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GateKeeper keeps visitors coming

Melissa Topey • Dec 26, 2013 at 12:59 AM

On this Christmas Day, the folks at Cedar Point can sit back and enjoy this thought: GateKeeper is the gift that keeps on giving.

In 2013, it was all about the new coaster on the north coast.

GateKeeper — the new $30 million, record-breaking winged coaster — doesn’t just dominate the park’s entrance.

It apparently dominates the to-do lists of millions of people.

“It was our first coaster since Maverick in 2007,” said park general manager John Hildebrandt, who after 40 years is retiring this month. “Our guests really responded. Every morning, when the park opened, there was a charge to the entrance of GateKeeper”

The ride hits speeds of 67 mph, also thrilling guests with a 164-foot drop, multiple inversions and 4,164 feet of track.   

GateKeeper provided 2 million rides in its first season.

“That’s quite a performance,” Hildebrandt said. “It’s a credit to a remarkable design, but also a credit to our maintenance and ride operations staff. GateKeeper had little mechanical downtime.”

The coaster was a great project to work on from every perspective — design, manufacturing, construction and ride performance, Hildebrandt said.

The coaster’s placement at the front of the park, soaring above the ticket gates, forever changed the appearance of Cedar Point.

“The new main entrance to Cedar Point was very well received by guests,” he said. “I was out in front most mornings and guests commented positively about all the changes. To say the front gate has been transformed is an understatement.”

To make way for the season’s big-ticket offering, park executives removed Disaster Transport and the Space Needle.

The changes also helped open up views of Cedar Point’s beach and Sandusky Bay.

Included with GateKeeper’s introduction were renovations of front-end buildings and entrance gates, which hadn’t seen changes in decades.

In the end, all those people flocking to the park to ride GateKeeper translated to dollars.

Cedar Fair again posted record revenue, record attendance, record distribution and record stock pricing.

“We are very pleased. We had a very strong year lead by Cedar Point, our flagship park,” said Stacy Frole, spokeswoman for Cedar Fair. “This is our fourth consecutive year of record results”

The company anticipates reaching revenue of $1.125 billion.

It proves the amusement park operator is providing a great value to guests, Frole said.

Cedar Fair executives expect the great performance to continue.

“We believe there is opportunity to build on these results,” Frole said.

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