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"I have an idea for a long weekend trip," said my husband. "Let's get our "coaster count" up." My husband and I are proud members of the Great Ohio Coaster Club, you see, and he takes his "coaster count" very seriously. If you're a thrill-seeker (or your partner is a thrill-seeker), looking to get your "coaster count" up, then this trip is for you!
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What is a roller coaster?
What counts as a roller coaster? It can be a little subjective, so I used the definition that the folks at Coaster Count came up with. Their definition is very technical, but the most important parts are:
- The ride has some sort of lift or launch.
- The ride is purely for entertainment purposes (so things like monorails and chair lifts are out).
- The ride is powered by gravity at some point (i.e. it coasts) and
- The ride is on a track.
Since I'm using that definition, I might include rides that some readers might not agree are truly roller coasters. For example, I counted the Little Phantom at Kennywood, even though its tallest hill is just barely taller than my husband. But for a budding thrill-seeker, it very much counts!
Day One - Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
For your first day, fly into Pittsburgh, PA and rent a car. Then, drive about an hour to Kennywood to get in your first 9 coasters. My experience is that the lines at Kennywood aren't usually as bad as the lines at other parks, so I don't think you'll have any problem hitting all 9 in one day. But if you'll be there during a holiday weekend or another busy day, you can splurge on a VIP coaster tour to reduce your time in line.
A few important notes on Kennywood, to get all 9 you'll need to ride the racer twice, on both the left and right track. Additionally, don't forget the scariest ride in the park, the 7 foot tall, 15 seconds long, Little Phantom mentioned above.
Once you've hit all 9 coasters, you're ready to drive 3 hours north to your next park!
Day Two - Cedar Point Sandusky Ohio
Cedar Point has a whopping 19 coasters, which puts it in 3rd place for the most coasters in the world! To hit all 19 in one day, you'll need a plan and a Fast Lane pass. I'd highly suggest staying at a Cedar Point Hotel the night before to get early entrance. My husband and I have found that starting at the back of Cedar Point and working our way to the front helps us avoid some of the lines.
Make sure you visit The Wicked Twister while you're there, there are rumors that it will close soon.
Cedar Point has a coaster for every taste, from the tyke-friendly Wilderness Run, all the way up to Steel Vengeance, a high-speed steel-wood hybrid coaster. Plus, Cedar Point has plenty of great attractions for the little ones, with 3 areas jam-packed with kiddie rides. Even our 18-month-old had plenty of stuff to enjoy.
There are lots of great places to eat at Cedar Point too! My husband recommends BackBeatQue for excellent BBQ. There is a funnel cake place right inside the gates, called French Quarter Confections, and that's my favorite stop.
Day Three- Kings Island Cincinnati Ohio
Just three and half hours south of Cedar Point is its sister park, Kings Island. Kings Island is home to 16 Roller Coasters.
Kings Island is another park where the lines can be tough. If you want to hit all the coasters in just one day, I would absolutely suggest splurging on a Fast Lane pass.
One of the most famous rides at Kings Island is The Beast, which still holds the record for the longest wooden coaster at 7359 feet! Backlot Stunt Coaster is unique because it includes several show elements, which you don't often see in roller coasters!
If you're a theme park buff, looking to get your "coaster count" up, then this trip is for you!
In between roller coaster rides, you can check out two of Cincinnati's favorite foods, right in the park! Be sure to stop by Graeters for some ice cream, the Black Raspberry chocolate chip is my favorite! Ohioans are deeply divided on whether or not Skyline Chili, another Cincinnati classic, is good. But don't worry, I wrote a book on Ohio Food, so I'm here to weigh in with my "expert" opinion. Calling it chili is a bit of a misnomer, I think that's where a lot of the disappointment comes from. Think of it as more of a topping than a soup. Cincinnati-style chili is delicious on hot dogs, or if you really want a true Cincinnati experience, on spaghetti.
Have some extra time? You could add a visit to Waldameer Park in Erie, PA, and its 5 coasters. It would fit best in between Kennywood and Cedar Point.
If you haven't visited Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, and its 9 coasters, you could head there after you're done with Kings Island. It's about 5 hours away, but it's an absolutely gorgeous drive through the Smoky Mountains.
With a little bit of planning and a little bit of luck, you can hit 42 coasters in just 3 days plus sample some local cuisine. It's a roller coaster fan's dream come true! Roller Coasters and amusement parks were a huge part of my childhood, my parents used to take me at least a few days every summer. I hope your family has as much fun at these parks as I did as a kid.
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