Always Cedar Point: A Memoir of the Midway

^ Excellent, Smithers... That’s what I was waiting for. Gonna pick up this and Kinzel’s book this weekend. Should I pre-order? I’d hate to miss out on the Kindle edition because they didn’t print enough...

Last edited by Shane Denmark,


Read a little bit every night and love hearing all of the stories:

- Corkscrew was going to be called "The Great Lake Erie Roller"

- The Gemini opening didn't go as planned (loved the story about the Governor and George Roose heading to open the ride more than an hour early, and the tongue lashing that John received from Munger when he essentially told his intern to tell the media the ride wouldn't open on time)

- Essentially the Marriott parks that opened in the 1970's took a bulk of the high brass of Cedar Point, making way for the middle level management to take over. It obviously worked out for those that stayed at Cedar Point, especially Dick Kinzel.

As a young professional I am enjoying the book by hearing first hand how John rose to the top. We all daydream about what it would be like to run Cedar Point, but there's no doubt it took many years of sacrifice and dedication to get where he got. He mentions how little he got to be with his family, and the sacrifice of essentially living at the park. It's also a reminder of how different corporate America is today. John got to where he did by starting at the bottom and working his way up. That's not the same story for Jason, who was hired by Carowinds to be a senior financial analyst before moving on as GM of Dorney and now CP. Doesn't mean Jason isn't capable of the job, just a whole different approach in today's world about how people "climb the ladder".

Its also interesting to hear how Dick Kinzel got to where he got through John's perspective. I have Dick's book, and its okay, but this one is the real winner of the two.

Finally, I loved hearing how attendance was reported and how everything hinged on those attendance numbers. I think us fans really forget that their additions with cap ex really are a tried and true formula. Huge family attractions that were added in the 70's-80's like Oceana, IMAX, Jungle Larry, White Water Landing, etc. did not give them the return on attendance and revenue. It was when the park built a coaster that truly made the magic happen to the bottom line. The Corkscrew brought a 500,000 increase in attendance!

I know many of us want to see a variety of attractions added and are sad to see certain ones leave, but hearing John talk through cap-ex decisions and the like really gives you perspective on the whole process and why they decide to do what they do.

Tilt-a-Whirl -
I’m about to order Kinzel’s book and Hildebrandt’s book for my Kindle... You said you’ve read them both, sounds like I should read Kinzel’s book first?


John has his MFA in Creative Writing, so his writing style is more engaging. Kinzel sticks to the facts. John writes descriptively and reveals a lot I never knew about. Most of what Kinzel wrote I already knew.

I read this over the past couple of weeks and highly recommend it! It reads very easily and is difficult to put down. In some cases it felt like he was giving out a lot of inside information, or confirmed what we have all speculated on this forum over the years, but clearly he glossed over a lot of the negatives, particularly recently. He really glossed over the problems with Shoot the Rapids, basically just saying that the ride had a short life span, and not going into any of the detail about how they approached accidents in the park (STR or otherwise). He was also very positive towards Kinzel, although you could catch some underlying frustration with Kinzel looking over his shoulder, and also Kinzel's "relentless" cost control measures which were very obvious to all of us visiting the park during that era.

So - go buy the book and enjoy it!

This Saturday, December 22, from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m., the Maritime Museum of Sandusky is sponsoring a book signing for Always Cedar Point, a Memoir of the Midway, by former General Manager John Hildebrandt. Good excuse to visit Sandusky and look at the park from across the water! Great gift for the CP fanatic in your life, too.

DSShives's avatar

If I wasn't going to have a house full of family, I would pop over for it. I just downloaded the kindle version to read next week but would love to have a signed copy. Hopefully he will have other book signings. I'm really looking forward to sit down and read this.

Last edited by DSShives,

Steve Shives
First Cedar Point Visit - 1972
Dockholder-Cedar Point Marina

GL2CP's avatar

Just read through the book and really enjoyed the ride. Giving each ride it’s own little section was nice, as well as a lot of the behind the scenes from the past few decades. I also like that he can mention the competition, giving other parks their due when they deserve it.

First ride; Magnum 1994

noggin's avatar

I'm reading the book right now. He has a very engaging writing style, it's fascinating to have a peek inside the corporate side of the park.

My first visit to Cedar Point was in 1973, with annual visits since then (well, I did miss a year or two here and there), and the book is bringing back a lot of fond memories of attractions now gone.

Jungle Larry's for one. Always enjoyed wandering through the attraction.

I'm a Marxist, of the Groucho sort.

kylepark's avatar

Just got the book and finished it already, couldn't put it down! I really like John's style of writing, with very detailed stories of his tenure with CF. He certainly had an extraordinary career with the company, a hard working man that climbed to the top of the ladder. Another great example how you never know where your career will take you. Ending up as general manager at CP wasn't a destination, but the last portion of an amazing journey!

XS NightClub's avatar

Those amazing journeys are something special. I certainly miss the personal touch.

Missed a full season at CP for the first time since 2007, maybe Sandusky will be back on my travel list next year.... Depends what CP has up their sleeve for 2023.

noggin's avatar

Wonderful book. Can't endorse enough. Read it!

I'm a Marxist, of the Groucho sort.

In the process of reading it now. Love it.

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