Tag Archives: August 2010

Cedar Fair says patent dispute won’t halt development of new rides

From the Sandusky Register


Cedar Fair officials say that when they bought four new WindSeeker rides, they were seeking riders, not a legal dispute.

But they say an argument over whether the ride violates a U.S. patent won’t slow deployment of the rides.

The amusement park chain announced Tuesday that it bought four WindSeeker rides, one each for its Cedar Point, Canada’s Wonderland, Kings Island and Knott’s Berry Farm amusement parks. The 301-foot-high ride spins riders high into the air.

The Funtime Group, an Australian company, says the WindSeeker is based on its own StarFlyer ride.

Brian Mirfin, the owner of the company, said he thought he had a deal brewing to sell StarFlyer rides to Cedar Fair after a delegation of Cedar Fair officials, including CEO Dick Kinzel, visited the Magical Midway in Orlando on Jan. 25, which has the only StarFlyer in the U.S.

Mirfin said that after the sale somehow fell through, he found out that Cedar Fair was buying a very similar new ride from Mondial.

“It’s almost like Mondial’s plagiarizing our idea,” said Mirfin. “It makes us very, very angry. …Now, not only do we not get the contract, now we’ve got to get into litigation.”

Mondial has not answered two e-mails asking for comment, but Stacy Frole, Cedar Fair’s director of investor relations, said Mondial’s U.S. patent attorney has told Cedar Fair that Funtime’s claim has no merit.

It is standard procedure that when Cedar Fair buys new rides, the contract has a provision that “would insulate us from intellectual property claims,” Frole said.

“We’re comfortable with our agreement with Mondial and we’re excited to build WindSeeker,” she said.

Robin Innes, a Cedar Point spokesman, said it’s normal for Cedar Point to talk to more than one ride vendor when considering a new ride.

It’s like buying a new car and going from dealership to dealership, he said.

“You look around and you see what fits best for you,” said Innes, who said Cedar Point is considering Funtime’s claim but has the legal brief from Mondial’s lawyer saying the claim has no merit.

Tony Handal, a Connecticut attorney specializing in patent law who represents Funtime, said Cedar Fair officials have told him they are considering the claim and have said they expect to get back to Handal within a few days.

Handal said he is “absolutely” confident his client has a legitimate patent claim.

Park World Online, apparently citing a Mondial press release, published an article on Feb. 2 this year about Mondial’s new ride.

“Designed following requests from clients who wanted a StarFlyer-style ride they could still operate within normal wind conditions, the WindSeeker is the result,” the article stated.

After the Sandusky Register published an article and blog posting quoting the Park World article, the wording of the article was changed. It now says the ride was developed “following requests from clients who wanted a tall swing ride they could still operate within normal wind conditions.”

Park World Online did not respond to an e-mail asking why it changed the wording.

For more coverage of “Ride Wars” click here.

New for 2011: WindSeeker

Cedar Point has announced that it will introduce WindSeeker, a 30-story-tall swing ride to the Sandusky, Ohio, amusement park/resort for next summer. WindSeeker will tower above everything around its location on the beach, rising almost as high as the Millennium Force roller coaster’s giant first hill.

In the early 1900s, the Cedar Point Beach was a hub of activity as families played in the sand or frolicked in the lake. One of its most popular attractions was the Sea Swings that would dip riders into the cool waters of Lake Erie as it spun in a circular motion.

Now 100 years later, Cedar Point will add a 21st century version of that thrilling ride to the park for next summer.

The new WindSeeker will be a 301-foot-tall tower that will spin riders nearly 30 stories above the Lake Erie shoreline. Seated in two-person swings that will allow their feet to dangle, riders will slowly begin rotating in a circular motion as the swings ascend the tower. At the top, the swings will be reaching speeds between 25-30 mph, flaring out almost 45 degrees from the tower. WindSeeker will be able to accommodate 64 riders (32 swings) at one time.

“Spinning almost 300 feet above Lake Erie and the Cedar Point Beach will be a very exciting ride experience for our guests,” said John Hildebrandt, the vice president and general manager of Cedar Point. “Day or night, WindSeeker will provide riders with dramatic views of the park and the Cedar Point Peninsula. It will be an extremely popular addition to Cedar Point.”

WindSeeker will be positioned near the present location of the Ocean Motion swinging boat ride and will extend the park’s midway onto the Cedar Point Beach. At the end of the season, Ocean Motion, built in 1981, will be dismantled. It is currently available for sale.

In comparison to other Cedar Point rides, WindSeeker will climb nearly two stories higher than the cabin on the park’s Space Spiral observation ride and is only a few feet shorter than the first hill on Millennium Force. Another swing ride, the Wave Swinger that opened in Frontiertown in 1979, is 31 feet tall and has a top speed of approximately 9 mph.

The ride is manufactured by Mondial, a 23-year-old Dutch-based company. WindSeeker will cost approximately $5 million to build. Riders must be at least 48 inches tall and will be secured with individual over-the-head lap bars with interlocking seat belt.

Overall, Cedar Point will add more than $6 million in capital improvements to the park for 2011.


301 feet



Ride Time

3 min., 0 sec.

Year Opened


Height Requirement


Budweiser Clydesdales to Visit Cedar Point on Sunday, Aug. 29

Cedar Point Press Release

SANDUSKY, Ohio—Cedar Point guests will have the opportunity to see the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales on Sunday, Aug. 29 when the eight-horse team will visit the Sandusky, Ohio, amusement park/resort.

This will be the third consecutive year the Clydesdales have appeared at Cedar Point.

Highlighting the day will be a parade along the park’s Main Midway beginning at 2 p.m.  The Clydesdale will travel along the midway from the Sky Ride to the front of the park before ending at the Wicked Twister roller coaster.  The Clydesdales will also be on display near the Wicked Twister from 1:30-2 p.m. and 2:30-3 p.m.  During this time, guests will be able to see the eight-horse team harnessed for the parade and placed into position.

These beautiful horses stand six feet tall at the shoulder and weigh between 1,800-2,300 pounds! The horses wear horseshoes that are more than 20 inches long and weigh approximately five pounds.  Each day, the Clydesdales consume 20-25 quarts of whole grains, vitamins and minerals as well as 50-60 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water.

A dalmatian rides on the coach next to the driver as part of a tradition of being a companion to the horses.

Clydesdales are a powerful breed of draft horses, originating in the Clyde Valley of Scotland. They are known for the distinctive feathery hair on the lower parts of their legs above and behind the hooves.

In 1933, August A. Busch Jr. and Adophus Busch III gave a six-horse hitch of champion Clydesdales to their father to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition.  They now serve as mascots for the Budweiser brand and make frequent appearances at special events around the country.

Cedar Point will be open daily through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 6.  Operating hours will vary.  The park will reopen on Sunday, Sept. 12 and will be the headquarters for the Revolution3 Triathlon.   The park will also host HalloWeekends 14 on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 17 through Oct. 31.

For more information about Cedar Point and the Budweiser Clydesdales’ visit to the park, please visit cedarpoint.com or call the park’s General Information Line at 419.627.2350.

New Cedar Point ride’s patent being disputed

From toledoBlade.com

SANDUSKY – Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky had intricate plans to use the social media site Facebook as the place next week to unveil its newest ride for 2011.

But now it appears that an Australian ride manufacturer has revealed it in a patent dispute over its version of a towering thrill ride it calls StarFlyer and a Dutch competitor’s version called Wind Seeker.

Funtime Group of Bundall, Australia, claims it thought it had a deal with Cedar Fair LP to build a 400-foot high StarFlyer ride to debut at Cedar Point in 2011, but now the Sandusky park plans to buy a Wind Seeker from Mondial World of Rides of Terband, the Netherlands.

Both rides feature a large tower that spins up to 50 riders from a center ring that rises high into the air. StarFlyer’s chairs are attached by chains, Wind Seeker’s by poles.

Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., of Cincinnati, said StarFlyer-type rides cost just more than $2 million each and do not require a large area like a roller coaster.

Funtime, which introduced StarFlyer in 2004 and has a U.S. patent on the design, has threatened legal action if Cedar Point builds a Wind Seeker.

“We’ve spoken with the folks at Cedar Fair and my belief is we’re going to work it out,” said Tony Handal, a lawyer for Cottingham Agencies, the U.S. patent holder on StarFlyer for Funtime Group. “We have a patent and it’s a remarkable ride, newer technology. I couldn’t imagine Cedar Fair wouldn’t respect our rights in this.”

Mr. Handal said Cottingham wants Cedar Fair either to buy a StarFlyer or pay a licensing fee for using technology it claims infringes on its patent.

The attorney said that, while the two ride makers attach their two-seat ride cars differently, Cottingham’s position is there’s “no significant difference” in the two rides.

Officials at Mondial could not be reached for comment.

Cedar Fair spokesman Stacy Frole said the company had no comment on the controversy or statements by Funtime.

“We haven’t announced the ride yet, so there’s nothing to comment about,” she said. The announcement on the ride is to be made Tuesday.

Mr. Handal said Cedar Fair went to Florida this year to view a StarFlyer at Magical Midway amusement park and contacted Funtime about one for Cedar Point. In July, Cedar Fair filed a trademark name application for a new ride called “Stratosoar.”

“[Cedar Fair] did contact us, but then they went with another company that doesn’t own the patent,” Mr. Handal said.

Jeff Putz, a Web site operator for PointBuzz, a Cedar Point fan site, said the patent controversy is now the hot topic among parkgoers.

“There had been a lot of rumors beforehand about what the ride was,” he said. “So far, people are talking more about the controversy than the ride.”

Contact Jon Chavez at:

Cedar Point blaze cause undetermined

From the Sandusky Register


Sandusky’s fire marshal said the cause of July’s Cedar Point fire may remain undetermined, though he suspects an electrical problem sparked the blaze.

Fire marshal Rudy Ruiz said unless he’s 100 percent certain, he’ll leave the case open until new information or evidence crops up.

The July 6 fire at a service building at Cedar Point caused extensive damage.

Ruiz said there was a storage area above a ballast, a mechanism used to control electrical current. The fire appeared to have started there.

“Ballasts have a tendency to get hot and it could have heated up the storage area,”Ruiz said.