Amusement Parks
National Parks
Route 66 Cities Beaches


Cedar Point

Amusement Parks


Amusement parks, like everything else, run in cycles. Currently, Cedar Point sits on top of the mountain. It has the most total rides (68), the most coasters (16), the largest acreage (364), the highest coaster, and in all the various polls, it claims someplace in the top five in more than half of all categories. Three million people visit here each summer.

In Mean Streak it has the second ranked wooden coaster in the world. In Magnum it has either the first or second ranked steeler, according to what poll you favor. No other park can claim the beach, the 665 dock marina, the 1500 room hotel, 60 cottages or the 224 site campground Cedar Point offers. It has one of the top five amusement park railroads, the most scenic miniature golf course, and the only amusement park museum.

Its vintage arcade is one of the top three. Other parks have carousels; Cedar Point has Cedar Downs, a unique racecourse with horses actually racing each other around the huge circle through slots in the floor, navigating a track so big it has a flower garden in the middle. Other parks have wild mice, with a zigzag up on top, and several heavily braked drops; Cedar Point has the Wildcat, with race cars zipping up and down and around at breakneck speeds.

It's quite a destination, worth at least an annual three day weekend. If the family wants a break, there is big time charter boat fishing, passenger ferries out to Put In Bay or across to Canada, Fostoria glass collecting, one of America's greatest small zoos, and a drive through Safari.

But Cedar Point has ridden a roller coaster of its own through its 130 year history. Rather than the trolley park model parks like Kennywood followed, Cedar Point began as a beach resort, with patrons riding ferries out from Sandusky, Cleveland and Toledo. The magnificent Breakers Hotel was erected in 1901 and has hosted a series of presidents, movie stars, business tycoons and other celebrities. Whether or not there would be much of an amusement park on the island was never certain, since various owners thought they were low class and preferred the beachfront business. But over the years various roller coasters and other rides were built but allowed to deteriorate. Periods of prosperity would be followed by long money losing decades. At one point the park lost money for 17 straight seasons. In 1958 a Toledo group bought the park and envisioned an upscale residential community. Ohio thought not, and threatened to condemn the property and turn it into a state park. Under Cedar Fair Corporation, the park has finally achieved long term prosperity. For the first time, more people come for the roller coasters than for the beach.

So while Kennywood, Coney Island, Hershey, and Geauga Lake were thriving in the postwar era, Cedar Point wasn't even sure what it would be. Finally Cedar Fair management took over and pointed the lakefront resort down a definite amusement park future.

Its grand old hotel, beachfront resort and hunting and fishing location give Cedar Point quite a different history than more traditional amusement parks. Various presidents have made it their annual vacation retreat, national conventions have been held here, and well known industrial magnates have maintained rooms or cottages. Knute Rockne and Woody Hayes served as life guards here, and Rockne met his wife at the Breakers, where she was working in the cafeteria. Rockne and Hayes later brought their Notre Dame and Ohio State football teams to Cedar Point for preseason training camps at times when the park was in financial trouble and desperately needed the business.

The lakefront location has advantages, but it creates certain problems for early season visitors. In May and early June cold rains can quickly move in from Canada, so if you come at that time, be sure and bring a hooded sweatshirt and rain parka. Early June also brings the annual two week invasion of muffleheads, furry winged insects that swarm into clouds so thick you can't talk or even breathe around dusk. They're no reason to stay home, but time your day so you head back to the hotel and stay inside from about 7 pm on.

The beach and fishing bring midwestern families who come here instead of the ocean, so July and August can be crowded even on weekends. July Fourth and Labor Day are especially jammed. If you can time a trip in September or October it would be advisable. You also obtain "shoulder season" rates at The Breakers.

Staying at The Breakers is recommended for many reasons (see Lodging), but one major one is that you get in the park an hour early. Hitting the coasters at 10 a.m. before the long lines form is wonderful.

The water park here is adjacent to, not inside, the main property. You therefore pay extra, but if you stay at The Breakers, you get a package, where if you spend the first day inside the park, your second day at the water park is significantly discounted.

If you visit between July Fourth and Labor Day be sure to bring your swimsuit. This is the second best beach on the Great Lakes, behind only Erie's Presque Isle. The water is frosty as late as June, and is still pretty invigorating even in High Summer. But it's worth a few dips.

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