My coaster-loving kids have been begging for a trip to Cedar Point for years. So when a family reunion called us to northern Ohio, I suprised them with a trip to “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World®.” Located in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Point offers an unmatched collection of 70 rides, including 17 roller coasters, four kids’ areas, the brand new Cedar Point Shores Water Park, overnight accommodations, live shows, restaurants and more.
After spending a day at the park, my advice is this: If you love amusement parks, don’t wait for an excuse; just go! Here are my top takeaways from the day.
Research your ticket options
As with most amusement parks, tickets are always cheaper when purchased in advance online. At roughly 4.5 hours from Indy, it is tough to do Cedar Point as a day trip (plus, once you get a taste of the park you are really going to want two days), so it makes sense to look at the two-day ticket option, which offers the best bang for your buck (Bonus: the two-day ticket can be used at both the amusement park and water park on both days.) They also offer a number of combo ticket options that include everything from dining to parking and Fast Lane Plus that let you speed through the lines on some of the most popular coasters. If you are planning to stay at a Cedar Point-owned resort (more on that below), be sure to ask about their Stay & Play packages, which can save you big bucks on your getaway.
Choose accommodations wisely
It definitely makes sense to book a room when visiting Cedar Point. Even if you opt for just one day at the park, you will want to rest up before heading home. Take my advice, book a Cedar Point-owned property. First of all, the park is located on a peninsula on the shores of lovely Lake Erie, which makes several of the “Cedar Point area” accommodations a bit of a chuck from the parking lot. All off the park-owned properties either sit on the peninsula or just a short drive across the causeway. As a bonus, guests of these resorts get into the park an hour early (that is an hour of extra coaster time!) Options range from the gorgeous Hotel Breakers that sits directly on the shores of Lake Erie and is walking distance to the park, to Cedar Point Express Hotel, which offers clean, family-friendly accommodations on a budget. (Note: Remember to ask about those ticket discounts when booking your room!)
Plan your strategy
Anyone who has ever visited an amusement park with kids knows it is best to go in with some sort of strategy. That means familiarizing yourself with the park before you walk through the gates. There are a ton of rides packed onto this peninsula and staring at the park map for the first time while actually at the park can be overwhelming (trust me).
Download the map here before your visit to get the lay of the land. Cedar Point also offers a mobile app with ride wait times, show times, and even a car finder to help you pinpoint your parking spot at the end of a long day. Also on the website, you will find a detailed list of rides – from coasters and thrill rides to kiddie rides and water slides – that will help you map out which rides will appeal to your family.
Coaster enthusiasts can view video of each of the coasters on the site to get a feel for which ones your family can handle (there are some HUGE, mind-boggling coasters here!). (Hint: If your goal is to hit all 17 coasters in a day, I suggest heading to the back of the park to the hugely popular Maverick first, followed by the groundbreaking Millenium Force – and then go from there. To really expedite things, look into the Fast Lane options that let you skip the long lines.)
And rest assured, while Cedar Point is known as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World, there are plenty of other ride options, from traditional Midway rides to kiddie-sized roller coasters, carousels, antique cars and a family-friendly log flume. Families traveling with young children will want to check out the Hints for Families online before heading out.
Weather in the midwest is unpredictable. Weather on the shores of a great lake is even more unpredictable (Case in point: That picture above is of my boys wearing hoodies in late July.) While a grey, rainy and somewhat chilly summer day did not put a damper on our fun, it helped that we had packed warmer clothes and rain ponchos. (Note: Lockers are available on site to stash your extra gear.)
Take time to see at least one show
The award-winning shows at Cedar Point draw talent from across the country each year to deliver some not-to-be-missed performances. From Charlie Brown’s Fun Time Frolics to Lusty Lil’s Wild West Revue to the toe-tapping tunes of the Bluegrass Jamboree, there is definitely something for everyone. Most are offered in air-conditioned comfort and several offer food options while you watch the show. Find a complete list of shows here.
Above all, enjoy
We went in with a mission to conquer all 17 coasters in one day. We walked away having tackled 11 (plus a few thrill rides and several shows). Instead of feeling disappointed, we left with a mission to make a trip back some day to take on those last 6 coasters. Until next time, Cedar Point!
Reviews of the 11 Coasters we hit, compliments of my 12 year old:
- Maverick: Fun, but it has many turns and is a little rough.
- Millenium Force: TALL! Fast, but fun.
- Iron Dragon: Be sure to do this one after 4:00 pm, when the VR headsets are available.
- Wicked Twister: Fast, scary, fun.
- Gatekeeper: Goes upside down A LOT!
- Blue Streak: Typical wooden, bumpy coaster.
- Raptor: Does many twists, turns and inversions.
- Valravn: Tall. Goes down at a 90º angle.
- Rougarou: Fun, but twisty.
- Corkscrew: Rough!
- Gemini: Another bumpy wooden coaster.