Cedar Point named best U.S. amusement park

Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards were announced this weekend, and Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, nabbed the top spot as the best amusement park in the United States.

The theme park industry considers the Golden Tickets a top honor. Industry mag Amusement Today surveys experienced, well-traveled theme park enthusiasts from around the country to determine the best theme parks in a variety of categories.

Here’s a complete list of the winners:

  • Best Amusement Park: Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
  • Best Waterpark: Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas
  • Best Children’s Park: Idlewild and SoakZone, Ligonier, Pa.
  • Best Marine Life Park: SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best Seaside Park: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.
  • Best Wooden Coaster: The Voyage at Holiday World, Santa Claus, Ind.
  • Best Steel Coaster: Millennium Force at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
  • Best Kids’ Area: Kings Island, Kings Mills, Ohio
  • Friendliest Staff: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
  • Cleanest Park: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
  • Best Halloween Event: Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando, Orlando, Fla..
  • Best Landscaping: Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Best Christmas Event: Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
  • Best Food: Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
  • Best Shows: Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
  • Best Outdoor Night Show Production: IllumiNations: Reflections of the Earth at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best Water Ride: Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best Waterpark Ride: Wildebeest at Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
  • Best Dark Ride: Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best Indoor Waterpark: Schlitterbahn Galveston Island, Galveston, Texas
  • Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction: Noah’s Ark at Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pa.
  • Best Carousel: Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
  • Best Indoor Roller Coaster: Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best New Ride of 2010 – Amusement Park: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best New Ride of 2010 – Waterpark: Wildebeest at Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.

There was also a poignant tribute to late Holiday World president Will Koch, who died suddenly this summer at age 48. Holiday World won a record number of Golden Tickets this year.


[Image credit: Flickr user daveynin]

Theme park news roundup: New thrills on the way in 2011

Summer season is winding down, and that means it’s the time of year when theme parks start announcing their new attractions for the 2011 season. Here’s a look at the latest news and rumors about new attractions at U.S. theme parks:

Dollywood to open the Barnstormer

Dolly Parton’s theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, will add a $5.5 million ride called the Barnstormer. It’s designed to simulate stunt flying with the use of two pendulum arms. The ride will rise 81 feet in the air. Dollywood is also building a new barnyard-themed children’s play area around the Barnstormer.

The new ride will have a height requirement of 48 inches. It’s expected to open in March 2011.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay launches teaser Web site

Construction of a new attraction has been going on for months at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, but the park has made no official announcements as to what the new ride will be. It is widely believed that the new attraction will be a roller coaster. Park officials have only said that there will be thrils and animal encounters.The Tampa, Florida, theme park has launched a teaser web site, BuschGardens2011.com, with videos of park officials talking about their big secret. The latest video is with design and engineering VP Mark Rose, who does reveal that the 2011 project will have the largest footprint of any attraction at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Cedar Point releases new ride clues on Facebook

Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is giving fans of its Facebook page clues about a new 2011 attraction. So far, pictures of a windmill and a dinosaur have been posted.

The windmill picture links instructions for a class project on windy weather, and the dino image links to a site on dinosaurs for kids.

The theme park is promising that all will be revealed next week, on Aug. 24.

Hersheypark looking ahead to 2012

Often the first place that news about new theme park attractions emerges is through city and county construction permits that have to be obtained, and hearings that have to be held, when theme parks plan to build anything.

That’s exactly what happened this week in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, where Hersheypark theme park is building a new attraction for 2012.

At a municipal zoning meeting, Hersheypark officials revealed that new “marquee” attraction will be built in the park’s Comet Hollow area, and it will open in 2012. No word on what it will be, but the theme park is seeking permission for the new ride to have a maximum height of more than 212 feet.

Cedar Point delays opening of new water coaster Shoot the Rapids

Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, has delayed the opening of its big splash this year, a water ride called Shoot the Rapids.

Cedar Point opens for the season on Saturday.

The ride was scheduled to open for a media preview on Friday, but that event has been canceled, and Cedar Point now says Shoot the Rapids will open on May 29.

Engineering problems are behind the delay. The ride cars (in this case, boats) for the ride were too long and did not fit the ride. Crews are having to alter them on-site.

“The manufacturer made the flume, and he contracted out the boats. When the boats came together, the boats didn’t fit the flumes,” Cedar Fair president Dick Kinzel told the Sandusky (Ohio) Register.

Shoot the Rapids is the park’s third water ride and its biggest investment in one, with a price tag of $10.5 million. It uses a steel track and has two lift hills. The tallest is 85 feet.

8 new thrill rides opening in 2010

Whether you’re an avid thrill seeker or just looking to have a little fun, thrill rides and roller coasters offer riders endless good times and plenty of excitement. With the economy on the forefront of most American’s minds, many amusement parks have scaled back or delayed production of new rides. Luckily, not every park is afraid of the economic downturn, and these eight new rides opening this year offer entertainment that refuses to disappoint. Time to strap in and enjoy the ride!


The longest water coaster in the world, the Wildebeest, is opening May 14, 2010 at Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN. Riders splash through the 1,710 feet of yellow tubing at 36 feet per second in just 2 minutes, and 30 seconds on a four-person raft. The Wildebeest has a total of 7 drops, the tallest of which is 38 feet, and features 2 underground tunnels. With no access stairs, this family friendly ride is easily accessible to riders.

Shoot the Rapids
Cedar Point Theme Park in Sandusky, OH will show off this new log flume ride in 2010. Shoot the Rapids features an 85-foot first drop, and a 49-foot second drop. Unexpected special effects advance the playful backwoods, moonshine theme. With enough thrills to get the heart racing, but without the speeds that eliminate certain riders, Shoot the Rapids is a family thrill ride.

The Intimidator
Opening in the Spring of 2010 at Carowinds Theme Park in Charlotte, NC, the Intimidator boasts speeds in excess of 75 mph. The red track and checkerboard patterned landing are in honor of legendary Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt, who was the inspiration for the coaster. The tallest coaster in the Southeast, the Intimidator is 232 feet tall with a staggering first drop of 211 feet at a 74 degree angle. Open-air seating, modeled after Earnhardt’s famous Monte Carlo, allows the rider a clear view of the ride’s eight dips along its 5,316 feet of track for the duration of the 3 minute 33 second thrill ride.

Sky Rocket

Accelerating to 50 mph in only 3 seconds, the Sky Rocket is expected to open in May of 2010. The Sky Rocket is the seventh coaster to be erected at Kennywood Theme Park in West Mifflin, PA. The 2100-foot blue track features a 90 degree drop, two separate G-force pullouts, a traditional corkscrew, an inverted top hat, and a barrel roll. The orange flame accented cars reach the end of the track in 65 seconds.

Scorpion’s Tail
Noah Ark Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, WI will set a new standard in water slides in 2010. The Scorpion’s Tail is 10 stories high, and 400 feet long. Shooting a single rider through a blue tube at more than 50 feet per second, this thrill ride “might sting a little.”

— The above was written by Chastity Goddard, Seed contributor.

Intimidator 305:
Kings Dominion
in Doswell Virginia will introduce the new giant coaster uses Nascar legend Dale Earnhardt’s nickname Intimidator. The name suits the coaster that towers at the intimidating height of 305 feet at its tallest. The first drop is 300 feet down at a terrifying 85 degree angle (nearly straight down!). The roaring ride hits amazing speeds of 90+ mph and will leaving the rider gripping their seat for the entire three minute journey in the fast lane.

The Dragon Challenge:
New roller coaster ride in Universal Studio’s Island’s of Adventure in Orlando Florida. The ride is a part of the parks newest themed section, Wizarding World of Harry Potter and actually two separate coasters. Riders must choose a ‘Dragon’, the red ‘Chinese Fireball’ or the blue ‘Hungarian Horntail’, each ‘Dragon’ offers a unique riding experience. The coasters seem to battle each other with tracks laid closely to one another simulating near hits to thrill passengers along for the battle ride. The mean ‘Hungarian Horntail’ hits top speed at 55 mph while the wicked ‘Chinese Fireball’ reaches 60 mph.

Revolution 360:
Seabreeze theme park
located in Rochester New York will open the revolutionary ride in the summer of 2010. Riders board a giant disk and sit on pedestal seats facing outward. The track is 123 feet long and u-shaped, the disk is shot up to a height of 5 stories and rotates the entire time it coasts up and down the half pipe track.

— The above was written by Rikki Dahl, Seed contributor.

It’s Halloweekends time at Cedar Point!

As a child growing up in the Midwest, Autumn always meant the same traditions. Sundays spent raking the leaves from the yard, visits to cider mills, and an annual October trip to Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio.

Cedar Point. . .in October? Yes! If you live in the Midwest, you probably know that Cedar Point stays open on weekends through November 1. If you didn’t know, you’ll want to plan a trip now because, while night can be cold, hours are limited, and not all the rides are open (including, of course, the water rides and the Soak City park), the lack of crowds makes this the perfect time to get your roller coaster fix.

For the whole month, the park is open from 6pm to midnight on Fridays, noon to midnight on Saturdays, and 11am to 8pm on Sundays (except for October 11 when it’s open 10am-10pm). And with those reduced hours come reduced prices on Friday nights and Saturdays after 4pm. Daily admission is normally $44.99, but during those times it drops to $29.99 per adult.

During Halloweekends most of the park’s major coasters like Millennium Force, Raptor, Magnum, and Blue Streak are all open, though some of the smaller attractions are closed. The park is decked out for Halloween with zombies, crypts, monsters, and pumpkins scattered around, and there are haunted houses of varying scare factors, a Halloween parade, and costume contests for kids.

But the best part is that, rather than waiting up to 2 hours for your favorite coaster like you will in the peak of summer, you’ll rarely wait more than 30 minutes to move through the line during Halloweekends. At many times, especially when it gets a bit chillier late in the season, you’ll zip through in just a few minutes. You get more coaster time for less money.

Cedar Point is one hour from the Cleveland airport and Sandusky, where the park is located, is serviced by Amtrak and Greyhound. There are several hotels located just outside the park gates and in the town of Sandusky ranging from around $70 to $200 per night.