Cedar Point is one of the most popular non-Disney theme parks in North America. In fact, if we also remove Universal Studios and SeaWorld parks from the equation, it’s the fourth most trafficked park on the continent. Recently, Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimet recently stated that Cedar Point is pacing to have one of its busiest summers ever. “We had one of the strongest Memorial Day weekends we’ve had in a long time,” he announced. If you plan to visit the Roller Coaster Capital of the World, you’ll want to maximize your park time as you face thousands of other travelers with similar goals. Here are six ninja tips for Cedar Point that will help you in your quest.
1. Weigh Your Options
While Cedar Point isn’t as popular as Universal Studios and Walt Disney theme parks, there is a similarity that would not exist for, say, Legoland or Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The sheer volume of internationally renowned roller coasters means that if your time is limited, you may not get to ride each one.
Consider this a triage situation. You’ll want to identify which ones you absolutely cannot miss during your trip. There are several elements at play as you develop your strategy. You should plan to ride the classics such as Magnum XL-200, Mean Streak, and Gemini. Fortunately, those rides rarely have the crowds that the newer attractions do. You’ll also want to ride the most acclaimed rides at the park, which are Top Thrill Dragster, Millennium Force, and Maverick. Finally, you’ll want to prioritize the newest rides at the park, especially if you only visit Cedar Point every few years. The latest offerings are Rougarou, Slingshot and Gatekeeper. Expect them to have longer waits due to their novelty.
What’s important to note about Cedar Point as opposed to most theme parks is that they are the thrill ride capital of the world. That’s not just a corporate slogan from Cedar Fair. You may believe you’re prepared to ride everything, but I’ve witnessed otherwise fearless people flee in terror at the first sighting of a Top Thrill Dragster ride. Understand that you may not ENJOY riding everything. To wit, I used to despise Mantis, a standing roller coaster not designed for men of my height (6’4”). I would basically spend three minutes with a safety bar jammed into my crotch as the earth moved beneath me. Fortunately, Rougarou now stands in its place, but the point remains. Not every one of Cedar Point’s thrill rides is for everyone. Anticipate in advance which ones seem like your style. You can find plenty of ride videos on YouTube if you’re on the fence about any of them.
2. Plan for Rope Drop
Yes, this is your vacation, so the idea of getting dressed early enough to enter the park the moment it opens is less than optimal. That statement also emphasizes the opportunity of the tactic. EVERYONE feels that way about visiting a theme park. While you will run into hundreds of other early risers at park drop, these people reflect a small percentage of park traffic during the most trafficked parts of the day. As such, it’s your best opportunity to ride something that ordinarily has a horrific wait time in a fraction of the time.
There is a clear front and back section of Cedar Point. All guests start at the front, which means that there is a set structure to how people explore the park. You can and should take advantage of this behavior by acting like a salmon. Swim upstream against the tide, and you’ll discover fewer people in line earlier AND later in the day.
Once you’ve ridden your rope drop selection, head all the way back to Mean Streak. The line should be shockingly small, and once you’ve enjoyed it one (or several more) times, you’ll have plenty of options. Iron Dragon, Maverick, and Dodgem are all in the area. As you work your way south, you’ll eventually run into people who are going north, but there’s a way to avoid that.
Ride your favorite attractions multiple times then eat during off-hours. By the time you’re near the front of the park, virtually everyone will be at the back, so you’ll again have less competition for the same rides. By heading straight back and then swimming against the tide, you’ll have a unique park schedule that should dramatically reduce your wait time in line.