It’s been a little bit since I posted a blog entry, so it felt like a good time to do so. This past weekend, Meghan, Riley, my mom and I went to Sandusky, Ohio for a trip to Cedar Point. This wasn’t just any Cedar Point trip though, it was the first weekend of their “Halloweekend” event. If you haven’t been to one of these, Cedar Point goes all out with their Halloween decorations, from erecting graveyards of rides they no longer have, to renaming rides (such as Ocean Motion to Ocean Potion), everything seems to have a Halloween vibe.
We left on Friday afternoon and got to our hotel at just about check-in time at 4pm. We stayed at Cedar Point Express, a hotel owned by Cedar Point, but actually just outside the park. With the room, we got complimentary tickets for Friday night, all-day tickets for Saturday (with early entry), and a parking pass. The park didn’t open until 6pm that night, so we headed out to Applebees to grab some dinner. While eating, a storm moved in, that brought with it plenty of rain and lightning. Needless to say, this put the kibosh on going to the park that night. We knew it was a possibility, the weather had been calling for storms all week on Friday, but we had Saturday to look forward to since it was supposed to be nice and sunny.
When we finished dinner, we headed out to the Sandusky Mall (since Cedar Point wasn’t an option now), to checkout the sad state that it was in. If you haven’t visited a mall recently, head on out to your nearest location (if it’s still open), and be amazed at just how vacant they are. From the storefronts to the lack of people walking around, malls are quickly becoming a ghost town, this one was no different. The Sandusky Mall was a good sized mall in terms of footprint and available storefronts, but my best guess is that at least 75-80% of the mall was nothing but empty storefronts, and there couldn’t have been more than 100 people in the entire thing. Of the people that were there, most just seemed to be hanging out, not really shopping. The best store in the entire mall was called “BAM – Books Toys Tech and More”. It was a lot like a Barnes and Noble, but seemed to have even more pop culture stuff. As we headed out, we passed by the “arcade” (note that’s in quotes since the amount of games in there were pretty slim), which had some small motion rides. One of them was a virtual roller coaster ride which had both the Gemini and the Blue Streak on it. I was going to “ride” with Riley, but after attempting to sit in the seat, it just wasn’t going to work. Instead, we gave the Winnie The Pooh ride a shot.
After leaving the mall, we headed back to the hotel, where I wished I would have brought my swimsuit, since despite the website indicating it was closed, the outdoor pool was very much open. Instead, we all crashed in anticipation of the Cedar Point fun to come.
It was early Saturday morning, and both my mom and I were up, but Riley and Meghan were still asleep. Wanting to get a workout in, I headed to the local Planet Fitness, which was located right by the mall. Representing CMU all the way in Sandusky.
With my workout done, I headed back to the hotel. With everyone awake now, we ate some breakfast and killed some time watching TV. The park didn’t open till 11am, but we had early entry and were able to get in at 10am. We arrived at the park just after 9:30am, and were able to park really close to the park entrance. We got everything we needed out of the car and got in line to get in…to get in line to get into the park. Yeah, you even have to stand in lines to go through the security to stand in line to get into the park. Lots of lines!
Once we were into the park, we hurried over to the Millennium Force. Meghan had ridden this roller coaster once in the past, and had said it was enough for her. My mom hadn’t even seen the coaster before, so she was definitely up for giving it a try. With early access, it was essentially a walk-on. After we got off the ride, we immediately got back in line to give it one more go. There was a slight 5 minute wait this time, but nothing compared to what it was going to be later in the day.
After our second ride, we headed through Frontier Town to look at some of the animals, as we made our way to the newest ride there, Steel Vengeance. The wait at that time was already up to two hours, and the park hadn’t even officially opened yet. Clearly we were not going to be riding that. Instead, we looped around and headed over to the Gemini, one of our favorites. Meghan and my mom got the first ride, and then Meghan and I took a turn. Riley unfortunately had to stay in her jogger. We grabbed some food across from the Gemini as it was nearing lunch time by that point, and the continued on our way. Next up was the Magnum XL200, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary. I can still remember the first year it opened, my aunt Martha and my uncle Tom went that year when my family did, and I distinctly remember my uncle riding it (I was too afraid at the time, ha!).
By this point, the crowds were really starting to pick up. We attempted to get on a few rides, but the wait times were getting ridiculous, so we headed into the arcade to feed Riley, as well as try to win a claw game…only the feeding was successful. From there, we looped back around the park and hopped on the train. Finally, something Riley could ride. Judging by the look on her face, I think she really enjoyed it.
We arrived in Frontier Town, the halfway point for the train ride, and stayed on to ride the remainder, and get back off right where we started. By this point, Riley was getting super tired, but was refusing to sleep from all of the activity going on around her. So we all headed back to the hotel for a bit, with the hope of coming back a bit later to smaller crowds.
Before heading back to the hotel, we ran to Meijer quick to look for a hat for Riley (nobody carries baby hats it seems). Once back at the hotel, we all crashed for a bit. Prior to going back to the park, we wanted to grab dinner. Meghan stayed back at the hotel with Riley to try and get her to sleep more, and my mom and I headed to a place I had always wanted to try but never have (till now), the Thirsty Pony. If you’ve ever gone to Cedar Point, you no doubt have passed this restaurant. It’s nothing special, but has a fun atmosphere. The most interesting thing about it is that half the building is restaurant/bar, and the other half is off track horse race betting (you get to choose which side you want as soon as you walk in the door). My mom and I ate and got take-out for Meghan. After we got back to the hotel, and Meghan had a chance to eat, we headed back to Cedar Point, not anticipating the crowds we were about to encounter.
As we drove out onto the peninsula, we had to wait in yet another line, this time of cars, just to get to the parking booth. Once we finally got there, it took another good 15-20 minutes of driving around to find a parking space. The parking lot was so full, cars were double-parking, parking in non-spaces at the end of aisles, and even parking in the grass out near the parking booths. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it that crowded. We had to park way out from the entrance, and had a good hike just to get back to the gate.
When we got back inside there were literally people everywhere. Lines for everything were ridiculous. Even the Gemini, which is a fantastic ride but certainly one that shouldn’t have anything more than a 15-20 minute wait, had a 45 minute line. We walked around the park, taking in the Halloween aspects, but sadly didn’t get to ride many more rides. My mom and I were able to catch a ride on the Troika (which still had about a 15 minute wait), and my mom was able to get a ride in on the Pipe Scream, but that was pretty much it. Overall fun was had, but I was bit disappointed at the crowd size, and the lack of being able to ride what I wanted to. Meghan and I had gone to Cedar Point over Halloweened in the past, and most everything was essentially a walk-on. But, we went in October then, not on the first weekend of Halloweekend. Lesson learned. We left the park and got back to the hotel, and everyone crashed pretty hard.
The next morning, after everyone was up, we packed up and headed out. We stopped at a rest area along the Ohio Turnpike to feed Riley, and then let her take a turn at driving to give me a break.
When we got back to Michigan, we dropped my mom off and headed back home, which was still about another hours drive for us. Riley had fallen asleep, but was really tired of being strapped in by that point, and couldn’t wait to get home.
We didn’t rest when we got home though. Had lots of laundry to do, Meghan cleaned out the cars, and I did some more painting in the basement (someday that will be finished…someday). We did manage to sneak in an evening walk though after the Lions game, Riley even had a chance to wear her shark hoodie.
Overall, a good little weekend vacation with family, and Riley’s first trip across state lines. Next up? We will be taking a vacation to Mackinaw in early October, and Riley gets to experience Mackinac Island and what it’s like to sleep in a cabin.