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Published: Wednesday, 5/10/2006

Hot spots: New attractions take center stage at popular locales

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Evan and Blake Trusty of Indianapolis  check out the cloud maker at COSI Toledo. Evan and Blake Trusty of Indianapolis check out the cloud maker at COSI Toledo.
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New attractions at amusement parks, waterparks, and other popular destinations within a day s drive offer something for everyone, from the oldest thrill-seekers to the youngest child looking for a more mild type of fun.

Cedar Point in Sandusky, which boasts that it has more roller coasters than any other park on the planet, has added a record-breaking swing ride.

The Wildwater Kingdom waterpark at Geauga Lake in Aurora, Ohio, has added a 30,000-square-foot wave pool, making it one of the largest waterparks in Ohio.


Cedar Point in Sandusky has added Skyhawk, the world s tallest swing ride, to its repertoire of thrill machines.
Cedar Point in Sandusky has added Skyhawk, the world s tallest swing ride, to its repertoire of thrill machines.
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Paramount s Kings Island near Cincinnati has three new rides featuring popular Nickelodeon characters.

COSI Toledo has more than 300 exhibits for children of all ages, including a new, permanent display dedicated to bubbles.

And the African Safari Wildlife Park near Port Clinton anticipates more than 200 births this year from some of the more than 400 exotic animals that call the park home.

For its 137th season, Cedar Point in Sandusky has added Skyhawk, the world s tallest swing ride, to its repertoire of thrill rides, said park spokesman Robin Innes.

He said the $6 million ride stands 103 feet above the ground and features two giant swinging arms that are each 84 feet long. Twenty riders sit back-to-back on each arm, giving everyone a front-row seat as they swing toward the sky before they experience weightlessness as they reverse direction and rush back toward the ground.

We ve taken the playground swing to Cedar Point standards, Mr. Innes said. You always have to continually have something for everybody.

At the peak of the ride, which is near Snake River Falls in Frontiertown, Skyhawk riders will be more than 125 feet in the air and will reach speeds of 60 mph.

Other attractions include the return of the park s high dive act, featuring the World Professional Extreme Team, which will perform from June 17 through Aug. 20 at various times each day except Tuesday.

The cool-down entertainment doesn t stop there. The Peanuts ice show, Snoopy s Summer Vacation, will return in the Good Time Theatre.

And every night at 10 p.m. from June 2 until Aug. 20, Cedar Point will stage its new Hot Summer Lights show on the midway. Replacing the laser light show, this new sensory experience will feature a new type of special effect called FireWater.

The park s popular HalloWeekends, which are entering their 10th year, will feature a fourth fright zone. HalloWeekends begin Sept. 22 and continue into late October.

Cedar Point opened May 6. Its adult regular admission price is $39.95, a $5 decrease from 2005. This is the first full season that Cedar Point will offer a $9.95 junior and senior citizen rate.

At Geauga Lake southeast of Cleveland, the $5 million Tidal Wave Bay wave pool completes the $24 million Wildwater Kingdom waterpark that opened last year, said spokesman Lexi Robinson.

The new wave pool holds more than 390,000 gallons of water and is 220 feet long, Ms. Robinson said.

Three new shows will premiere at the park this year, including the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show that features log-rolling, tree-climbing, and wood-chopping contests; the seven-piece Boogie Down Band, and the Magic of Michael Mage.

The park will celebrate the American spirit toward the end of each day with its new photo projection presentation called Freedom.

Children, ages 3 to 11, can sign up to have a birthday party at the park this year, Ms. Robinson said. For a fee that s based on the number of people who will be attending the party, the park staff will take care of all the details, which includes exclusive activities and a private party area on one side of the park.

Geauga Lake opened on May 13, and its 20-acre Wildwater Kingdom opens on May 27. Adult regular admission for both attractions is $24.95, and the park has added a new $9.95 junior and senior citizen price.

For those with a sweet tooth, both Cedar Point and Geauga Lake will offer cotton candy for just a quarter this season.

Kings Island near Cincinnati has been voted as having the best kids area of any amusement park in the world every year since 2001.

This year, the park has transformed 15 rides and included three new ones into Nickelodeon Universe, which features popular Nickelodeon characters, including those from Blue s Clues, Dora the Explorer, The Rugrats, and SpongeBob SquarePants, said Maureen Kaiser, park spokesman.

As for the new rides, she said children will experience what it feels like to fly on the Phantom Flyers ride, hop gently up and down on the Plankton s Plunge mini-drop ride, and climb aboard a 36-person platform to experience a rocking and spinning motion in an attempt to save the world on Avatar: The Last Airbender coaster experience.

Other family friendly mini-rides in Nickelodeon Universe include a swing ride, a wooden roller coaster, bumper cars, and a carousel.

Yet another new kid-friendly event is the park s new Hanna-Barbera attraction, featuring classic animated characters from The Flintstones to The Jetsons. This adventure is in the Paramount Action FX Theater, which holds two-person seats that are set on motion bases allowing for a wide range of movement in sync with the action on screen.

There s lots of delight for the little ones, Ms. Kaiser said.

Daily operation begins on May 24. Adult regular admission is $44.99, and a $29.99 pass is available for children and senior citizens.

Toledo s own hands-on science museum, COSI Toledo, recently opened a new bubbles exhibit with six individual stations where patrons can stand inside a bubble, blow square bubbles, or create gigantic bubbles, said Anna Kolin, special events and promotions supervisor.

What s really neat about it is that all of the exhibits are all stainless steel and are all fabricated to imitate what they actually do, she said. It s just really beautiful.

And beginning in late May through summer, COSI will be a place of extreme science, Ms. Kolin said. Though she said details have yet to be finalized, demonstrations in the science caf will revolve around glowing pickles, a bed of nails, and a giant flame tube.

COSI s next upcoming event is The Science of Big Machines from June 11 to 18.

The grounds outside the building will be covered with excavators, loaders, dumpers, and other big machines for youngsters to sit in and load, dig, dump, and drive.

In Port Clinton, the 100-acre African Safari Wildlife Park boasts more than 50 different animal species from alpacas to zebras, making it among the country s leaders in conservation efforts. Breeding efforts focus on alpacas, white zebras, giraffes, and the rare giant eland the largest antelope on earth, officials said.

Visitors are able to have Close Encounters of the Safe Kind while driving their own vehicles and feeding the animals as they roam in their natural habitat.

In addition, there are camel and pony rides available (weight and height restrictions apply).

In addition to the drive-through animal safari, there is a walk-through area where visitors can attend the daily Pork Chop Downs Pig Races and educational animal programs.

The wildlife park is open daily from May 27 through Sept. 4 with bonus weekends in September. An all-inclusive pass costs $15.95 for those 7 and older or $9.95 for children age 3 to 6.

Contact Erika Ray at: eray@theblade.com or 419-724-6088.

















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