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Ontario Science Centre

Get Set for Summer: Family Time


LeviathanJuly7-2 copy

Take your family for a ride the Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland this summer.

The Toronto Zoo is always a hit with kids of all ages. Home to more than 5,000 animals from more than 450 species, there’s an extra special reason for a visit: the arrival of eight new animals, including two giant panda cubs named Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, four white lion cubs, an Indian rhino calf, and Juno the polar bear cub. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is likewise a popular destination for families to explore nine different galleries featuring more than 13,500 sea creatures such as jellyfish, octopus, pufferfish, stingrays and more.

Would-be architects and designers can let their imaginations run wild at Legoland Discovery Centre, where they can build their own race cars and test its aerodynamics, or be inspired by a recreation of Toronto’s landmarks completely in the brick form. Ever wonder what happened with Emmett and his friends after The Lego Movie? There’s a new 4D movie exclusively that catches up with Wyldstyle, Unkitty and MetalBeard. Learning and play go hand-in-hand at the Ontario Science Centre through its interactive exhibits on astronomy, geology, nature, human anatomy, technology, music and more. Currently, a special travelling exhibit, The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is on display with experiments, challenges and touchable specimens that delve into the oddities associated with Ripleys, from how illusions work to how to swallow a sword safely.

Getting to Centreville Amusement Park is part of the fun; the picturesque ferry ride over to the Toronto Islands is bound to get everyone in the mood for a day of rides like bumper boats, twirling tea cups, and the log flume. The attraction, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, also boasts a petting farm with the likes of an alpaca, llama, pygmy goat, and a mini donkey and pony. Thrill seekers love the rides at Canada’s Wonderland, which counts the country’s tallest and fastest roller coast, Leviathan, among its 200-plus attractions. There are more tame rides at Planet Snoopy and Kidzville for wee ones, plus a 20-acre waterpark. New this year are two interactive rides: Flying Eagles for little ones and Skyhawk for adults, who can make 360 degree turns from 135 feet up in the air.

EAT Combine an activity with a meal at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, as knights on horseback joust before King Don Carlos and Princess Catalina in an epic battle. The King’s favourite meal—chicken, potatoes, corn, and tomato soup—is served as guests watch the clash between the East and West sides.

The scope of Pickle Barrels menu is enough to make it a family-favourite—there are several hundred items on the menu ranging from grilled cheese and chicken fajitas to pasta and French toast—ensuring that even the fussiest of eaters can be appeased. Step back in time at The Old Spaghetti Factory, which is chock-full of vintage details including a 100-year-old carousel and even a streetcar that you can dine in. The fare is classically Italian with offerings like lasagna, ravioli and spaghetti with meatballs. More upscale Italian fare can be found at Terroni—and a more fitting environment for older kids—with crispy, thin crust pizzas, panini sandwiches and pastas; there’s also a patio for al fresco dining at their original Queen West location.—Linda Luong Luck

Get excited for summer with these other action-packed itineraries:

Get Set for Summer: Cheer on the Hometown Team

Get Set for Summer: Culture Vultures


16 Things to Do for March Break 2016


The TIFF Bell Lightbox hosts digiPlaySpace for the fifth year, which engages children through interactive play involving animation, robotics and more. (photo: courtesy of TIFF)


See Massive Mammoths at the Ontario Science Centre



JANUARY 22 TO APRIL 25  The Ontario Science Centre transports visitors back nearly two million years, to a time when colossal mammals like dire wolves, woolly mammoths, and saber-toothed cats roamed the earth. Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, an interactive exhibit from Chicago’s Field Museum, explores the Pleistocene epoch with skeletons, casts, teeth and tusks of short-faced bears and camels, as well as the well-preserved baby Lyuba, a female woolly mammoth calf. See displays of Paleolithic cave art, ivory figurines, and compare your weight against the daily consumption of a Columbian mammoth. Learn about the evolution and extinction of these animals, and how their living cousins, elephants, help scientists to understand their existence.  —Linda Luong Luck

• Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd., 416-696-1000; ontariosciencecentre.com
Map and reviews

Hot Date: Ontario Science Centre Journeys Beyond the Stars

OCTOBER 3 TO JANUARY 1  Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to live on the moon, or to see an asteroid hurtling through space? The Ontario Science Centre seeks to satisfy your curiosity with its exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration, which displays a collection of artifacts and models to illustrate the past, present and future of interstellar inquiry. Through interactive simulations utilizing ultramodern technology, visitors are invited to examine the possibility of “exoplanets,”
walk the surface of a virtual Mars, witness “spaceplanes” in development and more.

Hot Date: Three-Ring Learning at the Ontario Science Centre

MAY 9 TO SEPTEMBER 3  Limber up and step into the spotlight at the Ontario Science Centre, where Circus! The Exhibition explains how your favourite stunts are performed under the big top. Find out how daredevils like Nik Wallenda overcome both physics and human psychology to perform a wire walk, then make your own way across
a tightrope—safely harnessed, of course. Inquisitive kids can also dress up as circus characters, discover the anatomical secrets of contortionists, follow the blade in a sword swallower’s routine and more. Free with general admission; call 416-696-1000 or click here for more information.

Hot Date: The Beauty of Cells at the Ontario Science Centre

ON NOW Matters of science have long struck an artistic chord. A great example: the way that specimens under a microscope can look like colourful, hyper-detailed paintings. The Ontario Science Centre stimulates your synapses with its Spark! The Heart of Art and Science exhibition, which examines the unseen beauty of cells and molecular processes—from mice embryos to cancer cells—through artistically rendered images and 3D animated videos. Visitors can also create their own visuals as part of the DIY Body Project, an interactive textile installation where rearranged body parts generate anatomical masterpieces. Free with general admission; call 416-696-1000 or click here for more information.

Hot Date: Canine Knowledge

MARCH 10 TO 18 Can you teach an old dog new tricks? A better question: How do you teach any dog new tricks? The Ontario Science Centre offers answers this March Break with The Science of the SuperDogs, which adds a twist to the traditional spectacle of running, jumping, fetching and paw shaking that we all know and love with an educational presentation highlighting how canines have come to fit into our world. Audiences will even have the opportunity to interact with the pooches between performances. It all adds up to an amusing opportunity to learn more about man’s best friend. Ontario Science Centre, $13 to $20; call 416-696-1000 or click here for tickets and more information.

Staff Picks: 10 Best Bets for March Break

The Royal Ontario Museum is always a popular venue during March Break (photo by Michele Nastasi)

The kids’ annual spring holiday week is just around the corner. If you’re still wondering how to keep them occupied, well, wonder no more. There’s lots of family fun to be had right here in Toronto. Check out our 10 picks for cool—and often educational—activities after the jump! (more…)

Hot Date: Behold the Genius of da Vinci

Da Vinci's mechanical lion, with his famous The Last Supper in the background

OCTOBER 13 TO MARCH 18 The science of art and machines are on display at the Ontario Science Centre, and who better to lead the tour than Leonardo da Vinci? Figuratively speaking, of course. Leonardo da Vinci’s Workshop features 20 scale models of the Renaissance man’s inventions, including his Mechanical Lion, Great Kite and Aerial Screw. Visitors can use touch screens to investigate the famed codices in which da Vinci sketched his designs, and see what his paintings would have originally looked like without restoration. Ontario Science Centre, $17 to $25; call 416-696-1000 or visit here
for passes.

Weekend Roundup, October 7 to 9

Friday: See Faust with live music

Friday, October 7

F.W. Murnau’s classic 1926 silent film Faust screens this evening within the hallowed confines of Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church. Featuring live piano accompaniment by composer Robert Bruce, it’s an artistically immersive way to see and hear a revered piece of early filmmaking.

Find your way through a maze at the Ontario Science Centre‘s new exhibition, GPS Adventures. Using Global Positioning System technology, visitors can try out the popular activity of geocoaching to find hidden treasures and answer a riddle. (more…)

Hot Date: Techie Treasure Hunt at the Ontario Science Centre

OCTOBER 2 TO JANUARY 8 Sure, Global Positioning Systems are good for driving directions, but when’s the last time one helped you find hidden objects? A new attraction at the Ontario Science Centre takes visitors on a quest of discovery through a maze of interactive activities. Based on the increasingly popular pursuit known as geocaching, GPS Adventures allows patrons, equipped with a GPS receiver, to search for containers—called “caches”—filled with tiny treasures and decipher a secret code. Adding education to the experience, the exhibition also reveals how GPS technology is changing the way we live, work and play.

Hot Date: Loveable Lizards at the Ontario Science Centre

JUNE 10 TO SEPTEMBER 5 Have you ever wondered about the difference between venom and poison, or inquired about the world’s longest snake? Learn the answers to these and other questions at the Ontario Science Centre, where a new, interactive exhibition, Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly, allows visitors to get up close to tortoises, alligators, chameleons, cobras, boa constrictors and more. The unique display investigates common myths and fosters a greater understanding of the lives of reptiles, and their importance within their native environments and the animal kingdom as a whole.