Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sabrina's Brochure Spotlight: Canada's Wonderland 1981

I've been blessed with uncanny good fortune in the brochure acquisition department lately. The one I'm about to share with you is such a gem, I can hardly believe that I own it! Without further ado, let's dive into this very special Canada's Wonderland brochure.

If it's glossy color photos you crave, you're out of luck. Towering roller coasters? Nada. An abundance of cheesily clad families doing their best Brady Bunch impression? Not in this brochure, my friends. For you see, it's impossible to acquire such images when the park hasn't even opened to the public yet! That's right, this is the inaugural brochure for what has become one of Canada's premier theme parks. It truly was a "dream" at the time this brochure was printed, but that dream became reality when the park opened its gates for the very first time on May 23, 1981.

As the brochure unfolds, so, too, does the dream that is Canada's Wonderland. This whimsical scene features three of the nine popular cartoon characters who were ready to greet their pint-size fans in the Happyland of Hanna-Barbera. (It also conjures up scenes from The Wizard of Oz, though I doubt that part was intentional.)

I'm not sure which area of the park this fine gentleman represents, but I'm going to hazard a guess that he hails from the Japanese Ginza Gardens found in The Grande World Exposition of 1890. In any event, he would like to inform you that Canada's Wonderland opened with value in mind. Namely, yours! A variety of ticket packages were offered, ranging from grounds admission only ($9.95 Canadian per adult) to a two-day pay-one-price package ($23.50 Canadian per adult) that included grounds admission and unlimited rides. The park planners also worked hard to anticipate all of their guests' needs, incorporating everything from a bank to a kennel into their master plan.

Waterfalls, costumed characters, rides of all shapes and sizes, a medieval castle, international shopping and dining, impressive entertainment venues, and one ginormous man-made mountain. Now that is what I call a "theme park". There were five themed areas, to be exact--the aforementioned Happyland of Hanna-Barbera and Grande World Exposition of 1890, as well as International Street, Medieval Faire, and International Festival. Of those areas, only Grande World Exposition of 1890 no longer has a place on the park map. And it's no wonder--My goodness is that a mouthful! The area is simply called "Action Zone" these days.

I'll tell you what is a wonder, though: the fact that you could actually climb that ginormous man-made mountain back then, which is aptly named "Wonder Mountain". It has since been taken over by coasters. (Boy, what a shame...) Canada's Wonderland boasted only four "white-knuckler" roller coasters when it opened in 1981, at least according to this brochure. But the identity of those advertised four is debatable, as both RCDB and other sources list the park as opening with five coasters. Perhaps they felt that Scooby's Gasping Ghoster Coaster didn't fall into the category of "white-knuckler"? Or maybe they discounted Blauer Enzian (now Thunder Run) due to its powered status? The world may never know...

As noted on the back panel, Canada's Wonderland was the product of a joint venture between Taft Broadcasting and Great-West Life. The road from vision to reality was not always easy, as Taft faced opposition from the local community on a number of different fronts. But the park's success over its nearly three decades of existence is indisputable, so I say all's well that ends well. Though many aspects of this park's fanciful theming have been lost to progress, at least we have this little paper treasure to remind us of what was.