Cedar Point goes outside the box with Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island

WhiteWater and Weber Group partner on interactive attraction

AT: Tim Baldwin

SANDUSKY, Ohio — Hot on the heels of a Golden Ticket Award win for Best New Ride in 2018 for its outlandish Steel Vengeance roller coaster, Cedar Point completely switches gears and takes a different direction. Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island uses the resources of former attractions, repurposing the space.

“It’s always fun to talk about projects in our company because they are always collaborative, this one particularly,” said GM Jason McClure, opening up about the origins of the attraction. “We knew Dinosaurs Alive would be coming to a conclusion. We started talking about what experience we would want to have on the island. A lot of options came forward. One of the things I’ve always found fascinating is Ghost Town Alive [at Knott’s Berry Farm].”

The sister park in Buena Park, Calif., has performed that event in the past, which lets guests become involved in a storyline created fresh each day by a cast of characters in the themed area of Calico.

“I continued to hear good things,” said McClure. “It was unique. I didn’t want to take Ghost Town Alive and do it at Cedar Point. It’s special to Knott’s Berry Farm. Why did it connect to people? We knew we wanted it to be a little more active, which is why we created the play structure, but we wanted those character touchpoints and interactions. We were able to make that fit FrontierTown and Frontier Trail here at Cedar Point.”

Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island is populated with 20 characters from the Entertainment department, each with their own storyline. What unfolds throughout the day will vary. As guests wander onto the island, they are welcomed with banners proclaiming Happy Truce Day. As the story goes, two factions were in conflict, each possessing half of a treasure map. Cavalry officer Etta Fox served as mediator, stitching the map together and locking the map away for five years. After that time, a truce was declared between the tribes, and the celebration of a five-year restored peace continues to ease tensions.

Or are they? Officer Fox will hand you a copy of The Island Ledger. But depending upon what time of day guests visit the island, the edition may vary with that day’s news — a beauty pageant among townsfolk, a daring robbery, a jailbreak … one never knows. Becoming involved with the townsfolk will engage imaginations.

Visitors determine their level of participation. Many will choose to become involved in the narrative, others will observe from a distance. However, many physical activities are available in the Forbidden Frontier. Using areas of the defunct Shoot the Rapids, guests can now pull themselves (or race) across the water on old-fashioned rafts. Animals are on the island if anyone wishes to converse with emus. Bridges and waterfalls make for interesting walks. Families can visit the jail or climb up in the fort.

At the heart of Adventure Island is a play structure called High Ground. WhiteWater West is the supplier, even though it is a dry structure. Rope climbs, net crawls and slides can let the younger ones burn off energy. The adults can happily watch below from the ample supply of hammocks, rocking chairs or lounges. Chilling out with a beverage while the kids play can be in order.

The theming throughout matches that of Frontier Trail, if not surpassing it. Working with The Weber Group, Cedar Point has used nineteenth century equipment, rustic cabins and wooden architecture to set the stage — and it’s done quite effectively.

“It’s a very different type of entertainment for us here at Cedar Point,” said McClure. “Our Cedar Point Nights have been such a successful thing for us on the beach; we would see the different levels of engagement people would have. Some would watch from the boardwalk, others would go down and limbo with the DJ, others would have a drink by the firepits. We wanted to have all those different layers on the island, too. If you wanted to go all in on the narrative [of Forbidden Frontier], you could spend all day there.”

In another offering to guests, Cedar Point presented Monster Jam Thunder Alley from May 18 – June 30 before passing it on to a sister park. 

“It’s a perfect partnership between us and Feld Entertainment,” said Tony Clark, director of communications. “They entertain families in an arena setting, and we entertain families outside. It’s a good marriage because a lot of folks are drawn to that kind of entertainment. It’s something different; it’s something larger than life. It gives people reason to visit the park even earlier than they usually do.”

Five monster trucks were displayed, and guests could queue free of charge to ride inside two trucks that navigated a sculpted course outside the park’s perimeter. Those that wanted to sit in one of the display models could immerse themselves into that tactile experience.

Two new restaurants have also been created. Hugo’s offers Italian fare, while Backbeat Que Smokehouse BBQ serves up live music on the patio in addition to the barbecue recipes. Both venues were designed to move large amounts of people through the facility in a streamlined fashion.

“People want full experiences when they come out to the park. We’ve had world-class coasters and we want to be thought of for our other experiences. We’ve really invested in Food & Beverage in the past few years to upgrade the variety,” said McClure.

Music is played three or four times a day at the BBQ venue.


This article appears in the JULY 2019 issue of Amusement Today.
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