Cedar Point HalloWeekends
Disclaimer: Our Cedar Point tickets were part of my conference registration and hotel package for BloggyCon. All opinions are 100% mine.
HalloWeekends is Cedar Point’s annual Halloween celebration. HalloWeekends combines family-friendly daytime Halloween activities with the creeps and frights of haunted houses for adults in the evenings. We had a great time visiting HalloWeekends and definitely recommend the trip. If you want to visit for the rides/kid-friendly activities, I definitely recommend Sunday as the less crowded day. My family’s main focus at Cedar Point is the rides (the coasters) rather than the HalloWeekends activities.
First Experience at HalloWeekends
Two weeks ago I attended The Bloggy Conference at Cedar Point and my family joined me as my conference hotel package included 3 days of park admission for the family. We visited the park Friday and Saturday. Friday night there are limited rides open and all of the haunted attractions. We managed to ride GateKeeper and have dinner before the rain started and several of the coasters were closed. Saturday my daughter and husband found most of the big roller coasters had waits near an hour. My husband wanted to buy Fast Lane passes for front of the line access. But at $85/person, I encouraged him to wait and see if we would need them Sunday when they were only $65/person.
My daughter was battling a cold, and in retrospect they probably should not have joined me that weekend. (She ended up with an ear infection). She was dragging on Saturday, but by Sunday said “Mom, I’m just not up to roller coasters today”. Fortunately we were able to save our Sunday tickets for another day this season.
Return Trip for HalloWeekends
We were really hoping to visit last Sunday (September 21), but with the weather forecast containing rain, we decided it was best to wait for a nice weekend. We returned yesterday. We were a bit concerned what the crowd levels would be since the weather was great and the previous Sunday had been rainy. The crowd level difference between Saturday and Sunday was staggering. On Saturday two weeks ago, there were long lines and there was a general sense of the park being crowded. Yesterday, while the park was not deserted, there were fairly minimal lines. The longest lines we waited in were about ~30 minutes for GateKeeper and Millennium Force. We only waited 15 minutes for Top Thrill Dragster. If thrill rides are your objective, Sunday is definitely the day to visit.
My daughter is 8, so she was not interested in any of the haunted houses. She was fine with walking through the foggy/zombie-infested park areas after dark, although some younger kids may be afraid. There are only a couple of areas like this, so with careful planning you should be able to avoid the areas.
Because we spent such a short time in ride lines, we were able to ride all of the big coasters (Maverick, Millennium Force, Mantis, GateKeeper, and Top Thrill Dragster). We also rode Corkscrew, Blue Streak, Wicked Twister, and Iron Dragon. My husband and daughter rode Magnum XL-200 as well. We also rode Maxx-Air and Sky Hawk getting our fill of thrill rides.
We also had time for my daughter to Trick or Treat in the Kids Area. There were 10 stations and each child could trick or treat once (they stamped their hand, and gave them a card that was punched at each station). My daughter enjoyed her treats, particularly the mini-pumpkin. We all enjoyed the 3 chocolate treats – snack size Hershey’s Bar, snack size Kit-Kat bar, and Whoppers pack. With temperatures around 80, I was afraid the chocolate would melt if we didn’t eat it right away.
For the first time, we visited the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit on Adventure Island. This is an additional admission attraction, but our tickets were included in my conference package. It is really neat how Millennium Force rockets right past the T-Rex and triceratops. Be sure to budget time for Dinosaurs Alive. The exhibit is a one-way trail through the dinosaurs. We didn’t spend as much time there as we would have in past years, but it still took us about 20 minutes.
HalloWeekends/Cedar Point Logistics
Cedar Point is located about 2 hours from Ann Arbor. From mid-September through October, they are typically open most Friday evenings (6p-midnight), Saturdays (11a-midnight), and Sundays (11a-8p). This year (2014) HalloWeekends started on Friday, September 12. HalloWeekends runs through Sunday, November 2 this year. With the 11a park opening on Saturday and Sunday it is relatively easy to drive that morning. We stayed until 6:15p and with stopping for dinner were home at 9p.
Park Tickets can be bought online in advance (which is what I did in 2013). You can also pre-purchase your parking and buy a beverage container. Discount tickets can also be purchased at Meijer.
When we visited for the conference we stayed at Hotel Breakers on the Island. As hotel guests, we were able to access the park one hour before it opened to the public. (I wish I had discovered that before 10:15a on Saturday as my husband and daughter only were able to make it to the park by 10:45a). Cedar Point also offers other lodging options that provide the same early entry benefit. We debated spending the night to have the extra hour in the morning. We decided that we would benefit more by buying Fast Lane if needed than paying for a hotel stay. In the end we didn’t need either advantage to accomplish what we wanted to yesterday.
We had a great time at Cedar Point for HalloWeekends and are hoping to return again next year for Bloggy Conference 2015. Stay tuned for a separate post just on the roller coasters of Cedar Point.