TWO ADULTS, TWO CHILDREN

I think that somewhere, at some time, the normal family became known as two adults, two children. No matter where you go, if you have more than two children, you are not welcome under a ‘family plan’, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out the logic in that.

I just read Peter Worthington’s appraisal of the Canadian War Museum. While he is reverent about its purpose, he voices his clear disappointment with the antiseptic feeling about it and the lack of realism, which has sadly been replaced by political correctness. So very sad. I checked out the War Museum’s website and came upon the pricing scheme.

Their family plan includes two adults and two children. If you were unthoughtful enough to have more than that, it’ll cost you. It simply occurred to me that I had read this somewhere before, so I thought I would do a little research. Here is what I found:

While Ontario Place claims to be the place where kids play, they have no family deal. The Royal Ontario Museum and CN Tower also fail, offering no break for families large or small.

The Art Gallery of Ontario meets the criteria. It’s family pass, at only $20, allows 2 adults and up to 5 youths to enjoy the wonders of the world of art. This was by far the best family offering that I found. On par with that one was The Mc Michael Art Gallery, just north of Toronto, which offers a family pass on their website with no limitations mentioned. As well, children under 5 years of age are admitted free.

The Toronto Zoo offers a family rate, but only when purchasing a season’s pass. I must commend the zoo for offering parents up to 4 children a wonderful deal, and one that I have enjoyed for the last 5 years thanks to a family member’s generosity. They also have a killer website. In an exclusive offer with Delta Hotels, you can receive a family pass to the zoo, but that pass again only includes two people, excluding larger families for no apparent reason.

The City of Toronto offers families with up to 4 children (up to the generous age of 19!), to purchase a TTC family pass. While that is excellent, the city falls flat once you get to Centre Island, where a family pass includes at least one adult and up to four people total, which means families with three kids will have to leave Dad at home, and those with four or more children will have to buy extra passes. As well, in a very bizarre pricing scheme, tall kids pay a surtax. Individual ride passes are $19.00 for those 4′ and under, but climbs to $27.50 if you have been eating all your veggies. Very strange. The Canadian National Exhibition has the same 4-person-family package.

Fantasy Fair, the indoor amusement park which is found inside Woodbine Centre Mall, is also as cheap. Their family pass will include up to only 4 people and at least one must be an adult. Dad stays home again. The annual family pass is good for 2 people under 54 inches tall, and two people over 54 inches tall, which will exclude tall children. Again, very peculiar pricing scheme.

Casa Loma not only has no offering for families, it applies a per/hour parking scheme, leaving me to wonder if it is worth seeing. An amazing castle in the heart of Toronto, one would be tempted to sprint through its vast interior to save a few bucks out in the parking lot.

Wild Water Kingdom, Toronto’s huge water park, offers family season passes, but only for families up to 4. Large families are not welcome.

The Ontario Science Centre will offer you a family rate, but only if you sign up as a one or two year member. There are no limits to family size mentioned on the website. Visitors with children who wish for a daily outing will find no bargains.

Marineland was one of the worst offenders of all. A place of true enchantment and amazing shows, Marineland’s owners feel no need to offer families anything. In fact, they go so far as to consider one an adult after the age of 9. Not wanting to be outdone, Canada’s Wonderland is not only family unfriendly, but considers childhood to end at the tender age of 6. Both fail to include a family deal in their formulations. Too bad.

As a father to 5 children, I often find it frustrating that there are a very limited amount of attractions that I can take my family to that are family friendly. I realize that there are costs incurred, but at most venues, allowing 2, 4, or 6 children per family really has no bearing on anything other than positives for all involved. Take for example the Toronto Zoo plan. With up to 4 children being admitted, they are able to draw upon a bigger pool of visitors than they would be able to at 2 children per family. Admitting 4 children instead of 2 will actually help the zoo in many different ways.

It will give it a broader base of support as the children grow up with an affection for the zoo, as there is a good likelihood that they will return with their own children. I find that I take my children to exhibits and parks that I once enjoyed. A larger family will also spend more money on incidentals, souvenirs, and food.

As well, there is more bang for the buck, and as someone with a larger than average family, I find the zoo very welcoming and I highly recommend it. They have solicited support from me with their acceptance of my family size, and that is good for both of us.

If any of you know of some fantastic family friendly spots that absolutely have to be mentioned, please let me know and I will them add to this column.