The Thrills and Wonder of Cedar Point Amusement Park

Cedar Point, a 364-acre amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio and a critical setting in Lisa Kron’s autobiographical solo show 2.5 Minute Ride, encompasses a fusion of top-thrill roller coasters, overpriced junk food, and family anxieties for the park’s 3.5 million annual visitors. Growing up, I was proud to call myself one in the crowd—begging my parents each summer to make the three-hour drive from Michigan to Ohio so that I could experience favorite coasters like "Maverick" and "Millennium Force" and wander around in the blistering heat. My parents always begrudgingly obliged. They were never too keen themselves on the idea of dangling 300 feet above the air at 60 miles per hour, but for me it was a sacred excursion.

The amusement park that would become one of the most visited entertainment attractions in the United States started as a lighthouse and fishing port in the 19th century; the Erie Peninsula provided an opportune location for rail and maritime travelers to recuperate as they journeyed west. By 1867, the “Cedar Point Peninsula” had become a popular summer getaway spot for families and investors alike, complete with a small town, bathhouses, picnic areas, and even small rides and firework shows to attract tourists. Cedar Point’s first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway, was completed by 1892, inviting more people, attractions, and improvements each year that followed. By the time the Cedar Point Pleasure Resort Company purchased the site in 1897, Cedar Point was well-established with hotels, rides, theatres, and beaches.

In the present day, Cedar Point is routinely one of the most visited amusement parks in the United States, and held the reigning title of Amusement Today's "Best Amusement Park in the World” for 16 years in a row. It’s easy to understand why—Cedar Point holds a world record of 71 rides, in addition to a mile-long white sand beach, an outdoor and indoor water park, two marinas, and nearly every kind of cuisine hidden within the park’s food stands and restaurants. What’s more, Cedar Point has claimed a number of world records for tallest, fastest, and steepest roller coasters in the world. Most impressive? Cedar Point has broken each of these records six times over since 1978, with each new, record-breaking coaster merely topping its own personal best. 

But while its stature is remarkable and its records are inarguable, for most Cedar Point fans, these accolades aren't what bring us back year after year. After 20 years of extraordinary memories at Cedar Point, I am convinced the steel, wood, and pavement is infused with child-like wonder. Cedar Point is one of those rare places in which getting older doesn’t detract from it's magic. A jumbo corndog purchased from "Happy Friar" tastes as wonderfully greasy now as it as it did when I was five, and the high after stepping off "Top Thrill Dragster" is as intoxicating in my twenties as it was when I first rode it at 16. Cedar Point, at its core, is a nostalgic wonderland where visitors are encouraged to relinquish real-world responsibilities and embrace an overlooked indulgence: having fun. And isn’t that something we all could use a bit more of?

—Elissa Loch