Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Toronto Islands. It's a quick 10 minute ride. We took the ferry to Center Island.
The Rectory Cafe.
All in all, a very nice and tasty cafe with terrific servers on Toronto Islands.
After riding the ferry back and freshening up at the hotel, we walked to CN Tower. We got there a bit before 6 pm and there was not a line to buy tickets. This surprised us because we had read about long lines to buy tickets, long lines to ride the elevator up, etc. By long I mean 1-2 hours.
When I was 10 or 11 years old, we drove to Toronto, stayed overnight, and then flew to Calgary for a 2 week vacation in western Canada. I remember 2 things very clearly. One, it was my first ever plane ride, first plane ride for my mom and brother, too, and as we started to taxi away, there was some kind of mechanical issue and we had to return to the gate and wait for a new plane. My mom always tells this story with relish and reminds my poor brother of how white with fear his face was.
My other recollection is dining at the revolving restaurant at CN Tower. It was a very big deal because at that time, the tower had been open to the public for about 5 years and was the world's tallest free-standing structure and the world's tallest tower. I remember walking across a nice park area to get to the tower, the thrill of riding the elevator up, the excitement of the restaurant revolving as I ate. My dad, the engineer, regaling us with facts about the tower, how it was an engineering feat, something special, the experience not to be forgotten.
Things are a little different now.
For one, there is construction all around the tower, It's construction - it's not pretty. I think they are building a Ripley's Aquarium. For another, I thought the restaurant prices were ridiculously high and I know there is no way they were that high when we went because my parents would never have paid that kind of money for 10-11 year old me and 9 year old little brother to eat there. It had to have been more reasonably priced.
If you're willing to spend $48+/person on lunch or $55+/person on dinner, your access to the elevator ride and views are free.
We did not wish to have a meal at the revolving restaurant, so we bought tickets to ride up, do Skypod, and do the Glass Floor. With taxes, one ticket was close to $35. Here's what our experience was:
Good: no ticket line
Bad: somewhat confusing entrance, kind of dirty, not very well done
Good: 5 minute wait to ride elevator up to Look Out
Bad: mob scene, difficult to get around, hard to see out window from wheelchair, not very well marked, not many easily visible and useful signs, confusing
Bad: At least an hour wait for Skypod with the line wrapping around much of the viewing area, making it difficult to get around
Good: We were able to hop on an elevator right away to go down to the outdoor observation area and glass floor
Bad: In spite of sunny and warm day, windy and cold outside on this level (I was really, really cold!), and netting, while an important safety feature and I am not at all suggesting it be removed, does somewhat inhibit a clear view
Bad: Glass floor freaked me out and I could not go out on it. I am old and wimpy! SP and all the kids there loved it.
So-so: 15-20 minute wait for elevator down
I feel as if CN Tower is somewhat... tourist tacky now. It's still the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, it's a symbol of Toronto, of Canada, it's been declared one of the Modern Seven Wonders of the World, it just didn't seem to live up to its status as an amazing engineering marvel. It was disappointing and possibly the biggest travel disappointment we've had. We definitely felt ripped off. $34/ticket x 2 tickets = $68 and it just was not in any way a $68 experience.
Adding to my frustration was that for the first time in my life, as we went up in the elevator and I saw the cables through the glass windows on the side of the elevator and as I glanced down through the glass window on the elevator floor, I had some sort of... panic attack? Fear of heights? I wanted out. I felt sick. I was flushed, my heart was racing, I was trying to take deep breaths and control my breathing. I told SP as soon as we got off the elevator that he would most likely be experiencing the glass floor without me. I was OK after that, I had no problem going outside and walking around on that level, I was OK on the ride down, but going up...something weird happened!
I'm not sure I can really recommend CN Tower. It was a lot of money for a so-so experience in a mob of people with long waits plus my sudden panic attack. We could have done without this on our trip and never would have regretted it.