Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cedar Point, Ohio

Without even trying, I have managed to acquire a number of slides from Cedar Point, Ohio. Cedar Point is a venerable amusement park that dates all the way back to 1870!! It is built on a narrow peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie, and it's supposedly the second-oldest amusement park in the nation. Which one is the oldest? Lake Compounce, silly! 

Cedar Point is known as one of the greatest roller coaster parks, but you'd never know it from today's photos; theres not a coaster in the bunch. It is owned by the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which also happens to own Knott's Berry Farm. 

This first shot is from 1967, and shows two ladies resting by a  cool fountain. Overhead is the Sky Ride, which was built in 1962, and is still there… one of the few remaining in America.

We used to have one of these giant "Fun Slides" near us (not far from Disneyland) when I was a kid. I think we were given burlap bags to sit on. You know what? It still looks pretty fun. This photo is from 1969… the slide was removed in 1991. They should build another one that is 30 stories high.

This is the log flume ride known as the "Mill Race", which debuted in 1963. It was only the second ride of its kind to be built in the world (the first was at Six Flags Over Texas). The one at Knott's Berry Farm wouldn't open until 1969! The Mill Race had a drop that was only about 28 feet high, which is pretty tame by today's standards. It was removed in 1993, though Cedar Fair had another flume ride called "White Water Landing", which has also been removed; a third flume ride, Snake River Falls, still operates today.

This last one is a mystery to me, I could not figure out what ride this was! It seems to be a weird variation on a kind of "Jungle Cruise"-type attraction, although that critter in the water looks like some sort of prehistoric beastie. Does anybody have any info about this one?

I hope you have enjoyed your trip to Cedar Point, Ohio!


Nanook said...


Love those ladies in the first pic - sensible shoes, and all. (Mother and daughter, perhaps-?)

I believe the last image is from the Western Cruise or later remaned the Paddlewheel Excursion.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

That slide is about the size of the one that Marineland added in the seventies. I remember even larger ones being located around Southern California, including the Long Beach Pike, the L.A. Fairgrounds in Pomona, and various miniature golf courses. Too bad none of those slides exist today!

Chuck said...

Cedar Point! My second amusement park! Before you had to dodge roller coasters to get to, well, anything in the park!

The building in the right background behind the ladies in the first photo is known as the Coliseum, built in 1906 and still standing today. Its roof has sheltered restaurants, a skating rink, one of the largest ballrooms in the Midwest that hosted most of the big-name big bands, and one of the largest video-and-pinball arcades in the world.

Just beyond the Coliseum (and unfortunately obscured by trees) was the show building for "Earthquake," which was one of two rides (the other being the former "Buccaneers," creatively renamed "The Pirate Ride") acquired by Cedar Point from Freedomland U.S.A. "Earthquake" terrified me so badly as a three-year-old that I refused to ride it again until I was 15.

That slide was a lot of fun. Pretty scary on a first run for a little kid. A 30-story version would be awesome. Especially if it ended in a pool of blueberry Jell-O. Or fire.

The Mill Race holds a special place in my heart as my first log ride. It actually had some fairly decent theming for the time, with the flume going through a sawmill building with, if I remember correctly, actual rotating blades. Only two, rather small lift hills, but pretty significant for the time. They also had another, home-built flume ride called "Shoot the Rapids" that was pretty fun. Nothing like today's thrills, but fun for the era.

I don't remember the alligator shown in the last photo, but the only logical attraction it could have come from was the Western Cruise Nanook mentions above. This attraction was built in 1960 on an existing lagoon system dug around the turn of the century for leisurely pleasure boating by guests at the Hotel Breakers, located on the eastern side of the Cedar Point peninsula. It was also used by small motor launches to transport passengers to the Hotel who came on ferries that landed at a dock on the NW part of the peninsula.

It's important to note that the primary way to and from Cedar Point until the Causeway was built in 1957 was by ferry. Ferries came from as far away as Cleveland, Toledo, and Detroit as well as from nearby Sandusky.

Here's a 1969 map I found on the Interwebs that shows the Cedar Point of this era: Note that there were only three roller coasters in the park in 1969. Two of these, the Blue Streak (1964) and the Mine Ride (1969), are still operating today.

Thanks for a wonderful trip down a different Memory Lane of my youth! Now I think I'll go to the china cabinet and pull out my 1972 souvenir mug, featuring pictures of the Blue Streak, the Giant Slide, the Mill race, and the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad.

Nancy said...

wow, Chuck! Thanks for those memories! I have been there 3 times; the first when I was 15 in the summer of 1972, went again in about 1979 with one of my sisters and my roomie, and the third time was in 1983, the year I got married, with my other sister and our new-that-summer hubbys.

The coasters were awesome even then, and they only had half a many as they do these days. I remember really loving Cedar Creek Mine Ride and the whole frontier area. :)

That slide was definitely one of my favorites as well. Reminds me of the Partridge Family riding that one at Marineland that TM mentioned as well.

Thanks, Major, for these cool pictures! :-)

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I went down the list of past Cedar Point attractions, and those seemed as likely as any, but I still don’t really get why there would be a prehistoric monster in the water. Not that I’m complaining, I like it because it is weird!

TokyoMagic!, I thought that the one I am remembering was in Fountain Valley, but I was just a small child so I could be mistaken. We loved it, though!

Chuck, very cool that you have a long history with Cedar Point! Thanks for all of that info. I love that the Coliseum is still around, since 1906. Wow! “The Pirate Ride”, yeesh. They weren’t even trying. The scariest thing about the slide was going up the long flight of steps. It seemed really high! But once you’d done it, it was OK. I’m pretty sure that’s no an alligator in that fourth photo… it’s got flippers! It looks like a short-necked plesiosaur. A ferry ride to the park sounds fun, sort of “setting the stage”. Seems very “Disney”, although I know it was done out of necessity. Thanks also for the map, I’ll need to study it some more. Glad you liked these!

Nancy, how long did it take you to get to Cedar Point? Looks like it would be at least a 2-hour jaunt. That’s pretty long, though I know people who drive further than that to go to Disneyland. I think I have just a few other CP images, nothing great… but maybe I should share them anyway.

Chuck said...

Major, I initially thought that was a badly-executed alligator, but on second look, I'm sure you're right about the plesiosaur. No idea what would have possessed them to put that into what was essentially a poor man's combination Mark Twain & NWRR attraction (complete with faux wildlife, an Indian village, and a burning settlers' cabin, although the settlers were fighting back against an Indian raid rather than lying dead from one).

And then I realized that that probably wasn't a shot of the Western Cruise after all. Looking more closely at the bench and railing in the foreground, this appears to have been taken from the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad. The Western Cruise boats had a white handrail with turned posts that extended across the side of the boat roughly at seated waist level, which would be visible in this shot if it were taken from one of the boats.

There were (and still are) various features along the railroad right-of-way to make things more interesting for guests. The most prominent (and to my knowledge only) survivor is "Boneville," a series of humorous, Western-themed tableaus inhabited by animated skeletons, but it stands to reason there may have been other scenes.

At this point in time, the CP&LE crossed the lagoon system three times over low wooden trestles (see the 1969 map I linked above). I'm going to guess this was to the right of the second or third trestle (visible above the train graphic in the linked map) in what was then a very isolated part of the park.

Either that, or maybe this really is a short-necked plesiosaur.

Chuck said...

Ironically, the island in the middle of the lagoon now houses an audio-animatronic, walk-through dinosaur exhibit. At least I think they're audio-animatronic. They might just be well-disciplined, trained using techniques similar to how the plesiosaur was conditioned to not attack the trains back in the '60's.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

I remember those “Giant Slides” also. We always called them “Giant Slides”. There was one on the corner of La Palma Ave and Euclid St. it was there for YEARS. Not sure if it was in Buena Park or Anaheim. Could that be the same one you were thinking of Major?

Sorry about the late post, better late than never I suppose.

Peter Naegele said...

I have sent the last image in to some CP historians to see what it's all about. My earliest memories of the park are from the mid 70's, and this shot pre-dates those, however I don't remember such a creature in the lagoon!

Von Roll Robert said...

Very rare. The Skyride was built in 1961. One of 11 operating Von Roll VR101 Skyrides in the USA. A direct ancestor of the Disneyland Skyway.

Hoot Gibson said...

I'm 99% sure this slide was taken at nearby Prehistoric Forest in Marblehead Ohio just a hop across Sandusky Bay from Cedar Point. They had a tram ride that passed by ugly dinosaurs including this one and a plesiosaur. They were crudely animated and as you see this one is actually moving in the water. Now that I think about it I'm 99.9% sure this was Prehistoric Forest.

Major Pepperidge said...

Hoot Gibson, thank you, I've never heard of the Prehistoric Forest!