The CN Tower is the most recognized structure of the Toronto skyline.
It is a must-see for visitors.
I was lucky to have a view of the CN Tower from our office window for many years. The sight of it greeted me each morning and bid me goodnight at the end of the day. Somehow, it made me feel I was part of the vibrant city of Toronto. I didn’t realize how much it became a part of my day until our office moved to another site. Catching occasional glimpses of it from a much farther distance just wasn’t the same.
As a famous Toronto icon and landmark, all visitors to Toronto cannot miss a sighting of this impressive structure in downtown Toronto. The “CN” in its name now stands for Canada’s National but was originally named after the railway that built it, Canadian National. Did you know that a giant Sikorsky helicopter named Olga was used to lift up the final antenna pieces to be secured onto the tower? Toronto residents may not know it but they are indirectly touched by the CN Tower everyday as they receive major broadcasts, radio and wireless transmissions from the CN Tower. Yes, the CN Tower is both an important communications hub and a great tourist and entertainment attraction.
Completed in April 1975 and standing at 553.33 metres or 1815 feet, 5 inches, it held the record* for about 30 years as the World’s Tallest Free-Standing Structure. It remains an engineering Wonder of the Modern World and still holds the world record for the highest wine cellar at 351 metres or 1151 feet from the ground.
The CN Tower opened its doors to the public on June 26, 1975. Since then, it has received millions of visitors through its doors. If you have a chance to visit Toronto, come and visit the CN Tower it is open every day except Christmas Day. In less than a minute (58 seconds to be exact), you will be whisked up by super high-speed glass-fronted elevators to catch an awesome view of the city. Any one of the six available elevators will lift you up at the speed of 22 km per hour so hang tight!
Observation Experience is your basic admission and will allow you to visit the Observation Deck and the Glass Floor. Your experience begins at the Welcome Centre. Security is tight, so prepare to be “puffed” with air as you pass through the security archways. Apparently this helps security check for explosives. Then you have a chance to be educated on the history of the CN Tower and other facts by looking at some booths. Before you go ahead further, one of the ambassadors takes your picture and you can buy it for a fee at from the gift shop at the end of your viewing experience.
Finally you get to the elevator ride which is not so bad unless you really have a fear of heights. It’s over so fast the butterflies in your stomach wouldn’t have time to hatch! You will first stop at the Look Out which is located at a height of 346 metres or 1136 feet. This is where you can look out at the city of Toronto. Go around the deck and try to find your hotel or any spot you may have already visited. The Horizons Restaurant is located at the Look Out level in case you want some food.
One floor down is where you will find the Glass Floor. It has a view 1122 feet all the way down! But don’t be scared because you can walk, jump or lie on the glass floor. It’s super thick and said to “withstand the weight of 14 large hippos.” I am not afraid of heights so I did walk, jump and had my photo taken to prove it. You will also find the Outdoor Observation Level on this floor. It is really windy out there and a bit chilly too.
Most people are happy with the Observation Experience. But for an extra fee, you can upgrade and get a breathtaking 360 degree view from the Skypod. A special elevator will take you 33 storeys higher. You will be a t a height of 447 metres or 1465 feet. They say that on a clear day you can see Niagara Falls or Rochester, New York.
The CN Tower also has a revolving restaurant called 360 The Restaurant which houses the World’s Highest Wine Cellar. Purchase of a main course here will include elevation so it is wise to make reservations. Peter George is the Executive Chef of this award-winning restaurant.
For those with lots of time to spare, you can enhance your experience further with a 3D film called Ultimate Wave Tahiti or a motion theatre ride called Himalamazon. An elevator at the main entrance will bring you to these attractions. You can check out the CN Tower website for more
information on prices and more details.
Before your experience ends, you will wind up at the gift shop. You will find lots of Canadiana souvenirs here but of course some products will be at a premium price than outdoors. Definitely you will enjoy browsing around and taking pictures with the giant stuffed bears. You can claim your photo souvenirs here too.
So what’s new at the CN Tower?
In 2011, the CN Tower proudly celebrates its 35th birthday. From June 26 leading to July 1 (Canada Day), many events have been lined up to commemorate this special date. Check out the details at http://www.cntower.ca/en-CA/What-s-Up/Now-at-the-CN-Tower/35th-Anniversary-Celebrations.html
Starting in the summer (August) of 2011, the CN Tower will also offer the EdgeWalk. According to their website it is “the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk on a 5 ft (1.5 m) wide ledge encircling the top of the CN Tower’s main pod, 356m, (1168 ft., 116 stories) above the ground.”
Priced at CDN $175.00 per person, a group of 6 to 8 persons will be able to walk around the ledge attached to overhead harnesses. The walk itself will take about 20 – 30 minutes but will surely give thrill-seekers an experience to last a lifetime!
I have personally been up to the CN Tower 3 - 4 times and walked on the Glass Floor with no fear. But the EdgeWalk is another matter and I’m not sure if I would go on it if I had the chance. For the thrill-seekers out there, would you dare?
*In 2010, the Khalifa Tower in Dubai took this record. Sources used: Guiness World of Records, CN Tower website and own experiences.