Having been in the Pacific Northwest after my move from Florida three months ago, I was itching for some new coasters, and as luck would have it, there was a park that I had not yet been to just a few hours away, along with another park that had just expanded to add several new rides and attractions, which included two more coasters. All it would take was a ride up to our neighboring country to the North, Canada! I would begin the day with a visit to Playland in Vancouver, and spend the early evening at Cultus Lake Adventure Park.
Playland has been a park that I've been wanting to visit for a while as I originally had plans to go back in the summer of 2010 when I was visiting family in the Seattle area, but they fell through for various reasons, and I didn't have the chance to make it up here when I was back again in 2011, and the last visit I made here was around Christmas and New Year's in the winter of 2013-2014, so they were not open then. But now that I am living in the region, it made it a lot easier for me to make the time to go!
The morning drive was quite pleasant, and it was a fairly short hour-and-a-half to two-hour drive to the border. Since this was the first time I had been to Canada in about fours years when I joined Theme Park Review's 2011 Northeast Tour, the crossing took a bit longer as the border guards weren't sure about a guy who was by himself on a week day. But after a search of the car that showed I had nothing to hide, and answering a few questions about why I wasn't working that particular day (I've been working as a substitute teacher and the kids are out of school for the summer, and my other jobs at the stadiums in Seattle are off today as there are no events going on right now since the Mariners and Sounders are both away), I was allowed to enter.
The first park of the day, Playland, is located on the grounds of the Pacific National Exhibition, and the park's rides are part of the midway for the event, much like how Kentucky Kingdom's rides are used for the Kentucky State Fair. The park is more of a traditional amusement park, featuring a lot of different ride types to enjoy, from the smaller children's rides, to the larger extreme thrill rides, giving something for a variety of riding preferences to enjoy.
The newest addition to the park for the 2015 season was a swinging pendulum ride called The Beast. It's fairly large and has two sets of seats facing inward, and two out, which is pretty different as it's more common that all the seats either face in or out, so it's neat that they give you a choice. I unfortunately didn't get to try it out as it went down when I got in line for it, and it wouldn't come back up before I left, but I imagine it was a pretty good thrill, combined with some great views of the surrounding area.
Of course, the main reason I go to any park is for their coasters. Among those that I could ride on this day included a Miler junior coaster by the name of Kettle Creek Mine Ride. This is one of the longer versions of their junior coasters, which includes an outward helix near the end and slightly larger hills. What stands out about this coaster is the way they gave it a bit of themeing and landscaping, which isn't as much of a priority for other parts of the park.
Another highlight of the park's coaster collection is Corkscrew. Now, I wouldn't say it's a highlight because it's a great ride (As a standard Vekoma corkscrew style coaster, it's okay, but as other Vekomas tend to be, it's a bit on the rough side), rather what makes this one a highlight is that it's a movie star! This is the infamous Final Destination 3 coaster. If you have seen the movie, you know what happens to it (I won't say in case there is anyone reading this who would rather watch it and be surprised).
The real star of the park though is the wooden coaster, simply called Coaster. This classic was designed by Carl Phare, and runs on Prior & Church trains like what you will find at the Washington State Fair back down in Puyallup. This ride is a sleeper hit of the park! It is certainly the best in the park, and may even be the best in the Pacific Northwest. This ride has some ridiculous airtime through several of its hills with nothing more than a loose-fitting lap bar to keep you it. I took several rides on this and every time it was a wild ride. It was great whether you rode in the front or the back, there were certainly a few times I found myself nearly yelling out "Oh sh*t!!!" while enjoying this thing!
One of the other things I really enjoyed doing at Playland was taking a ride on their star flyer and their Ferris wheel as they both provide incredible views of the surrounding area as well as a bird's-eye view of the park
After enjoying the morning and early afternoon at Playland, I made my way about an hour and a half out from Vancouver to Cultus Lake, a very popular summertime location in British Columbia that is closer to the Canadian Cascade mountains. The lake also has a small town with a couple restaurants and a gas station, along with a fairly large water park, and the second park of the day, Cultus Lake Adventure Park. The park itself has been around for a while (early 90's if I remember correctly), and had recently made some big changes to its look, and adding a number of rides. What stands out the most about this park is that even though it is a small attraction located in the woods, it has the appearance and design like that of a larger theme park. There's a bit of a whimsical/storybook feel to the themeing, although it doesn't feel like it has a specific theme. The attention to detail is great though!
The selection of rides added to the park include the likes of a Zamperla disk'o called Buckin' Bronco, a smaller inverting pendulum ride called Round Up, and several others that all fit in the smaller plot of land that makes up the park.
One of the rides at the park that caught my attention was their wagon-themed Ferris wheel, which appeared to be from the former Wild West World that was open for about two months back in 2007 because it has the park's logo on the side of the cars. It was neat to see that one of their rides lives on in this park.
In spite of the size of this park, there are two coasters. One is an SBF Visa spinning coaster called Blastin' Barrels. This was the model of coaster that was first shown at the IAAPA Convention and Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, and has become pretty popular as several parks have already added one since it debuted at the event. This is my second of these as I had a chance to attend that event and try out the ride. These can be pretty fun as they can get some decent spinning going as you ride, depending on the weight balance on the ride. This one also has the added bonus of being surrounded by the trees in the park.
The other coaster is a junior coaster from Zamperla called Runaway Mine Train, which is the first of it's kind, and pretty unique compared to the majority of Zamperla coasters that tend to be the smaller Family Gravity Coaster models or their powered coasters. This ride stays pretty high above the grounds of the park, and covers just about the entirety of the park with its layout. It also goes through the course twice before they swap out riders.
After spending a couple hours at the park, and getting dinner at a neighboring pizza place, I made my way back home, but on the way there, I made a brief stop for a few pictures of this building. Looking at it, you might think its connected to Cultus Lake Adventure Park, and you would be correct if you did! This is the office of Sawalzky's Imagination Corporation, the company behind the design of the themeing of the park, and their hope if that the adventure park can serve as a demonstration of their work to present to potential clients for future projects. It was really neat to see that their office also had the same feel as the design of the park.
If you are coming to Cultus Lake from the direction of Vancouver, or you are heading to Cultus Lake from Vancouver, you are very likely to pass by this place on the road to or from the park.
And that was the British Columbia Coaster Run! It was an excellent day trip from the Seattle area up to see both Playland and Cultus Lake Adventure Park. Playland certainly had the more thrilling rides, and easily the best coaster of the day with their wooden coaster, but I also really loved the look and feel of Cultus Lake Adventure Park. I would love to see more parks turn to this company for themeing in the future as they did an excellent job with it!
Thank you for taking the time to check out this trip report! I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you'll come back for more Coasting with Culture in the future!
- Take Care & Safe Travels