The biggest celebration in Cedar Point’s history is about to hit the Lake Erie shoreline as the second-oldest amusement park in North America commemorates its 150th anniversary in 2020. All next season, the Sandusky, Ohio, park will honor its past while embracing the future, providing the same family fun that has entertained generations and shaped the amusement park industry for decades.
Cedar Point’s history is rich, dating back to the summer of 1870 when Louis Zistel ferried the first guests to Cedar Point to enjoy a bathhouse, beer garden and the now famous mile-long sandy beach. There were no rides, midway games, live shows or cell phones. Whether it was catching some rays, cooling off in Lake Erie, dancing the day away or just lying on the beach, the root of a Cedar Point vacation was always (and still is) one thing – time spent together.
Over the years, new buildings and attractions began to appear on the 364-acre peninsula, with the first roller coaster appearing in 1892. The Switchback Railway, with its height of 25 feet (7.6 m), reached an unbelievable top speed of 10 mph (16 kph) and thrilled guests who had never seen anything like it. Smaller attractions would be built in the 1800s, including a pony track, diving platform, water toboggan, water trapeze and bicycle boats.
Under the direction of George A. Boeckling, the resort saw many improvements that kept it alive, including the addition of a merry- go-round, new entertainment in the updated Grand Pavilion and the construction of the resort’s first overnight property, the Bay Shore Hotel in 1899. With the popularity of multi-day visits, Boeckling would go on to build The White House hotel in 1901. And in 1905, the historic Hotel Breakers would rise above the beautiful sand as the “largest and greatest hotel on the Great Lakes.” To this day, the Hotel Breakers continues to welcome vacationing guests (albeit with modern amenities), just as it did back then.
Rides, attractions and landscapes would change over the years, and Cedar Point would eventually capture the imaginations of thrill-seekers everywhere. Often referred to as “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World®,” Cedar Point would debut some of the tallest and fastest scream machines on the planet, including Magnum XL-200, Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster, along with the park’s current world-record-breaking thriller and world’s first “hyper hybrid” coaster, Steel Vengeance.