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Experience the Thrill: The Best Amusement Parks in Ohio

Travel | By Cullen Fischel | Updated September 18, 2023

Cullen Fischel of Cleveland's guide to Ohio's best amusement parks

Key Takeaways

  • Ohio's deep-rooted history with amusement parks.

  • Notable parks: Cedar Point, Kings Island, Coney Island Park, and more.

  • Unmissable adrenaline-pumping rides.

  • Budget-friendly strategies for an enjoyable trip.

  • Importance of ride restrictions and ensuring safety.

  • Tips from Cullen Fischel for a memorable park experience.

Ohio's Amusement Park Legacy

Historical Significance

As an Ohio native, I've always been drawn to the state's rich history of amusement parks. The love for roller coasters and thrill rides runs deep in our veins. From vintage carousels to groundbreaking coasters, Ohio has been home to some of the most iconic rides in the country. Cedar Point alone has been operational since the late 1800s! It's not just about the rides, though. These parks capture a sense of nostalgia, of simpler times, and a shared excitement for what comes next.

Economic Impact

It's undeniable: our amusement parks are significant contributors to Ohio's tourism. Every summer, families, enthusiasts, and thrill-seekers flock from all corners of the country to experience what we offer. As a result, local businesses in areas like Cleveland flourish, and the overall state economy sees a notable spike. When people come for the roller coasters, they stay for the food, hospitality, and other local attractions. It's a ripple effect that benefits us all.

Top Amusement Parks to Visit

Cedar Point

Any discussion about Ohio's amusement parks would be incomplete without Cedar Point. Touted as the "roller coaster capital of the world," this Sandusky gem has some of the most exhilarating rides you'll ever experience. My personal favorite? The Millennium Force. With its heart-stopping drops and breathtaking views of Lake Erie, it's a ride that encapsulates the spirit of adventure in Ohio.

Kings Island

A short drive from Cleveland, Kings Island is another must-visit. Beyond the coasters, this park offers a variety of experiences for all age groups. From the enchanting Planet Snoopy for the young ones to the Beast, one of the longest wooden roller coasters in the world, there's no shortage of thrills here. And for those who cherish memories of days gone by, the park's iconic Eiffel Tower replica is a gentle reminder of the park's early days and its ties to Cincinnati's rich history.

Coney Island Park

Nestled on the banks of the Ohio River, Coney Island Park offers a mix of classic rides and contemporary thrills. While it might not have the towering coasters of Cedar Point or Kings Island, its charm lies in its rich history. For me, a visit here is like stepping back in time. The park’s vintage carousel, with its hand-carved horses, is a personal favorite, offering a serene contrast to the high-octane thrills of other parks.

Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Parks with Big Thrills

Stricker's Grove

If you're looking to sidestep the larger crowds and relish a more intimate experience, Stricker's Grove might be your best bet. This family-owned park, just outside of Cincinnati, hosts a range of attractions. While it may not have the towering giants like other parks, it compensates with its nostalgic atmosphere. When I first visited, the wooden coasters immediately took me back to my childhood days.

Memphis Kiddie Park

For those traveling with younger children, Memphis Kiddie Park in Cleveland is a perfect choice. With rides specifically designed for younger visitors, it's a wonderful introduction to the amusement park world for them. It's a place where memories are made, and as a local, I've seen generations of Cleveland families visit, bringing their children and then their grandchildren to experience the joy of their first rides.

Jungle Jack's Landing at the Columbus Zoo

While primarily recognized for its extensive range of animals, the Columbus Zoo also houses Jungle Jack's Landing - a delightful amusement area. From mini coasters to carousel rides, it's a mix of fun and learning. Combine this with a day exploring the zoo, and you've got yourself a wholesome Ohio experience.

Making the Most of Your Trip

Budgeting and Planning Ahead

If there's one piece of advice I consistently emphasize, it's the importance of planning. Entrance fees, food costs, and other in-park expenses can add up quickly. Opt for package deals or season passes if you're considering multiple visits. Many parks also offer discounted rates during weekdays or off-peak hours. And don't forget about parking! Some parks charge for it, so it's something to factor into your budget.

Ensuring Safety

Safety should always be paramount. Abide by all ride restrictions and guidelines. These are put in place to ensure you have not only a thrilling but also a safe experience. Make sure children are accompanied at all times, stay hydrated, especially during those hot Ohio summers, and don't push your limits. Remember, it's okay to skip a ride if you're not feeling up for it.

Staying Comfortable

Comfort is crucial for a day at the amusement park. Wear appropriate clothing (think breathable fabrics), and opt for comfortable shoes. Trust me, your feet will thank you after a day of walking and standing in queues. And while many parks offer lockers, it's always a good idea to pack light.

Cullen Fischel's Tips for the Best Experience

  • Visit during off-peak times. Weekdays, especially early in the summer season, tend to be less crowded.

  • Stay hydrated and well-fed. Pack snacks and water, though ensure they comply with park policies.

  • Plan your rides. Prioritize rides you're most eager about to avoid disappointment.

  • Engage with park staff. They're a wealth of knowledge and often have insider tips to enhance your visit.

  • Capture the memories. Take plenty of photos, but ensure flash photography is turned off on rides.

The Ohio Traveler Explains

Why are Ohio's amusement parks so renowned?

Ohio has a long-standing history with amusement parks. Over the years, this has allowed for the development and growth of some of the most iconic parks and rides in the world. The consistent effort to innovate and offer new thrills, combined with the sense of nostalgia in some of the older parks, has placed Ohio firmly on the global amusement park map.

Which park is ideal for someone seeking extreme thrills?

For the adrenaline junkies among us, Cedar Point in Sandusky is often hailed as the "roller coaster capital of the world." With a diverse range of roller coasters, some of which have broken world records, it's the go-to destination for extreme thrills in Ohio.

Is there a unique experience that sets Ohio's parks apart?

Apart from the high-adrenaline rides, Ohio's amusement parks often offer unique, nostalgic experiences. Whether it's the vintage carousels at Coney Island Park or the historic ties of Kings Island to Cincinnati's past, there's a deep-rooted history that provides a rich backdrop to the modern-day thrills.

Ohio's amusement parks are more than just rides; they're a blend of history, culture, and pure exhilaration. Whether you're an adrenaline seeker or someone looking to step back in time, these parks offer a diverse range of experiences waiting to be explored. So, strap in and prepare for a thrilling adventure!

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