A day at Cedar Point, America’s Roller Coast (Ride On!)

Over the last few years, thanks to my annual pass, I’ve been to Cedar Point almost as much as Disney. Last month, a friend and I participated in a 5K through Cedar Point. After going back to the hotel room and freshening up, we went to Cedar Point to take in the thrills and excitement the amusement park has to offer.

Entrance-Sign
Cedar Point is Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.’s flagship amusement park. It is located in Sandusky, Ohio. With 16 roller coasters, Cedar Point amusement park is home to the largest collection of coasters on the planet. Debuting in 2013 is GateKeeper, a high-flying wing steel coaster. Overall, Cedar Point has 72 rides; four children’s areas; a gigantic waterpark (Soak City); three resort hotels; a year-round indoor waterpark resort; luxury RV campground with cottages and cabins; two marinas; an entertainment complex (Challenge Park); award-winning live entertainment; gift shops; restaurants and more. Cedar Point has been voted the “Best Amusement Park in the World” for a record 15 consecutive years!

Typically, crowds at Cedar Point swell to breaking point on weekends in the summer. The park is an easy drive from Ohio, Southern Michigan, Eastern Indiana, and Western Pennsylvania. We saw license plates from New York, Alabama, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and Massachusetts, too. Because of its popularity and availability to so many people, I usually like to take at least two days to ride the rides. This trip we were limited to one day. Thankfully, much to our satisfaction and benefit; the rains of the early morning coupled with being Father’s Day kept the crowds to extremely low levels.

This was our park plan:
• Get back to the park as soon as possible. Our race registration included an extra hour early entry. And as with other theme/amusement parks, arriving for park opening usually yields the largest number of rides ridden while minimizing the wait times in line.
• Meet up with 2 friends from home. Four people is a good number of people to tour a park with. Nobody is left standing alone if someone has to use the facilities, you can switch up ride buddies, nobody rides alone and it’s nice to catch up.
• Must ride coasters: the new GateKeeper and Millennium Force. Everything else was a bonus if we got to ride.
• Head home around 8pm since it would be a 2½ hour drive and we both had to report to work at 7 the next morning.

This is what transpired:
• Pulled into the parking plaza around 11am, one hour after park opening. The hotel we stayed at offered a nice complimentary hot breakfast and we needed to shower and get dressed and repack the car. (And I may or may not have taken a 30 minute siesta…)
• We met up with 4 friends from home in the parking lot. Not the ones we had planned to meet. We met up with the friends we meant to meet, too; but they were 3, not 2, so our party grew from 4 to 7-9 depending. And at least half of the group really didn’t like roller coasters.
• Finally had an elephant ear, which has been on the ‘to do’ list for quite a while.
• We made enough trips to the car to stay properly hydrated. I always bring a cooler with something to drink and usually eat, because a bottle of water was $3+ in the park. That adds up quick being there for a whole day when it is hot.
• We rode 9 of the 16 roller coasters and a handful of other rides.
• We stayed to watch/dance Luminosity. Cedar Point’s night time fireworks/concert/dancing park closing entertainment.

GateKeeper

Photo courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.

GateKeeper, the new coaster for this year certainly looked impressive. Spiffy colors and the track literally stands sentry over the entrance turn styles. It hugs the fenced in front portion of the park. We were expecting the lines for GateKeeper to be at least 90 minutes. Posts on Facebook and Twitter had line times between 90 and 180 minutes earlier in the week. It was the new ride, so it was to be expected. We would battle it out. It was later in the afternoon when we walked over to the entrance of the queue, there was no time listed for wait time. Someone asked the ride attendant and was told less than 15 minutes. Less than 15 minutes for the newest ride? Impressive. It actually only took 9. Since there were 9 of us at that point, I volunteered to be the solo rider and ride with a stranger. That was a mistake. (Please take care of personal hygiene when going to a park. Deodorant is your friend.) Perhaps it was because we had already ridden fast rides and thrilling rides and looping rides, but I wasn’t impressed with GateKeeper. There wasn’t anything special about it. It wasn’t very high. It wasn’t very fast. The track (and subsequently the ride vehicles) passes through two large cement pillars above the entrance turn styles. That was about it. I didn’t regret riding it, but I also had no desire to ride it again that day—even with such a short line. It was like riding in a cherry red Porsche 911 on the Autobahn, but only doing 40mph. We will certainly ride it again on upcoming trips, just not as a ‘must do’ attraction.

The longest wait of the day was about 45 minutes for the Maverick. It just seemed as though everyone converged on that particular coaster at once. Throughout the day the lines for the rest of the coasters seemed to max out at 15 minutes. Seeing as how I was expecting the ‘classic’ older coasters to have at least an hour wait, I was certainly pleased. The rides were all clean and seemed in good working order. Both of which have been issues in the past.

Luminosity
Luminosity was something I was thinking about attending the night before the race. We decided against it and thought we would just have to forgo the experience. I am glad we chose to stay for it. The show is about 25-30 minutes long. Luminosity ignites the night with music, lights, fireworks and dance. High-energy performers electrify the crowds with well-choreographed performances of songs from popular music (and yes a couple that those who grew up a little bit ago still remember). After the show, a live DJ invites you to stay and dance. Tip–If you stay and dance, the parking lot empties out a bit more, so you won’t be sitting in the mass exodus of everyone leaving.

There were a couple other things I noticed on our visit. Cedar Point (I believe all Cedar Fair properties followed suit) switched their pop affiliation. They are now a Coca-Cola park instead of Pepsi. I have given up pop and drink primarily water, but if I were to get a glass, I would prefer Pepsi. The employees seemed to have more blank stares and far less enthusiasm or excitement than in years past. I don’t expect everyone to be chipper and happy and energetic 100% of the time—after all, this isn’t a Disney Cruise—but something less robotic. Even when the employees goof off a little, the fun they are having tends to be contagious. Even the barkers for the Midway games were dull and didn’t try to get anyone to play.

Overall, I look forward to going to Cedar Point again later this year as well as visiting another Cedar Fair park, Knott’s Berry Farm in California at the end of summer.

We will be going to Cedar Point again in a couple weeks. If there is anything you’d like to know about, see, challenge us to, etc, please let me know in the comments below and I will include them in the blog about that trip. I expect it to be about how Cedar Point handles crowd management. =)

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