Cedar Fair

An American Original

An American Original:

A Brief Thematic History of Kings Island and the Mythology of “The Beast”

“All good things which exist are the fruits of originality” – John Stuart Mill

Rarely a park is consistently defined by a single attraction. A more uncommon situation exists when an attraction is continuously rated at the top of its category. Comparable to other “titans of industry” like Seinfeld, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The New York Yankees, and Citizen Kane; The Beast holds a historical paramount in any discussion of wooden roller coasters. Visitors from near and far populate the Cincinnati area for a chance to ride what has been consistently billed as “The Greatest Wooden Roller Coaster on Earth.” The lure of The Beast is more than the ride experience, for over the years its legend has been crafted.

The last six years of the 1970’s saw the most dramatic increase in roller coasters since the boom of the 1920’s. Proliferation fueled progress. Intamin pioneered Magic Mountain’s looping Great American Revolution in 1976 while Arrow Dynamics installed several models of their Corkscrew model in parks around the country. Forerunners of the roller coaster genre such as Cedar Point’s Robert Munger realized the indelible draw that the attractions were providing, installing an Arrow Dynamics racing-model, the “Gemini” at the close of the decade.

Kings Island in Mason, Ohio was the successor to the nearby Coney Island Park, which had a reputation of being a charming small park. Coney Island’s proximity to the Ohio River had made it susceptible to flooding and its limited footprint stalled expansion. The design and development for Kings Island, a combination of potential names “Kings Mills” and “Coney Island” was to be modeled after a “four leaf clover” as explained by park developer Gary Wachs. A “Frontierland” was planned and coupled with a “Rivertown” to embrace local history. The park planners’ merger with the Taft Broadcasting Company tied the park to the Hanna-Barbera franchise, which rendered itself well to a themed land as well as promising promotional opportunity. For maybe the first time an amusement park was themed after the nostalgia of parks of old. The Coney Island section of the paid homage to the park’s former site in Cincinnati, as well as the classic amusement parks of the 1920’s, with Wachs wanting to make capital of a historical setting.

But the capstone of the park’s theming was its International Street hallmarked by the Intamin-built Eiffel Tower. Bruce Bushman, who had worked for WED Enterprises and was fundamental in designing the aesthetics and color palette for Disneyland’s Fantasyland was brought in to design the shops of European influence to grace the opening walkway. Large fountains inspired by the 1964 World’s Fair provided synced entertainment while the Bushman-designed International facades drew influence from the Midway Plaisance of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Wachs details the experience as “(a) soft international flavor as you walked in the park.”

By 1979, Kings Island had proved to be a commercial success. Gary Wachs was an early proponent of the single-ticket admission. Park guests responded well to the notion of paying one price to experience all the attractions a park could offer, which was reflected in the favorable early attendance figures. With popularity came the need for new attraction experiences. The opening day coaster the “Racer,” designed by John Allen of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, had become a staple of the nascent park. Allen, who had helped engage the second golden age of roller coasters in the 1970’s, was brought in as a consultant on the “Beast” project. Confident in their ability to build coasters in-house, Kings Island took the unconventional approach and built The Beast from within.

While the legendary John Allen consulted on the project, the real architects behind the coaster were Charlie Dinn and Al Collins. Dinn, who oversaw the Kings Islands’ Engineering, Construction, and Maintenance departments at the time, later formed his own successful roller coaster construction company with Cedar Point’s Mean Streak and Six Flags Over Texas’ Texas Giant as its notable achievements. Built to best utilize the vast amount of land purchased by the Taft Broadcasting Company for development (a figure taken from Roy Disney’s advice to acquire five times the initial amount), The Beast was the first of its kind to utilize the terrain in its design and construction. This conformity to the terrain proved to be beneficial in the coaster’s construction. By keeping the structure physically close to the landscape, material costs were drastically minimized. This enabled Dinn and his team to execute the world’s tallest and fastest coaster without the fear of bankrupting the park, with each calculation done carefully by hand.

But why does The Beast hold significance in a study of Themed Entertainment? The answer, I believe, is what differentiates The Beast from the average wooden coaster: its value as an experience. The Beast excels in its ambiguity. Hidden in the backwoods of the southeast corner of the park (further hidden by the addition of Diamondback in 2009) there is an element of seclusion. There is no stated (or forced) backstory to the attraction, but an ambiance is set. The station, lightly themed to an old sawmill, now proudly displays the rustic touches that it once imitated, the aesthetic becoming more genuine with age.

As the park guest weaves through the switchbacks, hand painted signs “warn” about the upcoming experience. The queue is covered to further mask the coaster experience ahead, with only the ride’s straightaway ending and the commencement of the lift hill visible. The coaster rider immediately receives the impression that this coaster will be much different than the traditional “out and back.” After boarding the coaster train, the ride vehicle departs on a sudden “U turn” facing the lift hill. As the train climbs the slow chain lift, the woods unravel as the guest ascends. At the crest of the hill one last hand painted sign informs riders to keep seated, accompanied by the sound of growls from adjacent loudspeakers.

For a brief second at the summit of the hill, the great ambiguity of the Beast becomes void. The grand layout of the track is visible for the first time. The second lift hill to our left is geometrically balanced by the grand finale the helix to the right. What may only be a concise second or two feels like ten. The coaster train slowly clears the hill and drops into the first tunnel. In the darkness the ambiguity of the Beast returns.

To say the Beast is unconventional would be an understatement. Even from the relatively themed queue, the Beast is more about what is unseen than what is in plain sight. Veiled in the corner of the park, the first indicator of the coaster’s presence is the classic attraction sign featuring two giant orange claws reaching forward from a vanishing horizon of coaster track. The Beast is not a bear or a chimera or a lion, but an original entity. In a way that fits the coaster perfectly. In 1979 there was no benchmark for a coaster of this type and park management recognized this. What resulted was another movement in how park operations: the first marketing campaign for a roller coaster. This spot from 1979 is an interesting study.

The Maurice Sendak-inspired art direction of the spot echoes the attraction experience perfectly. The “Beast” acting as the coaster train demonstrates the sometimes-violent motions of the coaster. This advertisement embodies the still ongoing self-prescribed mentality of coasters: to be the “baddest” of them all. The Beast might lack the airtime, tight turns and significant g-forces of other top-ranked coasters, but I don’t feel like its prestige as a singular experience would exist without its idiosyncrasies. My favorite sections of the coaster are the long straightaways, boring by most coaster standards as “dead time,” but the coupling of the natural tunneling by the forest’s leaves and the steady increase in the speed of the coaster train delivers a unique experience.

The experience trumps the technical details of this or any coaster. Themed Entertainment in general, isn’t about coasters or shows alone. Tracks and auditoriums are only the medium to enhance a guest experience. Because The Beast exists as a remarkable and unrivaled ride experience, it transcends simply being a wooden coaster. For comparison, let’s look at another themed coaster built in the same year.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Disneyland opened five months after The Beast began giving rides in Mason, Ohio. Imagineer Tony Baxter had drawn the idea from the legendary Marc Davis’ work on the never-built Western River Expedition. Big Thunder was one of Disney’s first forays into computer-aided design, largely differing from the tedious hand calculations of Charlie Dinn and Al Collins. The Arrow Dynamics built track winds through the fabricated town of Rainbow Ridge simulating a runaway mine train. Like most Disney-themed attractions, Baxter’s Big Thunder Mountain tells a story. Unknowingly built on Indian Burial Ground, Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland finds natural retribution in the form of an earthquake.

Both attractions give the guest the experience of an out-of-control ride through the wilderness. Whether it is the faux rocks inspired by Bryce Canyon of Big Thunder or the natural woodlands of Cincinnati the ride experience is defined by the surroundings. Past the safety spiels while boarding the ride vehicles, there is no narration to perpetuate the experience in either attraction. Both attractions are unique and mold their identities from their surroundings, instead of through dialogue. While Big Thunder Mountain has been molded and franchised to the Magic Kingdom-style parks around the globe, The Beast retained its singular identity for several years before the severely troubled Son of Beast was constructed across the park under Paramount’s ownsership, continuing the legacy of record-breaking wooden coasters.

Today the Beast remains the draw and the luster from when it opened its gates over thirty years ago. Yet some debate remains over its place in the pantheon of current operating roller coasters with much discourse occurring over the placement of magnetic brakes in 2001. Even if the coaster has deteriorated over the years, its mythology supports its legendary status. In the classic Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, James Stewart’s character, United States Senator Ransom Stoddard, is attributed for killing the notorious outlaw Liberty Valance. When Stoddard returns to the Western town of Shinbone to attend the funeral of John Wayne’s character, Tom Doniphon, he reveals to a local newspaperman that it was Doniphon who killed the outlaw and that he had been living under a false claim. Upon learning the truth, the newspaperman throws out his notes and states one of the classic lines in the history of cinema: “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

That’s where I believe The Beast is today: a legend in its own right, sustained by its lore. The added brakes may taper and tame the experience, but the coaster stands as a testament to the history of the park. Appropriately placed in “Rivertown,” the section dedicated to the history of Cincinnati and the citizens living along the Ohio River, “The Beast” has become a staple of its territory. This kind of sustainability is crucial for regional parks, attracting repeat visitors year after year. The success of The Beast is a tribute to the history of Cincinnati, for it was built through its topography and by its people.

A Tale of Two Coasters

A Tale of Two Coasters:

The Decline of Cedar Point’s Disaster Transport, the Rise of Busch Gardens’ Verbolten, and the significance of theming in Regional Parks

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs

When the longtime CEO of Cedar Fair, Dick Kinzel stepped down after 39 years of service, he took a moment to reflect on his personal triumphs as well as some strategic missteps. Living in Sandusky, Ohio with accessible sightlines to the shores and structures of the company’s flagship park, Cedar Point, Kinzel had always invested most in his own backyard. Being the first park to feature 200, 300, and 400-foot coasters creates an formidable industry reputation that Kinzel still relishes. Kinzel will claim that the hometown proliferation of coasters was not to create a “rollercoaster capital of the world,” but to simply raise park attendance. Suggestio falsi aside, Cedar Point should be the innovator and flag bearer for the organization, despite being a seasonal park in Northern Ohio.

In his tenure Kinzel made bold decisions; most notably the acquisition of Paramount Parks, which expanded the fleet of Cedar Fair properties to twelve. But there were bad times as well. A long-winded public quarrel with the company’s largest shareholder , Q Investments, stripped Kinzel of the title of company chairman for his final year with the company. Cedar Fair also had to traipse through high debts in the wake of the Paramount acquisition, nearly forcing their hand to being acquired by a third party. But in reflection, when asked of his career’s most prevalent lapse, Dick Kinzel alluded to a single coaster: Cedar Point’s Disaster Transport.

In 2009, Busch Gardens Williamsburg sparked the interest of roller coaster enthusiasts by announcing the closure of the historic Big Bad Wolf. The suspended trip through a Bavarian village had reached the end of its serviceable life. Although it had showed its age in its later years, park guests and BGW regulars still enjoyed “traveling at the speed of fright.” Debate immediately initiated on its replacement and many wondered what the park had in mind for expansion, and if it could fill the shoes set by the Wolf.

Fans of the park would get their answer in the September of the next year when the plans for “Verbolten” were officially announced.  Inviting guests to “Challenge the Black Forest,” Busch Gardens revealed the coaster would feature many “firsts.” With so much speculation about the overall specs of the coaster, park fans overlooked the potential for great theming. Opening in time for the 2012 season, the experience is a genuine treat.

As much as Verbolten is driven by the technological features exhibited in a family coaster, the attraction is carried by its story. As park guests approach the attraction’s first queue building they encounter the attraction’s initial facade: an offbeat and  idiosyncratic travel company named “Gerta and Gunter’s Tour and Rentals.” The melange of festive and colorful automotive appurtenances complect with the park’s two-year renovation of the Oktoberfest area. But, of course, in true theme park fashion there is a cimmerian interruption to our proposed tour through Germany’s pastoral countryside. The accentuating prop is placed at the entrance to the queue: an overtly ominous bright red car that has clearly been punctured by the vines of the fabled black forest, its interior overgrown with mold. Smoke billowing from the car’s hood coupled with the occasional unsuccessful engine turnover creates a convincing and foreboding effect.

Disaster Transport began its life as an outdoor bobsled attraction named Avalanche Run, which ran parallel to the shores of Lake Erie. Built in 1985 to diversify the park’s offerings, the coaster proved to be a popular draw in its nascent years. A print advertisement boasted the following:

“Now you can find the best free-wheelin’ feeling anywhere on Cedar Point’s new Avalanche Run, the only ride in Mid-America to simulate a real bobsled run. It’s a whole new sensation as your sled shoots through a quarter-mile of winding steel chute. You’ll climb a banked curve and zip through the straightaway with more curves just ahead. It’s a thrill you won’t find at Disneyland or Disney World. It’s at Cedar Point!”

I will excuse the slight prevarication of comparison in light of its somewhat substantial irony (which I will shortly explain). Avalanche Run’s outdoor setting and proximity to Cedar Point beach produced an unwanted intrusion: sand into the ride’s troughs undermined the ride experience. The decision was made shortly thereafter to enclose the ride, abandoning the abrupt juxtaposition of the Lake Erie shoreline with a swiss chalet.

Inspired by a then recent trip to Walt Disney World, Dick Kinzel (reportedly) wanted his own Space Mountain (despite Marketing’s claim that Avalanche Run was an exclusive experience). A theming company, ITEC Productions, was brought aboard and was given a substantial amount of financial leeway for a special effects package. Meanwhile, guests were prepped for “a SCREAM in Space.”

In a recent interview near the opening of Verbolten, Creative Director Brian Morrow  expounded on the attraction’s backstory and the processes behind thematic decisions. Morrow notes that the attraction’s theme was carefully constructed as the centerpiece of the  two-year renovation of the Oktoberfest area. Thought was clearly given in regards to the coaster’s primary audience. Verbolten follows in the convention set by the Big Bad Wolf as an initial stepping stone for younger audiences before tackling larger coasters and thrills. Yet, the designers of Verbolten had to appeal to the all-important young adult market segment. Even though the coaster wouldn’t be challenging height and speed records, it still had to pack a punch.

Morrow explicates that there was never really any doubt that the attraction would center around the myths of the Black Forest. A car motif was another obvious choice. Reflecting the Autobahn-driven culture of Germany and filling a park void created when the “LeMans Raceway” was dilapidated in favor of the popular dive coaster Griffon; Verbolten fits a need.

After the park visitor enters the queue and passes the foreboding visage of the damaged tour vehicle, the guest enters the quaint visitor’s center where they are greeted by vintage travel posters and are  introduced to two characters that drive the backstory: Gerta and Gunter Schwartzwald. Gerta is the public figurehead of the company, operating the visitor center and overseeing the renting of cars. Morrow describes her as so: “(Gerta) loves the people, loves the village, but she is very afraid of the Black Forest, and gives us lots of warnings to stay out of it.”

The story becomes richer as the guest progresses through the queue. After switchbacking outside to allow guests to catch a glimpse of the ride to come, park visitors enter Gunter’s workshop. The setting conveys a different, darker tone. It is clear that Gunter is deeply invested into discovering exactly what is compromising their business. Morrow explains: “Gunter on the other hand, is obsessed with the Black Forest and he wants to protect it from people who think it’s evil and bad. He does a lot of work for the forest like pulling the personal belongings out of the cars reclaimed by the forest.” Closed-circuit television monitors display wiretapped images from the black forest while the office is adorned by ostensibly missing luggage. Shades of Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest’s queue are reflected when we see the documentation of Gunter’s determination: maps, newspaper clippings, samples from the forest, and books dishevel the quaint office.

The loading station itself reflects the transportation  motif of the Autobahn. Busch Gardens designed this area well when prepping for high capacity crowds. The dual loading zero-entry platform does wonders for the attraction’s capacity. The attraction’s five trains, each carrying sixteen riders, and its distinct loading constituent (which makes boarding for quests with disabilities much easier) expedite the boarding process. Finally, the trains themselves carry a unique and rather pleasing aesthetic. Headlights, rear-view mirrors and cleverly titled license plates sell the illusion of  validity. Styled after classic German roadsters, the contours of the cars mesh well with the curves of the track.

Armed with four million dollars, ITEC Productions did look to  equip Avalanche Run with the effects necessary for it to be a believable experience. Initially, a story structure existed.Upon entering the queue park guests found themselves in a fictional space airline setting. The company “Dispatch Master Transport” offered the following promise: “if we don’t get you there in five minutes, we don’t get you there at all.”

Once upon a time, guests entered a queue adorned with television screens and travel posters. The posters of the passenger terminal were futuristic in design, but sardonically discouraged visitors from actually taking a trip there. For example, the poster for Baden Baden had “No, No” inscribed on it. Another poster featured Walt Disney World and accentuated a harsher message: “the magic is gone.” Aside from other various destinations served by Dispatch Master Transport, television screens broadcasted potential destinations as well as safety measures and warnings about potential dangers like asteroids and space pirates. Two simple audio-animatronic robots watched over the “Repair Bay,” an area guests were re-routed to due to “maintenance in the normal terminal.” Overhead baskets set on a fixed conveyer path carried spare parts overhead, akin to Disney-MGM Studios’ Star Tours.

Also, Ride Operators, (who at the time wore bright  fluorescent orange jumpsuits, accented by the blacklights in the queue) gave a spiel at a podium in one of the holding rooms. Guests were told that  they were to be the first human cargo ever attempted by Dispatch Master Transport. The destination of said journey proved to be a staple of roller coaster folklore for years to come: a research outpost facility in Alaska.

Upon clearing the “Repair Bay,” (the final queue room) the park guests turn a corner where the true meaning of the attraction’s namesake is revealed. A sign )which shows the “Dis” from “Dispatch” crashing down over the first consonant in “Master” ) hangs above a strange, ugly, and tacky altar-like structure covered in luminous blacklight paint. A short ascension up a flight of stairs leads quests directly to the boarding area.

Initially, a strobe light flashed at the top of the lift hill while “Dave,” the voice of the in-flight computer prepared the riders for launch. Of course, the pilot “loses control” and riders are sent through the same contours of Avalanche Run. There were the occasional special effects. Notably, a large satellite was illuminated as riders rounded a helix and for a time featured an effect that shot laser beams. The remainder of the attraction sent guests around asteroids and planets before “regaining control” and returns to the station, ahem, Alaska. A mural of a snowy research base was seen by riders as they departed.

Once aboard Verbolten, the riders are granted little time before being thrust into the action. After a downhill “S curve” guests are propelled into the attractions show building. Dubbed “the event building” by  its designers, it is the primary storytelling vessel. Large painted sets then engulf the visitor’s peripheral vision. Creative Director Brian Morrow explains: “We are the first people to use the new ultraviolet strobe lights. They are LED black lights and these are directional and focusable, so we can control exactly what we want you to see. We can dim them and strobe them, and while there are other types of lights in there too these are the majority of them.”

The large sets and considerable thrill inside the event building (seen above) only amplifies the gravitas of the story elements. Inside, the prognostication becomes reality. In alignment with the modern trend of random ride experiences, Verbolten offers three contingencies. The Spirit of the Forest features a muliebrous voice that informs riders of their trespass. Another simulates an intense lightning storm, while the third plays homage to the coaster’s predecessor, glowing eyes and binaural audio simulate a wolf encounter.

The three show elements share the same acme. Engulfed in darkness, the coaster (and track)  engage in a free-fall of eighteen feet. The surprising effect is second in the world (to Alton Towers’ Th13teen) and provides considerable thrill to unassuming riders. While the  drop surmounts the show building experience, Verbolten still offers thrill. Riders are then launched for a second time, exiting the show building. After traversing through some curves,  the coaster trains reach a familiar site. A decaying wooden covered bridge serves as a brake stop before the coaster’s track emulates the famous final drop of the Big Bad Wolf. Verbolten even recycles the concrete footers of the wolf, pleasing riders still wearing the lens of nostalgia.

Overall, Verbolten excels as a themed attraction. Once learning of its multiple show experiences, even the average park guest will have a propensity to return. Even though it is nowhere near the level of thematic execution set Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or Expedition Everest,  it is a fait accompli for theming in a regional park. Creative Director Brian Morrow relishes the coaster as  “a powerful imagination based attraction that turned out as thrilling as we hoped it would be.” By immersing the rider in theme and story Verbolten requires the rider to have an overall higher consciousness. The increased brain activity helps the coaster stand out from the park’s other offerings. I hope in time further improvements and adjustments can be made to Verbolten inside and outside of the event building, new show scenes can be added or replaced and trees can be planted outside to simulate entering the forest.

Not much time passed before Disaster Transport to fall into a state of disrepair.  Cedar Fair learned the hard way that the initial cost of installing special effects does not guarantee their longevity, as well as the costs associated with repair. Halfway through the 1990’s some effects were permanently abandoned; by 1998 half of the queue was converted into storage space of venues for the park’s popular HalloWeekends.  With the closures came a disintegration in story. Guests were no longer prepped for their “blast-off into the future with an exciting voyage into the unknown” but were left with the promised “darkness of space.”

The show building had its problems too. A leaky roof coupled with a trough-like track spurred many problems. At times Disaster Transport could have been considered Ohio’s most expensive gutter. Even the air-conditioning, which functioned as a safe haven for park guests on hot Sandusky summer days, began to fail as the ride reached its last legs. On official park publications the ride was re-themed from “space journey” to “roller coaster in the dark.” Even the infamous Alaskan outpost mural had been painted over.

Through the 2000’s Disaster Transport’s queue had little to offer to the ride experience. Garish and outright tasteless blacklight paint marred of interior of the “Repair Bay.” Worse, florescent  “Day-Glo” handprints along the walls vitiated any sense of unity or theme. A queue that once functioned like a dark ride, albeit second rate, had stooped to the thematic level of a local laser tag. Dick Kinzel’s “dog of a ride” was now an excellent opportunity to sell glow-sticks and cut-rate polarized glasses (which offered very little to the attraction experience) in the queue. In 2012, Cedar Point announced the attraction’s overdue closure. A charity event was held to raise money for children with life threatening illnesses as Disaster Transport sent its last launch on July 29th. Disaster Transport had ran its course with disappointing fashion. Even its greatest mystery, the mysterious meaning behind the “12E” that graced the attraction’s exterior, was anticlimactically revealed as the 12th attraction design by an ITEC Productions employee named Eric.

Aside from a historical compilation, this article exists as a discussion on quality. Ultimately, Disaster Transport will forever be infamously  immortalized in discussions regarding theming in regional parks. Though a victim of budget complications, structural inefficiencies, and poor execution, Disaster Transport’s death notice stemmed from poor maintenance. Coasters propagated with dormant effects and bad aesthetics are never effective, and often build  a reputation out of notoriety.

Verbolten, on the other hand, excels in story premise and show execution. It’s affinity for re-rideability will serve the attraction well for many years. Guest inquisitiveness grows through each queue scene and its thrills justify the time invested. Lastly, the ride reflects the theming of its surrounding area as well as the aesthetic of the park.

While Cedar Point is not classified as a “theme park,” the park does contain areas of theme. The strongest of these themes, the Old West, was strengthened by the addition of Maverick in 2007. Maverick exists without a story, but does manifest a Frontier ambiance through its queue and ride features (specifically water effects that emulate the firing of bullets). A child’s area with the Peanuts branding, Planet Snoopy, was installed in 2008 and features thematic unity. Typical scaled down versions of rides for adults exist with matching color schemes and branding. But Cedar Point’s aesthetic is most famous for its idealized midways, embellished with games of skill and carnival lights, the park capitalizes on the “endless summer” mindset of visitors to the Lake Erie Peninsula.

Now, in 2012, Disaster Transport and the Space Spiral (a observation tower with a rotating cabin) will soon be a vestige of the park’s ill-executed space area. Its probably safe to say that the park will not return to a spaced-themed area for quite some time. Is there room for themed entertainment like Verbolten at Cedar Point? Certainly, but improbably. Even though the two parks share very similar attendance figures for seasonal, regional parks (2,744,000 for Busch Gardens vs. 3,143,000 for Cedar Point in 2011) it is a matter of company mastheads.

Cedar Point works hard to retain its perception as a roller coaster mecca, its theme being a profusion of the world’s best. Busch Gardens Williamsburg also has a reputation to uphold. “The World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park”  must deliver on its promise and uphold its theming. Verbolten strengthens the Oktoberfest theme and offers a quality experience. Two different ideologies reflect two very different parks. I am not trying to say that Cedar Point’s approach is wrong, it isn’t. Millions make the trip to Sandusky every season to brave the park’s tallest and fastest. Its reputation proceeds them, coupled with its beachside and timeless midway motif, the park creates memories and is certainly enjoyable. The rides themselves just happen to be devoid of theming.

It is a real shame that the legacy of Disaster Transport has almost completely dissuaded Cedar Fair from investing in themed attractions with complete storylines. Perhaps new CEO Matt Ouimet, who spent many years in themed entertainment as President of the Disneyland Resort, will be more apt to look into new possibilities. Conceivably, something of a lesser scale like a dark ride for Planet Snoopy would fill a void in Cedar Point’s attraction base. Whatever lies in Cedar Point’s future, the recipe for success have been proven to lie in the demonstration of quality.

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