Friday, July 10, 2009

My historical love affair with Cedar Point.

Cedar point was the go-to amusement park from where I grew up in Michigan. It was feasible to get up and leave at about 5AM, be at the park when it opened, shut the place down at 9 or 10, and arrive back home at 3AM the next morning. It was the trip than made the summer in my teen aged years. although I have many vivid memories, they tend to blur into one another somewhat.
My first trip to Cedar Point was as a 10 or 11 year old. I was invited to go with a friend of mine - with her mother and grandmother. These weren't your cool mom and grandma, either. They were the house dress-and-sensible shoes wearing pentecostal lady types. I spent the entire day trying not to fly apart from excitement, while being expected to placidly walk along holding the hand of my assigned adult. I remember the best times were when they would take a break to sit in the shade, and my friend and I were allowed to ride the same one or two kiddie rides over and over until they were ready to move on. Back then the park still had a 'Fun House' that you would walk through - silly mirrored rooms, tilted rooms, glow-in-the dark rooms and such. My friend and I gave vent to our ten year old selves by running - howling and cackling all the way - through it several times while mom and grandma sat up our lunch of bologna sandwiches on a nearby picnic table. You could still bring your own food into the park then, I suppose. Those picnic tables are all gone now, and the price of food in the park makes gluttons diet.

My favorite trips as a kid were the trips in Jr. High that the kids in the concert band and select choir got to take. One Saturday in early June we were all delivered to buses at school and sent off with little adult supervision for the day. We'd get booted out with a stern warning to behave at park opening, and told to be back at the bus at 6PM sharp. In 1976, the year it opened, we waited 90 minutes to ride the Corkscrew. It scared us so badly with it's helical turns over the sidewalks where people were standing that we got right back in line to do it again. I think it must have been that ride where they first built the back-and-forth wait line mazes. The line we waited in was all along the midway, and policed by several uniformed officers to keep line-hoppers at bay. The next year the mazes behind the ride had been built. One of those years I inadvertently started some drama by purchasing a visor for a good friend of mine, Jeff, that had his name on it. I wore it throughout the day, starting a roomer that we were a 'thing' and was dismayed that when I gave it to him at school he had already heard the roomer, and hardly spoke to me for weeks. Then one day he wore it to school, and we were friends again. Funny how memories work, isn't it?
Each year when we returned, there was something new in those days. In 1978 it was the Gemini - a record breaking racing coaster, Then in 1980 it was a batch of new spin-and-pukes. Sometimes we went with families - I remember sleeping on the ground under the open wing of a pop-up camper, but can't remember for the life of me who was on the trip - and sometimes it was a batch of friends and whomever could beg the largest car off their parents for the trip. I know some of my fellow travelers from that era read this blog occasionally - you can add your own memories in the comments. The last of these trips was made in 1983, early the summer Harry and I were married. Back then the park only had 5 or 6 coasters, but riding the roller-coasters was still the Big Thing to do at Cedar Point.
The next time I saw the park was the summer of 2001. We had returned to the mid-west a few years previous, and although the intervening years had seen us riding the coasters at other parks, we had not made the now nine hour trip to Cedar Point again. By then the park had 12 major coasters, and was recognised at the Coaster Mecca of the US. Meredith was 15 and in the midst of her first crush, and so we hauled Dan along with us. The Harry, Marci, and Garrett part of the crew was the same as this last week. On that trip we had our first rides on Millennium Force, Magnum XL-200, Raptor, Iron Dragon, Mantis, and the Mean Streak. It was total coaster paradise, and we stayed two days. Garrett suffered from his now-famous coaster headaches, and Meredith had to rest in the afternoons. We found that having a room at the park was the best and most civilized way to experience this phenomenon. Swimming and napping from 2pm to 4pm was heavenly and made the early mornings and late nights easier on 40 year old bones.
In 2004 we returned again, but sadly, Garrett couldn't make the trip and we missed him severely. Nathan, who was a fixture in our lives then went with us, and if he ever needs a roller-coaster reference letter He'll have one with my name on it. He rides coasters with the true spirit of a fanatic. Hannah, on the other hand, was a sore disappointment as a 10 year old. I'll just say that she finally grew out of her reluctance, but spent plenty of time waiting at the exits back then. We had our first shots at Wicked Twister and Top Thrill Dragster that year.
That brings us up to the trip from whence we have just returned, and you have read about that in the other entries.

Now, find a place on your own calendar, and go to Cedar Point. ~M.E.

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