My #LakeErieLove Story: Cedar Point, A Century-Old Love Affair

Reminder: TODAY is the last day to enter my Taste of the Browns giveaway. You have until 11:59pm tonight (Sunday, 9/7). I’ll announce the winner on Monday.

Cedar Point's Gatekeeper

Cedar Point’s Gatekeeper threads the needle

As you walk up to Cedar Point’s front gate – tickets in hand, anticipation running high – the first thing you notice is the screaming.

Screams of excitement, of course, from their roller coaster “ride warriors.”

Framing the park’s front gate is Cedar Point’s most recent coaster, the aptly named Gatekeeper. The winged coaster takes riders on a two-minute-and-twenty-second jaunt through sharp turns, rolls, and dips up and around the park’s entrance. The highlight of which is when the track – and you – thread the keyholes in the gate’s dual towers.

Gatekeeper is only one of the 17 coasters at the park. (Soon to be 16…your last chance to ride the Mantis is October 19).

With all of these thrills, Cedar Point has definitely earned the moniker of “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World” and its 16 consecutive Golden Ticket Awards for Best Amusement Park in the World.

What about if you don’t like roller coasters, though? On this summer’s #LakeErieLove blogger tour, we met Cedar Point’s Bryan Edwards who showed us how much more there is to Cedar Point.

A non-coaster rider himself, Edwards told us about the park’s focus on providing an experience that everyone can enjoy. At Cedar Point, there’s something for young families, history buffs, food fanatics, beachgoers, and everyone in between.

I’m a huge coaster fan; it’s one of the reasons Scott and I buy a Platinum Season Pass every year. However, when our group was let out into the park to do what we wanted, I decided that this was one CP visit where I wouldn’t run straight to Millennium Force.

Instead, I joined Midwest Guest on a hunt for some of the Park’s historic highlights.

Our first stop was Cedar Point’s Coliseum. As you walk down the Midway, it’s hard to miss this huge structure.

The Cedar Point Coliseum from the side

The Cedar Point Coliseum from the side

Although I’ve explored every inch of Coliseum’s downstairs arcade on previous visits, I hadn’t seen the upstairs. Dominique and I took a peek at Cedar Point’s beautiful ballroom. Opened in 1906, the Ballroom has hosted music greats such as Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Duke Ellington, At one time, it even housed a roller skating rink.

Inside the Cedar Point ballroom

Inside the Cedar Point ballroom

It wasn’t difficult to imagine Ellington playing to a packed house as we walked around the space. The art deco accents, beautiful wooden floor, vintage chairs and tables, and massive stage are all still there.

The next time I’m playing a game of pinball, it’ll be cool to know what’s right above my head.

Cedar Point arcade and pinball machines, first floor of the coliseum

Cedar Point arcade and pinball machines, first floor of the coliseum

After this, we hit the beach. Cedar Point’s boardwalk and beach are beautiful, and worth taking a break from the coasters to explore.

It’s also how Cedar Point got its start. In 1867, an editorial in the local newspaper called on “some enterprising person” to utilize the Cedar Point Peninsula’s beach. That person ended up being Louis Zistel, who opened up a beer garden, bathhouse and dance floor, ferrying guests across Sandusky Bay on his steamboat, Young Reindeer. It wouldn’t be another 20+ years until Cedar Point’s first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway, was introduced.

This summer's Cedar Point Beach Blasts featured food, drink, games, live music, and fireworks

This summer’s Cedar Point Beach Blasts featured food, drink, games, live music, and fireworks

In 1913, the beach would play a significant part in another moment of history – the perfecting of football’s forward pass by Notre Dame and college football legend Knute Rockne. Knute and his teammate Gus Dorais both worked as lifeguards that summer at Cedar Point. During their freetime, they made use of the long stretch of beach, practicing throwing and running the ball.

A historic marker, as well as plaques telling the story, can be found down by Hotel Breakers.

Historic markers found near Hotel Breakers on the Cedar Point beach

Historic markers found near Hotel Breakers on the Cedar Point beach

That’s not all you’ll find at Hotel Breakers, either. The hotel, which originally opened in 1905, offers a glimpse into its past, with a beautiful Rotunda and original Tiffany glass.

If you were to stop by Hotel Breakers right now, though, you’ll notice that parts of it are closed. Just in time for its 110th birthday, the hotel is undergoing a full update to its hotel rooms, lobby, and more.

The renovations are to be completed by next summer. You can read about all of them here.

Inside Cedar Point's Hotel Breakers

Inside Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers

Of course, you don’t have to just look at the history. You can experience it for yourself on a few of the park’s rides.

From Blue Streak (the park’s oldest coaster) to the Cadillac Cars, Scrambler, and the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad, many of the park’s current rides have been bringing enjoyment to Cedar Point guests for more than half a century.

My personal favorites, though, are Cedar Point’s trifecta of carousels – the Midway Carousel, Kiddy Kingdom Carousel and Cedar Downs.

Cedar Point's Midway Carousel

Cedar Point’s Midway Carousel

Built in 1912, the Midway Carousel is one of the few Daniel Muller carousels still in existence. It’s also the park’s oldest operating ride.

The Kiddy Kingdom Carousel features 52 stunning animals (16 standing and 36 jumping) and two chariots. I love the variety in this carousel. It was built in 1925 by the William H. Dentzel firm in Philadelphia.  

Cedar Downs Racing Derby, a “must-rides” anytime I visit Cedar Point, is one of only two racing derby rides in the U.S. Originally built in 1920 for Cleveland’s Euclid Beach, Cedar Downs ran there for 47 years under the name the Great American Racing Derby. The ride is still housed in its original structure featuring 64 horses. Each row of four moves back and forth as the carousel’s turntable rotates at speeds up to 15 mph. If nothing else, the music that plays while you’re racing will put a smile on your face.

Cedar Downs Racing Derby (or, as our friend Dave called this, "The last thing you see before you die")

Cedar Downs Racing Derby (or, as our friend Dave called this, “The last thing you see before you die”)

You can get an even better look at Cedar Point’s history by stopping by the Town Hall Museum located near the Mine Ride. It features old maps and pictures and digs into a lot of the park’s past. Cleveland Scene also put together this neat slideshow of vintage Cedar Point photos.

Across the entire park, Cedar Point continues to balance its coasters with attractions for families and non-coaster-enthusiasts. For instance, they introduced two new family thrill rides this season with Pipe Scream and the Lake Erie Eagles.

I was particularly happy about the addition of Lake Erie Eagles because an identical ride at Virginia’s Kings Dominion was my favorite as a kid. I’m not going to lie…it’s still one of my favorite rides to go on.

Cedar Point's Lake Erie Eagles in action

Cedar Point’s Lake Erie Eagles in action

This post just grazes the surface of what Cedar Point offers beyond roller coasters. I didn’t even mention the farm or their new wine and beer bar in Frontiertown! Every visit between now and November 1, gets you access not just to the park’s usual attractions, but also the fun of HalloWeekends.

Regardless of whether you define “Ride Warrior” by the thrill of Maverick or a leisurely ride on the Cedar Point railroad, this Ohio amusement park offers a lot to love for every guest.

Catch up on the rest of my #LakeErieLove Story:

And keep an eye out for the final chapter in my Lake Erie Love Story: Getting back to nature.

Disclosure: I was invited on a 3-night/4 day blogger tour of the Lake Erie Shores and Islands, in exchange for writing about my experience. Opinions in this and other related posts are 100% my own.

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