Grand Opening & 1980s

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Wayne Gretzky raising the Canadian Flag. Opening Ceremonies, 1981
Photo: Canada’s Wonderland Official Site

After years of construction and planning, Ontario Premier William Davis and Taft Broadcasting President Dudley Taft, opened the park in May 1981 to a spectacular fan fare. The opening ceremonies included, among other things, 10,000 helium balloons being released into the air, 13 parachutists, 350 white doves, a pipe band, and children representing the Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic, and Great Lakes regions of Canada.


Wonder Mountain, and Victoria Falls. Photo: Theme Park Review

Visitors to the park first walked along International Street, which was lined on either side with restaurants, and speciality themed stores that tied in with themes of the park. The focal point of the park though was the 150 foot man-made mountain. Standing high above the rides and freshly planted trees, Wonder Mountain greeted the first 12,000 guests into the park – and still stands as a beacon for travellers, and a meeting point for families today.

Wonder Mountain also featured prominently in the park’s logo, that was used from 1981-1993.

logo The same logo would later make a comeback to mark the park’s milestone anniversaries, and can currently be found on several rides through out the park today.

1981 Attractions:

  • The Mighty Canadian Minebuster (wooden rollercoaster)
  • Sol Loco (spinning ride)
  • Swing of Siam (flying chairs ride)
  • Pharaoh’s Eye
  • Carousel
  • The Great Whale of China
  • Zumba Flume (log flume water ride)

    Early Park Map. Date unknown, but believe to be 1981 Photo: Theme Park Canuck


  • Wonder Mountain Pathway
  • Cliff Divers (high divers who jumped from the crest of Wonder Mountain into the pool below)
  • Krachenwagon (bumper cars)
  • Bayern’s Curve
  • Blauer Enzian (mine train coaster)
  • Balloon Race
  • Wonder Tour (self driving car ride, that took visitors through a wooded area)
  • Yogi’s Cave
  • Ghoster Coaster (kiddie version of the Minebuster)
  • Hanna-Barbera Go-Round (kiddie carousel themes with HB characters)
  • Hot Rock Raceway (kiddie cars that raced around a track)
  • Saltwater Circus (dolphin show)
  • Wilde Beast (wooden roller coaster)
  • Wilde Knight Mares
  • Viking’s Rage (swinging ship ride)
  • Quixote’s Kettles (tea cup rides themed as buckets)
  • Dragon Fyre (steel roller coaster)
  • Cantebury Theatre (theatre where a variety of shows were held)

The first year proved to be highly successful for Canada’s Wonderland, and it’s investors and for the 1982 season a picnic area, King’s Courtyard, was added just behind Dragon Fyre in Medieval Faire for families and groups to enjoy picnics and celebrations.

1983 Kingswood Music Theatre was added in the Grand World Exposition of 1890 area of the park. The first of it’s kind in the area at the time, the 15,000 seat open air theatre went on to stage some big names in music until rival venue Molsen Ampitheatre opened in 1995.

1984 brought the addition of the White Water Canyon river rapids ride to the park, just behind Balloon Race. This ride would later form the centre piece of the White Water Canyon themed area, which was previously going to be called Frontier Canada. Timberworld Falls (1989), and Flight Deck (2002) would later join the small wooded area of the park.

Smurf Village was also added this year, and sat along side Hanna-Barbera Land. It featured small mushroom houses, Gargamel’s house (with slanted floors), and blue ice cream.


SkyRider cars. Photo: Theme Park Review

1985 The roller coaster revolution began with the addition of Canada’s first stand up roller coaster Skyrider in the Grande Exposition 1890 area. With riders straddling a bicycle style seat and harnessed in with over the shoulder restraints SkyRider took them on a one minute and thirty three seconds ride of of upside down loops, and bending curves.

SkyRider remained a staple of the park until September 2014 when it was closed permanently, and sold to an unknown buyer,  to make way for a bigger faster ride.

Blauer Enzian

Blauer Enzian can be seen in the distance just behind Antique Cars. Photo: Canada’s Wonderland Official Twitter

1986 Blauer Enzian was removed from it’s spot behind Wonder Mountain, had it’s track lengthened, and became Thunder Run.

The walkways through Wonder Mountain were closed, according to urban legend after a person fell to their death and drowned, and tracks and scaffolding were put in place for Thunder Run.

The mine train from Blauer Enzian was kept, and visitors were sent around and through Wonder Mountain twice – the second time awakening a special inhabitant of the mountain.

Please enjoy the 1986 TV spot below, courtesy of from RetrOntario, advertising Thunder Run .


The logo for The Bat. Photo:

1987 the coasters kept coming as The Bat joined Dragon Fyre and Wilde Beast in  the Medieval Faire section of the park. Another first of it’s kind in Canada, The Bat sent riders through it’s boomerang loops twice. Once forwards, and once backwards.

The third train from Dragon Fyre was repainted, rebranded and used for The Bat.

1988 found Canada’s Wonderland veering away from it’s roller coasters, and built Racing Rivers. Pharoah’s Eye, which I believe was a smaller version of Wilde Nightmares, was removed to make way for the water slide race rides, and The Swing of Siam was relocated.


Timber Wolf Falls final drop. Photo: Theme Park Critic

1989 saw the addition of yet another water ride, this time to the White Water Canyon section. Timber Wolf Falls, a fully fledge log flume ride was added in between the walk to SkyRider and White Water Canyon.  Unlike it’s predecessor Zumba Flume, which was tamer in height and splashes, Timber Wolf Falls reached speeds of 59 km/h and culminated in an epic splash landing. Those that were too frightened to ride the ride could stand on the viewing bridge, and get soaked too.


Photo credits for this page go to: , , , ,



The above gallery photos can be found at Toronto Archives. 

If you wish to have anything removed, please just contact me.


**The information provided above is correct to my knowledge, and am constantly updating. If anyone has anything they'd like to add, or feel I need to edit please get in touch! I'd love to hear from you.
** Things I'm looking for: Anything on Smurf Village, Kingswood, and Racing Rivers. 

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