Roller Coaster Heaven: A Review of Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
Make the Most of Your Vacation at Cedar Point
by June Santini
Cedar Point has repeatedly been voted one of the best amusement parks in the country, and the region brags that Cedar Point is known as one of the top family vacation destinations in the world. The world? I'm not sure about that, but there's no question my family had fun. If you're planning a trip there, I have useful advice for you, so read on.
Cedar Point is one of the oldest and longest-lived amusement parks in the country. I'm sure that this is partly due to its superb location. Located in the Lake Erie Islands district of Northwest OH, Cedar Point was originally a beer garden, bathhouse, and dance floor on the beach side of a beautiful peninsula jutting out into the lake. Spectacular views of the lake can be seen from many of the rides at Cedar Point, but that’s not why people come here.
What draws so many visitors to Cedar Point? Simply put, it's roller coaster heaven. Cedar Point has some of the fastest, tallest, craziest thrill rides in the United States. We were there on the hottest weekend of the summer, and the wind whipping by on those coasters sure can cool you down. So if your family is adventurous, this is the place to go! My kids were ecstatic to be able to ride these coasters. My children are 16 and 12 and I saw many kids younger than them happily coming off some fairly (in my opinion) scary rides.
Cedar Point gives each coaster and ride a rating on a scale of 1-5, "1" being something even infants can go on like the Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad, and "5" for an aggressive thrill coaster like the Maxim XL200. I chose to skip the rides with a "5" rating. My kids loved those aggressive rides, though. The park also has a long list of what they call Thrill Rides, non-coasters that nevertheless deliver a wide range of thrills and excitement. These include the Chaos, the maXair, and the Monster.
If you are unsure whether your kids are ready for intense thrill rides, I would recommend starting out slowly with rides and coasters rated no more than "3," moderate thrill. I did brave a trip on a "4" coaster; it was fast enough for me, but didn't make me fear for my life or leave my head spinning. Maybe I've lost my youthful enthusiasm for thrill rides, but I'm all right with that.
For younger kids: Planet Snoopy
The Planet Snoopy area is filled with pint-sized, non-scary versions of some of Cedar Point's attractions. Parents can ride some of the rides with their children, while others are only for the little folk. The Frog Hopper mimics the big Power Tower thrill ride in a version that will leave the kids screaming with laughter, not fear. With more than fifteen different types of vehicle rides kids can pretend to be a driver, pilot, or sea captain to their heart’s content. And there are not one, but two carousels at Cedar Point, one of them being the first attraction built there in 1912, still in operation.
The First Aid station is located right on the edge of Planet Snoopy; it also features a cooler place to nurse and change babies along with an unsupervised play area for siblings to hang out while they wait for baby brother or sister to finish eating. Unfortunately for one member of our party (but fortunately for the sake of my review!), we had occasion to use the First Aid station; my daughter’s friend became ill with heat exhaustion. Although we went into one of the restaurants for her to cool down, it wasn’t terribly cool, so we decided to make our way to First Aid. It was decidedly cool in the building, and the staff members were concerned and attentive. They offered to let her rest there while we continued our visit. After our girl had had her blood pressure taken and had drunk some Gatorade to cool down under the watchful eye of the nurse, we felt we should probably all leave, at which point they drove us to the parking lot. I left feeling great about the caring and friendly staff.
This brings me to what I think makes Cedar Point one of the most family-friendly parks I have ever visited: free ice water. I came armed with plenty of cash, expecting to dole it out several times an hour to buy bottled water. The first time I saw a drinking fountain and called the kids to drink so that I could delay the first outlay of cash, a friendly park employee told me we could ask for free cups of ice water at almost any mid-way food service establishment. The cups of ice water were huge and enough to satisfy our thirst without getting back in line for another. Even better, I never detected any pressure to order anything else along with the water. It was refreshing (literally!) to be in a place where they cared more about their patrons’ well-being than squeezing every last dollar out of us. Don’t get me wrong: Food was still pricey, but somehow it didn’t seem to bother me as much, knowing that I could buy lunch and then be done with spending money if I so chose.
Cedar Point is mostly for ages 10 and up, but bring the younger kids along!
In short, Cedar Point is a fantastically family-friendly place to visit. Our family had fun. If you decide to go, you’ll have a good time. I think, though, that if my kids were under 10 or didn’t like coasters much, I would probably wait to visit until they were older or more adventurous. It's true that Planet Snoopy provides some lovely attractions that keep younger kids busy while their older siblings are having adventures; however, Planet Snoopy is not in and of itself the reason to visit Cedar Point.
Ultimate advice from me, the mom
Advice to take from me, even if you won't take it from your own mom:
- Drink water! A lot of it! The bathrooms are nice at Cedar Point.
- Don't eat four corn dogs before going on the Power Tower!
- Don't wear flip-flops, you'll get blisters or lose them on some ride!
- Wait until you are on your way out to play those Midway games!
- Use adequate sunscreen! Don't blame me if you come home with a sunburn.
- Don't come home with too much stuff you won at the stands. At least, not to my house, I have enough clutter.
© June Santini, 2010