Known as "America's Roller Coast," Cedar Point has been home to many record-breaking rides over the years and boasts a towering skyline of steel unmatched by any other amusement park.
The Sandusky, Ohio, amusement park is about mind-blending speeds, gut-wrenching drops and scream-inducing thrills of the wooden- and steel-coaster kind.
Winner of Amusement Today's Golden Ticket for the "Best Amusement Park in the World" for the past 13 years, Cedar Point more than lives up to its top billing with an assortment of world-class rides, beautifully manicured grounds and stunning waterfront setting.
I've always considered Cedar Point the biggest missing piece in my amusement park resume.
Walking through the park for the first time had an almost magical quality, reminding me of my first visit to Disneyland. Surrounded by water, the peninsula park constantly draws you inward and melts away memories of the outside world like all great escapist fare. It makes me wish I lived in Sandusky. I now understand why Cedar Point fans are so loyal and vocal.
In compiling my Top 10 list for Cedar Point, I tried to combine the can't-miss roller coasters with the one-of-a-kind rides you can't find anywhere else.
1) Millennium Force - Topping 90 mph, the massive monster was the first complete circuit coaster to break the 300-foot height barrier and ranks as the longest steel coaster in the U.S. at 6,600 feet. Since its 2000 debut, the $25 million Millennium Force has consistently been voted one of the top steel coasters in the world in Amusement Today's annual poll.
2) Top Thrill Dragster - The $25 million hydraulic launch coaster accelerates from 0 to 120 mph in 4 seconds as it rockets toward a signature 420-foot-tall top hat element. When Top Thrill Dragster debuted in 2003, it was the first complete circuit coaster to break the 400-foot height barrier and ranks as the second tallest coaster in the world behind its younger sibling, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. Intamin built similar but shorter accelerator coasters at Knott's Berry Farm (Xcelerator) and Hersheypark (Storm Runner).
3) Maverick - The $21 million launched coaster features a 100-foot drop at a beyond-vertical 95-degree angle. Prior to opening Maverick in 2007, Cedar Point removed the heartline roll track segment because the 360-degree inversion put too much stress on the trains.
4) Blue Streak - Opened in 1964, the classic wooden coaster was built by the legendary Philadelphia Toboggan Co., which also created the Comet at Hersheypark and Thunderhawk at Dorney Park.
5) Gemini - Twin trains race side by side on parallel steel tracks built on a wood structure. Riders often give each other high fives as the trains pass through curves. When Gemini opened in 1978, it was the tallest, fastest and steepest coaster in the world.
6) Magnum XL-200 - Launching an early volley in the 1990s coaster wars, Magnum XL-200 was the first complete circuit coaster to break the 200-foot height barrier. Topping 70 mph, the hypercoaster passes through three tunnels along a 5,100-foot-long track. Since its 1989 debut, Magnum has consistently remained in Amusement Today's annual list of Top 10 steel coasters. Arrow Dynamics built similar hyper coasters at Buffalo Bill's Casino (Desperado) and Kennywood (Phantom's Revenge).
7) Cedar Creek Mine Ride - Opened in 1969, the mine train-style coaster features a hybrid construction with a steel track on top of a wood structure. Arrow Dynamics built similar mine train coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Gold Rusher) and Hersheypark (Trailblazer).
8) Mean Streak - Built with 1.7 million board feet of pine, the 5,400-foot-long wooden coaster employs its own carpentry staff that retracks the ride almost every year. Mean Streak was the tallest (161 feet) and fastest (65 mph) of its kind when it debuted in 1991. The now-defunct ride manufacturer also built Psyclone, a reviled wooden coaster mercifully removed from Six Flags Magic Mountain in 2006.
9) Wicked Twister - Launched from a central station, trains hanging beneath the track travel up a pair of twisting towers located at either end of the track. Similar inverted shuttle coasters can be found at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (V2: Vertical Velocity) and Dorney Park (Possessed).
10) Raptor - Added in 1994 during the height of the coaster wars, Raptor boasts a 100-foot-tall loop, a pair of roll elements and a pair of corkscrews. Bolliger & Mabillard built similar inverted steel coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Batman the Ride) and Knott's Berry Farm (Silver Bullet).