3. The Boardwalk at Cedar Point
Cedar Point has been playing the long game when it comes to the park's beach. You have to remember that Cedar Point actually dates back to the late 1800s when visitors took railroads and steamships to the island to sunbathe. The park's century-long evolution explains its real, historic dancehall on the beach (currently tragically underutilized as an arcade) and the historic Hotel Breakers that looks out over Lake Erie. But over the last decade in particular, attention has turned to reopening the park's beach to the public, with waves of investment focused on the park's shoreline prescence.
From the demolition of Disaster Transport (whose awkward showbuilding blocked views of the water) and its replacement with the beach-skimming Gatekeeper to the opening of the waterside Windseeker and its placement next to a beach entry gate, Cedar Point's investment in the area comes to a head next year. having demolished the shoreline-parallel Wicked Twister, the park will officially redesignate the area as The Boardwalk in 2022.
Promised as a "modern interpretation of yesteryear" and an ode to Cedar Point's "heyday," the Boardwalk reimagining includes several relocated flat rides (two rides culled from scattered locations around the park, re-wrapped and re-named as the Tiki Twirl and Atomic Scrambler with midcentury decor), plus several existing ones (Troika, Giant Wheel, Windseeker, and the Matterhorn). The new Grand Pavilion along the beach will also serve as a wonderful restaurant and bar space, offering panoramic views of the water.
Of course, in true Cedar Point style, the piece de resistance will be a roller coaster. But the Wild Mouse isn't a record-breaking ride; it's a family one. The spinning Zamperla ride will be a perfect encapulation of the Boardwalk's new era and new ethos, serving both pint-sized and massive thrills. (It's also historic in a sense, since over its 150 year life, Cedar Point has housed three similar coasters; one Wild Mouse and two Wildcats.)
Without a doubt, Cedar Point's Boardwalk will be a home run. Sure, fans might've hoped for a 500-foot coaster or at least acknowledgement of the future plans for Top Thrill Dragster... but whether adrenaline junkies like it or not, the Boardwalk is a much-needed mini-land and a thoughtful expansion of the park's capacity that'll look wonderful and provide generations of memories.
The only drawback? Somehow, in the year 2023, Cedar Point still doesn't have a single dark ride or even an indoor coaster. Families' only opportunities to escape the sun are restaurants and the occasional show. That's a very odd omission for a park otherwise considered world-class. If there's any hope to be had, it's that the Boardwalk concept art (at the top of this page) prominently features that actual, historic dance hall that's still just sitting, underutilized, with an arcade on its ground floor... Could the removal of the 3-Point Shot game turn the dance hall into the home of an excellent dark ride in an imaginary Phase II of the Boardwalk? Maybe a Cedar Point-stylized take on Midway Mania? Hmmm...
4. Adventure Port at Kings Island
When Kings Island opened in 1972, it represented one of the first from-scratch, post-Disney-World parks to borrow from Magic Kingdom's lead. An "International Street" fountain-lined entry leads to a clear park icon (a 1/3 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower) from which "spokes" diverge toward themed lands. One of those lands in 1972 was Oktoberfest, with a lakeside beer garden, the Der Spinnen Keggers spinning barrel flat ride, and oompa bands.
In 1991, the iconic Arrow mine train "Adventure Express" came to the area, sending guests through collapsing mines, tripped booby traps, lost explorer camps, and an epic finale of drum-beating stone totems in an ancient temple. The Indiana Jones-esque mine train didn't make much sense in a land called "Oktoberfest," but for twenty years, the juxtaposition remained.
Now, in 2023, most of Oktoberfest will at last be given a proper reimaining as Adventure Port – an exotic, South American outpost village of explorers and adventurers built around the recently-discovered ruins of an ancient stone city. Filled with color, light, flags, and new gardens, the land will, of course, see a complete reimagining. Concept art shows a marketplace of new stalls, plus the reimagining of the land's existing food offerings (which will become "The Mercado" and "Enrique's").
(We can certainly hope that it'll also be packed with as much backstory as its spiritual sister, Kings Dominion's Jungle X-Pedition. Concept art showing substantial "ruins" scattered around the area and tie-ins to the mythology of Adventure Express surely make us think so...)
It'll also see the addition of two flat rides. Sol Spin (seen in the art above) will see guests strap onto an ancient "Sun Disc" mechanism created by an ancient civilization, which quickly becomes a floorless Enterprise. A second flat ride – the family-oriented Cargo Loco – will signal a clever return to the long-lost Der Spinnen Keggers, once again sending guests twirling in barrels from the "Arrow Cargo Company."
Maybe most exciting, concept art shows a new entry for Adventure Express. Sure, the thirty year old Arrow mine train is a now-historic and beloved family coaster whose hokiness is half the fun. But as guests barrel through tunnels of frozen booby trap spikes, broken effects, and light leaking into a finale where animatronics are in various states of disrepair, you can't help but wish the ride was given a new lease on life.
For years, it's seemed that after decades of declining attention, it would be pretty astounding to see Adventure Express come alive with restored effects, new lighting, improved sound, maybe even projection mapping! The ride has so much potential to be more than a hokey throwback.
And now, that may be part of the plan! The packet of Adventure Port concept art includes a painting of the finale of Adventure Express... Perhaps new lighting, sound, and effects are actually going to happen? The revitalization of the land around it really makes us hope that Adventure Express will get an upgrade, too. And if it does, maybe we can hope that Cedar Fair's new apparent interest in theming and storytelling sticks around to keep those upgrades working for years to come...