Tags: amusement parks, Cedar Point, Cedar Point closes paddlewheel, end of an era, Paddlewheel Excursions, paddlewheels retired
Yes, it’s true — I’ve talked about it before, but this time its real — The Paddlewheel Excursions (nee Western Cruise) will offer its last rides ever at Cedar Point on Labor Day 2011.
This has been a long time coming, so its not a surprise to most Cedar Point veterans…with rising fuel costs and with increased maintenance costs not only of the boats, but also the animatronics (most of which have ceased working years ago), it comes as no surprise that the Paddlewheels will be “retired” (as Cedar Point calls it) after Labor Day.
Installed in 1964 as the Western Cruise (almost double the current length of the attraction), the ride was one of the remaining such attractions at any amusement park anywhere. Those of us who are older will remember the frontier fort it used to glide by, and the burning sunken paddlewheel steamer (all removed years ago as the park expanded). The ride in now a mere shadow of itself as it floats under coasters and dodges rides as they have ever-encroached on the water-retention lagoons at the back of the park.
Unlike the water attractions at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, which are tracked underwater and run electrically (Jungle Cruise, and yes, even the Riverboat!), The Paddlewheel Excursions boats are free-floating gas-consuming, money-draining snake pits. They’ve been bleeding hundreds of thousands of dollars a year of maintenance, fuel, and operations monies. It was only a matter of time until they were gone. For years it has been the last ride of the season to open, and the first one closed in the fall. It has opened later and later each day, and closed earlier and earlier each evening. This part-time ride has finally come to its end of days.
In its place, the landing dock area will serve as the entrance/exit for next seasons Dinosaur’s Alive exhibit that will make its home for the next few years on Millenium Island (now renamed Adventure Island). The bridge that is used during Halloweekends will be used for the new attraction.
Get your final rides in on the Paddlewheels….it’s a relic of another age — a time when Cedar Point really was an amusement park and not just a Coaster Kingdom…and it joins a long line of family friendly rides that have slowly been removed to make way for faster, taller, more exciting attractions (Pirate Ride, Earthquake, Frontier Lift, White Water Landing, the original Shoot the Rapids, the Funhouse, the Aquarium, etc.)
I’ve posted this photo before, but I thought it made for an appropriate final tribute to the Paddlewheel Excursions…you will be missed.