Toronto Zoo – Scenic Safari

June 4, 2020

Wow – it’s been a long time since we have been out for an adventure. With all the entertainment and leisure options closed since the initial Coronavirus lock-down in mid-March we have been limited with our exploring. Sticking to bike rides and walks around our area to exercise the mind and body yet keep safe and away from others.

So as the lock-down eased and places started opening the new experience at the Toronto Zoo caught my eye. With the zoo still closed, they have developed a drive thru experience named Scenic Safari so you can visit the zoo and see some animals all from the safety of your car.

Pre-booking is required via their website and they have been releasing 1 week at a time for the following week. It’s been selling out so there appears to be some pent up demand from everyone staying at home for the last few months. I secured our slot for June 4 @ 11:15am on May 25th.

The Experience

We planned to leave Mississauga around 10am in order to arrive early for our scheduled time as we were worried there might be some long lines. To our surprise it was pretty calm upon our arrival. In the main parking lot they have a small area with washrooms (you can’t stop on the tour), couple of food trucks and a small retail store prior to entering the zoo tour. Since we were early a quick bio-break to ensure everyone was all set prior to starting. Also while here we ensured the podcast created for the tour was ready to go and our car audio system was synced. After this point, you get in line to enter the zoo grounds.

The Tour

The safari tour covers 5 of the various lands and has 17 animals identified on the map (see image below). They have managed to include some of the “more popular” (in my mind) animals – rhinos, giraffes, lions, tigers and monkeys are all on the tour. As you start the tour you play the podcast and they give you the details on each section you are passing through. There are signs to start and stop the podcast so it aligns with each section. We actually had some technical issues with it as both our phones were fighting to use the bluetooth in the car. Thus we missed some portions of the podcast aligning to where we were passing.

The podcast is well put together to give you information on the tour and pace your through the experience. I highly recommend to download so you can play during the tour. The tour through the zoo is well spaced as your cruise through the designated 3.4km path at 5km/hr. The coolest part of the tour is driving through the cave by the lion exhibit as you squeeze your car through the tight rock formation.


The tour took about 45 mins to complete – total time including the line up to get in was about 1 hr. The family all enjoyed the tour, not sure if that is due to being cooped up for so long 🙂 We saw a fair number of animals however missed out seeing all the cats – tigers, lions, cheetah and jaguar all m.i.a, guess the hot day had them in hiding. It was cool to drive through the zoo and see some of the behind the scenes details. My only negatives for the day – for the driver (me) it wasn’t the greatest as had to drive, run the podcast and take in the view and pictures. I would suggest getting someone else to manage the podcast and take pictures. Lastly, it did seem a little pricey for the length of the tour over $16 per person for the 45 min tour.

Key Info:

  • Toronto Zoo
    • Located at 2000 Meadowvale Rd, Toronto, ON M1B 5K7
    • Cost:
      • Car with 2 or less occupants – $44 non-member, $32 member
      • Car with 3 or more occupants – $59 non-member, $47 member
    • No pets allowed on the grounds
    • Food, gift shop & washrooms available prior to tour in main parking lot

Toronto Zoo safari website:

Ontario Place

March 17, 2020

With the kids out of school on March Break and “social distancing” in effect – looking at ways to get out of the house. As many places were closed, what would help keep the kids entertained and be able to burn some time during the day? Returning to google to find somewhere – Ontario Place popped up as a place to explore when searching for “parks”. I have fond memories of Ontario Place from my childhood. All the attractions, exhibits and rides, many that were interactive which you could spend hours and hours of enjoyment. Ohhh….and the water park and kid area (called Kids Village) that were incredible!

So off to Ontario Place we traveled which was not a far drive from our house. Pulling into the parking lot, it was deserted. Only one other car in the lot. As we arrived looking around it appeared to be very similar to what I remember from year gone by. The Cinesphere, the pods over the water, Budweiser stage and the distinctive entrance gates all in place.

Ontario Place is organized into two islands – East and West, connected by bridges to allow for travel between the areas. As we parked closer to the West entrance we were off to explore. Walking up to the entrance and seeing the bridges to traverse, the nostalgia again came back. All the fun times from my childhood with one notable difference, not one other person in sight.

Map of Ontario Place

Off to Explore the Inside…..

On the West island – they are currently having a winter light exhibition with art installations throughout the West area. As it was daytime, we didn’t get to experience the full effect of the art however they were interesting to see nonetheless. As we explored the initial area it was a little eerie due to the fact that the majority of the finer details and attractions have been removed leaving only the main building structures. Also the area seemed void of any colour – I don’t know if that was due to the overcast day or the fact that all the buildings and pathways were various shades of white and gray.

During it’s hayday, this area housed the peddle boats, bumper boats, motorized driving school and a soft play area with those foam balls that shoot from air powered guns from what I recall. Now – some Muskoka chairs and a fire pit with some stump chairs.

Wilderness Adventure area

We moved on to the wilderness adventure area next. I remember this area from my youth. This area was themed to northern Ontario forested area taking you out of the city. The gem of this area was the flume ride – probably one of my first thrill rides (Hard to recall back to those early days). Also in this area was an indoor attraction of mazes to run through. Well the flume ride track has been removed and filled in for the most part however you are able to explore the area and see remnants of the former track layout and elements. The kids had fun imagining how the track would make its way throughout the land. This area was super cool to explore and again brought back some great memories.

Off to the East Island

After we sufficiently explored all the West island we headed to the East island. That is where the Kids Village (aka the playground) and the water park area were located. I couldn’t wait to see the area and again reminisce back to the 80’s. This was my favourite area within all of Ontario Place. Walking past the Cinesphere and the boat marina it was all quiet. A few joggers and other people out for a walk. Again, it was eerie and devoid of colour. There is not much on the way from the West to the East island. Other than a few of the old buildings and some painted basketball courts on the pathway with no nets.

As I climbed the final pathway just south of the Budweiser stage, the anticipation of seeing that old area was building. As I crested the top it revealed the vast east area – now a…….Giant – Parking – Lot! Huge disappointment.

Nonetheless, we explored the area. From what I recall, this Eastern portion had the kids playground and water park areas, mini-golf course and various small rides. The only thing left standing is the water-slide tower from their rebuild of the water park in the 90’s. The kids ran across the parking lot to check out the tower. I was concerned of them climbing the tower however the good news is that it’s been fenced off so you can’t get to the top.

There wasn’t much going on within the East island – a couple of other buildings to serve food during concerts and an administration building. Not much time was spent here as it’s mostly pavement. We left via the East entrance to make it back to where we parked the car.


The kids thoroughly enjoyed visiting the grounds of Ontario Place. Lots of places to run, climb and explore. For me it brought back a ton of memories from my childhood and it was neat to recall and share what once was with my kids. It’s sad that a new generation will never have a chance to experience the site like it once was during its prime years. I would recommend this as a place to check out. Nice views and plenty of paths to get in some exercise. From what I read – they are tying to figure out what is next for the Ontario Place site and redevelop the area. I hope whatever they decide, it can help create great memories for everyone who visits.

Key Info:

  • Ontario Place
    • Located at 955 Lake Shore Blvd in Toronto (just off the Gardiner)
    • Paid parking (currently $6 per hour)
    • Free admission to the grounds
    • Cinesphere still shows movies (Paid) – currently suspended due to coronavirus. Schedule on their website.
    • Washrooms available throughout – some closed for the winter.
    • Seasonal events – like the Winter Light Exhibition (see map of installations below)

Ontario Place website:

Interesting piece with a historic look back:

Map for the Winter Light Exhibition at Ontario Place – on until March 29th

Playdium – Brampton

March 5, 2020

Another strike day meant finding something to do with the kids. It wasn’t very cold so it would be nice to go outdoors however it was pretty soggy outside. In polling the kids, they had suggested the Playdium by Square One in Mississauga – wanting to get into the batting cages. Well a quick google search to find their hours revealed that it is closed for renovation. But the good news – there was a new location in Brampton.

The new location didn’t open until 3pm so after lunch we headed out for a pit-stop to check out Chinguacousy park as it was in the area. I had always heard that it was a great park so wanted to see for myself. Well…. it’s huge and a lot of things to do. Another post for another day for when we can explore it more.

We arrived around 3:30pm to a handful of cars in the parking lot. Upon entering, they have the lobby with a few cash stations and some self serve kiosks to buy your game credits. It was a ghost town so we started to check out the place.

Lobby to the Playdium – clean and fresh looking.

Exploring the inside:

Just beyond the lobby, there is a quick serve eatery with your typical hits – pizza, burgers, nachos and other snacks. Near by, they also have a sit down restaurant that serves the same items and more. Further in you hit the gaming floor with their potpourri of games – racing, shooting, sports, ticket redemption games…..they have it all. At the back of the building a nice surprise! They have an indoor rope course (very cool), VR games and a few bowling lanes.

So we went to the redemption center to check out the pricing options for the games. Rate start at $10 and up for game credits. In looking at all options, we settled on 2hrs of gaming for $25. The only caveat with this is that you don’t earn tickets. The kids have played enough ticket games that they agreed they didn’t need another tchotchke. In addition, Tyler was really interested in the rope course -30 mins for $15 so we added that.

Rope Course:

We started off on the rope course since you have a 30 minute time limit. Tyler was excited to get on the course as he is a dare devil. It was cool that they have built this above a large section of video games. I counted 12 elements to conquer in addition to a zip-line. It’s not as large as the outdoor courses however its a nice size for the smaller kids and a bit of variety for the kids. They harness you up and send you up.

Video games:

So after Tyler’s 30 mins were done on the rope course, it was time to hit the main event. 2 hours of All-You-Can-Play video games. They have a huge selection to choose from; the classics like skeeball and basketball shooting, wide variety of racing and first-person shooters as well as the games of chance to win tickets. And many, many others – something for everyone. Austin and Tyler wasted no time hopping from game to game to try them all. A couple of notable games that they enjoyed – Maria Kart, Halo – Fireteam and Extreme Shot basketball. We played until just after 6pm – the time flew by with trying out as many games as they wanted. It was a fun afternoon – I got to reminisce about the days when the original Playdium first opened. Going there and enjoying it late into the night.

Key Info:

  • Playdium – Brampton
    • Located at 20 Biscayne Crescent, Brampton (Hwy 410 and Steeles)
    • Free parking
    • Quick serve and sit down restaurant for food
    • Many entertaining options – over 100 games, bowling, VR arena and rope course
    • Game and food specials available – check out their website.
    • Party rooms available

Playdium website:

Colonel Sam Smith Skating Trail

With the ongoing school strikes – a day off means finding something to do with the kids. As they both enjoy skating, a trip the the outdoor skating track at Kipling & Lakeshore was in order. It’s a little hidden gem in my opinion and a nice change from your typical skating around an oval at an arena. It’s never been too busy when we have come here and today was no exception. Only a dozen or so people were enjoying the trail.

They call this a skating trail as it is a pathway or circuit to skate on that isn’t you typical pad of ice. It is shaped as a figure-eight that meanders around the park with some curves built into the track. It’s situated down near Lake Ontario so you expect it might be cold with the wind off the lake however it’s never been that cold for us. They have planted a number of trees so it feels like you are in a forest – I’m sure this helps control the wind.

They recently have renovated some of the facilities here, there is a nice indoor area to change. Much better to get on your skates inside in the warmth versus freezing outside. Its called the Power House Recreation Centre which the city runs some programs and camps throughout the year. There are some washrooms, storage for your bags and seating to change. Outside there is a fire pit that they run at night and skating aids available to help the little ones.

Overall we had a great time – the weather was sunny and not too cold. The boys enjoyed chasing each other around the trail or just skating on their own. A couple of laps of racing to see who could complete the circuit quicker. I would recommend checking this place out if you enjoy skating. At times on the trail – it feels as if your are not even in the city.

Good exercise and good fun for all.

Key Facts

  • Colonel Smith Skating Trial
    • Located at Kipling and Lakeshore in Etobicoke
    • Free parking and skating
    • Indoor washrooms and change area
    • Skating aids for children
    • Zamboni resurfaces ice four times daily
    • No food available
    • No skate rentals.

And so it begins…

I finally took the plunge and started a blog. There seems to be so many out there that I thought – why can’t I keep my own going. I have often thought about creating a blog however never seriously attempted with all going on with work & family life. Now with some time on my hands, its now or never!

There are a few reasons I had wanted to start a blog:

  • First and foremost is to keep record and document the adventures we have as a family. We like to explore and experience different things so this will allow us to create a “journal” of all the places we go and things we do. Also push us to find something new rather than be inside the house on the electronics. I’m looking at you ipad and PS4.
  • Next is to help me improve – communication is huge in today’s world so writing blog entries and sharing information will allow for constant practice and improvement.
  • Third on the list dovetails into the above point, it will help me build a new skill. Blogging and web page design…and you never know, maybe I can make a little money off this. Isn’t that what everyone is doing these days? Blogging?
  • And lastly, for those following along our adventures, it will provide some ideas on things to do with their friends or family which they might not have considered or give them the push to go!

So this page will capture us out there exploring the world. I know I named it “Coaster Kids” however it will be more than just roller coasters. You don’t know how hard it is to find a catchy website name. All the ones I wanted were taken, I had originally been looking for something clever with “kids” and “adventure” but no dice (I thought of this gem: Get it!

My goal at this point is to post once a week of something we have experianced. You can follow along and offer any feedback, suggestions or comments. For you bloggers out there – send your hints and tips.

Hope you enjoy!