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McClure ready for the ride

Melissa Topey • Feb 1, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Cedar Point will begin this year’s amusement season not just with a new look and new rides, but with a new general manager, too.

Jason McClure, 43, replaces John Hildebrandt as vice president and general manager.

Hildebrandt retired last month, after a 40-year career at the amusement park.

His successor, by all indications, has an equal amount of enthusiasm for the job.

“You can’t help but smile,” McClure said. “You are at Cedar Point”

McClure, who has a finance background, has been a Cedar Fair employee for 12 years. He worked as vice president of finance at Carowinds before holding the same position at Kings Island, then he was promoted to vice president and general manager of Dorney Park in Pennsylvania.

His first sight of Cedar Point was about six years ago, when he worked at Kings Island and came to Sandusky for a visit.

“One thing that stuck out was driving across the causeway and seeing that skyline,” he said. “This location on the peninsula is phenomenal”

He was offered the position about six months ago.

“It sinks in as you’re in the park,” he said. “You see the scope and scale of the park. In August, I got to start spending time with John, getting that expertise and knowledge”

Through Hildebrandt, he quickly learned the importance of being cuttingedge, while continuing to connect with park guests who have fond memories of Cedar Point. The family traditions — monthly, weekly or daily trips to Cedar Point every summer — have become the park’s legacy.

The family atmosphere, award-winning rides and superior guest service, among many other things, have earned Cedar Point the title of “Best Amusement Park in the World” for 16 years.

“We will not rest on our laurels, though” McClure said. “We will continue to improve”

The park’s new rides should help in this respect.

McClure anticipates parents will want to bring their children to the park this year to ride the new rides: Pipe Scream and Lake Erie Eagles, both located on the Gemini Midway.

Lake Erie Eagles, a classic swing ride, may become something of a tradition in its own right.

“The Eagle is a classic amusement ride,” McClure said.

Pipe Scream is a combination roller coaster and flat ride where riders rock back and forth while spinning on 302 feet of track 43 feet above the ground.

In another nod to the park’s legacy, Hotel Breakers — Cedar Point’s original hotel — is undergoing big changes. The exterior is being repainted for this season, and the interior will be remodeled for next season.

This is also the 50th year of Blue Streak. Cedar Point is working on plans to honor the classic coaster, which took its name from the Sandusky High School moniker.

“We will maintain the great traditions of Cedar Point and its 145 years of operation” McClure said.

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