News Column

Cedar Point sleuths on wild ride

August 30, 2014

By Jon Chavez, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio



Aug. 30--SANDUSKY -- The regular season for Cedar Point ends this weekend, and that means the second season for the Sandusky amusement park is about to begin.

No, not the Halloween-themed weekend operations that run through October.

Now is when diehard Cedar Point fans will ramp up their guessing and sleuthing to uncover what new ride or attraction the park plans to debut next year.

"Actually, the community starts speculating as soon as they open the previous attraction," said Jeff Putz, a Web site operator for PointBuzz.com, a top Cedar Point fan site. "The funny thing is, there's so many guesses and speculation that eventually somebody always gets it correct," he said.

Cedar Point itself has been laying out hints this summer, the biggest of which came in July when Jason McClure, the park's general manager, told a Sandusky newspaper that Cedar Point's new ride in 2015 will be a thrill ride aimed at teens and other hard-core thrill seekers, rather than a family-oriented ride.

Cedar Point spokesman Bryan Edwards said Friday the amusement park won't divulge any more than that. But that may change soon.

Cedar Point has scheduled a "major announcement" for noon on Tuesday. "We'll be sending out an email, but that's all I can say," Mr. Edwards said.

The spokesman would not even confirm if the announcement is for a new attraction, or something completely unrelated.

And the timing of the announcement, the day after the regular season ends, is no guidepost either.

As Mr. Edwards noted, the announcement of the Millennium Force roller coaster came in July, the Maverick roller coaster was announced after Labor Day, the Skyhawk swinging ride was announced in October, and the GateKeeper coaster was announced in mid-August.

Mr. Putz of Point Buzz said many Cedar Point fans aren't hoping for a new ride so much as updates to a pair of existing rides.

"The big thing the really hard-core fans want to see is a rehabilitation of the Mean Streak roller coaster," he said.

Rival firm Six Flags Inc. is turning two of its coasters into hybrids -- steel-tracked coasters atop wooden platforms -- and the Texas amusement park chain also is building a new hybrid coaster.

Mr. Putz said that although Cedar Point has a hybrid -- the Gemini -- fans think turning the all-wooden Mean Streak, which opened in 1991, into a hybrid would reinvigorate the ride. "Six Flags has done that with theirs. I think a lot of people are wishing the Mean Streak would get that treatment," he said.

The PointBuzz site operator said fans also have expressed a desire to have the Mantis stand-up roller coaster converted to a sit-down ride.

"I don't think anyone has a real high expectation for something completely new. But there is a lot of stuff there that is old and needs to get upgraded," Mr. Putz said.

Rick Munarriz, a Miami investor who covers the park's parent company, Cedar Fair LP, for the Motley Fool online investing Web site, said it's unlikely Cedar Point would announce a new coaster so soon after launching GateKeeper, but an upgrade to Mean Streak would be a good investment.

"More than anything else they need some sort of dark ride, which the park has always been short on ... but I can't imagine an 'E-ticket' ride coming in," Mr. Munarriz said, referring to a major attraction. "And if they were building some massive roller coaster they would already have started work on it and I don't think anything like that is happening."

But an upgrade of the Mean Streak is "definitely possible," Mr. Munarriz said. "Mean Streak isn't necessarily very popular with the Cedar Point purists. It's a rough ride. It's not like the Blue Streak," he said.

"I could definitely see them trying to make it a better experience and draw more people to the back of the park. I think that was the impetus for building the Maverick where it is, to get people to the back of the park," Mr. Munarriz said.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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(c)2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

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Source: Blade (Toledo, OH)


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