The things we do for our kids. Exhibit A: Amusement Parks.
Now, yes, I know there are many parents out there who love roller coasters and other thrill rides. I’ve even visited some of them in the hospital.
Oh, but I kid! The truth is I’m just not an amusement-park aficionado — unlike “Patches,” the interesting gentleman so dubbed by my son and his buddy when we all converged on Cedar Point in May for the opening day of their 2012 season. Patches wore a jacket emblazoned with patches for all the rides there and loudly evangelized the virtues of each to anyone who would listen. Patches and I are polar opposites.
So what’s a parent to do when you want to be a good parent and avail your children of this iconic American experience we call “going to an amusement park” but you really have no desire to test your intestinal fortitude on Top Thrill Dragster (more about that one later)? You come up with a plan to amuse (no pun intended) yourself.
*EAT: There are 32 cafes, restaurants and food carts on the grounds of Cedar Point. You could spend the day eating, if you were so inclined. Because I had brought two young teens, armed with wristwatches, we made plans for occasional meet-ups at specific locations, and then I nibbled my way around the place.
*WALK IT OFF: And then I walked it all off because Cedar Point is huge — 364 acres to be precise which is like a square that’s more than a half-mile long on each side (but by mid-afternoon, it will feel much longer).
*WATCH: In my opinion, you’d have to be clinically insane to ride Top Thrill Dragster, but apparently a lot of people are. They strap these people into open seats, shoot them 420 feet straight up a track at 120 miles per hour and then fling them straight back down, all in less than a minute. But I’ll admit I was fascinated to watch these lunatics get shot down the track, their faces distorted by fear and G-forces (they even have stands for people like me to sit and watch the insanity).
*BYOSC (Bring Your Own Small Child): If you’re lucky enough to possess a small child, you will have a good excuse for going on the kiddie rides or even hitting the splash pad. Doing so alone probably would have earned me a chat with one of the many security guards roaming the place. However, you could safely ride the CP & LE Railroad or Sky Ride by yourself and not look like a Tier III offender waiting to happen.
*VISIT DINOSAUR ALIVE: Part of why we visited Cedar Point on its 2012 Opening Day was to get a special “media sneak peek” at this new animatronic dinosaur exhibit they set up underneath part of the Millennium Force ride (another one you’ll never see me on). It’s got about 50 dinosaurs that you visit along a snaking boardwalk course. Nearly all the dinosaurs are about half their estimated adult size, but the few that are full size are truly impressive. It’s a nice break from riding (or avoiding) the rides and is also an ingenious use of otherwise empty space.