When it opened in 2000, the Millennium Force at Ohio's Cedar Point amusement park not only was the world's tallest roller coaster (310 ft.), but also had the longest drop (300 ft.), the steepest banked turns of any noninverted coaster (122 degrees), and the fastest speed (93 mph). It may climb up that 310-foot peak (taller than the Statue of Liberty) at a modest 45-degree angle, but it plunges down the other side angled at 80 degrees. It covers more than a mile in length, speeding to its finish line in 2 minutes and 20 seconds, almost before you know what hit you. But no record is unbreakable. Within 3 years, the Millennium Force was surpassed -- by another roller coaster at Cedar Point, of course.
There's no question that Cedar Point prides itself on its roller coasters -- it has 17 of them, among the newest being the Top Thrill Dragster, which debuted in 2003. Top Thrill accelerates like a dragster right out of the gate, taking only 4 seconds to reach 120 mph, and then climbs straight up, perpendicular to the ground, to a height of 420 feet, the equivalent of a 42-story building. And what does it do next? It drops down just as steeply (again at 120 mph), throwing in a wrenching 270-degree twist. The Wicked Twister is another heart-in-your-mouth experience, a U-shaped suspended coaster that ping-pongs back and forth between two 215-foot-high towers, corkscrewing up and down each tower, three times forward and twice backward, reaching a speed of up to 70 mph. Each of these coasters has its rabid fans, while others are passionate about the experience on Magnum, or Raptor, or Gemini, or Blue Streak, or any of the other innovative steel coasters at Cedar Point.
Cedar Point has 75 rides in all and that's not even counting the attractions at the adjoining 18-acre outdoor water park, Soak City (open Memorial Day to Labor Day). An indoor water park, Castaway Bay, recently opened to extend the season. Five resort hotels and an RV park on the 364-acre property are available for those who need more than 1 day to do all the rides.
Nearest Airport: Cleveland Hopkins International, 54 miles.
Where to Stay: $$ Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center, 127 Public Sq., Cleveland (tel. 888/236-2427 or 216/696-9200; www.marriott.com). $$ DoubleTree by Hilton Cleveland Downtown/Lakeside, 1111 Lakeside Ave., Cleveland (tel. 800/222-TREE  or 216/241-5100; www.doubletree.com).
Best Time: Open daily mid-May through early September; weekends in September and October.