In Calgary we stayed at Calaway Park, an amusement park / RV park combo just West of the city limits. It advertised itself as “Western Canada’s Largest Outdoor Amusement Park”. This is a blatant lie, or at least outrageously deceptive. Playland in Vancouver is at least twice as big an in terms of adult rides, maybe 10x as big (Calaway only has two, a flume ride and a steel coaster). Perhaps by “biggest” they might mean that they own a bunch of surrounding but undeveloped acreage. Or perhaps they don’t consider Playland to be a “family park”. Either way, they’re liars. We only stayed for an hour. Luckily, the tickets were very cheap.
After that we headed to the Olympic Park and spent several hours there, much longer than I had expected. The Olympic Park is where ski jumping, luge, bobsled and snowboarding took place in ’88, and amongst other things is where the real-life “Cool Runnings” movie (about the Jamaican bobsleigh team) took place (the film was also filmed here). It is VERY small, one thinks of Olympic venues as being gigantic, but it really wasn’t, think half the size of the Lodge Chair at Mount Seymour (itself very small).
I have to give Calgary credit for making the most of their post-Olympic assets. There were mountain bikers everywhere (I felt very smug about how lame their mountain biking is compared to North Van), kids on day camps, etc., and they ski there in the winter.
They also offered various tourist activities. We did the audio tour which talked about bobsleigh (I still think it’s a weird sport!) and took you up the ski jump. I vaguely remember going up a ski jump in Vermont when I was very young and wondering how anyone could go off it and survive. I thought the same thing 35 years later. It is literally about a 50 degree angle and they cover the length of a football field airborne. Extremely scary looking!
One of the other activities they offer tourists is an ultra-extreme zipline from the top of the ski jump. You are required to wear a parachute to slow your descent a bit and there are huge spring brakes at the end. Ben would have done it in a heartbeat and I would have been required to go with him and act nonchalant about it. I was extremely relieved that he was 5 pounds under the minimum weight requirement.
Predictably the place oozes with pro-Olympic propaganda, how great Calgary is, how the whole world was watching and Calgary did themselves proud, etc. I hope the positive energy is genuine and more importantly can be felt in Vancouver in 2030. (Incidentally, the Olympic museum had a big display by the Vancouver olympic people, listing all the venues and so on).
Anyhow, if you’re a thrill-seeker type and in Calgary, I’d suggest an afternoon here. The prices were relatively reasonable as well.
I was hoping to get to the Grain Museum in Calgary (no, seriously, I was) but it was too late; so we did one final touristy thing and went up the Calgary Tower before stopping off for a final BP dinner, then back to the campground for our final RV cleanup.