CNE more of a curiosity for kids, than a preferred destination
My 13-year-old son told me all I needed to know about the CNE’s place in the minds of teenagers, when he said he and a buddy were going to Canada’s Wonderland on Friday.
Opening day at the Ex used to be a big deal for kids, who flocked to it for the midway, rides, food and attractions. It may still be for some, but I doubt that it’s a highlight of summer vacation for most.
It simply cannot compete with a major amusement park like Wonderland, especially the rides, all but a few of which seem outdated and hokey to teenagers, and are at least as expensive.
Anyone who’s taken a carload of kids to the Ex knows that enough ride tickets to keep them happy can cost $150 or so, while a season pass to Wonderland is less than half.
It’s hard to find a bargain anywhere on the grounds. Long ago, kids could fill up on free samples at the food building. Try finding anything for free now.
If that irritates you, cool off with a $3 bottle of drinking water. You can use it to wash down that $5 hotdog.
Whenever I’ve walked the midway in recent years, I get the feeling that the Ex exists mainly to wring every loonie it can out of the chumps. It has a predatory feel.
The cost of food and drink is no less at Wonderland, but the rides are the draw, and the Ex has nothing that compares.
How many city kids care about the agricultural fair aspects of it (even if they should), which is still a big part of the Ex and a throwback to a time when a family farm was a viable business in rural Ontario?
A kid from North York is unlikely to appreciate a nicely turned out Holstein, or wonder who baked the
pie that won the blue ribbon.
I like tradition and wouldn’t want the Ex to go the way of its neighbour, Ontario Place,
shuttered due to declining attendance. Besides, if it closed, it would be harder to fight off the predators who want to build a casino there.
But unless it is re-invented to make it attractive to young people, it will surely wither.