The CNE is an annual tradition for my family. As a small child I can remember going and delighting in the sights and sounds of this massive carnival. As soon as I had kids of my own I was excited to carry forth this tradition. My kids are now 9 and 13 and they both enjoy a day at The EX.
But if you’re planning a trip to the CNE with small kids, it can be overwhelming. There’s alot of grounds to cover but here are some tips on what to see and do…
THE FARM: This is always a favourite with my kids even to this day. Located in the Better Living Centre is the farm within the city. Families can have fun navigating through the workings a play farm and pretend they are farmers from milking cows to collecting eggs and riding the toy tractors. They can also meet real life farmers who are proud to talk about their passions for kids of all ages. See live farm animals from adorably sweet piglets to freshly hatched chicks and see bees at work. Kids can also learn how to fish at Fish Friendzy. The Farm is spacious and a perfect spot to cool down especially on hot days.
KIDS’ WORLD: Closer to the west end near the Dufferin Gates this area is designated for families with daily stage entertainment featuring Thomas the Train, Barney, My Little Pony and more. There are also live animal shows featuring Birds of Prey and Reptilia. Pizza Nova Pizza Making is back by very popular demand and everyone gets a free slice at the end of each demonstration. The village in Kids’ World has great discovery zones that families can leisurely drop into.
KIDS’ WORLD Mini Midway: Just next to Kids’ World is a mini midway designed for small children with fun rides and never fail easy games.
FOOD BUILDING: You can’t go to the CNE without checking out the Food Building! Here’s you’ll be able to find international foods from dim sum to rotis to burritos. You’ll also get the usual carnival foods like pizza, pasta, fudge and perogies. A visit to the Ex always includes pressing your nose against the window of Tiny Tom Donuts and rewarding yourself with a fresh, hot bag (or two) of the mini donuts. If you’re adventurous there are always novelty food items to try out. Bacon Nation is back with their everything bacon menu including chocolate covered bacon. But the buzz this year is the Cronut – a mash up between a donut and a croissant. I’m not saying it’s good…just yet. But it’s all part of the fun!
PRESIDENT’S CHOICE SUPERDOGS SHOW: Each year the SuperDogs show draws a big draw. This year the show is “going country” in their brand new Wild Wild Woof extravaganza. Families can watch and cheer as the SuperDogs jump, weave, leap and even line dance? The shows are daily and located in Hall D of the Direct Energy Centre.
TIPS TO MANAGE YOUR DAY:
BABY CARE CENTRES are located throughout the CNE grounds that offer parents a quiet and private place to change and nurse babies.
WAGON RENTALS: The CNE is massive and if your little ones get tired wagons are available. Rental fee is $10 with a $50 deposit.
EXPRESS TRAINS: Free shuttle trains stop at various points on the CNE grounds and run daily from 10 am to 10 pm.
CNE APP: Download the App before you go to help you get more out of your visit.
SAFETY: I’ve always felt safe with my kids at the CNE and there are plenty of staff and security roaming the grounds as well as information booths. But some great tips were offered by the CNE security staff …
1. Write your cell phone number on the back of the inside of your child’s shirt or jacket – the way CNE staff members will know how to contact you quickly if you get separated.
2. Identify a special “meeting place” where everyone can meet if separated. (I tend to do this in each are we visit).
3. Dress your family in recognizable clothing.
4. Take photos of your kids with your mobile phone the morning you leave with what they are wearing that day.
5. Make sure your cellphone is charged up before you go and that your ringer is turned on LOUD and even on vibrate mode as well. The CNE is loud!
6. Know that the CNE has an on-site police station as well as “Found Children” Centres around the grounds.
The CNE runs from August 16 to September 2nd. Visit www.theex.com for all the information you need to plan out your day.
BY THE WAY… If you’re curious about the much hyped CRONUT BURGER from Epic Burgers & Waffles (Food Building)..Yes, it’s worth it. The $10 novelty food item is every bit as good as it is bad. What is it? It’s a burger with cheese only instead of the bun you have a donut-croissant-ish craziness holding it together. Make sure you eat it while it’s hot ’cause once it cools down it’s bleh. SO worth the bragging rights but you may want to bring some TUMS.
The CNE is Canada’s largest and much loved fair and one of the top 10 exhibitions in North America. Founded in 1879, the CNE generates an economic impact of about $58.6 million for the Greater Toronto Area and $80 million for the province of Ontario each year. For the past three consecutive fairs, the CNE has been awarded Eco Logo certification, confirming it as the “greenest” fair in North America, and the most “environmentally friendly” large scale event on the continent!