Monday, July 13, 2015

Family Fun on the Island - Centreville Amusement Park

If you have children far apart in age, or maybe even if they aren't so far apart, it can become difficult to keep straight who's been where or done what. For instance, we were certain that Boo had been to Centreville with us. Positive! I mean, we live in Toronto and he's 9, so we must have gone to this mainstay of local family fun at least once by now. Apparently not. It seems we brought his brother three times between the ages of 5 and 9, but since Boo came along we have not crossed over to the islands at all.

We might be bad parents.

But we have now redeemed ourselves, thanks to an invitation from Centreville Amusement Park to come and join them for a day of fun. This prompted the whole, "you remember Centreville, right?" conversation that pointed out our memory lapse. He's forgiven us.

Since Centreville is on the Toronto Islands, our journey began with a ferry ride. I think Boo has a lot of my Newfoundland blood in me, because he loves being on the water. He was stoked for the ferry and immediately started reminiscing about other ferry rides we've been on back home.
Toronto Centre Island Ferry
The Centre Island ferry, all decked out for the Pan Am games.
The ferry terminal is on Queen's Quay, at the bottom of Bay St. It's easy to get to by TTC, or there are plenty of parking garages in the area.  You can check the ferry schedule to help plan your trip, but it sails frequently and carries tons of people so there shouldn't be a problem. Over 4000 people and hour can travel to and from the island! Buy your tickets at the terminal on Queen's Quay, where you will present them for the ride across. Coming back you just walk on.

The ferry ride itself is only about 15 minutes each way - I think Boo wanted it to be longer. The ride provides for great viewing of birds, sailboats, and more. Sit on the Western side of the boat for a great view of the planes taking off from and landing at the Billy Bishop Island Airport. And coming back to the city around sunset you'll see a stunning vista of the CN Tower, Rogers Centre and all the skyscrapers.

Toronto skyline at sunset
Toronto skyline at sunset
Back to our day. Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, water bottles - check! We are on our way!

He's a little excited.
Although the ferry ride over was a big hit, the park itself was even more so. With over 30 rides and attractions, including midway games and Far Enough Farm, there was plenty to keep us busy for the full day. Centreville is aimed at kids 12 and under, so there weren't crazy intense rides like you'll find at some amusement parks. And that also means that the park has a great family atmosphere. At the same time there were enough thrills to keep my daredevil 9 year old happy.

Since I am "that kind" of parent, I first dragged Boo and Hubs around to the rides I love the most. Not surprisingly, I tend to favour anything to do with water, so Bumper Boats, the motorized swan boats, and the Log Flume Ride were top of the list. Did you know I'm a big wimp? Hubs and the Teen once threatened to buy me a souvenir t-shirt that read something like "I survived the [insert name of preschooler ride]." And that would have been about right. It's not fear so much as something physical - I can't do rides with steep or sudden drops. I have done the Log Flume before and it is super fun as you shoot down the water slide and make a big splash. But I passed this time, just to be safe.

Centreville Log Flume Ride
Log Flume Ride
Centreville Swan Boats
Taking Momma for a ride in a swan
What was Boo's favourite ride? It was absolutely the brand new for 2015 Toronto Island Mine Coaster, which he rode twice in a row. But then we found the Scrambler, which he'd been looking for since our arrival. That quickly pushed the roller coaster out of first place and also warranted a second ride. Actually the Scrambler line-up was packed with tweens excitedly riding for the second, third, fourth, and more times that day. Spinning  around in the dark with a light show and dance music. It's like a disco! Huge hit. Hubs and I sat to the side and laughed at the kids running from the exit directly to the line-up again.

Centreville Windmill Ride
He has zero fear of heights. The Antique Windmill Ride got a big thumbs-up.
After all the rides, we headed to Far Enough Farm to visit with the animals. Peacocks, pigs, chickens, horses, emus, bunnies, you name it. The most exotic resident I would say is the baby Zebu. The Zebu is a breed of domestic cattle from South Asia, quite rare to see in North America. And he's super cute. Sadly the little guy is lacking a name though, so Far Enough Farm is running a contest to seek the public's help. You can enter your name suggestion online or via ballot on site for the chance to win a family ride pass and lunch from Pizza Pizza. Plus bragging rights of course. We entered, but I won't share the name we chose yet. Just in case :)

There is no admission fee for Centreville or Far Enough Farm, but you will need to purchase tickets or a pass for the rides. Unless you are only planning on a couple of rides, in which case you can buy tickets on site, I advise you to get an all day ride pass. This will allow you unlimited rides during your visit, so, like Boo, you can easily hop right back into line when you find your fave. And be sure to buy your passes online before you go - advance online purchase = savings! Passes are available for individuals ($26 under 4 feet or $37 4 feet+ online) or for a family of 4 ($115 online). You can even buy an individual Season's Pass for $75 for fun all summer long.

Don't forget to stay hydrated (bring your water bottles!) and fueled. Centreville has lots of dining options, or bring along a picnic lunch and take advantage of one of the many picnic tables around the site. Just watch out for the hungry birds who may want you to share :)
swan
This guy was a riot! A gaggle of white geese really wanted in this pond, but the swan was having none of it, patrolling the shore and chasing them away whenever they approached.
Centreville Amusement Park is open daily through Labour Day, and then weekends until the end of September. When you go, be sure to set aside a full day so you can enjoy all that Centre Island has to offer. Chelsea Beach is beautiful, with a protected and supervised swimming area, and has received a blue flag rating. There is a Children's Garden and Children's Theatre, plus a fun maze. And you can rent canoes, boats and bicycles to explore in your own way. There's just so much to do and see, you'll be sure to have a great time.

boy on beach

boy outside maze

Have you been to Centreville lately? What's your favourite ride?

Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Centreville, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit www.centreisland.ca.

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