TPJThemeParkJames

La Ronde, eh?

26 May 2007

A day trip to La Ronde in Montréal, Canada in 2007.

La Ronde in Montréal, QC is the second largest theme park in Western Canada.  It grew out of the fairground section of Expo 67, Canada's venture into the World's Fair scene.  As such, this year is the park's fortieth anniversary.  What better way to help celebrate than for me to grace them with my presence?

More:  La Ronde

Our day began early with a two hour drive from Ottawa, ON.  The route is relatively straight forward until you arrive in Montréal.  While La Ronde is clearly signposted from the Freeway, the way they point doesn't bear much relation to the directions on La Ronde's website.  Luckily I'd brought a map so, with a bit of navigating and a lot of guesswork, we managed to cross over the bridge onto the island and into the park's CA$15 car park.  Paying for parking...?  They must have been talking to Alton Towers ;-)

The City of Montréal sold La Ronde to Six Flags in 2001 but the branding is very low key, with the park preferring to fly its own flag at the entrance.  A subtle "Membre de la Famille Six Flags" under the logo is about as corporate as they get.

Entrance to the park is cheap by UK standards at CA$42.16 after taxes (about £21).  That didn't stop the girl at admissions trying to convince us to buy a season pass ... three times.  "But you can bring six friends for free".  That's cool, but it's a bit expensive for me to get them here in the first place.

In true theme park geek style we went straight to the back of the park, which turned out to be the location of La Ronde's newest coaster: Goliath

Goliath's rather uninspiring position over a car park is more than made up for by the view across the river to Montréal island (sorry about the quality of this photo - it was taken through the dirtiest window in the world)

Goliath's lift hill stands at 175ft - easily the highest coaster at La Ronde

The ride is high and fast, but smooth to the point of being a little dull

Next up was the traditional ride on the Grande Roue

It gave some good views across the park and helped us spot our next coaster

Monstre is a giant twin tracked wooden coaster

Twin tracked wooden coasters sound a great concept - a twin track must surely double capacity (or thereabouts).  I'm sure it would if both tracks were being used.  Unfortunately only the left hand track was running while we were at La Ronde, leading to a longer than normal wait.  This wasn't helped by the five minutes between dispatches of the ~1 minute ride and the kids behind us who didn't understand the concept of personal space.  Let's just say it was a long hour.

Finally we made it to the station and on to the train

It turned out to be worth the wait - plenty of hills and airtime in the first half, although the second seemed to lack something.  It was as if the train had lost its way and was just trying to loose some energy before finding the station.

After the mammoth wait for Monstre, we looked for something with a slightly shorter queue - Autos Tamponneuses turned out to be one of the most fun rides I've been on - hovercraft dodgems rule!

Everybody knows how much I love afterburners - Manitou was a disappointment.  I'm not sure whether it's a KMG or somebody else's, but it managed to maintain me at 1G throughout the ride.

Super Manège was a super ride.  Sorry.  But it was actually pretty smooth for a Vekoma Corkscrew.

Lunchtime!  McDonalds was closest, so Poutine was out in favour of bog standard cheeseburgers and french fries (look, I didn't say chips - I'm becoming Canadian!)  Anyway, McDonalds tastes different in North America so it's a cultural experience, eh?

After lunch we went on Spirale, the park's observation tower which can be seen in photos from Expo 67 (although I don't believe it was sponsored by Pizza Pizza at the time!)

Mmmmmm ... pizza ...

One essential element of an observation tower is the ability for the passengers to observe.  Spirale has the dirtiest windows in the world* which didn't really help.  This is Paint Shop Pro's best effort at cleaning up the mess.

Toboggan Nordique is a standard wild mouse, but is the first Zamperla one I've ridden.  Another 45 minute wait to ride.

Each car is themed as the toboggan of a country associated with the sport - Canada, USA, Switzerland and Jamaica(!?)

Across to the other side of the park and into the (less slow moving than for other rides) queue for Vampire.  Unusually for the minimalistic theming present in the park, Vampire's queue came complete with bubbles falling from the sky.  Snow in Transylvania presumably.

Last ride of the day - the slightly weird and very odd smelling indoor Dragon coaster.