I do wish to respectfully disagree with one comment you made about Cedar Point. You stated, "Cedar Point (has) concentrations of kids' rides that are typically not close to the bigger rides." I know that is taken a bit out of context and might apply to the other Cedar Fair parks you were including (Kings Island and Knott's Berry Farm), but in my opinion Cedar Point has done a pretty good job of interspersing its kids' areas with the "bigger rides", and also has family-friendly rides spread throughout the park outside of the Kids' areas.
The oldest area, Kiddie Kingdom, is located right next to maXair and GateKeeper and across the Midway from Raptor. Planet Snoopy is between Wicked Twister, WindSeeker, the arcade in the Ballroom building and the Midway. Camp Snoopy sits between Top Trill Dragster and Gemini, shares an entrance with "Dinosaurs Alive" and is directly adjacent to the newly renovated Gemini Midway and the new Pipe Scream family coaster. While there are not "kiddie"-type rides elsewhere in the park, Cedar Point also has its Midway Carousel situated as the first ride guests see as they enter the park; the historic Cedar Downs racing carousel and Cadillac Cars and the Skyride stand next to Raptor; the Turnpike Cars are across a plaza from the Blue Streak coaster; in Frontier Town the Antique Cars cruise next to Maverick and the Mine Ride. The Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad has a station next to Millennium Force, Mantis and Iron Dragon, and in Frontier Town between Mean Streak and Maverick.
So many people think of Cedar Point as a "steel park", a park that only thinks about thrills and speed and ignores families and younger children. It is easy to look at the towering coasters and forget to look down at the smaller attractions that children and families can experience together, attractions that can be found near all the major "thrill" rides.
I hope this isn't taken as an attempt to "hijack" your excellent article. I just wanted to bring out some features of my local park that tend to be overlooked and perhaps lost in the shadow of the steel and wooden towers that Cedar Point is known for.
Soon Zachary will be able to join you on GateKeeper, Top Thrill Dragster, Millennium Force, Magnum, Gemini, and my all-time favorite, the fifty-year-old this year Blue Streak. I hope to meet you someday up here on the north coast! Once again, thank you for a terrific article!
I've been told I could wait for a odd-number party to come through and ride with one of their children, but to me, that just feels way more awkward than it's worth. Plus the horrible wait time for the ride does not make it worth the trouble.
So if Universal is listening- please have an old folks day for Pteranodon Flyers. I'll make a special trip just to be able to ride the ride. Maybe even make a tshirt about it afterwards.
Maybe it's being spoiled a bit by Busch Gardens and its sprinkling of kids rides around the park (specifically themed around the lands where they reside), but Cedar Point, and most of the Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks have the same issue of a lack of kids rides in close proximity to the most popular thrill rides. Universal has the same problem too, so it's a part of park design that is very tricky to get right.
Zachary would probably have ridden Gatekeeper last year if he were tall enough. His face a couple of weeks ago when he discovered he was tall enough to ride Woodstock Express and Avalanche at Kings Dominion was priceless.
@Jonah - It's been quite a while since my wife and I have been to Knoebels. I would love to get on Flying Turns, and I need to remind myself why Phoenix is one of the greatest woodies on the planet. Unfortunately, the park just isn't near our normal travel paths anywhere. We are in the process of planning a summer trip to Canada in July, so perhaps we might swing through there on our way up or back, along with Dorney Park.
@Mitchell - Legoland has been on our list, it just never makes it on the itinerary. On our last trips to Florida and California, we never had an extra day, and it's looking like our next trip in October will not have enough days to squeeze in Legoland. With our Platinum Passes for Busch Gardens Williamsburg, it's difficult to pass up the free parking and admission to Busch Gardens Tampa, Sea World, and Aquatica. Even with a 10-day vacation, if we spend 4 days at Disney, 3 days and Universal, 1 day at BGT, 1 day at Sea World, and 1 day at Aquatica, there's no time left for Legoland. I've heard great things about both the Florida and California parks, they simply haven't been able to crack our itinerary. Perhaps we will be able to squeeze it in on our next trip, likely in 2016.