Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
Over the sound of rushing water all that can be heard is a loud “oof” from Dad as they are ejected out of the tunnel at the end of the ride as G-forces play havoc with his stomach. While sitting in a raft, father and son are thrust vertically up the other side of the slide roughly 60 feet and then down again.
As they come to rest near a gentle waterfall at the end of the ride, Dad’s eyes are as wide as saucers, his left hand clutching the side of the raft and his right hand over his heart. It’s not patriotism. He’s trying to recover his breath.
The boy jumps up, his face the picture of pure joy, and asks his father if he is ready to go again. Pop gives Junior a wary stare. He doesn’t look so sure.
All part of the fun at Bingemans, says president Mark Bingeman.
Every amusement park has a marquee ride. Marineland has Dragon Mountain roller coaster and Sky Screamer. Canada’s Wonderland has Leviathan. Bingemans’ star is Boomerango, without question. It, along with Full Throttle, debuted in July 2011 and has been an instant hit with the public, drawing people from the Greater Toronto Area as well as London, Ontario and Buffalo, New York.
You actually experience weightlessness
“There’s holes in the top so when you go down the slide it’s almost like a Star Wars effect because you see little specs of light coming at you as you’re going down through this tube and it’s dark,” said Bingeman. “When you come out of the opening at the top, all of a sudden you’re blasted with daylight and then the next second you’re dropping straight down and without realizing it you’re climbing this vertical wall. Depending on the weight distribution you can go right to the top. Once you reach the ‘sweet spot’ you actually experience weightlessness for a couple seconds. And then it shoots you down backwards through the water shower. It’s three rides in one, and there’s no question it’s our marquee ride.”
Yikes. No wonder that poor guy said “oof.”
Previously known as Bingeman Park, the property can hold about 30,000 people, the water park itself about 4,000. The property sits on roughly 175 acres and has about 600 people on staff. Next year is the 75th anniversary of this family-owned business that sits on what was a former farm owned by Mark’s grandfather.
“We divide our property into three different categories,” says Bingeman, explaining that they are trying to create a one-stop entertainment district. “We have a camping resort that has 480 sites and a lot of other outdoor areas, we have the amusement section that has the summertime outdoor waterpark plus the indoor FunWorX programs, and then we have the convention centre and the catering operations that happen there.”
Mach this way!
Bingemans has other waterslide rides that make up its Big Splash attraction.
If your goal is to get wet while flying down a tube at Mach 2, you’ll enjoy slides like Full Throttle, a ride you go down head first or The Cyclone that twists you around in a big bowl before dropping you out into a pool at the bottom. Yeah, great slides to be sure. But Bingeman’s eyes light up the most when he talks about Boomerango.
If your goal is to get wet and have a relaxing time with family or friends without hitting Mach 2, there are several choices. The Wave Pool is Waterloo Region’s “first and largest wave pool,” according to the park’s website. The pool manipulates water form “an assortment of alternating wave patterns.” And the Spray n’ Play features a large interactive water playground that your kids will love. The best part of this attraction is the 1,200-gallon tipping bucket.
If your goal is to have a relaxing time with family or friends without getting wet or hitting Mach 2, there are even activities for you. The property has an indoor playground called FunWorX, and at 35,000 square feet it’s one of the “largest indoor family playgrounds in the region.” The interactive three-level facility provides year-round entertainment, including arcade and redemption games of skill and chance. There are also Go Kart tracks at Bingeman’s Speedway ($10 plus tax for 10 minutes per person).
If you’re hoping to find a roller coaster at Bingemans that will twist your intestines, bad news. You aren’t going to find one here. And that’s just the way Bingeman wants it.
“Our focus is on family entertainment activities,” he says. “Other parks can do roller coasters better. We know our strengths and what we do better. Water slides is one of them.”
And beach volleyball is another. Once just four courts, it has become so popular that the attraction now features 10 Olympic-style sand courts and also has several recreational and competitive leagues going. Beach volleyball has been so popular that Bingeman is considering building four more sand courts next year.
There’s also Paintball at Flag Raiders, which even has a plane on the property. Bingemans hosts two North American tournaments, where people come from all over to participate. For golfers, there’s Outdoor Mini-Golf, a glow-in-the-dark “Hole in Fun” game, as well as a nine-hole course at Glen Ridge Golf ($59.95 plus tax for seasonal membership), which also offers lessons.
The property has evolved over the years to include several other activities that have helped make Bingeman a high-value weekend getaway destination.
Life is full of Yurt
The camping, which runs between May and October, is very popular and even includes glamorous camping (Glamping).
“We get a lot of new Canadians and first-time campers from the GTA trying out our cabins and yurts, great for if you have kids,” says Bingeman of the accommodations that cost $65-$85 a night. “And it’s also great for fishing, another reason why people love coming here.”
Near the camping area is a stage where concerts and shows are performed. Mighty Machines Showcase and Busta Rhymes have been on stage at Bingemans.
For Halloween, Bingemans has a Screaming Season, which begins its seventh year on September 28 at the facility’s Screampark. Without question, it’s one of the most popular events at Bingemans ($28 for a Triple House Pass, including Shady Acres, Statesville Penitentiary and Redneck Rampage).
The website proclaims that in 2011, “817 people chickened out. Will you?” The attraction features a Paintball Zombie Hunt and a marathon called “Running of the Dead.”
Bingemans is continuing its drive to move into less weather-dependent activities. In a major announcement on June 12, Bingeman said the park will add a 28-lane bowling facility called Kingpin Bowl Lounge, as well as a family restaurant to the huge conference and recreation complex.
MORE ABOUT BINGEMANS
Address: 425 Bingemans Centre Drive Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Admission: $26.95 if you’re 48 inches or over, $18.95 if you’re under
Hours: 10 am-8pm; 9:30 am-3 pm for school groups