day when the weather is less satisfactory there is fun to be had: in 2010 I attended Gay Day and it poured and was cold. However an encounter with a mother who was trying to understand how to relate to her gay daughter who was in the process of becoming her son provided warmth to last through the years. Being able to point her to her local PFLAG chapter representative made for a thrill ride that I will never forget.
Canada's Wonderland, 9580 Jane St, Vaughn is open from now until the end of October and Gay Day at Canada's Wonderland is on Sat, Aug 17.