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Ontario Place rides and park closed until 2017

Posted by Robyn Urback / February 1, 2012

Ontario Place Closed 2017The McGuinty government announced this morning that Ontario Place will effectively be shut down until 2017 as the park undergoes some much-needed revitalization.

Apparently, 1970s-era domes and lackluster amusement park rides aren't drawing crowds the same way they used to, and the province can't afford the $20 million annual price tag to keep the park open, according to Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.

While the waterpark, rides, and Cinesphere will be closed, the marina, amphitheater, and Atlantic pavilions will remain open.

Leading the panel on the Ontario Place revitalization is former Progressive Conservative leader John Tory, who is perhaps a wise choice for the Liberal McGuinty government. But Toronto, of course, knows Tory as more than just a walk across the floor, as he campaigned for mayor in 2003, was a wistful hopeful for Toronto's most recent municipal election, and remains chair of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, as well as a prominent broadcaster.

Duncan hasn't said whether the revitalization project will include a casino, but chances are there will be at least one supporter on council.

Photo by John Carvahlo in the blogTO Flickr pool



sanjay / February 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm
what a bad idea

unless they're closing to begin the redevelopment of it.
stuv / February 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

What lucky contractor secured that project?
416adam / February 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm
I worked there for 3 summers as a student and it was a great experience, so I'm somewhat saddened by this announcement. While the place basically sucked as an 'amusement park' there was a softness to it that will inevitably be lost. A change needed to happen, however to make better use of those lands. Let's hope it's not a giant fiasco. If we can't effectively build a bridge to meet the anniversary of the War of 1812, what are the chances that we can plan and implement a project of this scope in time for the sesquicentennial in 2017?
Raymi / February 1, 2012 at 12:45 pm
That's stupid you'd think they'd want to be open during the Pan Am Games in 2015. Fix it quick.
Stra / February 1, 2012 at 12:46 pm
strange decision - why not get plans in place first, give people the summer to see Ontario Place the way it is now one last time all the while showcasing these plans that will take place for the re-opening in 2017? They did exactly this for Les Halles in Paris and it's worked out nicely.
Jake / February 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm
I find it strange that construction projects in Toronto seems to takes ages longer than anywhere else in the world.
mel / February 1, 2012 at 01:03 pm
:( no more geodesic dome? Buckminster Fuller rolls in his grave.
Michele Guz / February 1, 2012 at 01:07 pm
Definately abrupt, but then again appropriate for our government. From a business viewpoint, it seems there are currently no "plans", so why not leave the park open as is for one last season, where I'm sure attendance will rise dramatically because of this decision. It allows the public to revisit a familiar attraction one last time, and still creates some sort of revenue. Consider rethinking Mr. Duncan and friends. From a Liberal Party PR perspective, very poor decision!
Lauren / February 1, 2012 at 01:10 pm
That explains the free entry offer of summer 2011.
Parker / February 1, 2012 at 01:11 pm
I saw "North of Superior" at the Cinesphere in the early '70s and before the movie started, there was a brief promo featuring then-Premier Bill Davis walking across the new grass at Ontario Place, touting how great it would be. I miss those Red Tories.

I agree, it would make sense to let visitors enjoy it one last summer in its "old" state before shutting down.
Bob / February 1, 2012 at 01:11 pm
I trust the Molson Amp doesn't figure into this, right?
AV replying to a comment from Bob / February 1, 2012 at 01:16 pm
Reading iz hard:

"While the waterpark, rides, and Cinesphere will be closed, the marina, amphitheater, and Atlantic pavilions will remain open."
op / February 1, 2012 at 01:19 pm
I hope it becomes a place to celebrate culture, like it was when it opened, and NOT something tacky, like a casino.
Mike / February 1, 2012 at 01:21 pm
Here's to hoping they build a new baseball stadium in that area instead. Having a beautiful stadium right on the lake is what the Blue Jays are missing, as well as the Argos.
Greg / February 1, 2012 at 01:22 pm
Ridiculous. Don't close the place without some sort of action plan. 2017 is way too far away.

Build a casino, build an indoor music venue, build a few restaurants, open a few bars and you have a great adult entertainment destination.

I don't get why everything has to suck in this city.
McRib replying to a comment from Bob / February 1, 2012 at 01:22 pm
don't read article, go straight to comments to ask a question that is answered in said article.

Mike / February 1, 2012 at 01:34 pm
"Why not keep it open"? The $20 million annual cost may have something to do with it?
Connie / February 1, 2012 at 01:35 pm
When I think about fun and winning campaigns, I think John Tory.
Alex / February 1, 2012 at 01:49 pm
Glad that they're finally getting started on the changes. But please keep the Mega Maze! That was hands down the best part of Ontario place.
Bill / February 1, 2012 at 01:53 pm
Holy crap people.. I know it's not the most informative article, but at least read what IS there!
Mike / February 1, 2012 at 01:57 pm
Who wants to bet that before February closes there will be a full 180 on this due to Torontian's backlash. We need OPlace!

Re: loss of 20 Million a year. Sounds like they need a good operator in there that can use a calculator. If anyone can figure it out it's John Tevlin!
Sandra / February 1, 2012 at 02:03 pm
Bring back the Forum!
iSkyscraper / February 1, 2012 at 02:05 pm
In any American city, Ontario place would be a gem, or at least something functional. In Toronto it rots. I don't know if it should be an aquarium, a park, a casino, an amusement park, an arts centre, a City Museum... anything but a wasted opportunity, which is what it is now.

Tory, please fix it, then please run for mayor and fix Toronto.
James / February 1, 2012 at 02:13 pm
20 mil/yr to keep that dump open? Good riddance. I haven't been there in at least 20 years. It's been a waste of space for a long time now. Bring on a Casino/Entertainment district. The city/province needs money, and that's the best way to bring it in.
Mark / February 1, 2012 at 02:15 pm
So, no one uses the place, the place loses money and is ignored by almost everyone in the city and province but as soon as they want to fix it or stop losing millions of dollars on it, we have people piping up saying they love the place and we can't tear it down because twenty years ago they went there once. Nostalgia is great but no way to run a city or province.
Clint M / February 1, 2012 at 02:32 pm
Obviously a PR stunt. They'll reverse the decision to close immediately, making this season the last until 2017. Great opportunity to increase attendance this year by capitalizing on people's nostalgia.
Teenage Head / February 1, 2012 at 02:40 pm
Ontario Place died the year they ripped it's heart out, The Forum. Molson Amphitheater is a tribute to beer sales, not music.
Andrew / February 1, 2012 at 02:49 pm
Keep the Cinesphere!!
JimmySmack replying to a comment from James / February 1, 2012 at 03:07 pm
Yeah kids really love the casinos, and I mean clearly if James here isn't using it then nobody is. Won't someone think about what James needs? Why can't we all just focus on James?
Bill replying to a comment from JimmySmack / February 1, 2012 at 03:10 pm
Um JimmySmack, that little issue of the annual $20 million in loses proves far more people than just James aren't using Ontario place either. Funny how wasting $20 million dollars isn't a high priority for a government already billions in the hole.
Parker replying to a comment from Mark / February 1, 2012 at 03:59 pm
I think attendance is falling because Ontario Place is a much more expensive outing than it originally was. It used to be the cost was just admission, then all the fun stuff was free (Children's Village, mainly). When the gov't turned OP into more of a modern amusement park with rides and charged according ticket prices, it was a big deterrent. If you're going to drop $$$ at an amusement park, you might as well just go to Canada's Wonderland.
Toby Buckets / February 1, 2012 at 04:17 pm
I'm usually not in favour of the Toronto casino idea, but I think that would actually work quite well at Ontario place. I'm imagining anyone with a boat would love to sail into OP to gamble and drink. We would also need some great restaurants and revitalize the cine-sphere. Mixed use is the key to sustainable revitalization. Also, the whole area should also be publicly accessible. My biggest pet peeve with the old design is that there was gates and an admission fee, even if you just wanted to wander around while visiting the waterfront.
Doug Ford / February 1, 2012 at 04:19 pm
Gimme my ferris wheel at Ontario Place! And a shopping mall with a Tim Hortons!! NO LIBARIES!!!!
Boi-oi-oi-oing / February 1, 2012 at 05:07 pm
Those bumper boats were the tits!
Lmao replying to a comment from Doug Ford / February 1, 2012 at 05:20 pm
Let me correct that for you; L-I-B-R-A-R-I-E-S. Not Libaries!
Todd Toronto / February 1, 2012 at 05:47 pm
It's a shame. At the very least, Cinesphere needs to be designated a Historic site by the Province because, even though it's only forty years old, it is.

First permanent IMAX screen, unique design, IMAX is Canadian, etc.

I'll miss Ontario Place, but Cinesphere is a jewel.
Eddie / February 1, 2012 at 07:12 pm
JimmySmack, u rock. I laughed pretty hard after reading your comment. You're awesome.
Aaron / February 1, 2012 at 08:24 pm
Can this city do anything right? Continuously flopping from one disaster to the next. Look for Condosphere and Condopods in 2017.
Donna / February 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm
This city is so lacking in vision it's depressing.
Chris / February 1, 2012 at 11:47 pm
Why do people keep suggesting that we build year long indoor facilities on prime lake front property!!! Make it a true waterfront experience open to the public.
laird / February 2, 2012 at 12:15 am
Ontario Place in the late 70's/early 80's was a magical place! Amazing musical acts at the Forum, maybe the best place ever to see a concert. The open air roller skating park. The variety of bars and restaurants. I spent a lot of my teen/young adult life there and remember it fondly. Can't imagine they'll ever recapture what it once was.
Chris / February 2, 2012 at 01:20 am
We need something that shows progress, and government leadership. Of course we need good private organization and management as well.

I'm thinking about a sort of Royal Botanical Gardens on water. A greenhouse on water. Aquaponics. A fish farm with a grow-op over top of it.

On the lake, but not connected to the lake per se, except maybe for water filtration/recyling purposes. The vegetation grown there could be both for consumption and beauty. Something that would involve the endorsement of the Ministry of Agriculture, and of Natural Resources (Fisheries). The University of Guelph faculty of Agriculture, and perhaps George Brown Culinary would be involved somehow.

There could be a weekly farmers market there. Weekly all year round farmer's markets are very popular. Ontario place is closely connected to about seven distinct communities, and the bike/walk trail is active all year. Everything around Ontario place continues to grow.

Most certainly a core restaurant could go in there. One that incorporates the fish and produce grown from of the Aquaponic system.

There's a lot of money (hundreds of thousands) to be made from growing fish like tilapia and perch for consumption. Catfish, trout. There's many options with regards to aquatic life. Minnows for anglers?

Perhaps a separate greenhouse area for purchasable co-op lot shares to allow the public more space for growing local produce! Some of our aboriginal communities have something really good gong on: http://inuvikphotos.ca/2008/06/27/inuviks-community-greenhouse-its-doing-well/

Just imagine what it would be like to tour around fish ponds and gardens by the lakeside, that sustain each other. Pictures and diagrams and guides explaining what's taking place and how it all works. The serene sounds futuristic nature fusion atmosphere, and various smells. A sensual experience.

All of this would compliment the Islands nature, that windmill, the surrounding communities, while raising awareness and showing everyone that the government still cares about innovation and agriculture and inspiring people! Oh yes, and sustainability as well.

Where else are city people going to experience this? Tourists would be proud and inspired as well. This is exactly what our city needs to educate and inspire people who rarely see a world outside of the city.

Perhaps the golf ball Cinesphere design turns in to a much more massive golf ball. Big enough to envelop the marina. We could charge more for the hanger style marina. There's no doubt that the Skydome will see its end some day, and it's already becoming enveloped by condos. Ontario Place could be that new landmark.

Should be, that new landmark.
Dr. Shrinker replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / February 2, 2012 at 05:28 am
Why? So he can fuck up Toronto just like Ford is doing, and Ontario like Harris did? Sorry, but no.

I'd like to see the NDP or the Green Party have a go at running things municipally and provincially-I'll bet that Ontario Place would get great funding, be restored to what it was, and have the cost of admission be just the cost of admission, and nothing else than that. Ontario Place DOESN'T need a casino or any of the things suggested by others, just to continue as it was originally intended by Bill Davis when he came up with it back in the 70's. Those that need the casino or the other junk mentioned can go to Casino Rama or elsewhere for their entertainment-the kids need a place where they can play and do things other than just Centerville, the far-away and super-expensive-unless-you-have-a-season-pass Canada's Wonderland, and the EX (which I think is just dying off slowly anyway, and is the one to be rethought/got rid of more than Ontario Place is.)
Kathy / February 2, 2012 at 05:55 am
I worked at Ontario Place for three summers in the 1970s and it was like a summer camp for teenagers - the best part is that we were paid for it!
That was great in the free-wheeling seventies but doesn't stand up in this day and age.
Ontario Place should have been revamped and redefined years ago instead of draining the public coffers.
Mark / February 2, 2012 at 10:42 am
The problem with OP is it is run by the government who has proven they cannot run a profitable business. With all the money they charge for admission, rides, parking, etc. they are still $20 million in the hole! Where is the money being spent?
Skye / February 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I love it. That's a true vision, and it's true to the original purpose of Ontario Place as an educational venue. Let's hope that's what Tory & Co. have in mind!
Badbhoy / February 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm
I agree. Great idea Chris!

With poor transit support in the area the only solution is to redesign the area with such a specific purpose that it once again becomes a true destination.
Chris replying to a comment from Skye / February 2, 2012 at 03:39 pm
Thanks Skye and Bad. I've been thinking about this for about a year now. Something like this could truly represent Toronto and Ontario and if done right, give everyone visiting something to be proud of and inspired by.

Now if only I had the skills and connections to develop a proper plan and presentation.

Push the idea.

Thanks very much :)
Mickey / February 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm
I hope they hire/partner with Disney to design and operate a 365 day a year Ontario and or culturally themed themed family attraction. While full of fond memories for many of us, OP has cost tax payers millions over its lifetime, that could have been directed to health care, job creation, roads, education. Nice idea, but it never worked. A redevelopment is the responsible thing to do. Face it, like it or not Disney knows how to design/run family attractions. The right attraction would be an economic win win win for Ontario, Toronto and Disney; a draw to Toronto, jobs for Torontonians, taxes for city and province, commercial spotlight for all, and enough of the Disney magic to give visitors a taste of Orlando without dead on copying or spoiling the full Disney Park experience; would probably draw Americans from the NE US states. "Disney's Ontario Adventue Place", featuring "Main Street Ontario", an indoor Niagara Falls/Great Lakes themed water-park or "Mickey's Muskoka Waterpark Adventure", cultural lands (a la EPCOT) that represent our ethnic diversity, "Goofy's Shakespearean Theatre in the Round (intro Shakespeare to kids using Disney characters and Stratford inspired staging/design?!?!? Include a free admission areas and events (like the Downtown Disney areas in Orlando and California). This could eventually expand to the CNE grounds when, let's face it, that too will soon die a nostalgic death if not soon revamped to world quality "attraction" levels.
M / February 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm
rick / February 3, 2012 at 08:36 am
Beginning in February of 2011 Cinesphere underwent a major renovation, the first since it was built in 1971. The renovation included the installation of a new IMAX® 3D projector, digital audio sound system, cinematic screen and stadium-style seating. These enhancements make Ontario Place’s iconic Cinesphere one of the best film experiences in North America
Dr. Shrinker replying to a comment from Mickey / February 3, 2012 at 11:31 am
Please, God, NO!!!!

If you need to see a Disney park, GO TO A DISNEY PARK (USA, China/Japan, Europe)-don't ask for one to be brought to Canada.

Also, we can't have one on the land that houses Ontario Place, anyway-a Disney park is usually a lot bigger than that.

If ANYTHING needs to be closed down and changed, as I said before, it should be the Ex, which is past its sell-by date. Joel Convey had the right idea when he wrote about it a while back ('Let's Shut Down The Ex') in the old Eye Weekly magazine.

@rick: Amazing that after all of those renovations, Ontario Places is shut down; I wonder why they don't just keep only Cinesphere open instead (they can still charge admission like they used to for the movie during the old 70 mm Film Festival days.) In fact, I think that they should bring it back, and call it the IMAX Film Festival-now wouldn't that be amazing? Plus, it can/could be run as a public/private deal with Cineplex; win-win all around.
Mickey / February 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm
Dr. Shrinker; I hear you. But my "please god no" plea is for not another 40 years of a relic draining gov't coffers. I think Disney imagineering (ingenuity) and chractters/branding would help - but I'm not suggesting a full on Disney park. I don't think Disney would want that either (or they'd have done it by now). What I'm suggesting is they'd be the right organization to fugure it out and that the "attraction" be a Disney-Ontario themed hybrid, very specific and respectful to the needs of Ontario, our culture and the existing space.
Dr. Shrinker replying to a comment from Mickey / February 3, 2012 at 01:37 pm
Sorry Mickey, but the idea still doesn't fly; Disney would not want to hear, or care, about input from the Ontario government or any Canadian on how to redo Ontario Place (plus the two parties in majority power here wouldn't really give a frack about maintaining any 'Canadian-ness' in a redo); it would probably end up being like Disneyland, only with Mickey Mouse in a Mountie uniform, AND NOBODY IN CANADA WOULD WANT THAT (cultural imperialism/Canadian identity/Canadian content and all that.) Besides, we already have a theme park with very little Canadian culture in it anyway (Canada's Wonderland, containing rides and attractions based on franchises from CBS Corporation and Viacom)-two of these would be ground for a lot of bitching and moaning about Americans wrecking Canadian culture, in triplicate, with likely possible terrorist incidents to follow, in addition to nasty bromides against America and Canadians for letting Disney fuck Canada up.

A better idea would be to have the park be run the way it is, with a MINIMAL involvement from a Canadian company like Nelvana/Corus in having it's franchises be used in the park, and smarter fiscal management of the park overall, and also with a change of government (let's get rid of the Libs & the Tories, and get the Greens and the NDP running things, as I said before-they sure as hell wouldn't be closing the park down if they were running Ontario, but finding ways to keep it open!)

If Disney wants to set up shop in Canada, let them buy out Canada's Wonderland and transform that.
Chris replying to a comment from Chris / February 3, 2012 at 05:46 pm
I need to emphasize that with the aquaponics idea I'm not talking about little fish ponds for eye candy and for limited consumption at the restaurant and a small on-location market.

I'm talking about a full on fisheries industry with produce to boot! Something that generates year round jobs and feeds a lot of bellies. The money that's made from existing aquaponics fish farms is exorbitant. With 91 acres available there's plenty of room for both tourism and industry.

This could be a major educational and visual wonder, AND an additional food industry resource for Toronto.
Sherry / February 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm
Keep Ontario Place open!!!! I have been a season pass holder for the last 10 years and know at least 25 other season pass holders that love the place. It should be kept open as an affordable public space. In tough economic times putting 600 students and 50 full time workers (continuing the war on unions) out of their jobs is disgusting. The real economic loss is closer to $6 million not $20 million. I wonder why they are inflating the loss. Are private interests trying to destroy a Toronto landmark for their own gain. I say keep it open until the residents of Toronto are informed as to exactly what they plan to do with it. I will not be surprised when they tell us they are going to sell it to private interests that will make a fortune on it. My six year old and I are heartbroken over this announced closure. Shame on them!!!
jon erich / February 26, 2012 at 12:52 am
bring back the Forum, it was awesome and the sound was too!The amphitheatre they have now really sucks...tear it down and build the Forum!
Mr. Heavyfoot replying to a comment from jon erich / April 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm
I loved the Forum, but its days have long since passed, and I don't know how it could be kept around with just park admission to let one in to see the music acts; it would have to charge admission, and be like the Molson Theater now.
summer camp for teenagers / April 17, 2012 at 07:24 pm
I loved the topic you wrote, it was awesome !!! Thanks
Rick / April 17, 2012 at 08:51 pm
I wish they would try and make some effort to open earlier before 2017.

So many things being delayed with Ontario Place, Transit Systems (whatever they decide it may be), development in the port lands etc.

This city has so much potential to be better -- Especially with the Pan AM games on it's way, what do we have to showcase aside from the Hockey Hall of Fame, Eaton Centre & Dundas Square?
Sara / June 2, 2012 at 02:28 pm
That really sucks. Closed for 5 years too?!... Bad decision!
ShroudayTUBE / June 12, 2012 at 04:04 pm
What the f*** why 2017 why the f*** do you have to change it so damn much you dick waffles!
Tracy replying to a comment from Bill / June 30, 2012 at 08:49 pm
No reading comprehension in said group if they did read the article. I'd rather hope they didn't read it and aren't that incompetent.
Viktor Elias / September 30, 2012 at 06:54 pm
I want Ontario Place to be open and for the WATERPARK to be open in 2013. They are having 20million in losses because they spent more than that on improving the park like the "New waterslide" and the new pool. Secret Ontario Place documents tell a story of success, not failure: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1239171--secret-ontario-place-documents-tell-a-story-of-success-not-failure
Viktor Elias / September 30, 2012 at 06:59 pm
continued... The new improvemnets for the park have not even finished by now even. That is why the have been spending money for, but at the same time no one has even been on the Waterslide. The Governmnet needs to keep the park open. The Documents on the link show that by 2015 the amount of visitors will be at or the same as it should to not have any losses in money. For the people who love ontario place checkout: www.saveonatrioplace.com

Viktor Elias,
I'm 12 years old.
PAt / February 5, 2013 at 10:30 am
Ethan / May 23, 2013 at 06:23 pm
Every one can pay $5 each year to support Ontario place :/

Ethan lu,
11 years old
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ryan / January 26, 2016 at 05:16 pm
This "revitalization" is much needed.. I remember going to Ontario place almost every weekend with my mom when I was 7.. I remember telling my mom I didn't wanna go anymore because the rides were for babies. I honestly think they just need a new attraction or new events to get some more revenue, like after hour events for 18+ or and adult section during the day?
Ryan / January 26, 2016 at 05:19 pm
You don't usually see that many kids going to Ontario place anymore.. You usually see everyone that used to go there as a kid and just wanted to come back because most of their childhood was spent at this place.
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