Cedar Point was a large part of my childhood. It almost seems as a constant in my life, an old stability that you grew up and will always remember fondly. I’m guessing people in Orlando feel the same way about Disney World. This was different. Cedar Point was the king of coasters. It gives the thrills in the same way Disney gives the magic. It’s a different experience, and at some point it essentially became a clubhouse.
I was browsing the Cedar Point entry on Wikipedia and realizing that I have never wrote much about it. There are tons of subjects I’ve written about until you can’t stand them anymore, but not Cedar Point. The best I can pin down for my first year there I would remember would be 1981 or 1982. The only reason this is important is to give you some historical knowledge of what rides I may or may not have experienced. Whenever was the first time, my family then made an annual pilgrimage to Cedar Point until 1989, which was the year I had my first season pass.
I tried to think of many approaches to this and none of them really seem the right way to do it. I can tell many stories about the rides or just general stories about adventures there – I think I’m just going to go in order of when each attractions opening and see where that get’s me. The bonus side of this is with my writing regularity you may never have to read about the Magnum…….
Hotel Breakers Circa 1985 – Image from Wikipedia
Going from oldest to newest attraction would be starting with the Hotel Breakers that opened in 1905. Technically the hotel is outside of the park, but it became very important to season pass holders that new the ropes. I guess that would mean it was really useful to poor teenagers who lived at the park. There were a few reasons one would visit the hotel. Logically the first would be the pass through from the Ocean Motion entrance of the park to the Magnum XL. Depending on the traffic going through the park on a given day this could get you past the crowds and from one side of the park to the other quickly. The added bonus is that we could check out the girls in the hotel pool, at the beach, or even soak city. So the scenery was nice to a 13-16 year old boy.
When it was raining outside and you did not have any money to make it worthwhile to hang out in the arcade, the hotel was a great place to relax. We would just hang out in the lobby sitting in comfortable furniture in a fully climate controlled environment while people inside the park were huddling together under the smallest of canopies trying to stay dry. The public bathrooms were always nicer in the hotel than in the park. You actually had a feeling of privacy for the most part. Privacy was something that normally was in short supply at the park.
The best part back in my early season pass days was the food you could get from the hotel. Whenever my group of friends went to Cedar Point, most of our money ended up in the arcade. This meant little money for food. We discovered that in the hotel (circa 1989-1990) there was a sandwich machine. Next to the sandwich machine was one of those coffee machines that dropped down the cup and then filled it. For under two dollars you could get a hot chocolate and a very dry sandwich. These combined were cheaper than any other single item in the park (which out the time your best bet was a slice of cheese pizza for around 2.50-3.00). This just gave us more money to spend at the arcades until we figured out the great arcade scam of 1989 (next story I promise).
There was also a restaurant inside the hotel where we would gawk at the people eating. I have never eaten there, so I can’t say anything about the cost or quality. I have eaten at the TGI Friday’s attached to the hotel. It opened sometime after I was in high school. The prices were a dollar or so more expensive per plate than a regular Friday’s, but cheaper than inside the park. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t for a full meal in an air-conditioned space.
Finally the last thing I can mention about the Hotel Breakers is the arcade. The arcade was smaller than any other one in the park (there was at least 3-4 other ones on the property). It was normally uncrowded, it had a unique game or two that couldn’t be found anywhere else in the park, and there was no Cedar Point attendants watching over your shoulder. It was privacy, granted if you like skeeball, that was not available at this arcade.
Hotel Breakers Today – Image from Wikipedia
To be honest, I don’t think I have as many memories about any other hotel on the planet. There are a few hotels I have spent more time in than the Hotel Breakers, but then again I never stayed the night there. I have watched the Fourth of July fireworks from its deck chairs, took advantage of its cheap sustenance, and went girl watching there – but I never stayed the night. Maybe someday I’ll take Lex and stay the night, just so we can both find out what it is like to ride a roller coaster less than 10 minutes after waking up.