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Published: Friday, 9/5/2008

Cedar Point again tops amusement-park survey

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Rides such as the Millennium Force coaster contributed to the high ranking. Rides such as the Millennium Force coaster contributed to the high ranking.
BAYLEN / BLADE Enlarge

The masses may prefer Disney World's Magic Kingdom near Orlando. But for roller coaster lovers and other amusement park enthusiasts, Cedar Point is No. 1.

The Sandusky attraction has been named "Best Amusement Park in the World" by the industry publication Amusement Today based on a poll of 500 people who can't get enough of such places.

This year was the 11th consecutively in which the Lake Erie-side park has won the honor.

"I don't think anyone has won it except Cedar Point," said Gary Slade, publisher of the 3,000-circulation magazine that caters to amusement industry executives.

The attraction has ranked No. 1 since the poll's inception, he explained.

The park is owned by Cedar Fair LP, Sandusky.

Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg Va., ranked second and Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., was fourth.

Other top parks included Pleasure Beach Blackpool, Blackpool, England; Europa Park, Rust, Germany; and Holiday World in Santa Claus, Ind.

The Magic Kingdom was the world's best-attended park last year, with 17.1 million customers, according to the Web site Inparkmagazine.com.

But it didn't crack the Amusement Today top 10.

Cedar Point, with 3.1 million attendees in 2007, similarly missed the list of the world's 25 best-attended parks, according to the Web site. But it ranked 16th in North America in attendance.

And although the honor bestowed upon Cedar Point by Amusement Today reflects the views of amusement park fanatics more than of the masses, it is a valuable marketing tool, a park official said.

"It increases awareness of the park," spokesman Robin Innes said. "If it gets people to start looking at what we have to offer, that could translate into some visits."

A spokesman for Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, which ranked 10th overall and No. 1 in cleanliness and friendliness, agreed that the magazine honor is valuable. "It's a piece of the whole packaging, marketing, and publicity efforts," said Paula Werne, spokesman for the 120-acre park in southwest Indiana that attracts a million annually.

Amusement Today's publisher wasn't sure how many surveys were returned of the 500 sent to roller-coaster lovers, merry-go-round enthusiasts, and other amusement-park fans.

Twenty-six percent of poll participants ranked Cedar Point tops; the No. 2 park polled 16 percent of votes.

Cedar Point's appeal, he speculated, is linked to the large number of rides, water park, hotels, Lake Erie beach, and marina access. "You've got the total package working for you there," Mr. Slade said.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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