I’ve loved amusement park rides ever since I was a kid. I recall waiting with anticipation and a fistful of tickets for the dinky little carnival rides in mall parking lots. These days, my favourite amusement park is in our metaphorical backyard – Calaway Park is western Canada’s largest outdoor family amusement park, located just west of Calgary in the foothills of the Rockies.
It can be overwhelming to visit, so I’ve rounded up my top tips for having the best day possible at Calaway Park.
Buy passes ahead of time
If you don’t have a season’s pass (they’re the best deal out there, but only available for purchase prior to the season opening), purchase discounted passes online or from Calgary Co-op grocery stores before you head out to the park. The pass line is much shorter than the payment line, plus you’ll save a bundle on regular admission prices.
Aim to be at the gates a few minutes before they open, and it’ll feel like you have the park to yourself. Though there might be a crowd at the gate, the park spans 160 acres and has a collection of 34 rides, so the crowd disperses quickly.
Hit the rides first
As the crowds are lighter in the morning, use this time to go on as many rides as possible. When the park gets busy in the afternoon, you can enjoy the indoor and outdoor shows, games and food vendors. We save the candy shop near the entrance for last as an incentive to entice the kids to leave the park, which they never want to do.
Bring a wagon or stroller
As long as you keep your wallet and camera on your person, you can feel safe leaving picnic lunches and rainwear unattended in your wagon or stroller while you go on the rides. Calaway Park is well laid out, without overly long walks between rides or the gates, but at the end of the day little legs get tired.
“RIGHT HERE: You never know where they’ll find you — the perfect moments you’ll never forget. From early days on the river to late nights downtown, Calgary will show you that right here is exactly where you need to be.”
Be sure to bookmark Tourism Calgary’s website http://www.visitcalgary.com. They have great deals, information on local activities, more information on their ‘Right Here campaing’, and even fun contests, like this summer’s Ultimate Calgary Summer Getaway, which saw a winner walk away with flights to Calgary, accommodation at the family-friendly the Sheraton Cavalier Hotel and passes to Calaway Park, the Calgary Tower, the Calgary Zoo, Heritage Park, TELUS Spark and GlobalFest.
Sarah began freelance writing for the Calgary Herald at the age of 15. Since then, she’s written hundreds of feature articles, book reviews and business, restaurant and individual profiles for magazines and newspapers across Canada. Sarah has three daughters who sometimes accompany her on her travels, and she blogs at Doing All The Things. You can read some of her other travel pieces at http://sarahdeveau.wordpress.com/.