Have you seen the PNE lately?

The PNE is an annual tradition in our family. Every year we pick a date in the last two weeks of summer and make the trek to Renfrew and Hastings for our big day. We do it all… rides, barns, shows, corn dogs, cotton candy, and superdogs too. We’ve kinda been on autopilot the last few years, knowing exactly what we want to do and where we’ll go.

Change has been happening every year at the PNE, but this time it really stood out.

 

Walking in the main gates, we found the Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit. With three little hockey players in tow (including two girls), this was our first stop. Even with the excitement of the rides to come, the kids loved it. We saw Wayne Gretzky’s first pair of skates, Hayley Wickenheiser’s uniform, photos of days and games gone by, and lots of trophies and cups too. IMG_1882

As we strolled past the amazing food trucks, we came across a stand that clearly stated “BEER WINE”. Out in the open, without fenced in areas where kids aren’t allowed! I had to stop and clarify that this was actually true. Well, YES it was. You can now purchase a beer or wine to walk around the PNE as you please (exceptions: Marketplace, Coliseum, and Playland ride area). What a fantastic addition for adults visiting!

IMG_1900Before we get too far in, a priority for us is the Guest Services kiosk near the main gate (there’s another at the Playland entrance) where you can register your kids for their “If I am Lost” sticker. Slap it on their back and if they do get lost, they just show it to a PNE employee and they have all your contact information on hand for reuniting. IMG_1891

The barns are the next stop. We can always count on the baby animals for a good hour of entertainment… piglets, chicks just hatching, calfs, bunnies and more. This year there was the local products store, the beehive, and the country farm kids activites. This area never gets old.

The kids were so excited for the rides, so off we went. The Corkscrew, Atmosfear (I can’t watch), 1000 Nachts (one of our favourites), and the new family-friendly rides like Dizzy Drop and FlutterBye.  Saving the rides for later in the day helps in three ways: first, the lineups are IMG_1951significantly shorter after dinner, especially for the kids’ rides. Second, you IMG_1971don’t have the intense heat of summer making you sweat. Third, the rides light up at night with colours and neon, and it’s a whole new experience. Save the daytime for the shows and exhibits where you are in shaded comfort!

Don’t forget to bring your own refillable water bottles. You can stop at any of the food kiosks and they’ll gladly refill for you. We refilled three times, saving us a lot of money and wasted plastic bottles.

The food is exciting at the PNE! There’s the old stand-by’s like cotton candy, corn dogs, and perogies. But some of the newer additions included ANYthing deep-fried, like chicken feet, coffee, cheesecake just to name a few. We love the sweet corn dipped in butter, and the award-winning barbecue trailers in Celebration Plaza, which has become a great gathering spot for music and food lovers.

After the rides, you can take in one of the Summer Night Concerts. This year it was acts like Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top, B-52’s, and Rick Springfield that stole the stage. They’ve made this IMG_2002super easy too: If you haven’t already bought a reserved ticket online, grab a wristband in Playland starting at 2pm, at the red tent near the Revelation ride. The wristband gives you an entry time – they start allowing entry at 6:30pm and times are staggered every half hour. If you still miss out on the wristbands, there are two giant screens to watch: in Celebration Plaza, and at Festival Park near the main entrance.

Tired kids in tow, we finally headed out of the park at 10pm. Exhausted, but with so many stories of laughter, fear, and fun. That is, after all, what the PNE is all about.

Will we see you there next time?!