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Published: Tuesday, 8/24/2010

4 Cedar Fair parks to get towering ride

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The $5 million towering ride, called WindSeeker and first confirmed Tuesday on the social media site Facebook, also will be installed next year in three other amusement parks owned by Cedar Fair LP of Sandusky, including Kings Island near Cincinnati.

WindSeeker, built by Mondial of the Netherlands, is expected to be ready at Cedar Point on opening day, May 16. It will accommodate up to 64 riders in two-person swings, which will begin rotating as they ascend the tower and flare out almost 45 degrees.

The three-minute ride is reminiscent of a Cedar Point swing ride from the early 1900s - although it is 250 feet higher and will not dip riders into the water - and will bring attention back to the beach, officials said.

"The beach is our tradition," John Hildebrandt, Cedar Point vice president and general manager, said in a Facebook video. "Cedar Point is Cedar Point because of the beach."

WindSeeker will be near the current location of Ocean Motion, a 29-year-old ride that will be dismantled and is for sale.

People won't drive hundreds of miles just to ride WindSeeker, but it will be a good addition to Cedar Point and Kings Island, said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc. in Cincinnati.

"It's a neat ride," said Mr. Speigel, who has ridden one overseas. "You're up in the air quite a ways, and it's exciting."

Some probably will complain Cedar Point is not adding another roller coaster next year, but WindSeeker will help broaden the park's appeal, said Jeff Putz, a Web site operator for PointBuzz, a Cedar Point fan Web site.

"I think it's going to be a nice addition," he said.

Details of the ride, part of more than $6 million in capital improvements slated for Cedar Point next year, surfaced last week as part of a patent dispute.

An Australian manufacturer, Funtime Group, last week claimed it thought it had a deal with parent Cedar Fair to build the ride, yet the Sandusky amusement park company went with the Dutch competitor's version.

Both manufacturers' rides feature a tower and center ring from which riders spin, but Funtime's uses chains to attach their chairs; Mondial uses poles.

Robin Innes, Cedar Point spokesman, said Mondial's U.S. patent attorney has told Cedar Fair that Funtime's claims are unfounded.

The Dutch company has built several rides for Cedar Fair's Canada's Wonderland, which also is getting a WindSeeker next year, he said.

One critical detail released by Funtime last week missed the mark on Cedar Point's final plans: WindSeeker will not be 400 feet tall, the height of a European counterpart.

But, at about 300 feet, riders will get a good experience, Mr. Innes said.

"I don't think it's going to be lacking for thrills or visual impact," he said.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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