Halloweekends at Cedar Point
This past weekend I attended Bloggy Conference at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. My conference registration and hotel stay included tickets to Cedar Point for my family over the weekend.
This was our second year visiting Cedar Point for Bloggy Conference and staying at Hotel Breakers which was renovated over the winter. This weekend also marked the first weekend of HalloWeekends, Cedar Point’s annual Halloween celebration.
Cedar Point opens at 6p on Friday. Our original plan was to leave around 3p (yes, pulling my daughter out of school a little early) so that we would be checked in and ready to go to the park when it opens at 6. Unfortunately, my husband needed to participate in an all-day video conference, so we were not able to leave until almost 6p. With a dinner stop and checking into the hotel, it was 9p before we entered the park.
Cedar Point Rides
For our family, the main draw at Cedar Point is the roller coasters (and a few other thrill rides). My daughter can talk about the coasters all day…their speeds, the 95 degree drop on Maverick, the record-breaking heights of Magnum, Millennium Force, and Top Thrill Dragster. HalloWeekends is a great time to visit because the park is not as crowded as the summer, particularly on Friday night and Sunday, so ride lines are shorter than normal. The best time for rides was Friday night: in 2 hours and 15 minutes we rode: Gatekeeper, Raptor, Rougarou, Millennium Force, Maverick, Top Thrill Dragster, and Magnum XL-200 and had a milkshake break.
Cedar Point Roller Coasters
Over the course of the weekend, we managed to ride each of the steel coasters and Gemini twice with my husband and daughter also riding the wooden coaster Mean Streak. We even walked directly on GateKeeper twice and had a 15 minute wait the third time. Before you go, be sure to check your child’s height. Last year my daughter just brushed past the 54″ height limit and was able to ride all of the roller coasters. Other key heights are 52″ and 48″. My daughter was very disappointed in 2013 to just miss the 52″ height as she wanted to ride Gate Keeper.
My favorite roller coasters are Gate Keeper, Millennium Force, and Top Thrill Dragster. I’m obviously not afraid of heights! Although I do have to admit to a feeling of “What was I thinking?” each time I get on Top Thrill Dragster. What I like about these rides is that the ride is relatively smooth.
My daughter was excited for her first ride on Rougarou which was a revamp of the Mantis roller coaster with new cars. Mantis was a standing coaster, Rougarou now has seats. My daughter enjoyed the ride. My assessment was that little has changed except you are no longer standing straddled on a bicycle seat. The ride was very jarring before and is still jarring today. I rode once, but skipped the second ride when my daughter and husband rode it again.
In Roller Coasters, the big news at Cedar Point is the announcement of Cedar Point’s newest coaster, Valravn which will open in May 2016. Valravn will be the world’s tallest, fastest, and longest dive coaster. There are only about 10 Dive Coasters around the world, with none currently in the midwest United States. A Dive Coaster pauses at the top of the lift hill giving riders a view of the descent before plunging down. Valravn will pause at a 45 degree angle for 4 seconds before diving 90 degrees straight down. If you are visiting this fall, be sure to stop by the Valravn display. There is information about the roller coaster, a piece of track and a chair to sit in. At certain times, you can also share a Tweet or Instagram photo to win a prize. I received a 20% off merchandise coupon, the people in front of me received beverage vouchers, and another Michigan blogger in attendance won a 2016 season pass.
My daughter and husband focused on the non-roller coasters in the early afternoon Saturday since many coasters were closed after rain and the others had long lines. I barely rode anything other than the coasters and thrill rides (Max Air and Sky Hawk). I did get them to ride the train with me when we needed to go from the back of the park (near Maverick) to the front (Rougarou).
If you have small kids, don’t worry. Cedar Point has plenty of kids rides and low or moderate thrill rides that they can enjoy with you. Cedar Point offers a number of rides for kids throughout the park, predominately in Camp Snoopy, Planet Snoopy, and Kiddy Kingdom. The maximum height on the kids rides is 54″, so we skipped these sections.
Cedar Point will be celebrating HalloWeekends on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through November 1. HalloWeekends is broken into two components, Great Pumpkin Fest and Haunt. The park features 20,000 lbs of pumpkins, gourds, and squash, over 400 monsters, and 96,000 corn stalks. One of our favorite areas of the park is the Pumpkin Blaze where most of the pumpkins can be found.
Great Pumpkin Fest
Great Pumpkin Fest is the kid-friendly daytime portion of HalloWeekends with special activities for kids under 54″. Activities run from 11a-7p on Saturday and Sunday. There will be crafts, tractor races, a corn maze, a hay bale maze, and an outdoor foam pit. They also offer Trick or Treat and a Kids Costume Contest. In 2014, my daughter participated in the Trick or Treat (even though she was just over 54″). No costume is needed for the Trick or Treat. In addition, they also have a parade at 5p that all ages can enjoy. Winners of the Kids Costume Contest get to ride in the parade.
Haunt is the night time portion of HalloWeekends that is geared towards teens and adults. Haunt includes several walkthrough Haunted Houses and Terror Zones. The Terror Zones are outdoor walkthrough attractions with monsters and zombies that will come up to you, but do not touch you. They may approach you from behind, or hidden behind mist and lights, or just walk up near you. Three of the terror zones are on the regular park paths towards the back of the park, so if your child is particularly sensitive, you may want to stay in the front of the park. If your kids are a little hesitant, but want to try the terror zones, Cedar Point offers a “No-Boo” Necklace. The monsters will still interact with the wearer of a No-Boo necklace, but won’t try to spook or scare them. A No-Boo Necklace costs $8.
Last year, we only visited the Terror Zones that were on the path but avoided all of the other walk through areas. This year on Saturday night, we convinced our daughter to try a terror zone. We asked a couple of employees and was told that Blood on the Bayou near Top Thrill Dragster wasn’t too bad. My daughter agreed that it wasn’t any worse than the paths that we had been on, but she didn’t want to try another Terror Zone. On Sunday afternoon, we also talked her into one of the haunted houses – Eeerie Estates. Again we had asked for recommendations in various stores. I was actually surprised at home many people were bringing kids younger than my daughter into Eerie Estates. It helped that we visited about 3p in broad daylight (when the haunted houses open on Sundays).
Below is the video that I shared on Instagram from our Haunt and Great Pumpkin Fest activities (some of the pictures were from the 2014 event).
Hotel Breakers underwent a major renovation between the 2014 and 2015 season. The new rooms were bright, well-maintained, and cheery. My daughter’s favorite part of the room was the Gatekeeper Headboard. She walked in, looked at the first bed and said I’m sleeping in the Gatekeeper bed. Then saw that both beds had a Gatekeeper headboard.
The room featured a new HDTV, desk with two chairs, plenty of outlets at the desk and nightstand, and an in-room safe. The room also had both a refrigerator and a small microwave.
The one mistake that I made was not packing our swimsuits. The website said the outdoor pools would be closed after Labor Day and since the hotel only operates seasonally, I had not checked for an indoor pool. Not only does the hotel have an indoor pool, the outdoor pool was also open on Friday night and Saturday. Since the park doesn’t open until 11a (10a for hotel guests), my husband and daughter could have swam indoors on Saturday morning when it was raining.
There are many perks to staying at Hotel Breakers. Their location adjacent to the park on the beach is perfect. There are two resort entrances…one by Wave Swinger and one near Magnum XL-200. Hotel guests receive entry into the parks one hour early in the mornings. We definitely used this hour (10-11a) to our advantage on Sunday. It was raining on Saturday morning, so my husband and daughter didn’t take advantage of the early morning hours.
Food at Cedar Point
Cedar Point offers food options beyond the standard theme park fare. Last year we ate at Johnny Rockets, Famous Dave’s (outside the park on the marina), and Panda Express.
For breakfast, Hotel Breakers has a Perkins and a Starbucks. I had breakfast at the conference both days but my husband and daughter tried out Perkins on Saturday and Starbucks on Sunday. The hotel also has a TGI Fridays and a Japanese Steakhouse.
In the past, my daughter’s choice for lunch at Cedar Point has been Panda Express. This year on Saturday, my husband negotiated with her for Chick-Fil-A for Saturday’s lunch and Panda Express for Sunday lunch. They enjoyed their Saturday lunch at Chick-Fil-A. For lunch on Sunday we decided to visit Chickie & Pete’s, a sports bar inside the park offering table service meals. For years I have been hearing my family and friends in the Philadelphia area talk about Chickie & Pete’s Crab Fries. We had the chance to try them this summer when visiting a friend and they are amazing. When we suggested Chickie & Pete’s, my daughter gladly traded Panda Express (which she can visit at Briarwood Mall) for Crab Fries. Service was fast and the food was delicious.
For dinner on Saturday night, we ate at the Midway Marketplace which offers an all-you-can-eat buffet. The price was quite reasonable at $15.99 for adults and $9.99 for children and includes drinks and dessert. Compared to $13.99 for a chicken finger combo meal, I thought the price was quite reasonable. The buffet included a pasta bar, tacos, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, carved ham, fried rice, egg rolls, and more. Dessert options included an ice cream bar, cobblers, and cakes including an amazing pumpkin bread. Drinks were available at a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine. As an added bonus, there was no line and no shortage of seats at the buffet.
We had a great time at Cedar Point for HalloWeekends and BloggyCon. We are looking forward to returning next year for BloggyCon 2016. Although, we may try to make a trip earlier in the summer to ride Valravn.