Centreville was my absolute favourite place to visit when I was a kid. With the now-closed Ontario Place being its only competition at the time, that wasn’t a particularly tight race. But my kids have traveled extensively, and spent a great deal of time at the Holy Grail of theme parks – Walt Disney World. But their favourite Toronto attraction? Centre Island. The charming Centreville amusement park is an absolute must-visit for a trip to Toronto with kids.
Just getting to Centre Island is part of the fun for my family. I laughed when my then-two-year-old daughter expressed disappointment that we were taking a ferry, not a “fairy” to the island, because I remember thinking the Exact. Same. Thing. This, to me, is the beauty of travel with kids, and revisiting places you love with them – you get to experience them again for the first time, and Centreville amusement park is no exception.
Now that my daughter is eight and my son is five, they’re both great ages to enjoy all the rides, although my daughter is *thisclose* to being too big for some of them. My initial fear was she was getting too big for the park altogether, but on our most recent visit I realized that now she’s ready for rides that she was too small for before. The toddler rides we delighted in watching them enjoy have now given way to non-stop turns on the log ride and the scrambler. I loved seeing such a mix of families there – babes in strollers all the way to packs of teens – probably the age I was on my last visit before I got married and had kids.
The Bumble Bee ride is a sentimental favourite. As are the firetrucks – there’s a picture of me somewhere at age five or six on the exact same ride. I also loved the old-fashioned cars – you’re actually driving! When I was little I used to imagine I could ram it off the rails and then just drive all around Centre Island at my leisure. I also imagined the same for the swan boats, although that would be an awfully slow trip around Lake Ontario. The kids that work at Centreville are also incredibly sweet and patient – my son actually got us stuck in the old fashioned cars. It was their first instance of that for the day, but my first in over thirty years of visits. 🙂
Some other things we love about Centreville that set it apart from other amusement parks: it’s free to enter – you only pay for rides either with an all-day wristband or tickets (they never expire), and that you are free to (and actually encouraged to) bring in your own food. To save money and also manage my husband’s gluten intolerance, we almost always pack a picnic and snacks for all of our outings. Although $25 for a pizza large enough for a family’s lunch and dinner is a pretty decent deal from the concession stands.
There’s no Mickey Mouse or Superhero characters at Centreville, but there is Beasley Bear! He’s starting to make live appearances now, attending birthday parties (!) and hosting picnics that promote physical fitness and a heart-healthy lifestyle. I do appreciate the fact that at Centreville we’re not bombarded with things to win or buy, but seeing Beasley on posters and signs really adds to the nostalgia factor for me.
And though Centreville is only open from May to September, Far Enough Farm is open year ’round. We’ve often popped by on a crisp fall day to say hello to the pigs and ponies.
Centreville Amusement Park:
-Open daily from June – Labour Day, weekends only in May and September
-Far Enough Farm is open year ’round.
-Stroller accessible, wagons are available to rent
-Change tables available in all washrooms
City of Toronto 2014 Ferry Prices:
Adult (19-64) $7.00*
Seniors (65+) or Students with valid student ID (15-19) $4.50*
Children (2-14) $3.50*
2 and Under: Free
*all prices return
City of Toronto Ferry Schedules
Board the ferry at the foot of Bay St.:
And one of the best parts of visiting Centreville? This:
**This post was generously sponsored by Centreville, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit www.centreisland.ca