Chaos reigns at Montréal’s La Ronde in 2019
Forget equinoxes and solstices — you know spring has officially arrived in Montréal when you can hear the screaming coming from Parc Jean-Drapeau. The park is home to family-friendly Six Flags amusement park La Ronde, one of the city’s crown entertainment jewels. Every year, La Ronde opens with a surprise and this year is no exception. In fact, starting on May 11, guests in 2019 can expect nothing short of Chaos.
Get into the ’round
The largest amusement park in Québec and the second largest in Canada, La Ronde is situated on 146 acres on the northeastern tip of Saint Helen’s Island, part of Parc Jean-Drapeau, situated in the middle of the St. Lawrence River just south of downtown Montréal. Inaugurated during Expo 67, the easily accessible amusement park is a thrill-seeker’s dream come true, with more than 40 terrifyingly fun 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: all the Chaos you can handle
The big news this year is new (and seemingly aptly titled) ride Chaos. Boasting extreme upside-down hang-time, Chaos is a giant, seven-storey loop roller coaster that swings riders back and forth, pendulum-style, higher and higher before soaring through multiple 360-degree revolutions. The coaster also changes directions halfway through the ride cycle, leaving riders suspended upside down at the top of the loop. Chaos joins La Ronde’s broad spectrum of thrill rides offering all flavours of fear, including classic terror-makers like 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 (shows run from June 24 to September 4 — see the schedule).
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. For nine days in the lead-up to Halloween — starting October 5, including all weekends and Thanksgiving Day — 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. 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 35th edition of which will take place from June 29 to July 27. Once again, international-caliber competitors representing the Government of Quebec, South Korea, Italy, Portugal, United States, Canada and Australia will loudly light up the night over La Ronde, and there will also be a special final: a fiery celebration of the Casino de Montréal’s 25th anniversary.
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 passes, bring-a-friend-for-free offers, money-saving season dining passes, and great deals on the all-season Flash Pass, which cuts wait times for rides in half. Let the good times roll (and coast).
Jamie O’Meara, blogger
Jamie O'Meara is Editor-in-Chief at C2 Montréal and the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.