Having opened its doors in 1982, Calaway Park is located 10km west of Calgary, Canada in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The park takes its name from ‘Calgary away’, combining the two words, and it has grown continuously from its original 14 rides and attractions, with the park now holding 32 rides.
After a difficult start and many developmental struggles, the original Flinstone Fun Park decided to change its name to Calaway Park and opened its doors properly in 1982, with entry costing CA$11.95 at the time. Since then, the venue has expanded massively and is now cited as one of the best theme parks in the country.
Calaway Park’s two most iconic rides are the Vortex roller coaster and Timber Falls log ride. Among the venue’s line-up of rides guests will also find the Aeromax, an exciting ride for all the family, which allows riders to experience life as a crop duster plane pilot soaring at heights of over eight metres. Another popular ride at the park is the Balloon Ascension, a family ride that consists of eight hot air balloons that rise up into the air like a Ferris wheel. Alongside these two attractions, the park has its Adrenaline Test Zone ride, Air Gliders, Baja Buggies, the Dream Machine, Dodgems, the Ocean Motion, Carousel, Hilltop Railway, U Drive and the Sky Wynder, among many others.
The park entertainment team includes a live character cast who perform with its Calaway FUN AR app experience, and the Calaway Live cast, two live stage shows are carried out by this team of local performers all summer long at its Celebration Square Stage.
Calaway Park truly offers something for everyone, and its wide range of food is a firm part of the experience, too. With five restaurants, guests can enjoy a sit-down formal family meal, or, at its 13 concession locations, there is something to satisfy all taste buds.
Sweet treats include: BeaverTails pastries, candy floss, ice cream, snow cones, churros and mini donuts, whereas savoury delights come in the form of the Hamborghini burger, deep fried pickle spears, pizza, hot dogs, corndogs, pretzels, and popcorn. The park also has its Sweet Toothe Candy shop with freshly made candy and caramel apples.
Park guests are also offered the option to stay the night in the RV park and campground, which is just a short walk from the gates of the main entrance. Guests can spend the night under the stars and wake up with a view of the mountains in one of its 104 sites. There are various options available for guests, and each experience comes in at a different price point. The ‘Stay and Play’ package, which gives visitors two nights’ stay at the Calaway RV Park and Campground, as well as four one-day 2022 admission tickets to the amusement park is CA$199+GST. Other packages offer cheaper prices for one night’s stay and/or a smaller number of tickets. Admission to the park includes unlimited rides, live stage shows, access to Cinemagic 3D, the Haunted Hotel, and CP Spray n’ Play, as well as free parking.
With a 100+ day operating season between May and October (21 May – 10 October 2022), families have the opportunity to visit during a weekend event, such as Halloweekends, or make Calaway Park part of their summer holiday plans during daily operation. During this time, the park’s annual attendance equates to over 500,000 guests.
With so many flocking to the park every year, there are a few main areas that keep guests coming back for more. As Calaway Park’s main focus is on family fun, some of its key attractions are the Vortex roller coaster, which was designed and manufactured by Arrow Dynamics, and, also, the Timber Falls log ride, manufactured by White Water West. This ride takes guests on a journey through three interactive themed buildings, transporting them to the Timber Falls Sawmill. Three high velocity drops and a zig-zag river section make this a great one for adrenaline junkies of all ages, and non-riders can even join in the action from the Timber Falls view area with two explosive water cannons available to use.
Another one of the park’s most popular rides is the new ‘Bumble Blast’ attraction, which opened in 2019. It is a spinning, eight-track roller coaster that has various twists and turns and is suitable for families of all ages, with this specific ride designed and manufactured by Gosetto. Bumble Blast seats passengers back-to-back in their own cars and can easily accommodate adults, as well as children.
Other popular attractions include; CP Spray n’ Play built by Play Quest, this section of the Park includes 15 water features, offering the perfect place to cool off during the summer heat, and equipment by Vortex International; as well as Cinemagic 3D, a cinema featuring 3D movies from nWave, great to escape on a hot day to enjoy a 12-minute family friendly 3D film.
In 2021, Calaway Park celebrated 40 years and introduced the Calaway FUN AR app experience. The park offers two AR experiences at the venue, including an enchanted forest fairy experience alongside its live street cast of fairies. The second experience is the AR family fun frame, this was introduced to enable guests to snap photos at key opportunities throughout the park, enhancing their overall experience by taking a regular family day out photograph to the next level.
2021 also saw the park partner with accesso to create its new eCommerce ticketing suite and point of sale systems. This included the creation of a new digital Season Pass program for its 2022 season. The use of e-tickets within venues such as Calaway Park has been an extremely popular and successful venture post the COVID-19 pandemic. E-tickets promote the use of contactless technology, minimising touch points and potential infections.
Alongside its recent 2021 additions, Calaway Park has worked with many industry partners to expand and deepen its unique and carefully crafted experience over the years. In 2013 the venue worked with NWave and RealD to create the Cinemagic 3D theatre, and it continues to work with both of these partners to offer a new 3D film every year.
2014 saw the Timber Falls ride built with White Water West and the park also working with Pan Amusements to create two interactive builds within the Timber Falls experience and to renew its wild west Shooting Gallery game.
Other expansions within the park over the years include the addition of Sky Wynder in 2018, a spinning drop ride, manufactured by Moser, and in 2019, the park built CP Spray n’ Play with local and national supplier, Play Quest. In 2022, Calaway will be showing NWave’s Wanted: Alive 3D.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been meant a challenging couple of years for the park, however it had a great season in 2021 and plans to reopen its Celebration Square Stage this year, for its two brand-new Calaway Live stage shows. Calaway Live has been performed at the park since its opening in 1982 and the cast are an iconic part of the guest experience, bringing a new level of unique entertainment for all in attendance. The park hires around 12 local youth performers to make up the cast every season and they work meticulously with the park’s Entertainment Director and a local choreographer to create energetic, magical and family friendly live stage show performances.
Bob Williams, Calaway Park general manager concluded: “Calaway Park is Western Canada’s largest outdoor family amusement park. Entering our 41st year of operation in 2022 we are as passionate as the first day we opened. Being able to operate through two COVID-19 years has helped to remind us of our core purpose “Your Smile is Our Mission”.
“It’s all about family fun, we just love what we do! Our team is focussed on giving value and creating experiences for the young and old. We are blessed to have the team we work with while also being located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountain, just outside of Calgary, Alberta. With our future plans we look forward to the next 40 years plus!”
Opened in 1982
Largest amusement park in Western Canada
Annual attendance – over 500,000 guests
Key manufacturers & partners: Arrow Dynamics, accesso, Gosetto, Moser, NWave, Pan Amusements, Play Quest, RealD, Vortex International, Whiter Water West
All details correct at the time of publishing – InterPark magazine Jan/Feb 2022 edition