That’s the ticket: Cedar Point’s 150th anniversary

Photo courtesy of Cedar Point

Editor’s note: The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the beginning of Cedar Point’s 2020 season. As of mid-April, the park was tentatively scheduled to open for the season in mid-May. Please double-check before traveling.

The postcard is undoubtedly old, and its Gilded Age image of Cedar Point’s beach is as evocative as an impressionist painting: the dreamy interaction of light and water, ladies in flowing skirts sauntering along the shoreline, gents in straw boaters enjoying the breeze, and children playing in the sand and waves.

Skirting the side of a slender Lake Erie peninsula, Cedar Point’s mile-long beach was its first attraction. Sandusky businessman Louis Zistel opened a bathhouse there in 1870 and ferried day-trippers across the bay for 25 cents. Now, 150 years later, Cedar Point is Ohio’s largest tourist destination. It hosts some 3 million guests annually and boasts a record-setting 71 rides that meld tradition (a 1912 carousel, a gigantic Ferris wheel) with technology (the 93-mph Millennium Force, the 400-foot-tall Top Thrill Dragster).

Everyone knows Cedar Point’s reputation as the world’s coaster capital, but for this year’s sesquicentennial, the park’s focus is its legacy of providing laughter, screams, and memories to people of all ages and from all walks of life. “For 150 years, Cedar Point has been the backdrop for many special moments,” says Communications Director Tony Clark, “but it all comes down to fun, relaxation, and spending time together.”

Ten quintessential Cedar Point experiences

  1. Cedar Point Beach: “If you don’t check it out, you’re missing the foundation of Cedar Point’s heritage,” says Clark.
  2. Blue Streak: Opened in 1964, this wooden classic launched Cedar Point’s coaster status. “Blue Streak is a great multigeneration ride,” says Clark. “It’s a good transition for kids wanting to graduate to a larger coaster.”
  3. Top Thrill Dragster: The original strata coaster goes 120 mph. “Its height and speed combination gives riders an awesome sense of freedom,” says Clark.
  4. Festival fun: “Our special events are family-friendly and an added value,” says Clark. The Frontier Festival features barbecue, brews, and bluegrass; Light Up the Point stages one of the Great Lakes’ largest fireworks displays; Cedar Point Nights beach parties rock with silent disco, glow games, and bonfires; and HalloWeekends treat guests to pumpkin parades and autumnal activities.
  5. Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad: The retro train ride is a rare way to roll. “We have one of the few coal-fired steam locomotives in the world operating at an amusement park,” says Clark.
  6. Frontier Town: The only themed part of Cedar Point presents Wild West adventures ranging from Lusty Lil’s cancan revue to the Barnyard petting zoo. Says Clark, “Our Frontier Trail is a quieter corner of the park with crafters and hands-on activities like candle-making.”
  7. Viewing Cedar Point from Lake Erie: “Seeing the park from the water is a perfect way to appreciate its unique skyline,” says Clark. “You can rent WaveRunners and go parasailing or ride the Jet Express, which stops at Cedar Point Marina.”
  8. The food: New for 2020 are French Quarter Confections and a Mac Shack featuring macaroni and cheese bowls, but old favorites such as cheese-on-a-stick are still on the menu — and not to worry: those signature fresh-cut french fries remain as well.
  9. Staying overnight: Cedar Point offers lodging for a variety of budgets and lifestyles, but the 1905 Hotel Breakers beautifully conveys the park’s venerable history. “The Breakers has been updated with modern amenities and sits beside Lake Erie,” says Clark. “From the hotel, you can walk directly to the beach or a park entry gate.”