Terrifying family fun
The largest amusement park in Québec, and the second largest in Canada, La Ronde is situated on 146 acres on the northeastern tip of Île Ste-Hélène, part of Parc Jean-Drapeau situated in the middle of the St. Lawrence River just south of downtown Montréal. Inaugurated during Expo 67, and open May through October, the easily accessible amusement park is a thrill-seeker’s dream come true, with more than 40 different rides on offer. It’s also home to a broad spectrum of all-ages entertainment, including live performances, theme days, shopping and dining, and special events and attractions including the always hugely anticipated annual international fireworks competition (more on that in a moment).
Thrill rides galore
The big news in 2020 is new ride Vipère, Canada’s first-ever free-fly roller coaster, and which is truly an animal unlike any other. Riders sit in winged vehicles that extend outside the confines of the track, and after a 107-foot, elevator-type lift straight up, a rockin’ and rollin’ journey ensues with unexpected drops, vertical free-falls and 360-degree somersaults. The free-spinning seats create a different ride experience every time. Vipère joins La Ronde’s broad spectrum of thrill rides offering all flavours of fear, including classic terror-makers like the aptly-titled Chaos (a seven-storey loop roller coaster that soars through multiple 360-degree revolutions), Goliath (a “hypercoaster” that reaches 170 feet into the sky and hits speeds of up to 110 km/h, pulling 4 Gs in the turns), personal fave Le Monstre (the tallest two-track wooden roller coaster in the world), Boomerang (fly through three mind-ripping vertical loops, then boomerang all the way back to the beginning — backwards) and the perennially popular Vampire (inverted rolls, wingovers and corkscrews while you hang suspended in the air).
Tons of rides for the little guys
Not everyone has a taste (or is tall enough yet) for the Goliaths of the world, so La Ronde has many other gentler, but no less fun, rides for families and young’uns. Take flight on a giant butterfly with Air Papillon, or step back in time with a favourite that spans generations, the Grand Carrousel, or get your apple a day with Pommes d’Api, big colourful apples that rise and swirl in the air. If some family-friendly competition strikes your fancy, climb into one of six giant gondolas for an interactive water battle using real water guns on Aqua Twist, or jump into bumper cars with Autos Tamponneuses. If a lower-impact ride is more to your liking, the elevated Minirail — the only remaining section of the monorail that ran through Expo 67 — is an always-popular option. And the rides, shows and imaginative characters of the Ribambelle’s Land kids' zone will keep the littlest La Ronde-goers occupied for hours.
Things that go bump (and boom!) in the night
Two of the most-anticipated events at La Ronde every year are actually nocturnal in nature, the first being Fright Fest. Every weekend from October 5 to 27, 2019, La Ronde transforms into a ghoulish universe of demons, zombies, vampires and other nightmarish creatures of the dark, as well as haunted attractions and shows. Highlights include Fright Fest Evening on October 25, when La Ronde will be open from 6 to 11 pm, and the Bal de la Frayeur (the “Fear Ball”) on November 1, which will see the park transformed into a graveyard with several creepy creatures around and about. Fright Fest has become a Halloween tradition that’s not to be missed. Another can’t-miss tradition for Montrealers is the annual L’International des Feux Loto-Québec fireworks competition, the 36th edition of which will loudly light up the night sky over La Ronde almost all summer long.
You won’t want to pass on this
There are a number of great season-pass deals to be had, including free Silver-to-Gold upgrades, unlimited visits pass, platinum and diamond memberships, money-saving season dining passes, great deals on the all-season Flash Pass (which cuts wait times for rides in half) and many other offers. So, let the good times roll (and coast).