Had Kids in T.O. been around 40 years ago, we’d probably be rah-rah-ing this man-made island for bringing us Canada’s first waterslide in 1978 (it was made of concrete), its educational exhibits in the early 80s promoting Northern Ontario, and the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre the Cinesphere, which opened in 1971.
The future would have seemed like a lot of fun.
Instead it’s 2016 and the old amusement rides and signage are grown over with trees and weeds and the paint-chipped silos have but a few remains of the old exhibits inside.
But it’s still a place to play. Thanks to the creative minds behind in/future: a transformative art experience, the West Island of Ontario Place is where you can let your kids experience contemporary art, run and explore outside on the shores of Lake Ontario, and learn about the not-so-distant history of this once popular public place.
So until Sunday, September 25th, Torontonians can walk down memory lane and experience this iconic once futuristic site through eyes of more than 100 artists and their site-specific installations, film and video presentations and musical performances.
From my adult point of view, the juxtaposition of the new and the old is powerful, weird and a bit creepy – especially at night. Your kids may find it equally strange and maybe a bit scary (see Trip Tips below).
At any age, the overall experience is so fascinating and a treat to hang out in a piece of the city that has been shuttered for the last few years.
And, if you do bring the kids along, plan your visit on the weekend to catch these kid-friendly interactive arts-based workshops:
Here is a peek of what you’ll see:
Getting there: Ontario Place is situated along Lakeshore Blvd West south of Exhibition Place. Here is all the directions in car, on transit and on bike.
Low-down: Tickets are $30 per day. Kids 12 & under are free. There is a closing weekend special for $40 that includes admission for Thursday through Sunday. Doors open at 5 p.m. on weekdays, 12 p.m. on the weekend. Here’s the schedule.
Creepy bits vs. cool factor: The silos, for example, are dark with strobe lights and spooky music in some areas and some headless mannequins of people and animals in another, so be aware if your little ones are easily scared. But generally, the kids will probably think it’s cool finding canoes and crocheted fungus coming out of walls, a building covered in shiny silver tinsel and tents stacked up on scaffolding.
Potty-time: Yes, washrooms on-site.
Snacks: No outside food or drink allowed. There are some food truck and beverage options near the Pavilion Village by the stage.
The future of Ontario Place: The Government of Ontario has plans in the works to revitalize and reimagine the area as a hub for culture, discovery and innovation, a canal district with shops and restaurants and a great big greenspace. The first phase The William G. Davis Trail is in the works.