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Published: Friday, 9/4/2009

Cedar Point wants to make a splash

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

SANDUSKY — Cedar Point will debut its most expensive water ride ever when Shoot the Rapids opens in the spring at the amusement park's Frontier Trail, officials said yesterday.

The $10.5 million coasterlike attraction, which will be built around a theme of mountain moonshine, is targeting families following a season in which the park's adult thrill rides were apparently unable to overcome cool summer temperatures and a local and national economy that was even cooler.

Parent firm Cedar Fair LP of Sandusky doesn't release attendance figures individually for its 11 amusement parks and seven water parks, but said last month that the number of visitors companywide declined 10 percent to 12.6 million through July 31.

Officials blamed the recession and weather.

Regular admission to the park is $45, though many discounts are available.

Spokesman Robin Innes said the planned attraction is not a concession by Cedar Point officials that they need to boost appeal to the family audience.

“Water rides are universally popular ... right after roller coasters,” Mr. Innes said. “People like getting wet and like being able to enjoy a ride with everybody.”

An artist's rendering shows the route passengers will travel in 10-person boats  through a wooded area designed to resemble a backwoods moonshine operation. An artist's rendering shows the route passengers will travel in 10-person boats through a wooded area designed to resemble a backwoods moonshine operation.
NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Seated in 10-person boats, passengers will go on a 2,100-foot-long journey through a wooded area and travel past an “illegal still used for brewing sweet-tasting elixir, all while encountering surprise water elements and special effects,” officials said in an announcement. The theme revolves around a supposed feud between backwoods moonshiners.

The three-minute ride will include two lift hills — one which will carry passengers up 85 feet, then drop them at a 45-degree angle over an island area built for the park's Millennium Force roller coaster.

Shoot the Rapids will be able to carry 1,200 passengers an hour.

It is being built in a undeveloped portion of the 139-year-old Erie County amusement park midway between Toledo and Cleveland.

The ride will be designed and manufactured by IntaRide LLC of Glen Burnie, Md., which also built the park's Maverick, Top Thrill Dragster, and Millennium Force roller coasters and the river-rafting ride called Thunder Canyon.

“With 17 coasters and more rides than any other park in the world, we felt we had a commitment to the family,” Dick Kinzel, chief executive of Cedar Fair, said in an interview posted on the park's Web site.

“With the introduction of Shoot the Rapids, we feel this ride will fill that void.”

“Let's not forget about grandma and grandpa,” added John Falfas, company operations chief. The new ride, Mr. Falfas said, will not be “so steep that it rules anybody out.”

Cedar Point's last major new ride was the $21 million Maverick in 2007.

Shoot the Rapids will join two other water rides: Snake River Falls and Thunder Canyon. Another water ride, White Water Landing, opened in 1982 but was replaced two years ago by the Maverick.

The first major water coaster was the Mill Race built near the park entrance in 1962. It was removed in 1994 to make room for the Raptor roller coaster.

Cedar Point is the most-visited amusement park of Cedar Fair, whose other attractions include Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, Calif., and Canada's Wonderland, near Toronto.

Hard-core fans of the Sandusky attraction, who tend to favor the park's roller coasters, had a mixed reaction to yesterday's announcement on the Point Online Internet site.

“This is a worst-case scenario for me,” one fan wrote. “It doesn't look like much fun.”

“I am happy to see something like this ... added,” wrote another. “The focus clearly is families.”

Visitors named Lucy, Linus, and Charlie Brown will travel to Kings Island near Cincinnati next summer.

Sandusky-based Cedar Fair LP said yesterday that it has reached agreement with United Media to use characters from the Peanuts comic strip and cartoon franchise at five more of its amusement parks starting in 2010.

Besides Kings Islands, the other parks where the characters will begin showing up are Canada's Wonderland near Toronto; Kings Dominion, Doswell, Va; Carowinds, Charlotte,, and California's Great America, in Santa Clara.

The characters are in use at a number of other Cedar Fair parks, including the company's flagship, Cedar Point in Sandusky.

Cedar Fair did not disclose the price or duration of the licensing agreement.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:gpakulski@theblade.comor 419-724-6082.



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