Wednesday, May 29, 2013

America's Rockin' Roller Coast. Rock On.

We just spent a spectacular weekend in Sandusky, Ohio with Ray's family. My mother-in-law turns 60 today (Happy Birthday!) and when asked what she'd like for her birthday, she replied that she wanted us all to be together. We originally expected a Maryland trip, but then got the idea to do something really fun and meet in the middle at Cedar Point Amusement Park.

If you've never lived in the Midwest, you probably aren't familiar with the allure. Just like Wisconsin Dells, no one in California had ever spoken about any amusement park other than Disneyland, Disneyworld, Knott's Berry Farm (owned by Cedar Point!), or Six Flags. It turns out that this mega coaster park is very well known among the Midwest locals. When mentioned that we planned to go there, every single person either professed their love of the park and/or gave their recommendations for the very best rides that are a must-do at the park. Just look at my last post! So many of you have a history at this place!

The main reason we chose this location for my mother-in-law's 60th birthday celebration was because 39 years ago while they were in college, she and my father-in-law spent a summer working at the park. They were dating at the time and as a summer job, they both worked there and spent that summer creating memories and falling in love. Pretty much adorable. My mother-in-law was a cocktail waitress (lounge is now an ice cream parlor!) and my father-in-law worked at concession stands in the park and at a steak restaurant called the Anchor Room as a food server (now a hibachi restaurant we ate dinner at one evening!). Both the cocktail lounge and the Anchor Room were located in Hotel Breakers, which is still a working hotel and dorm for college students assuming similar roles during their summer breaks. The dorms they both lived in are still standing as well, which was quite surprising for them. Ray's Aunt Ceil also worked there during the summer and was talked about often on the trip.
Hotel Breakers & rotunda dorms Kay stayed in while working there 
This entire park and surrounding town of Sandusky holds great memories for them, and we thought there would be no better way to celebrate a birthday and togetherness than to visit these places and relive some of their memories with them. It was great fun and we even rode some extreme coasters that were both at the park when they worked there and plenty of new ones.

On Friday, we took the 5-hour journey from Chicago > Sandusky, Ohio and met Benjamin's grandparents at the house we rented. It was such a cool place and really affordable if you have a group of 6-8 people to split the cost. If you're ever in the Sandusky area and looking to find a vacation home rental, send me an email. We cannot say enough great things about this place. It is actually a boathouse built on top of the guy's boat space! Not to be confused with a house boat-- we were not floating. There were 3 bedrooms, a full kitchen, a balcony with Lake Erie view, and a view of Cedar Point less than 2 miles away.

We spent some time that evening at Hotel Breakers and back at the hotel just relaxing. On Saturday, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend drove in from Baltimore and we had dinner at a local restaurant. My in-laws used to save their money and go there on date nights from the amusement park and order a lobster tail with drawn butter. They did the same this evening.

Just past Hotel Breakers is a beach, boardwalk, and Lake Erie.
The lobster tail date restaurant, The Brown Derby
Sunday was our big Cedar Point day! We arrived at the park opening and ran like teenagers to get on the "signature" coaster, Millennium Force. It was every bit as spectacular as we hoped it would be. We rode a number of other rides, but I did chicken out on Dragster because ohmyword. It shoots you straight up at 120 mph and the straight back down toward the ground? I'll reserve that for when Benjamin is older.
That thing in the right corner being cut off? That's a roller coaster! It shoots you up the parabola at 120 miles an hour (from 0 mph!) over the parabola top. Eek! And it has been stuck at the top before!
Some highlights include my in-laws, sister-in-law and her boyfriend going on Blue Streak, the oldest ride in the park that was there when they worked at the park. We also rode the sky tram that was also there 39 years ago. Four of us rode the new ride, The Gatekeeper while my in-laws walked around with a stroller-sleeping Benjamin. He slept 2.5 hours in that stroller! The Gatekeeper was different and the keyholes were most certainly wild, but otherwise I'd prefer Millennium with a shorter line and less pinball action on my brain. It was a bit rough for our taste.
Blue Streak, opened in 1964! Ray and I sat out because we don't do wooden coasters... too bumpy = headache inducing. 
On the train that goes around the park
A few Dad photos: one with dad's photo at 15 months & another at Cedar Point... such a cute one!
More Benjamin fun: loved the turkeys, riding on dad's shoulders and being read to by Dillon & Aunt Samantha
The sky tram that my father-in-law often took as he worked at a concession stand underneath the tram area. Benjamin was quite smitten with the Charlie Brown characters
The steak restaurant turned hibachi place we had dinner at & the two concession areas my father-in-law worked
More grandparent love: on a big wheel with Gramie & petting goats with Grandpa
The other three rides Benjamin went on with his parents. He was confused. 
I managed to ride a water ride by myself (literally. no one else was on my boat or any other around me!) and later took Ray and Dillon. I promised them I hardly got wet and of course this time, they turned on all the water features ensuring we were all at least 75% soaked at 6 p.m. Benjamin went on 5 rides but was definitely confused for the majority and preferred his moments in the petting zoos with goats and sheep, staring at the enormous turkey, and meeting Snoopy and Sally. Otherwise he was less than amused by the day's happenings. For dinner that evening, we ate at the restaurant that now sits in the same spot as my father-in-law's former serving restaurant. He appeared to be enjoying the day so much that he wanted to head back into the park after our big hibachi meal!
My very own boat water ride. I love a good log ride & this was their version. :)
Love at first sight.
Locked eyes. Clapped together. Hugged. What more could a 15-month old ask for?
It was a fantastic weekend and we're all sad it's over... but we already dream of planning more trips in the future with hopefully more children and possibly renting out the same or a similar house setup. Finally, from an outsider's perspective of a girl who grew up on the west coast and only recently heard of Cedar Point at all, I have to say that I enjoyed the rides, but other than the Dragster which still scares the living daylights out of me, I didn't find the park itself to be that extreme. But it sure was a whole lot of fun.
Wearing our Bazinga shirts (my mother-in-law bought us at the beginning of The Big Bang Theory season because we all love it, and Dillon being a trooper wearing a too-small shirt!). I'm also holding my kiddo back from falling off a chair. Ah, parenting.
Happy Birthday cookie cake! My favorite part was the Turkey Hill (a brand not carried in IL... sad!) ice cream: chocolate with peanut butter ribbons. Benjamin ate it by the handful!


Darcey said... [Reply to comment]

So glad you had a great time. Seeing those photos brought back a lot of memories, especially since I haven't been back there in almost 15 years...eek!!! Where has the time gone??

Party of Three Heads said... [Reply to comment]

Looks like you guys had a blast! I went there the summer of my 6th?? grade year! Gosh.. seems like yesterday!

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

1) Your in-laws are adorable, what with working at an amusement park and falling in love.

2) Your husband and kiddo are adorable, especially in that Cedar Point pictures.

3) You are also adorable.

4) Love the Big Bang t-shirts!

5) Stroller naps rock.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

I LOVE cedar point! We will be going next year for sure! I love Benjamin and the Charlie Brown characters. Makes me wonder what Lillian will think next year.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

What a special trip, those are the best memory makers. Love B and snoopy. So sweet

LookItsJessica said... [Reply to comment]

Cedar Poooint! Your in-laws sound so sweet and its great that they were able to re-create their memories at the park but this time with the family they created together. Lovely!

I'm excited to ride the Gatekeeper and I LOVE Millennium Force. My fav ride is the Raptor, I even have a really old 90'd style t-shirt that I bought when I first rode the thing in like 1995. Your post brought back so many memories! :)

Kristi said... [Reply to comment]

Your in-laws looked like they enjoyed every second of the weekend!! Benjamin is so adorable no matter what he is doing or what is going on around him. Grateful for the grandparent time for him (and them and y'all).

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

How does your kid get cuter with every post?!

What a wonderful idea, and it looks like it was very fun for everyone. I love it!