For any roller coaster fan, Cedar Point is a mecca, with 15 coasters as of 2013. It opened in 1870, making it the second-oldest operating amusement park in the United States. It has won Amusement Today’s “Golden Ticket Award” for Best Amusement Park for the past 13 years. Whenever I told people of our trip, the first question I was asked was usually, “Are you going to Cedar Point?” Anyone I spoke to from the Midwest sighed with nostalgia and a touch of envy when I told them I was. My impressions of the park: first and foremost, it undoubtedly has one of the best collections of roller coasters in the world. It is very well run by an enthusiastic staff, and it does a great job of combining roller coasters, thrill rides, kiddie rides, and classic Americana. It is wildly fun. Is it better than the Disney Parks? Let’s just say the Cedar Point is an amusement park and Disney has theme parks. Apples and oranges.
Much to our surprise, today was the American Coaster Enthusiast’s annual Coastermania event at the park, so thousands of… uh, enthusiatic people had been there since 7am. This turn of events combined with the fact that we wanted to do everything in 8 hours prompted us to buy the Fast Lane Plus pass, which cuts wait times down to 5-15 minutes at virtually every major ride in the park. Worth every penny. If you don’t have a Fast Lane pass, it is imperative to arrive before park opening (and ideally for early entry, which you get by either staying on property or having a Cedar Fair Platinum Season Pass). The website The Point Online has a great plan. Cedar Point has a decent official app, and the “Cedar Point Ride Watch App” has crowd-sourced wait times.
I also used a nifty little app called Coaster Counter which not only gives information on each coaster, but also allows you to check them off throughout the day (and maintains a database of all the coasters you have ridden). It isn’t perfect, but it’s incredibly helpful when you want to make sure you ride everything. Coaster Counter also has a web version that syncs with the app and also allows you to download your lists.
We had a few minor mishaps – for Gatekeeper and Top Thrill Dragster, the rides broke down right before we were going to ride, so we left the line and returned later, which would have been a nightmare without our Fast Lane Plus passes.
One other thing stuck out for us at Cedar Point: the muffleheads. These bugs were EVERYWHERE. They’re fairly innocuous and don’t bite, but they apparently like to hang out at Cedar Point all summer.
There is a variety of known food vendors at Cedar Point, including Dave’s Famous BBQ, Panda Express, Subway, Chick-Fil-A, and LA’s own Pink’s Hot Dogs. The food choices were fine overall, and the prices were obscene, as one would expect ($6 for fries or a Sno-cone, $5 for a pretzel or a lemonade). We heard positive things about the all-you-can-eat Midway Market buffet, but felt it was not wise to eat too much before the rides. Cedar Point is apparently famous for its French Fries, so we bought an order on our way out. They were fresh and tasty, but nothing extraordinary. The fresh-baked pretzel I had from Auntie Anne’s (a new addition to Cedar Point) was better, in my opinion.
I was amazed by the incredible assortment of Cedar Point-branded items, and equally impressed by the number of people wearing Cedar Point-branded clothing, especially considering that there are no Cedar Point “characters” (other than the standard Cedar Fair association with the “Peanuts” franchise.
We visited the Town Hall Museum, which was a highlight of the day. It detailed the rich 143 year history of the park, with hundreds of artifacts from its past. It made for a great mid-day break, but also added a historical context to our day. Joel also liked driving the antique cars around the track.
Fast Lane: If you’re coming from far away and only going to Cedar Point for one day, a Fast Lane pass is almost a necessity. It dramatically cuts the waiting time on virtually all the major roller coasters. The price depends on how many passes you’re buying. For an additional $15/person, you also get Fast Lane “Plus”, which in 2013 gives access to Top Thrill Dragster and Gatekeeper. The only adult coaster not on either of these is programs is Wicked Twister, so we rode that early in the morning.
Early Access: Cedar Fair Platinum Pass members and those guests staying at Cedar Point-owned hotels get into the park one hour early, although a limited number of rides are open at that time.
VIP Tours: The ultimate indulgence at Cedar Point, these cost $395 per person (as of 2013) and include front of line access to all rides, a tour guide, preferred parking, seating at restaurants, show seating, and more. I believe it’s for a minimum of four and a maximum of eight people, with discounts for non-riders. Call for details. Considering that the Fast Lane Plus quickly got us onto virtually everything we wanted to ride, we couldn’t imagine paying the additional amount for this, but for those who want everything taken care of, it’s an option.