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Cedar Point to tear down Space Spiral, roller coaster

Disaster Transport's final ride set July 29

SANDUSKY -- Last month, a leaked confidential memo hinted that Cedar Point would remove its Disaster Transport roller coaster and Space Spiral tower ride in favor of a new roller coaster in 2013.

On Friday, the Sandusky amusement park confirmed that the two rides soon will be history. However, the flagship park of Cedar Fair LP said nothing yet about a replacement ride to occupy their footprints.

In a written statement, Cedar Point said that Disaster Transport will cease operation July 29. The bobsled-style roller coaster began 28 years ago as an open-air ride called Avalanche Run but was converted to an outer-space-themed ride after a building was constructed over it.

The Space Spiral, a 330-foot tower that gives rides a 360-degree view of the park, also will close, but a timetable for its closure has not been set. The ride opened in 1965.

Cedar Point plans to hold a party for the final rides on Disaster Transport with a fund-raiser to provide park enthusiasts a chance to be on the ride's last train. The lights will be turned on inside Disaster Transport for the final ride.

In its statement, the park said it was dismantling the two rides, both near the park's front entrance, to make better use of prime space at Cedar Point and enhance the overall appearance of that corridor. No mention was made of the leaked memo that suggested parent firm Cedar Fair plans to use the site for a $25 million "winged" roller coaster that will open next spring.

In an interview with The Blade in March, Matt Ouimet, Cedar Fair president and chief executive officer, hinted that Disaster Transport might soon disappear.

"Part of what I've seen is the park built itself off and walled off the beach. So Disaster Transport -- you can't see the beach. So I think ultimately you'll see the beach get revealed because once you see it, you're going to go out there," Mr. Ouimet said.

Although it has been in operation for nearly three decades, Disaster Transport was remembered by former Cedar Fair chairman, president, and CEO Dick Kinzel as his biggest mistake while running the amusement park chain.

"The story I always tell about it is we had a dog ride and we took a dog ride and put a cover on it," Mr. Kinzel said in an interview one week before his Jan. 1 retirement.

"We had a board meeting on opening day and I had the board out there and some guy came right up to me with his little kid and said, 'You named that right. That's a disaster.' And he just walked away," Mr. Kinzel recalled. "What can you say?"

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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