Category Archives: Sandusky

Giveaway: Halloween Fun for Everyone at Cedar Point’s #HalloWeekends

Enter to win 4 tickets to Cedar Point's Halloweekends (good through November 2)

Enter to win 4 tickets to Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends (good through November 2)

UPDATE: We have a giveaway winner! After tallying up the entries, removing two duplicates, and placing the remaining total into, congratulations to entry #54 – All Lacquered Up! You’ve won a family 4-pack of tickets to Cedar Point. Please reply to my email by Wednesday at 5pm confirming you can attend.

Halloweekends Giveaway Winner

When it comes to Halloween, it can be difficult to find one place that makes everyone happy.

Sure, there are some places that do family-friendly fun exceptionally well. And there are other places that can put a fright in the bravest of souls. But excelling at one usually happens at the expense of the other.

That’s not a problem with Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends. Just like the amusement park’s regular offerings, their HalloWeekends festivities offer something for everyone.

The monsters come out to play at Halloweekends

The monsters come out to play at HalloWeekends

Scott and I made back-to-back trips to Cedar Point this past weekend (thank god for season passes) – Saturday was spent exploring Cedar Point with Scott, his mom and grandmother, while Sunday was spent rollercoastering and haunted housing with Scott.

And over the two days, there was not a moment where we weren’t having a blast. In fact, we’ll probably find an excuse to make use of our season passes one more time before the season ends Nov 2.

Here are 5 reasons why:

Unlock More Haunts: Cedar Point’s 5 haunted houses and 6 Scare Zones have always been fantastic, usually worth the wait in line. However, a new feature for this year’s Fright Lane pass had me purchasing one on Sunday’s visit to the park.  In addition to front-of-line access to all haunted houses, Fright Lane gets you a skeleton key that unlocks a secret room in each house.

Each Skeleton Key room offered an experience that preyed on a different fear – we got plenty of scares out of it and even a few laughs. Scott’s and my favorite room was at Boeckling’s Estate, followed by Cedar Point’s newest haunted house Hexed. Fright Lane costs vary depending on the day you’re going to the park.

Dine in a haunted house at Cedar Point's Boeckling's Banquet

Dine in a haunted house at Cedar Point’s Boeckling’s Banquet

Dinner with Ghouls: Boeckling’s Banquet at Cedar Point has been a longtime favorite of Scott’s and mine. Dining inside of a haunted house on delicious lobster tail, perfectly cooked filet, and a unique Halloween-themed dessert? Who wouldn’t miss that? This year’s was the perfect way to celebrate Scott’s birthday with his mom and grandmom. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind Halloween experience, Boeckling’s Banquet is worth a look.

Midway Monster Invasion: Every Saturday and Sunday at 5pm, the Cedar Point midway is taken over by monsters …. friendly monsters! It doesn’t matter what age you are, Cedar Point’s Midway Monster Invasion will put a smile on your face and a bob in your step as you dance along to the parade music.

The Peanuts make an appearance in Cedar Point's Midway Monster Invasion

The Peanuts make an appearance in Cedar Point’s Midway Monster Invasion

Take in a Show: The Cleveland-based music group Midnight Syndicate has come to Cedar Point for their first live performance ever. Known for their gothic horror instrumentals, Midnight Syndicate has put together a performance that blends music, theatrics and film. After experiencing it for ourselves, Scott and I definitely found ourselves in the Halloween mood. Another must-see is the cirque-style Skeleton Crew on Celebration Plaza. I’m not always one for big outdoor shows, but I really enjoyed it.

Entertainment you make yourself: Often the best moments are the fun you make for yourself: From posing with all of the incredible decorations throughout the park…

Scott sees into his future, and his future doesn't like what's looking back

Scott sees into his future, and his future doesn’t like what’s looking back

…to grabbing a beer or glass of wine at the Trail Tavern and watching a scare zone unfold in front of us from the comfort of the Tavern’s front porch.

On top of all of the Halloween fun, there are the rollercoasters, bumper cars, merry-go-rounds, and other entertainment that make up every visit to Cedar Point.

There are only a few weekends left to enjoy this year’s HalloWeekends, which runs Friday-Sunday through November 2nd. But you can enter my HalloWeekends giveaway today and win a family four-pack of one-day tickets good for one of the final two weekends.

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**Do one, some or all five of the entries. Separate comment’s needed for each.**

Please note: This giveaway runs til Oct. 20 and tickets are for this year’s HalloWeekends only, which ends Nov. 2, 2014.

1) What’s your favorite thing about HalloWeekends? If you haven’t been to HalloWeekends yet, what are you most excited to do? Leave a comment on this post with your pick.

2) Follow @CedarPoint and @ADHicken on Twitter and leave one comment on this post telling me you did both.

3) If you’re a fan of Clue Into Cleveland and Cedar Point on Facebook, leave one comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

Scare up some fun at @CedarPoint’s #HalloWeekends. Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for a family four-pack of tickets:

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Monday, October 20 at 11:59PM to enter. On Tuesday, October 21, I will select a winner using and will announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was offered complimentary tickets to Cedar Point; however, as a Platinum Season Passholder, I did not need them. I was also offered the opportunity to host this giveaway. My opinions on Cedar Point are and always have been my own.

My #LakeErieLove Story: Still Smitten with Lake Erie Islands and Shores After All These Years

#LakeErieLove, Part 1

Disclaimer: Please excuse the sappiness in the next couple of paragraphs. I promise it’s connected to today’s blog post.

Many reflections on love focus on the falling into it. That first attraction. The squishy feeling of butterflies in your stomach. The anticipation of a first kiss or date.

That’s my least favorite part of love.

Sure, I enjoy the occasional rom-com (especially if a British accent is involved). And I still smile when thinking about my first memory of Scott. I saw him tuning a piano and thought ‘Oh, that’s an old-fashioned thing to do. I bet he’s nice.’

However, my favorite part of love is everything that comes after you get to know someone. I love the habits and shared interests that Scott and I developed over ten years. Not just because it’s comforting, but because every week, he or I do something that surprises the other, breaks that routine, and reminds us all over again why we love each other.

For instance, Scott’s mom dug up a binder last week that was filled with stuff Scott drew when he was a kid. As long as I’ve known him, Scott’s always claimed that he can’t draw.  So when I saw these imaginative character sketches and comic strips, I was blown away. They were amazing and showed me a different side of the fantastic, if not slightly odd, sense of humor I first fell in love with.


What does this have to do with the Lake Erie Shores and Islands, though?

Well, I realized on a recent trip to Sandusky and Put-in-Bay, that loving a place is very much like loving a person.

Our first summer after moving to Cleveland, Scott and I took a trip to Cedar Point and immediately became season passholders. It was the beginning of our love affair with the area and we tried stuffing in as many day and weekend trips to Sandusky, Port Clinton, Kelley’s Island and Put-in-Bay as we could.  In fact, closer proximity to the Lake Erie Shores and Island area is one reason we looked at Avon Lake when we considered moving from the eastside.

Last month, I had an incredible opportunity to spend three days exploring the Shores and Islands area with other Midwest bloggers. Going into the blogger tour, I thought that it would be an opportunity to reconnect with some of my favorite Lake Erie stomping grounds.

What I didn’t realize was how much of the area I had been missing out on. It was all of these surprises that deepened my #LakeErieLove.

lake erie love chairs

There were so many surprises, in fact, that I can’t fit them all in one blog post. So over the next month, I’ll be blogging once a week about what I learned about Sandusky, Cedar Point, and Put-in-Bay during my trip.

I also had a few random realizations that didn’t fit nicely into those posts, which I’m sharing today.  Enjoy!

Surprise #1: Cedar Point’s Family Care stations are wonderful.

Although I’ll have a full post dedicated to Cedar Point, today’s story is about my stupidity and the Cedar Point’s Family Care and First-Aid station.

A piece of advice: Don’t go looking for your car keys by jamming your hand blindly – and forcefully – into your tote bag. There’s a good chance your finger may come into contact with something very sharp.

I learned this the hard way as we were leaving Cedar Point for the day, and the result was not a mere paper cut that could be patched with a band-aid (though I’m very thankful that Dominique at Midwest Guest had some at the ready).

Fortunately, a park employee was nearby and rapidly escorted me to one of the park’s Family Care stations.

Earlier in the day, we had a chance to hear from Bryan Edwards, Cedar Point’s Public Relations Manager. While talking about the park’s renewed focus on family fun, he mentioned the two air-conditioned Family Care facilities, complete with private nursing stations, baby-changing and infant-feeding areas, and a cooldown room where you can watch Peanuts movies with your kids.

Cedar Point First Aid

The Family Care Centers are also First Aid stations offering over-the-counter medication, bandages and emergency care. 

Little did I know that I’d have the opportunity to experience it all firsthand!

Although I didn’t have a chance to catch the names of the park employee and medical staff I met during this incident (I was distracted by my bleeding hand), their kindness and patience impressed me as I rollercoastered between panic, embarrassment and, finally, relief at not needing stitches.

No one wants to visit the Family Care station, but if you do, you’ll be in good hands.

Another Cedar Point safety tip I learned: The concession stands and vendors will give you a free cup of water if you ask for it. It’s better to come prepared, but if you’re overheated and need water, ask for it. You – and the park – want you to have fun. Don’t ruin it with heatstroke.

Surprise #2: SawMill Creek is more than a golf course … much more.

Every time Scott and I drive to Cedar Point, we pass Sawmill Creek Resort. And every time we passed it on previous trips, I saw signs for the golf course and thought that’s all it offered.

Color me surprised when I stayed overnight during our blogger tour. Nestled a little ways off of Cleveland Road is Sawmill’s beautiful 235-acre getaway.

In addition to that 18-hole Tom Fazio Golf Course, Sawmill offers a sprawling lodge, marina, restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, private beach access, tennis, and nature walks through the Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve.

Lake Erie Love Sawmill

I was only there for one night so I didn’t have a chance to check out all of the resort’s amenities. However, the outdoor pool+bar area was beautiful; the staff I spoke with at the frontdesk, in the Salmon Run restaurant and the Black Bear Saloon were very friendly; and the resort’s Native American exhibits added an educational touch to my strolls through the property.

Although the room I stayed in could have benefited from a few updates, it was still comfortable. Plus, the other amenities and resort’s peacefulness made up for it.  I will definitely be checking it out the next time I’m looking for an overnight stay in the area.  

Surprise #3: Check out, even if you know the area.

On trips to Put-in-Bay, I’ve seen the guidebooks and signs advertising the Lake Erie Shores and Islands organization. But it wasn’t until this tour that I recognized the full scope of their region and resources.

Their site is a huge help if:

My favorite part of the site is their interactive map of the full region linked to an Itinerary Planner.  Since returning from the #LakeErieLove tour, it’s come in handy a few times. Most recently, it led us to the Tin Goose Diner when we were looking for a place to eat in Port Clinton. The 1950s-era diner and Liberty Aviation Museum are a must-see.

Come back next week for my post about downtown Sandusky. Until then, here’s a teaser photo of one of the things we got up to:

Sandusky Merry Go Round Museum

Disclosure: I was invited on a 3-night/4 day blogger tour of the Lake Erie Shores and Islands, in exchange for writing about my experience. Opinions in this and future posts are 100% my own.

Exploring Cedar Point's New Attractions, While Saying Goodbye to an Old Favorite

Scott gets into horse racing at the Cedar Downs Derby

When Scott and I first moved to Cleveland, one of the first things these roller coaster fanatics did was get a season pass to Cedar Point. For 3 years we had a Platinum Pass.

As long as you buy early enough (right after the previous season ends), you can usually get a season pass that will pay for itself in a few visits.  Last summer, however, we decided to not get a pass. We didn’t think we’d go that often and that it’d be worth it.

A costly mistake.

Ready for another trip to Cedar Point! (photo from WhyCLE)

Between Halloweekends (a mainstay of our Halloween season) and visits from friends and family who wanted to visit Cedar Point, we ended up going enough to warrant a season pass. I also found myself scrounging coupons off the back of Pepsi cans and special online sales at to save on tickets.

You know one thing that takes the fun out of planning trips to Cedar Point? Finding ways to justify why you didn’t buy a season pass in the first place.

After that lesson, Scott and I immediately went online at the end of last season and purchased a Platinum pass for this season.

With access to all Cedar Fair parks (including Soak City, Wildwater Kingdom and King’s Island in Ohio), free parking (regularly $12), brand-new bring-a-friend discounts and other food, entertainment and hotel discounts, it’s more than worth it.

Based on what we paid last Fall, the pass will pay for itself through park admission and parking alone after 3 visits.  The introduction of payment plans this season sealed the deal.

My favorite place for lunch at Cedar Point: a parking lot picnic!

Scott and I met up with Alicia, Jen, Kimberly and their husbands this past weekend for our second trip of the season. We lucked out on Saturday with perfect weather: clear skies and hot, but not nearly as oppressive as it has been.

The only downside? Everyone else also had the same idea that Saturday would be the perfect day for a visit.

Although the lines were longer than usual, we ran straight to Maverick to ride it as soon as the park opened and bided our time throughout the day for some of the more popular coasters like Raptor. 10 hours and 2 incredibly sore feet later, we’d enjoyed an asphalt picnic, dinner at Famous Dave’s, 9 rides and some arcade time.

While it was a long day, it was a great time exploring old favorites like the Cedar Point Railroad and Cedar Downs Derby, as well as what’s new for 2012 at the Park.

So what is new?

Logo from

Dinosaurs Alive and Luminosity offer guests 2 new attractions for the season. With the removal of Wildcat and the addition of a wine and beer bar and massive stage, the Midway has been transformed for Cedar Point’s new night-time show Luminosity. Lasers, lights, pyrotechnics and pulsing beats create a dance party for guests who want to rock on “the Roller Coast.”

Adventure Island – the former home of the Paddleboats and Halloweekend’s haunted pirate island – has now been taken over by prehistoric creatures in Dinosaurs Alive. For $5, Cedar Point guests can escape the park and visit with 50 life-size animatronic dinosaurs in scenes that replicate how scientists believe dinosaurs lived and interacted with one another.

It’s a great attraction for families because every day, kids can participate in an interactive dino dig site and have a chance to win a “K’NEXosaurus Rex” by uncovering the hidden K’NEX piece at the dig site.

Logo from

Cedar Point introduced Fast Lane passes this year for those guests who’d rather get their excitement from a roller coaster marathon and don’t have time to wait in hour-long lines. For $65, the pass grants access to short lines (even walk-on access in some cases) for 10 rides throughout Cedar Point.

Admittedly, I was at first skeptical of the Fast Lane pass – mostly because I don’t see the value in an additional $65 to wait in a shorter line. However, after seeing the lines on Saturday, I’d say if you want to hit the extremely popular rides on a weekend and visit Cedar Point infrequently, it may be worth it for you.

Passes are limited, though, so either purchase it online ahead of time or as soon as you get to the park.

Cedar Point app screenshot from Google Play

The final addition to Cedar Point this season is their new mobile app. Downloadable on both iPhones and Androids, the free Cedar Point app puts information about show times, height requirements and ride locations right at your finger tips while at the park.

The app also has a car and friend locator. Although we didn’t have a need to try the car marker, we played around with the friend locator a bit. Unfortunately, some force closing issues cancelled out the locator on multiple occasions.

In looking at the app reviews, this sluggishness is disappointingly par for the course. On the upside, having the park map and ride information in the app is helpful for new guests so you don’t have to carry the paper map around with you.

This T-Rex welcomes guests into the park and gives a nice perch on a hot day for the gulls

Although Cedar Point fans have gained a number of new things this season, we’ve also had to say farewell to a few.

In addition to Wildcat, which was removed prior to the season, another longtime coaster is hosting its last riders this weekend.

As was leaked earlier this summer, Cedar Point may be planning a new coaster for next year. To make room for whatever attraction is going there, the indoor bobsled coaster Disaster Transport is being taken down along with the Space Spiral observation tower.

Scott standing in line for our last ride on Disaster Transport

When we were at the park on Saturday, I was going to skip Disaster Transport until I saw the sign about the ride’s “Final Dispatch.”  To celebrate the ride’s legacy and raise money for Give Kids the World, Cedar Point is giving guests the chance to ride Disaster Transport one last time and possibly even take it on its final lap through the building with the lights on.

$4,288 has been raised so far.  If you’re interested in raising money for Give Kids the World and going on Disaster Transport’s Final Dispatch visit

And because I won’t be there Sunday, I’m happy to say I was able to squeeze in one more ride-through.

The lights come on at Cedar Point at the end of our day

On Monday, Choice Hotels announced the top theme parks for summer travel. And at the top of that list above Disney and Six Flags? Cedar Point.  However, I didn’t need that press release to tell me.  After learning my lesson last year, I’ll be a life-long Cedar Point passholder.

Falling Into Fall with Cleveland Botanical Garden and Halloweekends

We kicked Fall off with a Harvest and Halloweekend - visiting both Cedar Point and the Cleveland Botanical Garden's RIPE Fest.

My favorite season of the year is finally here. 

If I hadn’t looked at the calendar last week to see Fall had arrived, this weekend’s fluctuating weather would have clued me in. To celebrate the changing colors and crisp air, Scott and I had two days full of Fall fun.

We started it off with our favorite tradition of the season — Boeckling’s Banquet at Cedar Point. Three years ago, when the amusement resort moved its headquarters from the original administration building that Cedar Point legend G.A. Boeckling built, the old building was transformed into a new haunted house – the Boeckling Estate

Don't worry -- the Boeckling Estate "Kitchen" isn't really where they prepared our delicious halloween feast.

When you first approach the gray limestone covered in ivy, you see how perfectly the building fits its new role of haunted mansion.  During the evening on Halloweekends, guests are led through the haunted house with plenty of scares.  However, those park visitors looking for a special thrill can experience the house early with a fine dining feast known as Boeckling’s Banquet.

Scott and I have been attending and enjoying Boeckling’s Banquet for the last two years. When my sister planned on visiting Cleveland this weekend, that was the first thing on our agenda.

On Saturday, the banquet started at 12:30 so we arrived as the park opened. This gave us just enough time to ride Raptor and this year’s newest attraction Wind Seeker before making our way to Boeckling Estate for lunch.

In addition to the ghouls, this little guy was my dining companion for the Boeckling's Banquet.

As we approached the house, we were welcomed by Mr. Boeckling’s recently reanimated servants: Lucious, the Butler, and Sara Piano, Mistress of the House. They took us on a behind the scenes tour of the house where we met other ghoulish servants.

Without the fog and strobe lights of the haunted house, you really get to enjoy the detail that went into putting the attraction together. Although you may miss the creepy little nuances while someone jumps out at you – like the eyes painted into the wallpaper or a looming giraffe head in the game room, they are all there to see during the Boeckling’s Banquet tour.

The tour winds through the building to the house’s dining room. A lavish table is set up in the center of the room, decked with “rotting” centerpieces and cobwebs. After we were all seated, we were invited to dig into a fresh salad of greens topped with strawberries, oranges and coconut. The small vial of berry vinaigrette (or was it blood?) was a nice added touch. 

Lobster Tail and Filet Mignon at Cedar Point? Believe it! (And it was delicious)

After finishing off the salads, our main entree was served. Scott and I both opted for the Lobster Tail + Petit Filet Mignon dish (other menu choices included Crab Legs; Shrimp, Scallop and Lobster Alfredo; and a Char-Grilled Filet Mignon). As appetizing as the other options sound, Scott and I order the Lobster Tail and Petit Filet Mignon every year.

I always say Cedar Point does the best park food, but this meal tops anything else you’ll find in the park. The lobster is flavorful and the filet mignon cooked to order, very tender and juicy. Each dish is also accompanied by a plate of aspargus and twice-baked potato with a cripsy cheese wafer.

If these ample servings weren’t enough (trust me, they are – even Scott couldn’t finish his meal), the banquet is finished with a slice of chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling. It’s garnished with chocolate sticks and a flat piece of white chocolate with the Eerie Estate logo printed on it. Although I loved the presentation of last year’s dessert (a white chocolate skull filled with strawberry mousse), the taste of this one trumped it.

The third annual Boeckling's Banquest was finished off with a rich slice of chocolate mousse cake.

After bidding fond farewells to the always hospitable ghouls of Boeckling Estate, it was time to ride coasters. We first hit up Iron Dragon, Gemini and Magnum. Then we turned to the big guns.

One of the to-do items on my 30 by 30 list was a ride on Top Thrill Dragster. I am not a fan of heights so I’ve vehemently avoided riding the 420-ft Dragster for years. Not on Saturday though. After an anxious 45 minute wait, I rode it — and loved it (even with my eyes open)! My favorite part was the drop down. I was amazed how close you wind around the yellow beams of the coaster (and how that didn’t scare me).

After all that food, it was time for Top Thrill Dragster.

As with any of our Halloweekend visits, we finished our long day with a nighttime ride on Millennium Force (nothing beats zooming through the fog in the dark) and a walk through the Terror Island maze. It’s the last year for the haunted-pirate-walkthrough, with next year’s Dinosaurs Alive taking over the little island under Millennium Force.

Halloweekends runs until October 30. Boeckling’s Banquet is held Fridays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. with the Boeckling Brunch on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. (advance reservations are required by calling 419.627.2242).  You can check out this year’s Halloweekend scares, as well as the family friendly festivities online. 

One of my favorite things about the Cleveland Botanical Garden is the opportunity to get up close to beautiful butterflies like these.

After Saturday’s day of thrills, we switched gears on Sunday with a relaxing afternoon at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. As always, the gardens and glasshouse were absolutely stunning. I love seeing not just the flora but the fauna of the butterflies, birds and tortoises.  We even caught a glimpse of a sleeping hedgehog.

In addition to enjoying the beautiful gardens, we took in the second annual RIPE! Fest. Last year we attended the inaugural celebration of Northeast Ohio’s local food and edible gardening scene, which you can read about here.

This year’s visit to RIPE started with a culinary demonstration from The Greenhouse Tavern’s Chef Jonathan Seeholzer and Sous Chef Jennifer Plank.

The hog butchery demo was a highlight of RIPE, and made me hungry for bacon.

The topic of the demo was hog butchery. From whole hog to its core, we got to see the skilled chefs from Greenhouse strip the animal. As part of Greenhouse’s mission of sustainability, we learned how they don’t let any part of the animal go to waste in the restaurant and use hogs from local, humane farms.

Scott and I were both impressed by how deftly they handled the hefty hog. And while we probably won’t be throwing a pig roast anytime soon, we picked up a number of good tips for selecting and slicing meat. We also got to sample a small bite of pate filled with bacon.

We ended our visit by perusing the culinary and gardening marketplace, tasting a delicious slice of beet with goat cheese from The Market Cafe and Wine Bar and picking up an apple pie from Avon Lake’s Humble Pie Baking Company.

As it starts to get cold out, the Cleveland Botanical Garden's Costa Rica Glasshouse is the perfect escape.

Although yesterday’s weather was more fitting for a summer day (I probably shouldn’t have unpacked my sweaters just yet), our Halloweekend and harvest fare put us all in the mood for Fall.

Cedar Point Halloweekends 411: 

Cleveland Botanical Garden 411:

Halloweekends at Cedar Point – Getting Into the Holiday Spirit

Snoopy at Cedar Point's Halloweekends (photo from


September through December is hands down my favorite time of year in Cleveland.  The air is brisk, crisp, and still bearable; there’s usually not too much snow; and the changing of the leaves reflected off the always-beautiful lake is an amazing site. If that weren’t enough, it’s also when my trifecta of favorite holidays occurs: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  These three holidays have it all, and Halloween is a great way to kick it off.  

If you want to get in the Halloween mood a little early, Cedar Point’s Halloweekends starts tonight. It runs every Friday-Sunday until October 31st, but I usually like visiting early on because it’s less crowded than it is at the height of Halloween madness. 

During Halloweekends, Cedar Point is transformed into an over-the-top version of that neighbor’s house who really likes spending money on decorations. Because we have season passes, Scott and I like going just to see how they decorated the park.  However, if you’re looking for something besides decorations, Halloweekends also hosts 4 haunted houses, 5 walk-through scare zones, and a lot of family-friendly entertainment. 

Scott's mom poses with the headless horseman outside the Cedar Point arcade.


Haunted Houses: Returning to Cedar Point this season are the Club Blood, Happy Jack’s Toy Factory and G.A. Boeckling’s Eerie Estate haunted houses; new this year is Dr. D. Mented’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Everyone’s haunted house preferences are different – I personally enjoy experiences that are more about getting startled and laughing at my reaction than I do getting legitimately frightened. Last year’s walk through the Toy Factory lived up to those expectations – it definitely played into my fairly laughable fear of clowns. And seeing how they designed the inside of the Eerie Estate Haunted House to look like an old haunted mansion has also impressed me in years past. However, word of warning about the haunted houses is that they’re only open in the evenings and the crowds line up fast.  If you’re not a huge fan of waiting (i.e. me), I recommend limiting yourself to one haunted house, getting in line a little before they open and then enjoying the rest of the park. 

Grandmom and Ghouls outside the Eerie Estate Haunted House


Scare Zones: As an alternative to the haunted houses, Cedar Point also has 5 scare zones scattered throughout the park — Fright Zone, Cornstalkers, Fear Faire, Carnevil and Terror Island. These are outside areas where some of the park’s pathways have been transformed into walk-through frightfests. From previous experience, I find the quality of the scare zone depends on who is working at that time. There have been instances where I’ve walked through Carnevil – a circus themed scare zone – and it’s been really good.  The people dressed up as clowns and ringmasters were really in character.  However, there have been other times where you can tell some of the more annoying park patrons have gotten on their nerves throughout the evening and they’re not as into it.  My personal favorite scare zone is Terror Island. It’s located on a part of the park not normally accessible during the regular season. Cedar Point sets up a floating gangway over the river the ferryboat sails to the island next to Millennium Force. There, pirates lurk in the shadows and loud cannon explosions come out of nowhere to scare you. 

A monster in the Monster Midway Invasion Celebration Parade (photo from


Family-Friendly: Since Cedar Point is an amusement park at heart, they also provide a number of activities appropriate for children.  Family-friendly fare includes the Magic House on Boo Hill funhouse; the kid-sized Hay Bale Maze; and the Peanuts Halloween Show and Kids Costume Contest. There’s also the Monster Midway Invasion Celebration Parade that takes place on Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm. Halloween-themed floats, performers and not-so-scary surprises make their way through the Main Midway, Top Thrill Dragster Midway and Gemini Midway so it’s easy to grab a spot to watch and enjoy.  Learn a lesson from me, though: last year, Scott and I got caught walking from Gemini to Raptor when the parade was going on so we unintentionally ended up following the parade through the entire park.  Unless you want the addictingly catchy theme song stuck in your head for hours, don’t do this. 

Although the haunted houses, scare zones and shows are reason enough for me to return each year, I’m most excited that my favorite event from last year’s Halloweekends is back: Boeckling’s Banquet. With Boeckling’s Banquet, Cedar Point caters a fine dining experience in a unique environment — the hallowed halls of G.A. Boeckling’s Eerie Estate haunted house. Last year, Scott and I got lobster tail and filet mignon and we were fairly impressed. It honestly surprised me because I hadn’t expected to enjoy something besides typical amusement park food at any park. This year’s menu includes a choice of crab legs; lobster tail and petite filet; or shrimp, scallop & lobster Alfredo, plus traditional sides like salad, twice-baked potato, asparagus spears, rolls, glass of wine or beer, Pepsi beverages and a special dessert. Last year’s skull-themed dessert was incredible and even if they serve the same thing again I’ll enjoy it.  

Throughout the meal, guests are served by Cedar Point staff dressed as haunted caretakers, maids, and butlers. It’s tongue in cheek, but still a lot of fun. In addition to providing excellent entertainment, they also provided very gracious service.   The Banquet takes place every Friday at 5:30 pm. and Saturdays and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. (before the Haunted House opens).  For more information or to make reservations, call 419.627.2242. 

Scott and I at last year's Boeckling Banquet


On top of all of the Halloween festivities, the majority of Cedar Point’s rides are still open. If you’re a fan of Millennium Force, nothing quite compares to tearing down the first hill at night during Halloweekends. The lights, fog and sounds from Terror Island envelope you as you hit the bottom of the drop – it’s thrilling! 

During Halloweekends, you may have to contend with a few overly excitable (read: loud and pushy) guests.  However, it’s no more than you’d have to bear with at other haunted houses. Try to overlook it (which I’ll admit is sometimes hard for me), because Halloweekends is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. 

Halloweekends 411: 

Halloweekends Tickets, Hours and Attractions
Cedar Point – Roller Coaster Capital of the World
Cedar Point on Facebook

Cedar Point: Summer on the Roller Coast

With 17 coasters, including Mantis and Millennium Force (pictured), Cedar Point is home to the most coasters in the world.

The Cedar Point Coliseum, originally built in 1906, today houses an extensive arcade in the lower level.

Although summer officially begins in late June, the season seems to start weeks and even months before the solstice.

For some, summer starts the first time they dine on the patio of their favorite restaurant; for others, it’s when the neighborhood pool opens or they break out the grill for a barbeque.

For Scott and me, it’s the first time we go to Cedar Point.

From being surrounded by the history of summers long past, to the delicious assortment of traditional – and non-traditional – park food, and of course the rides, Cedar Point is the thing that most epitomizes summers in Cleveland for me.

The Town Hall Museum houses exhibits showcasing Cedar Point's history.

Long before it was the number-one-rated amusement park in the world, the Cedar Point Peninsula was used for fishing and hunting. In 1870, the idea of Cedar Point as an entertainment center grew when local businessman Louis Zistel opened a small beer garden, bathhouse and dance floor that he would bring guests over to with his steamboat Young Reindeer.

It wasn’t until 1892 that the first roller coaster – the Switchback Railway – was introduced. The 25-foot-tall, 10-mph coaster was the predecessor of the Maverick, Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster of today.

Cedar Point helps preserve this long history with the Town Hall Museum. Located near the park’s Frontier Trail, it features displays, videos, mementos and parts of retired rides from the park’s past. One of my favorite features is the display of horses from a former Cedar Point carousel.

Growing up, I visited my fair share of amusement parks – from Kings Dominion right outside of my hometown, to Six Flags, Busch Gardens and Disney. However, it wasn’t until I came to Cleveland and visited Cedar Point that I found a park which successfully delivered not just superior rides but also food and entertainment.

Probably best known for its roller coasters, the park is home to the most coasters in the world — with a total of 17 ranging from wooden to steel, inverted, wildmouse, backward-and-forward launches, stand-up, and a dual-track racing coaster.

But it’s not just quantity that Cedar Point delivers, as three of the coasters are listed among the top 10 steel coasters in the world and year-after-year the park has received Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards in a variety of categories.

Regardless of how great a coaster is, though, you still need to be able to ride it.  One of the things that sets Cedar Point apart from other parks I’ve visited is how efficient the staff is at running the coasters and keeping the wait to a minimum.  For the most part, there’s no need for a ‘fast-pass’ system since most of the rides’ lines run from 15 minutes to an hour giving you plenty of time to fit the majority of the 17 coasters into a day’s worth of riding.

The steam engines of the Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad provide a scenic trip throughout the park.

The 60 horses and chariots of the Midway Carrousel - the park's oldest operating ride - were repainted and restored for the 2010 season.

For non-coaster fans, the park also boasts a number of classic thrill rides such as the Matterhorn and Calypso (just one of the park’s variants on the Scrambler), as well as family-friendly, less aggressive selections.

When it comes to non-coasters, my personal favorites include the Cedar Downs Racing Derby – one of only two racing carousels in the U.S. dating back to 1920; as well as the Paddlewheel Excursions – a relaxing, narrated trip around the  Cedar Point Lagoon on one of the park’s paddlewheel boats.

And when we want to take a break from coaster-hopping, there’s always the Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad.  As huge fans of model trains and classic locomotives, Scott and I never tire of taking the two-mile-long trip through the park on actual coal-burning steam trains.

Scott's grandmother enjoys dessert at last Halloweekends' Boeckling Banquet in one of the park's haunted houses.

Although many parks can deliver thrilling rides, they often lack in quality food options – suffering from dry burgers and grimy food courts.

Cedar Point, on the other hand, provides a myriad of dining options including standard park fare to grab on the run, the Midway Market buffet, and the Game Day Grille which offers an air-conditioned respite with pulled pork sandwiches, lobster bisque, and perch sandwiches.

In addition to the in-park restaurants, Cedar Point excels at serving up different events such as their Picnic at the Point outdoor bbq and the best park dining I’ve ever experienced — last Halloweekends’ Boeckling Banquet, a feast of lamb chops, lobster tail, and filet mignon in the dining room of one of the haunted houses.  No matter where I’ve eaten, I’ve always found the food to be appetizing and the venues well-maintained.

Among other vintage video games and pinball machines is a doublewide Hercules pinball machine with a cue ball for the pinball.

If excellent rides and food weren’t enough, Cedar Point offers a rotation of shows, games and entertainment.

Highlights have included the Hot Summer Nights fire show (try riding the Mantis coaster while the pyrotechnics are flaming close by) and the Starlight Experience canopy of lights through Frontier Trail.

There’s also the Main Arcade in the Coliseum on the Midway which gives the opportunity to play current arcade games as well as an extensive collection of vintage pinball machines and video games.

Not to rest on their laurels, Cedar Point is continually updating their selection of rides and entertainment. 2010 saw the debut of the water coaster Shoot the Rapids.  In 2011, Cedar Point is unveiling WindSeeker, a 301-foot-tall, nothing-below-your-chair-but-air experience that soars over the park’s beach!  With continual updates each year, Cedar Point provides new experiences for even the most veteran Ride Warriors.  (updated 5/15/2011 to reflect park additions)

Between the food, games and neon lights of the Midway, Cedar Point is reminiscent of an amped up carnival after dark.

With the exception of the warm weather’s return, visiting Cedar Point is my favorite part of the Cleveland summer months. Over the last couple of years, we’ve found that the Season Pass is the most economical option if you’re going to visit more than a few times. Between the free parking, admission to any of the Cedar Fair parks, and discounted renewals, the Platinum Pass usually pays for itself if we visit more than three times.  And with the coasters, local history, and feel of an endless summer carnival, there’s more than enough reasons to visit time and again.

Cedar Point 411:

General Park Info
Admission and Season Passes
Staying Overnight
Park History 

Things to do at the Park