Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Ex (a.k.a CNE) - Toronto

If you get there early there are no lineups or crowds!  Best thing about the Midway?  Bust a Move was playing.  I am pretty sure it was playing the last time I was at the Ex too. 
I grew up in Mississauga and lived in Toronto for several years so I have been to the Ex probably a dozen times in my life but I haven't been since I was kid.  Back in my day it was free to get into the Ex and then you just had to pay for some tickets for rides.  You could also get free popsicles in the Food Building and 25 cent hotdogs.  I swear I am not 100 years old.  Anyway.  I was curious what it was like these days and I happy to report that it is just as much fun as it was when I was a kid.  For people who haven't been in years it will be a happy blend of nostalgia and new stuff.  

The Zipper!  Hands down the scariest ride I have ever been on. Never again!
If you have kids under about the age of 10 you can spend all day in Kid's World which has a great selection on rides for kids, from very tame to exciting enough for most kids, games, shows, food etc. This is where we spent most of our time although I did venture over the original midway ride area with my oldest daughter to try out some of the scarier rides.  This is where the nostalgia will hit you since I am quite certain some of these rides are the exact same ones that were there when I was a kid!  
My daughter and a milk snake at the Reptilia show in Kid's World.
Kid's World has shows running all day including the Reptilia show which features snakes and lizards and whatnot.  You can check out the reptiles all day but at certain points they do an actual show where the reptiles are out and about so check the schedule if your kids will want to handle the reptiles.  If you are there early in the morning (they open at 10:00) and it is not busy they will probably let you hold the snakes then too.  My kids got a chance to do that and the nice Reptilia man gave them a snakeskin to take home.
Golden eagles are big, yo.
In the same area as the Reptilia show is the Bird of Prey show.  It is about 30 minutes long and features, an owl, a hawk, a turkey vulture a golden eagle and I think one more that escapes me at the moment.  My youngest daughter is oddly fascinated by birds of prey and she said this was her favourite thing about the Ex 
My daughter was very excited about Olivia which makes sense since she likes the books and the show but she was also very excited about the cat even though she still doesn't have a clue who it is.  Make of that what you will
Nearby you can also find the War of 1812 Dress-Up area and the character meet and greets.  It is all quite close to the kid rides so it makes it easier for little ones to get around.  

This area also has my favourite thing about the Ex - The Under the Little Top Circus Workshops.  The workshops run all day and they last about 45 minutes.  The kids actually learn enough in that 45 minutes to put on a little show that is pretty fun.  My youngest daughter did the tightrope walking, my oldest daughter did the juggling and plate spinning and my nephew did the trapeze and acrobatics.  

Kid's World also has the music centre, an arts and craft centre, magic show, the stage where they have shows throughout the day and the Pizza Nova pizza making workshop.  The pizza workshop runs several times a day and provides a slice of pizza to each kid.  My kids were a bit disappointed though because they thought they would be making their own pizza (given the name of the activity, not an illogical assumption!) but instead they just shaped the dough and threw it in the air and then were given a ready made slice of pizza.  So, you might want to warn the kids of that before hand.  
Making music on an ipad in the music building in Kid's World.
They did also have more traditional instruments.
Shaping pizza dough at the Pizza Nova pizza workshop.
There is a pretty good selection of rides in Kid's World.  My kids have very different taste in rides with one being a total daredevil and the other preferring tamer rides so I was glad to see the mix in Kid's World.  
A ride both my kids liked!
Not far from Kid's World is the Farm Building which has magic shows and some other activities throughout the day.  When we went through there were no shows going on but my daughter liked seeing the farm animals, especially the baby pigs.  They had several sets of piglets ranging from a few days old to a couple of months which my daughter found fascinating.  They also had things like sheep shearing and cow milking going on throughout the day.  This is also where the butter sculptures are!  
I think these ones are one week old.
We spent so much time in Kid's World that we didn't have time to visit the Arts and Crafts Pavilion which my kids had wanted to see.  We did make it to the Food Building though.  I am sorry to report that there are no free popsicles or twenty five cent hotdogs but there is a wide selection of carnival type food, some horrifying, some delicious, some both.  
No, just no.
There are lots of other fun things for kids at the Ex including some the "Play Like a Pro" sports zone and the street performers and stunt people throughout the grounds.  My kids also liked the Police Services tent that we passed on our way back to the Go train of all things.  They had activity sheets and trading cards of all of the service dogs and animals on the police force which my daughter loved getting.  There is also a little bus/train like contraption that will take you all over the Ex for free that my kids liked riding just to see everything.  
Goofing around at the Police Services tent!
My youngest daughter's favourite thing was the bird of prey show as I mentioned, but my oldest daughter's favourite thing was spinning the wheel for the chance to win mini doughnuts just outside Kid's World!  She did it about ten times throughout the day and actually managed to win two dozen mini doughnuts which is pretty much like winning the lottery to an eight year old.  
No whammies, no whammies!
Some things to keep in mind:
  • You can get the play all day passes for $50 a kid and $54 an adult.  Most kids get a pass to the grounds from their schools though, so if you want to save money, use those to get in and then just buy some ride tickets.  The bird of prey show, reptilia and everything else in Kid's World, plus the Farm, Arts and Crafts, sports zone etc (plus tons of other stuff we didn't even get to) is all included in the grounds admission.  We bought $22 worth of tickets and that was enough for them each to go on 3 or 4 rides which was enough for my kids.  
  • They also have a kid's zip line and a rock climbing wall which is extra.  Kids have to be 45 pounds for the rock climbing and 60 pounds for the zip lining.  
  • They have water bottle filling stations throughout the park.
  • If you get the free pizza from the pizza making workshop, fill up your water bottles and win free doughnuts you can pretty much keep your kids fed and hydrated for next to nothing :)


  1. Do you think there is enough to do for very small kids? Under 5?

  2. Yes, I would say so. The Kid's World is big enough to keep most 5 year olds (and under) entertained plus the shows and food building and sports zone etc.