Monday, October 31, 2016

The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...British Columbia

The 3rd most populated province of Canada, and home to one of the major cultural hubs of the nation (the City of Vancouver), British Columbia is another typically gigantic piece of land with a vast variety of biomes, beautiful vistas, and yes, amusement rides and themed attractions. It is important to keep in mind that there's a lot more here than that - enormous mountains, incredible skiing, wonderful wilderness, islands, all sorts of wildlife, and the great cities of Vancouver and Victoria - that it should make its way up your rankings of places to see well before you find out there's rides. But there are.


-The Pacific National Exhibition grounds, better known as the PNE, is home to a permanent amusement park called Playland. The Vekoma loop-screw steel coaster here was featured in Final Destination 3, but of more interest to hardened theme park vets are the wood coaster (a wild antique, possibly the best wood coaster trains in the world), permanent haunt walk through, and North America's lone KMG XXL pendulum ride. The park is open for the whole summer, but busiest during the fair in August.

-Grouse Mountain's trams and skyride take millions to scenic vistas of the city of Vancouver every year. There's also nature trails, a wildlife refuge, ziplining, and lumberjack shows.

-Forget theming: you can ride down in an actual bobsled at terrifying speeds at the Olympic facilities in Whistler. In the winter, you can give skeleton a try. That's like luge, but head first. No biggie.


Based in Chilliwack, BC is the Imagination Corporation, a small company that has experience in designing set pieces and signage for the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall's amusement attractions. Looking to expand their reach, they went about constructing their own park a little over an hour from Vancouver in the town of Cultus Lake. Cultus Lake Adventure Park is the end result - it certainly isn't a huge park, but real effort was put into making this a fairly high quality place. Neither coaster is particularly astonishing, and there aren't any rare flat rides, carousels, or dark rides, but it still seems like a very nice place to stop.

Back over by Vancouver's cruise port, local boys Dynamic Attractions constructed "FlyOver Canada", a Soarin' style simulated flight attraction that takes riders over native scenery. Dynamic has sold a number of these rides in Asia and the US, and it can be expected that they'll continue to grow in overall popularity.


The province has two operating carousels, both in places with decidedly lower impact ratios. Burnaby Village Museum is a living museum attraction that offers rides on an interurban trolley and aboard a CW Parker carousel. That's a pretty rare combination that Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT might only be able to have. The Burchart Gardens of Victoria are some of the finest botanical gardens on the continent, and complementing them is a modern hand carved wood carousel and lengthy boat tours.

There are some museum facilities worth nothing here also: Saanichton is home to Heritage Acres, where one can take small-gauge trains around the authentic period buildings housed. In the desert you never knew British Columbia had, one finds the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre, home to trails, animal exhibits, and "multisensory theaters" showing presentations on native culture. And then there is Kimberley's Underground Mining Railway, which is precisely what you think it is based on the name.


Miniatures are their own little part of the attraction/museum universe, and Victoria's Miniature World is a classic entry in this. Is it a tourist trap? Uhh, yeah. So is practically everything noted here! There's also the Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad in case you can't get enough tiny things and toys combined into one contiguous manchild package. (No diss to other manchildren.)


There are several water parks in this part of the world, and most of them have slides that look roughly like everyone else's. Atlantis and Bridal Falls are two that buck the trend, going to the more or less tried and true "Build slides at the elevation of a nearby hill" style that died sometime in the 80s. Bridal Falls immense community hot tub thing is a modern marvel that we should all stare at in appreciation.


There is a good chance you've never heard of Brandauer. They're an Austrian manufacturer known for building what are known as Summer Toboggans or alpine coasters. If you're an American, you may have at some point seen such an attraction in places like Pigeon Forge, Park City, or Branson. Most of those rides feature two rails, gyroscopic braking systems, and they're almost all made by a different company named Wiegland. They're generally really fun rides. Really fun! But Brandauer's rides have a reputation of being much more extreme. The don't have the same level of automatic speed controls the Wiegland rides have, and the single rail gives a different center of gravity. And of course, I'm mentioning this because there is such a ride in British Columbia. Revelstoke Mountain Resort's "Pipe" has a ton of big fat drops and crazy speed just as you'd expect from this manufacturer.

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