5 Thrill Rides Not To Miss at Canada's Wonderland

By Nick Sim

Canada's Wonderland, located in Vaughan just north of Toronto, is one of the world's leading theme parks and a must-visit attraction for any thrill-seeking residents or tourists.

Sprawling across a 330-acre site, the park is home to more than 200 attractions spread across eight themed areas. For first-time visitors, this can make the park a little daunting: it's simply impossible to experience everything, so which rides are not to be missed?

Here are 5 of the very best, which should be at the top of every adrenaline-junkie's list.

1. Behemoth

Behemoth ride in Canada Wonderland

In a park that features 16 roller coasters, it's difficult to stand out from the crowd. Standing 230 feet tall helps, and Behemoth is visible to everyone as they make the drive to Canada's Wonderland. With its towering hills and flimsy-looking lap-bar safety restraints, it's likely to induce a bout of the jitters in even the most hardened coaster fan. Luckily, the ride is much more enjoyable than it looks.

Once the seemingly endless lift-hill is out of the way, the train plummets at 77 miles per hour down its first drop. From there, the ride consists of a series of large hills, each of which induces a feeling of weightlessness at its peak. Long before the end, the sense of fear is replaces by laughs of amazement, and many visitors rush straight back from another turn.

2. WindSeeker

Windeeker in Canada Wonderland

Opened in 2010, WindSeeker is a variation on the classic "Chair-O-Plane" attractions of years gone by. These saw guests sitting comfortably in swing-style seats, suspended from a central tower by chains. The tower would rotate at a moderate speed, with guests spinning in a leisurely circle and taking in views of their surroundings. Doesn't sound too scary, right?

UmÂ…think again. The important distinction between WindSeeker and classic Chair-O-Plane rides is that it stands at some 301 feet tall, meaning that you'll be taking a death grip on your seat as you reach the top (particularly on windy days). Don't be too concerned, though - once you're accustomed to the sheer height, you can start to enjoy the incredible views, dramatic soundtrack and (in the evening) impressive lighting displays.

3. Mighty Canadian Minebuster

Mighty Canadian Minebuster in Canada Wonderland

One of several surviving rides from Canada's Wonderland's opening day back in 1981, the Mighty Canadian Minebuster is a twisting, turning throwback to the wooden roller coasters of the past. While its top speed of 56 miles per hour and maximum height of 90 feet are tame by the standards of modern steel coasters, the ride more than makes up for it with its length and intensity. Be warned, though - it can get a little rough these days, and it's best to keep your hands and arms firmly inside the car to avoid bumps and scrapes.

4. Sledgehammer

Sledgehammer in Canada Wonderland

Canada's Wonderland can truly lay claim to hosting a unique attraction in Sledgehammer, which is the first and only "giant jumping machine" in operation in the world. While its suspect reliability has led other parks to steer clear of similar rides, the attraction is a truly stunning piece of engineering. Almost as fun to watch as it is to experience, it sees guests seated in giant claws at the end of enormous hydraulic arms. These rocket up into the air and back down to the ground at a seemingly impossible speed, rotating around the enormous central tower as they go. It may resemble a monstrous piece of industrial machinery, but there's really nothing out there to match the rush of braving Sledgehammer.

5. Leviathan

Leviathan in Canada Wonderland

The 2012 season will see the debut of Canada's Wonderland's 16th roller coaster, bringing the park up to second place on the "most coasters in a single theme park" list. Amazingly, the fittingly-named Leviathan will tower over even Behemoth and WindSeeker, with a maximum height of 306 feet. Racing towards the ground during its intimidating first drop, it will hit a top speed of some 92 miles per hour.

Given that's it's being constructed by the same manufacturer (Bolliger & Mabillard) that was responsible for Behemoth, will Leviathan offer anything new other than its increased height and speed? Undoubtedly, yes. Whereas Behemoth's circuit is largely made up of two long straights punctuated with enormous hills, Leviathan will take riders on a high-speed race through a series of twists, turns and smaller hills that will subject them to extreme G-forces. Don't miss it.

Toronto is fortunate to be home to a theme park that dwarfs most others in terms of both its size and the number of rides it packs into its line-up. Take a deep breath, and get to ready to take on the most extreme thrills that it has to offer. Nick Sim combines his love of travel and theme parks by covering all the latest theme park news over at Theme Park Tourist.