Amusement parks greet the season with new rides, updates

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

More than 124 million people visited amusement parks in the Upper Midwest last year, according to Amusement Business magazine - especially Kings Island, Cedar Point and Canada's Wonderland.

Were you among them?

If not, get in on the fun this summer at these regional amusement parks:

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The 136-year-old park has 68 rides, including 16 roller coasters - the most rides and coasters of any park. For the seventh year in a row, Cedar Point has been named the world's best amusement park by industry journal Amusement Today. The Millennium Force roller coaster again won multiple awards as the top steel coaster.

The newest ride this year is maxAir. It puts a circle of 50 passengers high in the air, legs dangling, as the ride swings back and forth while spinning clockwise, sometimes going upside down. Cedar Point also introduced an indoor water park, Castaway Bay, in November.

To shorten lines for big coasters, the park also is offering FreeWay, which uses hand stamps so patrons can come back to the ride at a designated time. (See FreeWay kiosks near rides.)

This year, Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster will no longer be the tallest, fastest coaster - it's being usurped by the new Kingda Ka coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J. But the park promises that the Dragster, which has had maintenance issues in the past, will be in top shape for riders this year.

4Water park: New Castaway Bay, a 51,000-square-foot indoor park, has a 520-foot water roller coaster, wave pool, toddler pool and family fun house. Soak City is an 18-acre outdoor water park. These parks cost extra.

4When: Open now through Labor Day, then weekends in September and October. Opens at 10 a.m.; closing times vary.

4Cost: $44.95 general admission; $24.95 for ages 3 and up if under 4 feet tall. Season pass, $99.95. Parking is $9. Admission to park plus Soak City is $67.95; $44.95 for ages 3-up under 4 feet tall.

4Annual visitors: 3.1 million.


Kings Island is the largest seasonal theme park in the United States, catering especially to families. Amusement Today trade magazine has ranked Kings Island first in the world for its children's area for the fifth year in a row. It has 13 roller coasters, four of them specifically for younger children.

What's new this year? The Italian Job Stunt Track indoor roller coaster. Based on the film, it transports riders on a twirling, jerking ride past near-collisions, explosions and other close calls with danger.

4Water park: Crocodile Dundee's Boomerang Bay, an Australian-themed outdoor 15-acre water park with 30 water slides, opened in 2004. Admission is free with regular theme park ticket.

4Where: 6300 Kings Island Drive, about 25 miles north of Cincinnati.

4When: Opens 10 a.m. Friday through Labor Day, then weekends through October. Closing times vary; Boomerang Bay opens May 29; call for times.

4Cost: $44.99 for ages 7-59, but $10 off with an e-ticket you can print from the park's Web site. Kids ages 3-6 who are under 4 feet tall and seniors 60 and older get in for $26.99. Children 2 and younger are free. Park admission includes entrance to Boomerang Bay. Parking is $9.

4Annual visitors: 3.5 million

4Owner: Paramount Parks Inc.