The Cedar Fair Entertainment Company was formed when Cedar Point purchased Valleyfair! theme park in Minnesota. Over the years, Cedar Fair purchased parks like Worlds of Fun, Dorney Park and Six Flags Ohio. Then they made their biggest purchase ever in 2006 by acquiring Paramount Parks from the CBS Corporation. This purchase included parks like Paramount’s Kings Island and Paramount Canada’s Wonderland. Cedar Fair is now the 2nd largest regional theme park company behind Six Flags. This article will rank all 12 Cedar Fair parks from worst to best, based on our opinions. Like our Six Flags list, everyone at Limitless Park weighed in on this one. The majority of it was written by Logan Rogers, with editor Andrew Krivsky pitching in a little bit here and there.
12: Gilroy Gardens (Gilroy, CA)
Gilroy Gardens (formerly Bonafide Gardens) isn’t really a Cedar Fair park, but it is owned and operated by Cedar Fair. The park is known for its circus trees, which are a bunch of crazy looking trees that twist in all different directions. As far as coasters, they only have two smaller family coasters. Gilroy Gardens is very small and not included with the Cedar Fair Platinum pass. It’s mainly a kiddie park, but it’s still an interesting location in the Cedar Fair lineup.
11. Michigan’s Adventure (Muskegon, MI)
Michigan’s Adventure is…not great…not great at all. This is the smallest park in the Cedar Fair chain, and it’s smaller than Great Escape (the smallest Six Flags park) for comparison. It is home to “Shivering Timbers” , which is a spectacular coaster that has won a few awards, but other than that…the park doesn’t have a lot to offer. They have a Vekoma Boomerang, a Vekoma SLC, and some other coasters…but they’re all below average. Surprisingly, they don’t even have a Planet Snoopy or a Camp Snoopy, which is the staple Cedar Fair kids area. This park is definitely a miss. Shivering Timbers is the only worthwhile coaster there.
10. Valleyfair! (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN)
Valleyfair is a moderate sized park located in Shakopee, MN, which is very close to the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Like we said before, the Cedar Fair company was formed when Cedar Point bought Valleyfair. The “fair” part of Valleyfair’s name makes up the second part of “Cedar Fair”. This park has very similar attractions to a Six Flags park, such as a StarFlyer and a Super Loop. They also have a large Planet Snoopy and Soak City water park. This park is a friendly rival to the former sister park Nickelodeon Universe. Some of the notable coasters at this park are “Wild Thing”, a Chance-Morgan hyper coaster, “Renegade”, a GCI woodie and “Steel Venom”, an Intamin Impulse coaster. Overall, this is a decent park, but it doesn’t have a bulked-out lineup like some other Cedar Fair parks. It’s probably best to do a half day at Valleyfair to get all of their coasters, and then go spend the rest of your day at Nickelodeon Universe.
9. Worlds Of Fun (Kansas City, MI)
Worlds Of Fun is located in the Kansas City metro. Its coaster lineup consists of “Mamba”, a Morgan-Chance hyper coaster, “Patriot”, a B&M Inverted Coaster, “Timber Wolf”, a Dinn wooden coaster, and some other supporting coasters. The park also has a WindSeeker (formerly at Knott’s Berry Farm) and many more family attractions. Overall, the parks lineup of rides could really be improved on. They do have a decent Top 3 coasters, but even that is debatable as some people think Mamba and Timber Wolf are just okay. World’s of Fun also has a water park counterpart named Oceans of Fun, which has been included since the early 2010s. In our opinion, this park sits right in the middle out of the 3 Missouri parks. It’s not as good as Herschend’s Silver Dollar City, but better than Six Flags St. Louis. Cedar Fair should really give World’s of Fun more attention though, especially because of how much space the park has.
8. Dorney Park (Philadelphia, PA/New York, NY)
Dorney Park is located in Allentown, PA. Its main competitor is Six Flags Great Adventure & Wild Safari, which we rated as the top Six Flags park. Dorney Park boasts a few pretty awesome coasters such as a B&M floorless coaster (Hydra), a Morgan hyper coaster (Steel Force), a B&M Invert (Talon), and an Intamin Impulse coaster (Possessed). Other than that though, the park only has 3 other coasters, 2 of which are family coasters. As far as other offerings, the park boasts a large Planet Snoopy and Wildwater Kingdom waterpark. Similarly to World’s of Fun, Dorney Park has has lots of potential, but doesn’t necessarily receive the attention it deserves. You’d think Cedar Fair would put more effort into Dorney, since they are competing with a top tier Six Flags park.
7. California’s Great America (San Francisco/Sacramento, CA)
California’s Great America (Formerly Paramount’s Great America and Marriot’s Great America) is located in San Jose (very close to San Francisco). Most people used to overlook California’s Great America as a weaker Cedar Fair park, but recently they’ve been making a come back. For a while the park had a decent Top 2 in Flight Deck (a B&M Invert) and Gold Striker (a GCI wooden coaster), but in 2018 the park added an RMC Raptor that has been met with an overwhelming amount of praise. They also announced a couple years ago that the park would receive large expansions within the next few years, which would include a shopping district and a B&M hyper coaster. Right now, California’s Great America isn’t exactly the most amazing Cedar Fair park out there by far, but it is definitely proving that it will be a force to be reckoned with in coming years.
6. Kings Dominion (Richmond, VA/Washington DC)
Kings Dominion (Formerly Paramount’s Kings Dominion) is located in Doswell, VA near Richmond. This park’s top 2 of Intimidator 305 (an Intamin Giga Coaster) and Twisted Timbers (an RMC) alone give it a relatively high placement on this list, and that’s not even taking into account the above average supporting lineup. Like its sister Paramount parks (King’s Island, Canada’s Wonderland, etc.), this park features clones like Flight of Fear and Backlot Stunt Coaster. It also has a Planet Snoopy (Formerly Nickelodeon Central) that most people say is one of the better ones in the chain. Sadly, the park has closed 3 coasters in the past 4 years. Yes, Hurler did reopen as an RMC, but the other two (Shockwave and Volcano) haven’t really been replaced yet. The reason King’s Dominion isn’t placed higher is the other parks ahead feature coaster lineups that are a bit more fleshed out.
5. Kings Island (Cincinnati/Dayton, OH)
This is probably the most controversial placement on this list, as people usually rank this at 2 or 3 in the Cedar Fair lineup. However, in our opinion King’s Island has become a bit overrated as of recent. Their top 3 of Diamondback (a B&M hyper), Mystic Timbers (a GCI wooden coaster), and The Beast (a PTC wooden coaster) are all pretty fantastic coasters, but other than that the rest of their coasters are pretty mediocre. Sure, they have quantity in 14 coasters, but they aren’t necessarily the most quality coasters out there. The Bat, Invertigo, Racer and Vortex are all extremely rough coasters that aren’t worth riding more than once, and Banshee isn’t nearly as good as some people say. The park does have a decent flat ride collection and an excellent Planet Snoopy, but that can only get them so far. Some of the higher ranked parks on this list might have less coasters, but their lineups are better in quality and variety.
4. Knott’s Berry Farm (Los Angeles, CA)
Case in point here. Knott’s is definitely on the smaller side and doesn’t have a lot of space to work with, but it makes up for it by having a sound coaster lineup and Disney level theming. The park’s Top 3 can really be based on personal preference(which is a great thing). It’s pretty commonly accepted that Ghost Rider and Xcelerator are the park’s Top 2, but after that it varies from enthusiast to enthusiast. Some prefer the new for 2018 Hangtime, while others think Silver Bullet is the 3rd best. They also have awesome and unique supporting coasters like Montezooma’s Revenge, Pony Express, Sierra Sidewinder, and more. The park doesn’t just have coasters though. At Knott’s you can find a large number of awesome flat and family rides, a Soak City water park, and even a few dark rides that are on par with Disney or Universal. Again, it might not be the largest Cedar Fair park, but their quality is through the roof.
3. Canada’s Wonderland (Toronto, ON)
Canada’s Wonderland (formerly Paramount Canada’s Wonderland) is Canada’s premier theme park (because nobody lives in Edmonton, Six Flags doesn’t care about La Ronde, and Marineland is basically a drop tower). This park has a pretty great top 3 coasters in Leviathan (a B&M Giga), Yukon Striker (a New for 2019 B&M Dive Coaster), and Behemoth (a B&M Hyper). They also have a LOT of supporting coasters (13) to be exact, but their quality is often debatable. In addition to coasters, Canada’s Wonderland also sports the SplashWorks Water park (one of Toronto’s 2 water parks) and has attractions like a large Planet Snoopy, the Triotech dark ride/coaster “Wonder Mountain’s Guardian”, and a few flat rides that can’t be found anywhere else. The reason this park isn’t ranked higher is the same reason Six Flags Great America didn’t get higher than the number 3 spot in our Six Flags parks ranking: they might have a LOT to do at this park in coasters, flat rides, and more, but most of their rides have better versions at other parks. Also like Great America though, their 2019 addition will hopefully boost their lineup a significant amount.
2. Carowinds (Charlotte, NC)
Carowinds is located about 20 minutes south of Charlotte, NC, but actually sits on the North Carolina/South Carolina border. This gives the park a super unique atmosphere that embodies the Southern vibe of the Carolinas. It is easily one of the most friendly-feeling amusement parks in the U.S. A fun atmosphere can’t get a park that far though. Luckily, Carowinds also has an awesome coaster lineup consisting of Fury 325 (a B&M Giga), Intimidator (a B&M Hyper), Afterburn (a B&M invert) and the New for 2019 Copperhead Strike (a Mack multi-launch). The coasters don’t stop there though, as they also have 10 other coasters to bulk up their lineup. Really the only coasters at Carowinds that are considered “bad” are Nighthawk and Vortex, and in our opinion Vortex isn’t even that bad. Even Flying Cobras, their Vekoma Boomerang, is somehow an above average coaster (probably thanks to its padded restraints). Carowinds also has a large Planet Snoopy and a decent amount of flat rides, with some of the best being located in the well themed County Fair area. There’s so much to love about Carowinds, but there is one “god-like” park in the Cedar Fair chain that beats it for the number 1 spot.
1. Cedar Point (Cleveland, OH)
And that “god-like” park is Cedar Point! The crown jewel of the Cedar Fair chain is located in Sandusky, OH. Cedar Point is most famous for its setting, coasters and family fun. Cedar Point is home to “Steel Vengeance”, “Top Thrill Dragster”, “Millennium Force” and many MANY other top-tier coasters. Although it is a bit of a shame that Cedar Fair seems to pour a lot of its funds into Cedar Point these days (with a new coaster every 2-3 years), it can’t be argued that it makes for an absolutely SPECTACULAR park. The best part is the fun doesn’t stop with the coasters. Cedar Point has numerous other flat and family rides, and water park, lots of dining options, and even a couple on site hotels. There is SO much to do at this place to the point where it feels less like a theme park and more like an entire resort. It will be interesting to see when, if ever, there will be a different Cedar Fair park that comes in at the number 1 spot. Everyone can pretty much agree that Cedar Point is easily the best in the chain (even those grumpy enthusiasts who are bitter about their home park not getting enough love from Cedar Fair), and it will most likely stay that way for a long time.
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