Destinations / North America / Ohio

Cedar Point, Ohio: Tips & Tricks from Thrill Park Experts

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Even though I always try to experience the best things to do in a destination on my own so that I can share real world intel with you, there are a few things that just aren’t in our family’s wheelhouse – and roller coasters top the list! But in sharing the best things to do in Ohio with kids, it’s really hard to write a list that omits the iconic Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio.

Thankfully fellow family travel bloggers Mike and Sara Lynch of Our Campfire Unplugged have my back. Their family loves thrill rides and isn’t afraid to travel to experience the best ones! They’ve has put together the ultimate Cedar Point travel planning guide to help you make the most of your visit – it’s loaded with Cedar Point tips and ideas, money saving ideas, where to stay near Cedar Point, Ohio and more.

Planning any kind of trip can be hard but planning a trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH can be tricky!  Our family traveled more than 6 hours to visit this roller coaster capital of the world and we will help you plan your epic adventure here too.

We love visiting thrill parks and have travelled to Kings Island near Cincinnati, Holiday World in Indiana, Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and many others in search of vertical adventures. Our kids watch tons of YouTube videos on the BEST amusement parks, so we have an insiders track on visiting the most amazing parks in the country!

Top Takeaways for the ultimate Cedar Point Ohio Experience

Cedar Point, Ohio is a major destination for coaster enthusiast – it’s earned the nickname “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” for good reason. The park gets really crowded during the peak season (summer). Here are top tips to have the best day ever at Cedar Point!

  1. Arrive early – staying on-site gives you an extra hour
  2. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes! We walked over 30,000 steps
  3. Drink plenty of water – it gets hot and humid in Ohio!  Upgrade to the Premium Dining Plan for ultimate hydration
  4. Splurge for Fast Lane Passes if your goal is to ride all of the roller coasters
  5. Download the Cedar Point app before you go and bring a portable charger for backup
  6. Be prepared for an incredible family day, even if it requires flexibility

Why Visit Cedar Point Amusement Park?

Cedar Point in Ohio is the second-oldest amusement park in North America and is home to 69 rides, including 17 roller coasters, the Cedar Point Shores Waterpark, three kids’ areas, overnight accommodations, live shows, a mile-long beach, Halloween (Cedar Point – Halloweekends) events and more. While it isn’t as well known as some of its counterparts in Orlando and Southern California, it has a rich history and today’s tourist infrastructure is well-developed.

Just how epic is Cedar Point? In 2024 it will debut Top Thrill 2, a ride it’s calling “the world’s tallest and fastest triple-launch strata roller coaster.” The ride features two 420-foot tall track towers and will reach a top speed of 120 mph.  

Cedar Point is ranked 4th in the US for best amusement parks, just behind Universal and Disney! If you and your family like roller coasters, this tops our list over Disney and Universal any day. Be sure to get older kids involved with planning – ours watched hours of YouTube videos and planned the entrance we needed to enter through, the best order of rides and more. Being so invested in the process really increased their excitement! 

I want my free Ohio bingo card!

Quick info about Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH

Cedar Point is located on the banks of Lake Erie in Sandusky, OH, one hour west of Cleveland and one hour east of Toledo.  It’s open daily from early May through Labor Day, and then Thursday to Sunday in September and October. Tickets start at $49.99 if you purchase online (sometimes there are sales over holiday periods like President’s Day weekend), but tickets purchased at the gate can be over $80. Consider yourself warned!  

You can make several upgrades to your ticket package like adding fast lane passes, dining options, waterpark tickets, cabana rentals, pictures, and more. There are discounts available for military and AAA members as well.

Cedar Point is cashless so plan accordingly! If you’re bringing tweens or teens with you and they’ll want to explore on their own, it’s a good idea to set up Apple Cash or similar in advance.

Pro tip: Download the Cedar Point app to have access to a map, wait times, show times, dining options and more! Using the App allowed us to adjust our day based on the crowds and lines at specific rides!

Do I really need Fast Lane Passes at Cedar Point?

It depends. If you plan to go to Cedar Point on a Fri, Sat or Sun and want to ride all the major roller coasters, then yes buy the Fast Lane Passes!  

We splurged on Fast Lane Passes since we only had one day in the park and we went on a Friday. It was well worth the money in our opinion. We rode every ride, many of them multiple times. Fast Lane Passes made our day a much more enjoyable experience.

Warning: they aren’t cheap but Fast Lane Passes helps you maximize your day at the Park. Cedar Point Fast Lane Passes start at $95 (in addition to your tickets) while Fast Lane Plus (which includes all rides) starts at $115.

Which Cedar Point Dining Plan Do I Need?

Here is the trick to the dining plan…buy the All Day Dining Premium Plan.  We made this mistake at Kings Island (a sister park) and only bought the All Day Dining Plan.  

What we didn’t understand is that drinks do not come with this plan, only the premium plan. We don’t drink a lot of soft drinks but the water cups they give you on the All Day Dining Plan are tiny. Buying a drink will end up costing you more money than just buying the Premium Plan to begin with.

With the Premium Dining Plan, you can eat a meal or a snack every 90 minutes and enjoy a cold drink in a tall cup. If you plan to be in the park all day and don’t have easy access to your hotel room, it may be worth it to splurge for the All Day Premium Plan. For the various beverage plans, I recommend getting the wristband rather than the refillable cup so that you don’t worry about having to store your cup while you’re waiting in line or going on a ride.

Unfortunately, outside food and drink is NOT permitted to be brought into Cedar Point. The exception is that you can bring a water bottle (the official policy is a sealed single-use bottle but an empty reusable water bottle is generally allowed). You can also get a free (tiny) cup of cold water from any food vendor.

Accommodation Options in Sandusky at Cedar Point

Hotel Breakers

Hotel Breakers is directly across the street from the Magnum XL-200 gate, making it the best place to stay near Cedar Point amusement park. This is a very convenient location and right on the banks of Lake Erie – you can even opt for rooms with a lake view. Rooms range from a basic room for 3 people up to suites for 6. It’s a beautiful hotel with both indoor and outdoor pools, a splash pad and even private beach access. A shuttle service is also available for Hotel Breaker and Lighthouse Point guests.

Lighthouse Point Campground

Cedar Point has several hotels and a campground on site. We stayed at Lighthouse Point Campground, one of the nicest campgrounds we have ever stayed at. The sites were close but they had shrubbery and greenery between sites to make it more private. Lighthouse Point Campground was very clean and well taken care of. There are even cabins you can stay at here if you don’t want to bring camping gear.  

Lighthouse Point Campground and Lake Erie were our final stops on our 2 year Great Lake adventure and we loved enjoyed the pool, walking on the shore of Lake Erie and hearing the screams of excitement from the park! The campground was an easy 8 minute walk to the Magnum XL-200 gate. Since this entrance gate is in the rear of the park, the early morning crowd is much smaller. 

Pro tip: Choose a secondary entrance like the Magnum XL-200 gate to start your Cedar Point adventure. Crowd size is much lower at these entrances.

Budget Friendly Hotels + Cedar Point Hotels with a Waterpark

Cedar Point actually has a nice range of hotel offerings. Choose from the Cedar Point Express Hotel that is budget friendly, Sawmill Creek for golf course access, and Castaway Bay which includes an indoor waterpark.  These accommodations require a drive to reach the gates on Cedar Point.  The good news is that parking is free with your stay here, though you’ll still have to pay for parking at Cedar Point since there is not a shuttle.

I strongly recommend that you stay on-site at Cedar Point because you gain 1 hour of early entry if you stay at any of these hotels or the campground.  We rode 4 coasters in that 1 hour time period!  It’s a huge advantage, especially if you decide to skip the Fast Lane Pass. Arrive at the gate 15-30 minutes before it opens, as the staff sometimes lets guests in early.

During the peak of the summer season, the crowds can be very large particularly on weekends. The extra hour in the park and Fast Lane Passes are game changers. 

We recognize not every budget can handle the cost of the Fast Lane Pass or staying on property, so planning your day is critical. We found the lines decreased later in the evening, so staying until closing (which varies between 8pm and 11pm) can also help you maximize your Cedar Point experience.

Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

We rode nearly all the rides at Cedar Point but our main objective was to ride all of the rollercoasters, and they did not disappoint. We were in the park from opening at 9am to closing 11pm, which allowed us to experience all the best Cedar Point rides.

Pro tip: Check out YouTube videos of the coasters to set your priorities and figure out the best order

Our 5 Best Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

  1. Maverick: this coaster was smooth and fast without a major hill.  The kids rode this ride over and over towards the end of the day when lines were short.  It was their favorite!
  2. Millennium Force: this giga-coaster is crazy! It was the first coaster to top 300 feet and reach speeds of 93 mph! I hate hill drops so I was very nervous but it was so smooth.  This was the parents’ favorite!
  3. Steel Vengeance: this epic ride lasts 2 minutes and 30 seconds and has a record breaking 30 seconds of air time.  The first drop is 200 feet at a 90 degree angle, oh my! It was very fun, but a little rough. It did close for short durations both times we waited to ride so plan accordingly!
  4. Gatekeeper: this is a winged coaster. It was very smooth! Our kids especially loved riding it at night.
  5. Magnum XL-200: this was the world’s first hyper coaster topping 200 feet tall and has amazing views of Lake Erie. It’s an ideal first ride of the day since you can enter at the adjacent gate. It was fun but rougher than the other Cedar Point roller coasters.

Maveric, Millenium Force, Steel Vengance and Valravn are included in Fast Lane Plus but are excluded from the regular Fast Lane pass. Unfortunately, Valravn was closed when we were there but it’s also extremely popular – a great mix of fun and terrifying!  

Corkscrew, Blue Streak, Gemini, Iron Dragon, Raptor, and Rougarou were fun but can be lower on your priority list if you’re pressed for time. They were all a little rough and not our favorites, though still enjoyable.  All of these coasters except Iron Dragon accept Fast Lane passes, so keep that in mind as you plan your day.

The newest ride at Cedar Point will be Top Thrill 2, opening in 2024. This ride looks awesome!

Entertainment and Flat Rides

There are plenty of shows, attractions and family friendly rides if you need a break from the high-adrenaline rides.

Family Friendly Rides

My kids especially enjoyed Windseeker at night, it was beautiful with the lights overlooking Lake Erie at over 300 feet! It really comes to life with magnificent colors. 

Power Tower was another favorite.  There are two towers that propel you up 240 feet and two towers that drop you 240 feet!  Both reach speeds of up to 60 mph!  

Our crazy kids loved Sky Hawk as well.  We watched this ride but enjoyed the breeze it provided as it swung our kids around at 65 mph!

Take the Sky Ride!  This was a relaxing gondola ride from the front of the park to the back of the park.  It gave us beautiful views and a relaxing few moments.  Some of our favorite pictures of the day are from this ride!

There are several kid areas with smaller rides.  The rides looked fun and the lines were not too long.  

The entire family may also enjoy riding the train (Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad), a real coal-fired steam locomotive, one of only a few remaining in the world!  You can smell and hear it coming.

There are other fun things to do in the park that cost extra, like Sling Shot, pony rides, parasailing, kayaking, paddleboarding, jet skis, and more!

Cedar Point Shores Water Park

Cedar Point Shores is next to the Hotel Breakers and across from the Magnum XL-200 Gate. We were surprised that this requires its own ticket, with no combo ticket available at the time of our visit. Ticket prices for 2024 will be released soon but historically have been much lower than for Cedar Point. We definitely would have enjoyed this if we were staying another day, as it didn’t look crowded and there are tons of different slides and other water activities to try out.

Wrapping Our Day Up at Cedar Point Amusement Park

Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio is a must-visit destination for families seeking thrilling adventures and unforgettable memories. 

Our comprehensive Cedar Point travel planning guide is your essential resource for navigating this iconic amusement park with ease and excitement. From world-class roller coasters to serene campground stays, every aspect of your journey is covered to ensure a fantastic trip for the whole family.

About Mike & Sara
Mike & Sara began RV camping in 2020 and instantly loved the lifestyle. We found the thrill of exploring new places, breaking our vacation routine and crossing off all those “one-day” trips was a blast! At Our Campfire Unplugged, we enjoy sharing our experiences to help fellow travelers live their best lives.

Where to go next

Want to keep your Ohio adventures going? Be sure to read up on these great things to do in the Buckeye State and nearby!

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