Finally, a post where I can use my own retro image. I’m the one falling down. My brother is the one hanging onto the post. This rope ladder complex was on the left hand side of Kid Arthur’s Court. Sorry, I was distracted for a minute. You don’t even know Kid Arthur’s Court is yet.
Kid Arthur’s Court was a giant kid’s playland opened in the 1982 Cedar Point season. It was the “castle” of Kiddyland. Kiddyland’s medieval signs still remain, but the “castle” that was Kid Arthur’s Court is gone. Since I can’t find pictures online of the complex, think of the largest McDonald’s playland you have ever seen. With that picture in your head think of that as John Cusack. Kid Arthur’s Court was Arnold Schwarzenegger to the John Cusack in your head.
The Court was located in the spot that is now occupied by Wicked Twister and the Giant Wheel. The whole skeleton was a wooden frame that used the same pieces as the existing Kiddyland sign. In retro measurement I would say the upper floor was at least twenty-feet from ground level. The flags and upstairs playground were an addition fifteen feet on top of that.
Walking up to the Court the first thing you notice is the giant rope ramp to the left hand side. This probably went twenty to twenty-five feet up. You entered in and started your initial ascent. You then made it to a flat area still made up of the same rope material. The path then looped to your left once again going up an incline to meet flat spot. The picture above was taken in this flat area. You had one more incline and you were on the second level.
Originally the rope ladder had wider holes like you in the picture above. It was easy to slip and fall your leg through if you were not careful. I’m sure this area was the cause of many painful groin injuries. In later years Cedar Point must have realized this. They replaced the ladder with one that had much smaller holes. The sense of danger was then goes from the climb. I heard many people complain in the final years that it was quite boring. In my youth it was quite intimidating, though the holes were always small enough that no one was ever going to fall all the way through.
The second level housed a large series of tube tunnels to crawl through. It was a vaguely castle layout. I remember once having to go in and find my brother. The structure was large enough that this task still could take five or ten minutes depending if the person you were after was stationary or not. There were a couple of issues with tunnels layout though.
There was shaded tents above the structure, so shade existed. The problem is in Ohio’s humid July and August months this wasn’t enough. It could sometimes become an oven of heat inside. Excited kids running around just added to more of the heat. Luckily, since it didn’t get that much direct sunlight there weren’t any areas that were too hot to the touch. It wasn’t completely protected from the elements, so this area was not used if there was rain.
There were two methods to come down from the top. This first was the path for parents trying to catch their kids coming off the rope ladder. This was a wide path that allowed for easy walking to the second level. It may have even been a ramp allowing for strollers, but I’m not sure. There was another path that went down that was a maze to wander through. It wasn’t an in-depth maze, so I rarely wandered through it.
The lower level of the complex housed the rest of the maze. It also had two large ball pits. If I remember correctly they had kids of different ages/heights segregated between the two pits. I do know when I was twelve or thirteen (the last year before I outgrew it height wise), I could still get completely buried in the ball pit. I would guess it was one and a half to two feet deep of plastic balls. It was fantastic and no other ball pit I have entered in my life was half as cool as this one.
When my brother and I were in the same ball pit I would sneak up to him by “swimming” underneath the balls. I would then grab him by the ankles and startle him. After five or ten minutes they would make all the kids get out. We would then queue and go right back in. I believe that was a later invention, since I remember my parents pleading for me to come out more than once.
1999 was the last year for Kid Arthur’s Court. I hadn’t played there in years (I was twenty-three). I think it’s removal went by without my noticing. I also might not have gone during the 2000 season. When we were living in Oregon, I visited the park on a trip back to Ohio in 2001. I noticed the structure was gone and replaced with Wicked Twister. It was kind of a shrug the shoulders moment.
It seems that most people just shrugged it off and didn’t care. Looking for pictures of the complex online have turned up nothing. There are some videos saying you see portions of Kid Arthur’s Court, but you only get the smallest glimpse. I did find some pictures of kids in the ball pit – put the pictures cropped so they could have been any ball pit in the world. If you have any pictures please let me know.
Now that I have a three year-old that loves Cedar Point, I mourn the loss of the playground. He would have had a fantastic climbing through the tunnels and playing in the ball pits. Things like this are supposed to be shared across generations. Those are the experiences that are true bonding experiences. I wish I could show him how fantastic it truly was. I know my words don’t give it nearly the justice it deserves.