Park History

Park History

The History of Fun:
Cedar Point Celebrates Its Past
 


Cedar Point. People throughout the entire world know about it. It's the number-one rated amusement park on the planet. It's also the second oldest amusement park in North America. With a history dating back to 1870, the classic amusement park/resort on the shore of Lake Erie has seen its share of rides, roller coasters, trends and history.

Prior to 1870 the Cedar Point Peninsula was mainly used for fishing and hunting. However, that all changed with an editorial in the local newspaper in 1867 calling on “some enterprising person” to utilize the magnificent beach on the lake side of Cedar Point. In the summer of 1870, local businessperson Louis Zistel opened a small beer garden, bathhouse and dance floor on the peninsula. He would bring guests over to Cedar Point on his steamboat, Young Reindeer, for the modest price of 25 cents. By the 1880s it was noted in the local paper that “sailing and bathing parties to Cedar Point are all the rage.”

The history of thrill rides at Cedar Point began in 1892 with the introduction of the peninsula’s first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway. The addition of the 25-foot-tall, 10-mph scream machine would forever shape the future of Cedar Point. Later years would bring a wide variety of rides, roller coasters, games, shows and more. Visionaries such as George Boeckling, George Roose, Emile Legros, Robert L. Munger, Jr. and Richard Kinzel have all played a significant part in creating the ultimate amusement park that more than 3 million guests trek to each and every summer.

With all the changes over the years, the Cedar Point of today wouldn't be recognized by a guest who visited in 1870 — with two exceptions. The first thing is the beach, the beautiful, sandy Lake Erie beach. The second thing — and the best thing — is the smiles. The smiles that Cedar Point guests have been sharing since the first ferry crossed Sandusky Bay so many years ago. The same smiles that are sure to be echoed at Cedar Point in the future, as Lake Erie's summertime tradition continues with the very best in family fun and excitement.

Highlights From Cedar Point’s Glorious Past

  • 1870: Cedar Point opens as a public bathing beach. First passengers arrive at Cedar Point Resort on the Steamer, "Young Reindeer."
  • 1882: Dock built at Biemiller's Cove area; new dance hall and eight bathhouses also built there. Steamer "R.B. Hayes" begins service to Biemiller's Cove while the Steamer "Lutts" goes to the Cedar Point Lighthouse. A new dock is built between Biemiller's Cove and the Lighthouse.
  • 1884: Great Western Band performed at Grove on lakeshore. Biemiller's Cove served by Steamer "H.B. Wilson."
  • 1888: The enormous Grand Pavilion opens, featuring an auditorium, bowling alleys and dining facilities. The adjacent Ladies' Pavilion provided refreshments suitable for ladies and children. Band stand added in front of Grand Pavilion for Great Western Band. Steamer "I.M. Weston" chartered.
  • 1889: Brush Electric Dynamo power plant installed.
  • 1891: Steamer "A.J. Wehrle, Jr." began service.
  • 1892: The park’s first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway, opens. It stood an amazing 25 feet tall and reached an unbelievable top speed of 10 mph.
  • 1894: Beach additions include a pony track, diving platform, water toboggan, horizontal bars, water trapeze and bicycle boats.
  • 1897: Four owners (Adam J. Stoll, Jacob Kuebeler, Louis Adolph and Charles Bretz) sold interest in Cedar Point to the Cedar Point Pleasure Resort Company of Indiana. This marked the coming of George A. Boeckling to the management of Cedar Point.  George Boeckling guided Cedar Point's success from 1897 until his death in 1931.
  • 1899: Cedar Point opened its first hotel, the Bay Shore Hotel.
  • 1901: The White House, a 55-room hotel opens on Sandusky Bay.
  • 1902: The Figure-Eight Roller Toboggan opens as the second roller coaster ever built at Cedar Point.
  • 1905: The historic Hotel Breakers welcomes its first guests. The hotel offered 600 rooms making it one of the largest hotels in the Midwest. Crystal Rock Palace built to serve food and beverages. Movie "The Great Train Robbery" played the season at Cedar Point Theatre.
  • 1906: A new midway is built featuring various rides, games, fortunetellers, merchandise shops, a skating rink, a massive Coliseum with a grand ballroom and other attractions. A new electric plant is built. Steamer "New York" purchased by Cedar Point.
  • 1907: Arrival of Steamer "Eastland." Beginning of steamship service to Cedar Point from Cleveland.
  • 1908: Following the season, engines of the Steamer "New York" were removed and placed in the newly built Steamer - "G.A. Boeckling."
  • 1909: Steamer "G.A. Boeckling" christened on June 28.
  • 1910 Aviation great Glenn H. Curtiss establishes a new world record for flying over water when he completes a 65-mile-long flight from Euclid Beach to the Cedar Point Beach.
  • 1911: Cedar Point announced that a roadway would be built to the resort, connecting it with the main arteries coming into the Sandusky area.
  • 1913: College football legend and Notre Dame great, Knute Rockne, works as a lifeguard at Cedar Point with teammate Gus Dorais. During their free time they perfect the forward pass on the Cedar Point Beach.
  • 1914: On July 19, the roadway (Cedar Point Chausee) was opened to the public.
  • 1915 The White House was remodeled. Opened June 20 under new name, "The Cedars." Goodyear employees from Akron had an excursion to the resort, numbering 18,000 people.
  • 1919: Captain William H. Long of Lorain, Ohio, began daily sight-seeing flights.
  • 1920:  Currant Cleveland Road entrance of Chausee opened.
  • 1925: The legendary Helen Keller speaks at the Annual Convention of Lions International hosted in the park’s Convention Center.
  • 1929: The classic Cedar Point Cyclone roller coaster opens along the beach. It is billed as “Scientifically Built for Speed, Thrills and Safety.”
  • 1934:  The Tumble Bug was one of the few rides added at Cedar Point during the Depression.
  • Mid-30's:   The Leap the Dips coaster is removed.
  • 1939: Dance floor and skating rink of the Coliseum converted to a Ballroom and refreshment service added. Top name big bands performed in Cedar Point's Grand Ballroom.
  • 1946: A family favorite, the Midway Carrousel, debuts at Cedar Point.
  • 1952 Regular steamer service between Sandusky and Cedar Point was discontinued. Steamer "G.A. Boeckling" put out of service; sold and removed to Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., where it became a floating warehouse.
  • 1957: A group of investors from Cleveland (including George Roose and Emile Legros) acquired ownership of Cedar Point. The Cedar Point Causeway opened on June 12.
  • 1959: Construction is completed on the Cedar Point Marina, one of the largest on the Great Lakes.
  • 1960: Cadillac Cars, Scrambler and Tiki Twirl open.
  • 1961: Sky Ride and Star Voyager open.
  • 1962: Sky Wheel opens.
  • 1963: Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad and Mill Race open.
  • 1964: The oldest operating roller coaster at Cedar Point today, the Blue Streak, opens. Western Cruise (subsequently named Paddlewheel Excursions) also opens.
  • 1965: Earthquake, Space Spiral and Turnpike Cars open. Jungle Larry's African Safari opens. "Jungle Larry" and "Safari Jane" Tetzlaff entertained guests for 30 years with their ever-expanding menagerie of tigers, leopards, exotic snakes, chimpanzees, monkeys and an occasional elephant. Jungle Larry's African Safari ran through the 1994 season.
  • 1966: Pirate Ride opens.
  • 1967: Cedar Downs Racing Derby, Rotor and Shoot-the-Rapids open. Frontiertown opens.
  • 1968: Cedar Point’s live entertainment department is formed. Frontier Lift, Kiddieland Carrousel and Sky Slide open.
  • 1969: The Cedar Creek Mine Ride, one of the first roller coasters to utilize steel tubular track, opens. Antique Cars open. Town Hall Museum opens in Frontiertown; displays photos and memorabilia from the park's colorful past.
  • 1970: This was Cedar Point's Centennial year. WildCat, Bayern Kurve, Dodgem #2, Monster, Schwabinchen, Calypso and Super Himalaya open. Centennial Theatre (now the Jack Aldrich Theatre) opens. Kiddieland (Kiddy Kingdom) was opened at its present site with 14 rides and a Lost Children's area. Sealand, a large walk-through marine exhibit, opened on the beach. Sealand had eye-level windows for guest viewing of sharks, penguins, and a variety of other aquatic animals. The aquarium was razed after the 2001 season to make room for Wicked Twister. WildCat lived in serveral locations until it was removed from its home on the Million Dollar Midway just prior to the opening of the 2012 season to make way for expansions to Celebration Plaza. 
  • 1971: Trabant opens. Connecting Frontiertown with the main midway, the Frontier Trail was built near the lagoons on the bay side of the peninsula. It offered a shaded walkway with log cabins and craft demonstrations, Fort Sandusky and the Petting Farm. Camper Village RV Campground opens with 224 RV campsites.
  • 1972: Frontiertown Carrousel, Jumbo Jet, Giant Wheel and Matterhorn open.
  • 1975: The Cedar Point Cinema with IMAX projection system opened in June. "Man Belongs to the Earth" was shown. The Cinema had a total area of 19,000 square feet. The area was divided into the Cinema Showcase and the Main Theatre. (The Main Theatre housed one of the world's largest indoor motion picture screens -- 66 feet high by 88 feet wide.) 950 guests watched the film in the Main Theatre while guests in the Cinema Showcase were entertained by the zany Showcase performers. The Cedar Point Cinema was converted to the Good Time Theatre in 2002.
  • 1976: The red, white and blue Corkscrew roller coaster debuts at Cedar Point. Troika opens."Circus World" was shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 1977: Witches' Wheel opens. "To Fly" was shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 1978: The Gemini racing roller coaster opens as the tallest and fastest scream machine on the planet. "North of Superior" was shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 1979: Jr. Gemini and Wave Swinger open. "Man Belongs to the Earth" was shown in the Cedar Point Cinema. In May, Robert L. Munger, Jr. was elected President and Chairman of the Board.
•1980: Oceana, a 1,600-seat dolphin stadium and aquazoo, opens. "To Fly" once again played in the Cedar Point Cinema.
•1981: Ocean Motion opens. "Living Planet" was shown in the Cedar Point Cinema. Sky Wheel, Funhouse and Shoot-the-Rapids were removed after the season.
•1982: White Water Landing opens (removed after 2005 season). Kid Arthur's Court opens (removed after 1999 season). "Hail Columbia" was shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
•1983 Demon Drop opens. "Flyers" was shown in the Cedar Point Cinema. Cedar Fair, L.P. was formed with Robert L. Munger, Jr. its Chief Executive Officer.
•1985: Avalanche Run (re-themed as Disaster Transport in 1990) opens. Berenstain Bear Country indoor complex opens. "Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
•1986: Thunder Canyon white water raft ride opens. Sir Rub-A-Dub's Tubs added to Kiddy Kingdom. "The Dream Is Alive" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema. Steadily declining health forces Robert L. Munger, Jr. to step down. Richard L. Kinzel became the new President and Chief Executive Officer.
•1987: Iron Dragon suspended coaster opens. "On the Wing" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
•1988: Soak City waterpark opens. The original complex consisted of 10 slides. In 1990, Main Stream and Tadpole Town were added. In 1995, Zoom Flume, Renegade River and Choo-Choo Lagoon were added. A 6.5-acre addition in 1997 included a 22,500-sq. ft. wave pool, an action slide area with three twisting enclosed inner tube raft slides, an activity pool section with various interactive water elements and an adult activity area with whirpools and a swimup refreshment center. Splash Zone was added in 2004. "Skyward" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
•1989: The world’s first coaster to top the elusive 200-foot-tall threshold, the Magnum XL-200, opens. "North of Superior" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 1990: Sandcastle Suites opened with 96 suites. In 1992, 91 additional suites were added.
  • 1991: Mean Streak opens as the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster on planet Earth. "A Freedom To Move" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 1992: Challenge Park, featuring an exciting go-kart track and two 18-hole miniature golf courses, opens. Outdoor complex added to Bernstain Bear Country, including Bear County Railroad. "To Fly" is once again shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 1993: Snake River Falls, the tallest, fastest and steepest water flume ride in the world, opens. "Flyers" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema."
  • 1994: Cedar Point unleashes Raptor as the tallest and fastest inverted roller coaster in the world. "Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 1995: Breakers East is added to Hotel Breakers. "Flight of the Aquanaut" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema. Laser Show projected on a huge screen measuring 50 ft. high by 72 ft. wide near Main Train Station.
  • 1996: The $12 million Mantis opens as the tallest and fastest stand-up roller coaster in the universe. "Speed" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 1997: Chaos opens. "Speed" is once again shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 1998: Cedar Point debuts Power Tower, a 300-foot-tall thriller that either launches its riders up 240 feet or blasts them down 240 feet at speeds of up to 50 mph. "Thrill Ride: The Science of Fun" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 1999: Lucy, Linus, Charlie Brown and everyone’s favorite beagle, Snoopy, help Cedar Point open Camp Snoopy, a family playland that features seven rides, including the Woodstock Express roller coaster. The Aquatic Stadium, a 1,600 seat capacity complex featuring Splash!, an innovative and daring high diving demonstration opens (originally opened as Oceana dolphin stadium in 1980. Breakers Tower is added to Hotel Breakers. "Extreme" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 2000: Cedar Point stuns the coaster world when it debuts the tallest (310 feet) and fastest (93 mph) "giga-coaster" on the planet, Millennium Force. The 350-room Breakers Express is added on Causeway Drive. "Alien Adventure" is shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 2001: The charming Lighthouse Point opens, featuring 50 cottages, 10 cabins and 59 luxury RV campsites. "Michael Jordan To The MAX" is the last movie to be shown in the Cedar Point Cinema.
  • 2002: The park debuts its 15th roller coaster, Wicked Twister, and a PEANUTS ice-skating program, "Snoopy Rocks! On Ice" in the Good Time Theatre (formerly the Cedar Point Cinema).
  • 2003: Cedar Point shocks thrill-seekers yet again with the debut of the 420-foot-tall, 120-mph Top Thrill Dragster – making Cedar Point home of the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world.
  • 2004: Cedar Point invests nearly $10 million in capital improvements for its 2004 season with expansions at its Lighthouse Point luxury camping complex and Soak City waterpark. Cedar Point also makes a big splash with the addition of its new $22 million Castaway Bay indoor waterpark resort.
  • 2005: Cedar Point takes its guests to new heights with the introduction of its 68th ride – maXair.
  • 2006: Skyhawk flies into Frontiertown as Cedar Point’s latest thrill ride. "Hot Summer Lights", an all-new sensory experience debuts. It features music, sound, lights, video, pyrotechnics and a new special effect, "FireWater."
  • 2007: Cedar Point introduces Maverick, its 17th roller coaster, more coasters than any park in the world. Built by IntaRide, Maverick dips, turns and twists through 5.5 acres in Frontiertown. It was named as the Best New Ride of 2007.
  • 2008: Planet Snoopy becomes Cedar Point’s fourth special area for young children. It features seven rides and The Family Care Center. Adjacent to Planet Snoopy is Joe Cool’s Café that offers an extensive menu designed especially for the little ones. "All Wheels Extreme", a high-energy stunt show, opens in the Extreme Sports Stadium.
  • 2009: The Starlight Experience transforms the Frontier Trail into a canopy of lights and colors. The themed lighted walkway features more than 1 million LED lights, music and four PEANUTS-themed displays. The Jack Aldrich Theatre, renamed for the park’s late director of park attractions, opens on the Main Midway.
  • 2010: Featuring two hills and a splashy grand finale, Shoot the Rapids, one of three water rides at Cedar Point, opens on the Frontier Trail. 
  • 2011: Cedar Point unveiled WindSeeker, a 30-story-tall swing ride. Seated in two-person swings, riders will be treated to breathtaking views of Cedar Point, Lake Erie and the Cedar Point Beach. The Ocean Motion swinging boat ride was relocated to the Main Midway near the front of the park.
  • 2012:  More than 50 larger-than-life animatronic dinosaurs inhabited Cedar Point’s Adventure Island with the debut of the new Dinosaurs Alive! attraction. Plus, Cedar Point ignited the night with the debut of its new show Luminosity.
  • 2013:  Cedar Point introduced its 16th roller coaster – GateKeeper! Located at the front of the park, GateKeeper forever changed the landscape of the Cedar Point Peninsula. This mammoth ride opened as the longest wing roller coaster and boasted the longest drop of any wing roller coaster on Earth!
  • 2014:  Cedar Point will focus on family fun with the addition of two new rides – Pipe Scream and Lake Erie Eagles, along with several new restaurants, new live shows and more.