This Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer and millions of Americans will take to the beaches and lakes across the country. Many more will flood the gates of the country's many amusement parks. Among those parks is one sitting on a spit of land on Lake Erie. For the last 15 years, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio has been named the "World's Best Amusement Park" by industry magazine "Amusement Today." For the record, Disneyland and Disney World’s Magic Kingdom came in fifth and seventh respectively last year.
So what makes Cedar Point so great? Rollercoasters. The park has a whopping 16 of them, the second most in the world, that together have nearly 10 miles of track.
The newest addition, the Gatekeeper, broke all sorts of records when it opened earlier this year, including the highest inverted drop in the world.
"I don’t think it’s about big anymore. I think it’s about better," says Matt Ouimet, the CEO of Cedar Point's parent company Cedar Fair (FUN). "The best example that we have recently is GateKeeper here at Cedar Point, so not only is it a great coaster but it allowed us to reinvent the front gate and it also is a coaster that one hundred percent of our guests can experience it. Most will choose to ride it, but all enter the park through Gatekeeper."
Ouimet told Breakout that your favorite rides, including many at his parks, get their inspiration from fighter jet maneuvers. It helps them figure out G forces and comfort levels and helps designers make the ride both exciting and repeatable so guests want to come back again.
It's working at Cedar Point as people stream through the gates year after year and keep even older coasters popular and winning awards. Millenium Force which opened in 2000 has won “best steel coaster” honors seven times.
Still, you don’t win the world’s best amusement park award for a decade and a half strictly on your roller coaster prowess.
"As excited as we get about coasters, we’re putting a new family product for Cedar Point next year," says Ouimet. "Those types of decisions for all of our parks are important. If I get you to come as a three year-old, you’re going to come as a four year-old and a five year-old and a thirteen year-old and that’s important to get you started early."
Cedar Point and the other eleven parks owned and operated by Cedar Fair also cater to younger park goers by featuring Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts characters and have created a whole section of the park just to keep kids too young for thrills entertained.
They're also committed to details customers may take for granted. Like making sure long lines don’t keep you from getting on your favorite rides.
"We are looking at the application of technology," Ouimet told us. "They’ll keep you entertained in lines, they’ll allow us to manage the flow of people more directly so they’ll let you know the wait time so you can make self selection about which one to go to on your mobile phone. Those types of things will become standard in the industry in the next three to five years."
Cedar Fair is also taking the lessons learned in Cedar Point and bringing some pretty amazing rides to it’s other parks as well, namely with the recently announce Banshee roller coaster set to open at its Kings Island park outside of Cincinnati next spring.
Have you been to Cedar Point? Do you agree that it's the best amusement park in the world? Let us know in the comments section or on our Facebook page.
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