Behind the Numbers: Cedar Point Ridership Data

Most amusement parks today don’t release their attractions’ ridership numbers to the general public.

So, it was very unusual and surprising when Cedar Point posted the annual number of riders for each major ride from 1996 to 2008. This information has since been removed their website, but lucky for us a couple of roller coaster enthusiasts managed to capture the data before it was taken down. The numbers have been graphed and now we can now analyze and answer such questions as: How many people rode Millennium Force in one year? Along with a quiz and a prediction, here are a few trends and conclusions I drew from looking inside the numbers:

Between 1996 and 2008 there were ten rides which had more than 1.6 million riders in a single season. Can you name all ten of them? Answer towards the end of the article.

Cedar Point Ridership 1996 - 2008

First let’s look at the numbers for the Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad. I believe the ridership peaks happened during the seasons when the park was utilizing two trains at one time instead of just one on those busiest of days. Declining ridership on all rides reflects lower yearly attendance figures. I think the park’s peak attendance was around three million guests and has slowly been on the decline ever since.

It’s interesting to note that basically every attraction has been on a downward trajectory except Top Thrill Dragster, which has only improved its performance year after year. If you visited the park in 2003 you probably remember the long lines for Dragster due to its lengthy periods of down time. The Dodgems had more riders than Dragster that year! I guess that’s not saying much because even Wildcat almost had more riders.

One attraction was fairing just the opposite of Top Thrill Dragster. Power Tower has surprisingly had one of the largest drop offs in ridership, with 800,000 less riders in ten years from 1998 to 2008. Also, just from looking at the chart, Power Tower did not seem to have much of an impact on Demon Drop’s ridership. Paddlewheel Excursion is absent from the graph, which is a shame as it would be really interesting to see those numbers. One of the reasons for removing the classic attraction this off-season was due to declining attendance figures. Too bad we can’t prove or disapprove that reasoning.

I find it interesting to compare roller coasters head-to-head. Wicked Twisted had more riders its opening year than Maverick had when it opened in 2007. Millennium Force had almost twice as many riders when it opened versus Maverick’s opening season. In 2008, Magnum, Millennium Force, Raptor, and Iron Dragon all passed Gemini’s ridership numbers, which is pretty amazing considering Gemini usually runs at least one more train than the other coasters and is easily the highest capacity attraction at the park. Anyone remember a time when they mostly only ran one side of Gemini?

Were you able to think of the ten rides since 1996 which did better than 1.6 million riders? Here they are: Railroad, Skyway, Gemini, Iron Dragon, Raptor, Millennium Force, Power Tower, Corkscrew, Mantis, Magnum. In 2008, only six of those rides approached 1.6 million riders again, and I would consider those attractions the uber-capacity rides: Railroad, Magnum, Millennium Force, Raptor, Iron Dragon, Gemini.

Unfortunately, Cedar Point stopped posting the numbers on their website (probably because those number are irrelevant to the vast majority of guests looking for basic ride information), but my prediction for the upcoming season would be that Ocean Motion’s ridership will increase due to its new placement at the front of the park.

What hidden information do you see inside the numbers?