A Canada’s Wonderland’s Winterfest 2019 Review

This year, Canada’s Wonderland unveiled an exciting new reason to brave the cold: Winterfest! A few short weeks after the spooktacular Halloween Haunt, Wonderland is transformed from terrifying and creepy to festive and fantastic. If you haven’t heard of it in the past, it’s because it was introduced this year! As a certified gold season pass holder, I have unlimited access to Winterland and have been using that privilege with glee! If you’ve missed my Halloween Haunt review, click here!

  1. 1. Kids vs. Adults

    I want to begin by saying that Winterfest is absolutely geared more towards children. A decent portion of the attractions are in the kid areas, but people of all ages are welcome to attend and enjoy! While I will gladly sit down and write a letter to Santa and watch a good old fashioned Charlie Brown show, others might not. With that being said, some attractions are undeniably adult, such as the Ice Wine Garden. If you’re okay with connecting with your inner child, you’ll fit right in and have a blast!

    Don't believe me? Watch the official Winterfest video to judge for yourself!

  2. 2. The Food

    I made the mistake of promising my partner dessert when we went to Winterfest. He immediately zeroed in on food, where we were greeted by the “owner and proprietor” of the Candy Cane Cafe. He gave us directions on where to get various sweets (and savory foods) but evidently, recommended his own cafe, located on International Street. Beyond chatting with us about food, he also cheerily joked around with us, especially about the fact that we looked like a candy cane (as I wore red and my partner wore white).

    We politely listened to him explain his candy cane stuffed French toast, but I knew that my partner hates one of the key ingredients (cream cheese) and would not order it. I expected the owner to insist on trying it, but he actually redirected us to something else that he thought we would like: Nutella stuffed French toast! I was a bit iffy on the idea of getting French toast as it’s often premade and gross, but we got the opportunity to watch it being made. They dipped and fried it in front of us (through a window), as they also worked on some sort of Christmas bread. We were deeply impressed with the actual quality of the toast. They used some sort of sweet, eggy bread such as Challah or brioche, and we ate it quickly and quietly. My partner watched the owner play around with the kids and interact with them, but I was 100 percent focused on the food. It was delicious!

    We also ordered a hot chocolate. For $12.99, you can buy a souvenir travel mugs with free refills throughout the day. We just got a regular hot chocolate and truthfully? I did not like it at all. It tasted like a cheap powdered mix. I didn’t expect them to slave away at the stove, making rich and creamy hot chocolate, but it didn’t even taste like they got some fancy powder. Not Swiss Miss, more of Selection brand. 

    Other foods we ate were merely samples, but they were fantastic. I wanted to try everything, but it would be too expensive, and we were stuffed. Even if French toast isn’t your jam, there’s plenty of other options. Bacon on a stick, anyone? Sorry folks, no picture here! We ate it too fast.

    Rating: four-and-a-half out of five candy canes.

  3. 3. The Decor

    Festive, wintery, cheery. Did we really expect anything else? Come on.

    Nearly all of the trees were lit up (and if you’ve ever been to Canada’s Wonderland, you’ll know there’s a lot) and there were plenty of Instagram-worthy areas to snap a selfie. The trails were plastered in candy canes and plenty of characters roamed. My favorites were the Gingerbread Man and Tinsel, a gingerbread man and woman dressed as tinsel. It was truly beautiful walking around the park and it wouldn’t surprise me if people went to the park for the decor alone.

    Rating: five out of five candy canes.

  4. 4. The Rides and Attractions

    As to be expected, Winterfest had plenty to do aside from eat and take cute pictures. There were several rides that I desperately wanted to go on, but it was already freezing. Don’t expect to go on the Behemoth or Leviathan though! Most rides were for kids only, but there were some for all ages, such as Klockwerks. They also offered a new “ride”: skating! They offered in batches and the lines were huge. No, thank you. I’ll just find a pond.

    Beyond rides, there were many attractions. Some were stationary, but others wandered, such as the carolers. There was plenty of singing and dancing! My favorite caroling station was the one near Frontier Canada (underneath the Vortex). We walked up right as kids were allowed to jingle some bells to the beat! They also played holiday classics, such as songs from the Backstreet Boys. Wow, I felt old at the ripe age of 23. The brass band and drummers were also a blast to watch, as my partner is a former band kid (saxophone!) and I am someone who truly appreciates banging music.

    We regretfully missed the theatre, but did have the opportunity to attend the silent disco as before. Again, it looked incredibly odd, but once you put on the headphones, it made perfect sense.

    During our initial visit, we also had the opportunity to get some shopping out of the way! The Christmas Market has a rotating daily array of vendors. If you decide to go and see something you love, be sure to ask the vendor if they’ll be there in the future. We saw plenty of different buyables, including fuzzy pom poms (no, I’m not joking), knitted creations and lots of food. We wound up purchasing three mason jar foods: a lentil-barley soup, chicken noodle soup and candy cane hot chocolate. Follow the instructions and you’ll have a delicious meal or snack in no time!

    Rating: five out of five candy canes.

  5. 5. The Temperature

    This whole event sounds chilly, right? Only partially so. Something that was super noteworthy to me was the amount of areas you could warm up. Beyond entering the buildings, there were three types of heating: through heating lamps, little fireplaces (like what you would put in your backyard, not attached to a wall) and warming zones. The heating lamps could be a little finicky to turn on (which by the way, please don’t try to do so yourself. Ask an employee!) but provided a great deal of heat. There were also plenty, luckily. The fireplaces were just around the Ice Wine Garden, and unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of seating. The concept was great, but between people hogging the seats (we waited fifteen minutes for a seat and when we returned half an hour later, the same people were there) and a physical lack of seating, it kind of fell flat. Lastly, the warming zones were mostly in the kid areas. They were such an amazing idea. While they were also pretty busy, there was adequate seating and holiday-themed movies played. It’s a lovely idea for adults, but is amusing for kids!

    With that being said, please dress warmly! It’s been a harsh winter and these heating zones are not meant to replace a heavy coat.

    Rating: four out of five candy canes.

  6. 6. The Extra Costs

    Not everything can be perfect, and the same can be said of Winterfest. While it was overall a blast, it was also incredibly expensive. The French toast I mentioned earlier? It was almost $12, including my season pass discount. The skating? You have to rent the skates; no bringing your own. A large portion of Winterfest cost something. There were plenty of things to do that are free, but most of the more fun things cost money, unlike Halloween Haunt, where almost all of the costs were already covered with admission. I suggest eating before coming and having a budget to avoid spending too much!

    Rating: two out of five candy canes.

I had an amazing year with Canada’s Wonderland. From riding the Yukon Striker (in the front row) in the spring, to being terrified in the fall, to being filled with childlike glee in the winter, I’ll certainly be back next year. I recommend this most to families with children, and those looking to really get in the holiday spirit! If you’re interested in going, hurry! They’re open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as December 30th and 31st with varying hours until December 31st. If you have a gold season pass, you get unlimited admission! Otherwise, tickets start at $21.99 and can be found online or at Canada’s Wonderland. Go in, be merry and be filled with cheer!