Imagine a snow-capped theme park that in winter has as many sled and tubing rides as the major waterparks, and in summer melts into a major waterpark, too. Say “Bonjour” to Village Vacances Valcartier, located within a half hour drive of Quebec City, Canada. For snow tubing on steroids – with toddler-friendly snow playgrounds and teen-thrilling rides down almost vertical icy chutes – head to this huge tubing complex. It will make you fall in love with winter, guaranteed.
We spent hours sampling a few of the 35 runs, had a good meal at their restaurant, then went back outdoors for more, laughing all the way.
You Can Start Low & Slow
Two large rides, the eight-seat wildly spinning Tornado and the 12-person inflatable boat-style Snow Rafts, are group raft affairs. We began with those to build up our courage for other rides. They’re perfect fun if you’ve got grandparents, toddlers age 3 or older, or tubing newbies in your group.
Fortunately, you can’t see all the other steep runs from this side of the village. You have to walk around and discover them on your own. Most of the other courses are designed for single tubes joined together in threes and fours: I hold your rope, you hold the one next to you, and on around until you’ve got some serious mass hurtling down the slopes. The tubes fly faster with more collective weight, hence the linking of tubes with others.
The ultimate run, Everest, joins the tubes in a line of up to six to achieve near-warp speed, actually up to 80kms/hour. And with 5,000 tubes available (choose a firmly inflated one, they go faster), there’s never more than a few minutes’ wait. Getting back up the hill is no problem with the “elevators,” which are tubes attached to a rope tow that allow you to plop into a tethered tube and ride back to the top. This video will give you a peek at the fun.
Skating, Snow Forts and More
There is a beautifully landscaped, gladed, half-mile-long skating path with music. At night, when 135 torches are lit along the perimeter, it’s especially fun for kids. Rental skates are available for only CAD$4.00.
Parents and grandparents with little ones will appreciate the themed snow fort and play area in Paradis des Tout-Petits, with gentler slides and equal fun. There’s the really unusual sport of Ice go-karting, and it is mellower than it sounds because it’s tough to bump anyone on the slick road surface.
Tips & Tools to Plan Your Visit to Village Vacances Valcartier
Throughout the winter, there are many festivals and school holiday events at Valcartier Vacation Village, so check their website to see what’s going on during your visit. Admission tickets can be packaged with fondue dinners -– a fun cultural treat for the kids — as Valcartier is open till 9pm or later each night in winter.
- Tip: Point your teens to the Ice Karting so they can practice their winter driving skills.
- Winter Driving Tip: If you start to slide while driving on ice, correct by steering in the direction of the slide, then straightening out.
- Tubing Tip: Bring ski goggles or sunglasses to keep the snow spray and wind out of your eyes.
After 50 years of growth, Valcartier is considered the largest winter playground in North America. In summer it becomes a waterpark, the second largest in Canada after the company’s Calypso Waterpark in Ontario. Families will find heated waterslides and fun themes such as the Amazon River and a Pirates Hideout with 66 different water features.
All year round, it’s an easy daytrip from Quebec City, which itself is a great family destination with many cultural activities. During the summer season, stay at their high-end, 700-site campground for a few days, and your family can go on waterslides galore, plus try river rafting on the real Jacques-Carter River nearby.
For more information, current pricing and schedules, visit Village Vacances Valcartier.
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