Cedar Point located Sandusky Ohio is the self-professed “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” and with 17 coasters currently operating and another one under construction you can see why. Cedar Point was the Golden ticket winner for “Best Amusement Park” continuously for 16 years from 1997-2013. Whilst it may come second in the number of coasters to Six Flags Magic Mountain, the variety of genuine non-gimmicky coasters and great family atmosphere make this park a must-do for all theme park enthusiasts. I had the pleasure of attending for two days over their Halloweekends offerings last September, once on Friday night for Haunt and also on the Sunday for the more family-friendly Great Pumpkin Fest.
Family Rides (8/10)
Cedar Point truly has something for the whole family, including not one, not two, but three complete Children’s themed areas throughout the park. These include Kiddy Kingdom as well as Planet Snoopy and Camp Snoopy, both themed to the Peanuts characters. Though these rides are mostly designed for children to ride and parents to watch, there are still plenty of rides to do as a family such as the two tracked car driving attractions, a giant Ferris Wheel which gives you an amazing view of the park, and my personal favourite “Cedar Downs Racing Derby” – a crazy fast and fun original 1920’s racing horse carousel, one of only two still in operation around the world.
Thrill Rides (10/10)
I could easily spend hours writing about all of the spectacular thrill rides on offer at this park. Cedar Point is the only park in the world which contains six coasters above 200 ft (60m) and is soon to add another with “Steel Vengeance” currently under construction an RMC hybrid conversion of Mean Streak that will soon become the world’s first hybrid-hyper coaster when it opens later this year.
Unfortunately, on the Sunday of our trip Top Thrill Dragster had a cable snap which put it out of operation for the entire day. Of the open coasters however my top three are as follows:
- #3 – Gatekeeper – Whilst this may not be the most thrilling coaster at the park, it’s prime location and the keyhole element above the park’s entrance makes this wing coaster an unforgettable ride.
- #2 – Maverick – This was the longest wait we experienced across the two days sitting at around 50 minutes and it was definitely worth it. This ride really is like being strapped to the back of a bucking bronco and letting it run free.
- #1 – Millenium Force – Since its opening, this ride has been consistently teetering year after year between first and second place for the top steel roller coaster in the world. This ride is everything a giga-coaster should be and more, after you ascend 310ft (94m) up the beautifully smooth cable lift hill you are in for an amazing couple of minutes full of speed, power and sweet sweet airtime. If you can only do one coaster at Cedar Point. Make it this one.
A good selection of flat rides round-out the park including the Windseeker which is simply the best way to see everything the park has to offer.
As noted before we attended during their annual Halloweekends event which runs from mid-September to Late October. This event offers a ton of experiences only available at this time of the year including six indoor haunt mazes and six outdoor scare zones. We didn’t get the chance to experience any of the haunt offerings apart from the parade of monsters as this was my first visit to the park and I wanted to maximise my ride time. Using this time of year to ride coasters especially at night on Friday is a great idea as a lot of the crowds are absorbed into the haunt offerings.
On Sunday I went none of the outdoor scare zones were available but there were a lot of family-friendly offerings added including a Hay Bale Maze, as well as a mild walkthrough attraction called “The Magical House on Boo Hill”! Also if you are interested in Theme Park history make sure to check to check out the museum located near the back of the park for a history of Cedar Point as well as some old ride vehicles and models of rides.
We only got the chance to see two entertainment offerings during the time we spent at the park but both were enjoyable and perfect for their target market. The major show of Halloweekends is the “Skeleton Crew”, this show takes place on an outdoor stage right on the border of the scare zones. The show had a great mix of circus and BMX stunts and takes place both day and night throughout the event.
The other entertainment item we saw was the “Great Pumpkin Parade” which was a decent little parade for a local park that starred everyone’s favourite Peanuts characters. There were plenty of other Entertainment offerings as well including an orchestral show by Midnight Syndicate as well as a musical revue show.
Every staff member we came across was incredibly helpful and they all seemed to really enjoy their jobs. The ride operators deserve to be applauded, their efficiency at dispatching ride vehicles was amazing, they did it with perfect speed without ever making you feel like you were being rushed. Also, the applause they give you when re-entering the stations for unloading is also a nice little touch.
This is a local American theme park so you can bet their only themed area is old West themed. However, this is one of the best areas themed to the Wild West outside a Disney park. This area feels even more genuine due to the traditional crafts and foods on offer such as a blacksmith, sweets shop and the always popular Kettle corn.
The theming around the park specifically for the Haunt areas was also done to a high standard. You can appreciate the theming a lot more as you walk around the event areas on Sunday and admire the hard work that goes into making this limited time event happen.
Cedar Point has some of the best theme park merch I’ve seen outside a Disney or Universal park, every major ride had its own line of merchandise from stat shirts to cups to pins. There was also a great selection of general Cedar Point merchandise which included a really nice retro Cedar Point collection which included old attractions and logos from the park. Most people will find it impossible to leave this park without at least one small memento of their visit. Prices for merchandise was around typical for Theme Park prices nearing around $25 for a tee-shirt, $10 for a pint glass, and $7 for a pin.
At first glance the ticket prices to Cedar Point seem to be a great value, a two-day ticket into the park only costs around $75USD per person. This value is continued into the fact that their special events such as Halloweekends see no separate entry tickets. All the shows, walkthroughs and experiences are included in your normal park ticket.
They do however have a fast lane ticket which includes front of the line access to the majority of their big rides. This currently costs around $80 on top of your ticket price per person per day of use. The only time I could see the value in this is if you can only have one day at the park and it’s during the peak season, otherwise it’s better value to spend two days at the resort and not be as stressed about having to do everything in one day. They also offer a Halloweekends specific Fright Lane pass usable on the mazes as well as 5 exclusive Skeleton Key Rooms.
Some people assume that big coaster parks will have the general atmosphere of being the local hangout area for the loud and obnoxious. Cedar Point, however, has a great family-friendly atmosphere, especially on the Sunday where guests of all ages were enjoying everything the park had to offer. If you are there for Halloweekends make sure you don’t miss the Animatronics on the parks main midway that sing, dance and shout rudeness at guests walking by.
The park contains a number of franchised restaurants such as Panda Express, Subway and Johnny Rockets as well as a Cleveland institution Melt, the heaven for all grilled cheese lovers (and my personal recommendation when in the park, though maybe only order a half serve if you’re about to jump back onto some coasters). Also, don’t worry coffee lovers, there’s an in-park Starbucks for all those desperately needed pick-me-ups.
Cedar Point’s layout is not kind to those with sore theme park legs, the park is essentially one big loop once you hit the back half and you can often see a ride towering over the park from where you are but have no idea how to get to it. Luckily the guide maps make it nice and obvious where you need to go to enter a ride and how to get there, even though the fastest way may include a lengthy walk.
Even though it was relatively quiet on the days we attended on, the park was running the maximum number of trains on almost every ride which made wait times in the park easily bearable. Cedar Point also has the great benefit of being a seasonal park which means most ride refurbishments are done in the off-season when the park is closed so most major rides should be open on your visit. One thing to be wary of though is that a lot of rides close down in inclement weather, especially high winds, so if a ride is open jump on it whilst you have the chance.
Put simply, Cedar Point is the best non-Disney or Universal park I have ever been to. What the park may be lacking in theming it more than makes up for with its great selection of World class Coasters and attractions. Before you visit make sure you check out http://www.isitpacked.com/ for a calendar of how busy the park is expected to be during your visit. This park is a must do for all Coaster enthusiasts, but don’t think your entire family won’t have an amazing day out at the Roller Coaster Capital of the World.
Cedar Point gets a final score of 77/100