Writer ∙ Editor ∙ Author

All-access passes

Today's Parent / July 2014

Consider purchasing a membership to one of these popular Toronto attractions

ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO, FAMILY MEMBERSHIP
A membership to Toronto’s biggest art gallery offers an unlimited number of collections and special exhibitions, plus tons of extras: free access to the AGO’s annual Family Day; discounts on art classes and summer camps; 10-percent off tasty treats and souvenirs at the gift shop; a subscription to Art Matters magazine and the What’s On newsletter; and more (can’t beat free coat check!). Kids of all ages will love the revolving door of new things, and Mom and Dad will love sneaking art and culture into rainy days.$130 per year (two adults and up to five children younger than 17). ago.net/ family-membership

RIPLEY’S AQUARIUM OF CANADA, ANNUAL PASS
If you’ve already checked out the city’s brand new, much-anticipated aquarium, you know it’s kid paradise: stingrays for touching, polka-dotted jelly fish, and sharks lurking in the Dangerous Lagoon. An annual pass gets you unlimited aquarium access, 10-percent off at the café and gift shop, and 10-percent off tickets for your guests. Don’t miss the climb-in “research submarine” for a 360-degree look at the bottom of the sea! Adults, $100; youth six to 13, $60; children ages three to five, $25; kids two and younger get in free. ripleysaquariumofcanada.com

TORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONCERTS SUBSCRIPTION
The world-famous TSO offers more than one-hundred concerts a season— including four Young People’s Concert Series events specifically for kids (though we suspect parents won’t mind the change in tempo, either!). This year features “Symphonic Spooks” (with Halloween dancers), “Shake, Rattle and Roll” with a percussion ensemble, and a Pan Am Games special in true patriotic spirit. TSO subscribers score up to 20-percent off tickets, free last-minute exchanges, first pick on front-row seats and a subscriber discount card for restaurants nearby. $64 to $102 per person for four shows. tso.ca

TORONTO ZOO, FAMILY MEMBERSHIP
With more than 5,000 animals and 500 species, no kid could ever get bored of the zoo! A membership, however, makes visits much easier: free seasonal Zoomobile rides, early admission to special exhibits (this year includes the new Giant Panda Experience), a discount on educational programs, and 10-percent off at shops and restaurants. Members can stay up-to-date with a free subscription to the Toronto Zoo’s magazine and, best of all, your fee helps save and protect animals and their habitats here and abroad. $195 per year (two adults and up to four kids between three and 15). torontozoo.com/ membership

BLACK CREEK PIONEER VILLAGE, FAMILY MEMBERSHIP
The city’s favourite heritage site has more than 40 19th-century buildings—some transplanted, others still on their original sites—all in one enclosed village for kids to run around and explore. Besides unlimited free admission, Black Creek members enjoy free parking and discounts on food and gifts, plus savings on speical events, workshops and day camps. Hard-core fans (a.k.a. Gold Members) get free wagonette rides, complimentary tickets to Christmas by Lamplight and four “Bring a Friend” passes. Family membership, $95; Gold family membership, $175 (both include two parents and all children). blackcreek.ca

ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE, FAMILY MEMBERSHIP
For 364 days a year, the Science Centre lets curious families explore the world around them with 600 hands-on exhibits— from building your own roller coaster at KidSpark to seeing what you’ll look like in 20 years at the Aging Machine—all explained by friendly, quirky guides! The “Silver for Us” membership includes discounts on day camps and parking, as well as at the gift shop and restaurant, plus 50-percent off the famous IMAX films. Or, upgrade to the “Gold for Us” membership for free IMAX, exclusive previews and guest passes, too. Silver for Us membership, $130 per family; Gold for Us membership, $230 per family (both include two adults and up to four children younger than 18). ontariosciencecentre.ca/memberships

TORONTO PUBLIC LIBRARY, LIBRARY CARD
It’s not an obvious membership, per se, but it’ll give your kids that members-only feeling: Just visit any of the 99 Toronto Public Library branches with current ID and proof of address, and your little bookworm will be the proud owner of her very first library card. There’s no age minimum and no charge for kids to borrow books—and CDs, DVDs and magazines, as well as access to the library’s massive online database. Free. torontopubliclibrary.ca

ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM,FAMILY DUAL MEMBERSHIP
Two adults and up to four children are spoiled for perks at the ROM: unlimited free admission to galleries and exhibitions; unlimited free member tickets to special exhibitions and previews; discounts at the boutiques and cafés; an e-newsletter to keep you in the loop; and lots more. Little ones will enjoy being a part of the ROM Explorers Club (“passport” holders get special-event access and extra activities, like stamp collecting and prizes). ROM families even get into six other Canadian museums for free! $149 for one year; $269 for two years. rom.on.ca

CENTREVILLE AMUSEMENT PARK, SEASON PASS
Thirty-plus rides and attractions, like the spinning Scrambler, scary Monster Coaster or the gorgeous Antique Carousel, are just a fast (and fun!) ferry ride away, on 600 acres of the beloved Toronto Island. Season-pass holders big and small score a whole summer’s worth of unlimited access, including the Far Enough Farm for pony rides and 18 holes of complimentary mini-putting. Bring your camera for a photograph with Centreville’s most popular character, Beasley Bear! $65 per person. centreisland.ca

CANADA’S WONDERLAND, SEASON PASS
With more than 200 attractions and 69 rides, there’s a ton of family fun—even for those four feet or shorter—to be had at Canada’s Wonderland. And if your goal is to stay cool this summer, there are plenty of options there, too: White Water Canyon atop whooshing rapids, gentle sea spray at Timberwolf Falls, and, of course, Splash Works—home to one of the country’s largest outdoor wave pools. Adults, $90; kids three and older (but shorter than 48 inches), $72. canadaswonderland.com

WILD WATER KINGDOM, FAMILY SEASON PASS
Head just outside the city to Brampton for some much-needed relief from the heat! Prepare yourself: Wild Water Kingdom has 19 waterslides, a massive wave pool, a 25-foot rock climbing wall (under a waterfall, of course) and—for the relaxed among us—the crowd- favourite Lazy River. Even those who’d rather stay dry can stay busy with 18-holes of mini golf. Family pass (up to four people), $208 (until June 30) or $256; kids three and younger always play for free. wildwaterkingdom.com