Operated by the famous Six Flags (known for their out of this world death-defying roller coasters), La Ronde is the largest amusement park in Montreal, Quebec. It sits on Saint Helen’s Island, and covers a cool 59 hectares of land. Be prepared for a whole lot of walking!
The park is huge so be prepared with good walking shoes. The roller coasters are humongous as well. To me, they all ranked high in the puke factor, and when we visited, our kids were too young to appreciate them. But my husband, who visited La Ronde many times in his childhood, was very excited to go on Le Monstre, Goliath and the Boomerang.
Le Monstre is the largest wooden roller coaster in Canada and is also the tallest two-track wooden roller coaster in the world. All I say to that is “No, thank you”. The kids and I had enough rides to keep us entertained while my husband relived his childhood at the bigger and more thrilling rides.
For thrill seekers, Le Boomerang, Cobra, Vol Ultime, Vampire , Goliath and of course, Le Monstre will keep you busy. But descriptions like “menacing ride of relentless loops and twists” do not appeal to me so tata for now, see you in a couple of hours.
Park signage is mostly bilingual, and so is the staff, so don’t worry – you’ll still get along fine if you can’t speak French. Although, a lot of the park’s rides are in French and although names don’t really matter , it would be useful to be able to quickly identify the rides based on the names.
Tip: Visiting with small children? Instead of having to split your group up when the small ones can’t go on certain rides, use Baby Swap – One parent stands in the queue, the other waits at the exit line with the little ones. When you reach the front of the queue, tell the ride attendant that you’d like to do the Baby Swap so one parent gets to go on the ride, then return, and takes over babysitting duties while the other (the one that was waiting by the exit) goes on the ride. How cool is that!
La Ronde is only operational in the months of mid May to late October (seeing its last visitor in the last week of October) due to weather. In the other months of the year, it is simply too cold to visit. Our visit was in late June, just before the school holidays, and it was just crowded enough to enjoy an amusement park.
Try to avoid late June to late August (or sometimes early September), unless you want to jostle with thousands of kids on their Summer break. The park’s opening hours also vary, depending on day and time of year; check here for updates.
Ticket prices are pretty standard for a theme park – it’s CAD 63.99 for adults, CAD 46.99 for children under 1.37m as well as guests above 60, and free for children 2 and under. At some point, they allowed tickets to be purchased online and in advance at a discount, now it seems that option is no longer available.
Tip: leave your selfie-stick at home! La Ronde forbids the use of selfie sticks! Perhaps they’ve had one too many eager beavers try to have their pictures taken while on the coasters? Also, no form of any photo taking devices are allowed on any of the rides.
Food options are worthy of theme park standards, meaning to say that you should probably not bother too much about nutritional value. There are lots of kiosks all around and to be honest, none of us were in the mood to sit and eat a full meal so we pretty much snacked on wraps and pancakes and pretzels throughout.
Tip: There are some theme parks that are small enough for you to simply wander about and try out rides as you go. La Ronde isn’t one of them. If there are particular rides you want to go on, it’s best to grab a map, and plan your route to avoid disappointment. The park is huge; it is impossible to go on every ride! Or better yet, familiarise yourself with the park map before your trip. Park map available here.
Look out for the archway that says “Au pays de Ribambelle” because if you visit with little kids, that’s where you’re going to be stuck at for a while. All the kiddy rides are housed there, even a mini roller coaster. There’s a good mixture of really kiddy ones, and miniature adult rides – rides like Air Papillon, the Carrousel, Joyeux Moussailons and La Danse des Bestioles are great for little riders accompanied by their parents.
Rides suitable for slighter older kids (from 8 years perhaps?): La Marche du mille-pattes is a mini roller coaster that I feel is good enough for a little thrill seeker, but it really depends on the child. There were both exhilarated faces as well as those in tears at the exit line. Marais Enchante is similar to a Viking ride except that it swings back and forth and rotates.
Since I did not get to go on the adult version, Monsieur L’Arbre was my favourite ride. I pretty much had to ask my little one to accompany me on it a couple of times until she was too embarrassed riding something that was too boring for her. You could end up getting wet on the Pitoune, but it’s all in good fun.
And finally, for the tiniest of tots, Pommes d’Api and Tchou Tchou are bound to have them squealing in delight.
All height restrictions are clearly shown so check before, to avoid disappointment!
In our opinion, La Ronde is a good place to visit for families with older children. Else, ticket costs aren’t really justified if all you do is spend your entire time just in the kids’ section, and queuing for 2 roller coasters.Would we recommend a visit? Yes and no – it’s got lots to offer to those chasing speed, but on the whole, it is starting to show its age (it was opened in 1967) in some parts. I also got the feel that some parts looked and felt quite dated. But if you’re traveling with children, there’s a high chance they will enjoy themselves tremendously and remember their trip as the best day of their lives.
La Ronde is situated at 22 Chemin Macdonald, Île Sainte-Hélène, QC H3C 6A3, Quebec, Canada. Directions on how to get there both by car and public transport can be found here.