I’m a cedar fair passholder (The same people run Cedar Point and Canada’s Wonderland) and I go there frequently. I’d offer the following answers to your original questions:
FastPasses are a MUST for anyone trying to ride a majority of the roller coasters there. I think there are 14 full-size coasters there this year and two kiddie coasters. Most non-coaster rides don’t even have FastPass lanes, so you are correct that it’s not worth it for DH and DD10.
The must-dos depend on how big a thrill seek you’re looking for. Some of our family’s favorite coasters include Raptor, Maverick, Steel Vengeance, Gatekeeper, Rougarou, Valravn, Millennium Force, and Magnum. Most of the other coasters are wood (rough rides), or ones like you can find anywhere else.
I don’t think there are many ‘special’ restaurants at Cedar Point. The Red Garter Saloon usually has a show of some sort with dinner which is fun. The Coasters Drive-in might be a nice experience if the family hasn’t been to one before. We usually just grab snacks from a kiosk (and have a dining plan with the season pass that allows for meals from a number of establishments).
Your touring plan wlil depend heavily on how many roller coasters you’re looking to do in a day. The most common at rope drop are to head to the back of the park and move forward (Steel Vengeance first) or the front of the park (Gatekeeper) first and move back. Sometimes you can optimize your day by starting in the middle (Millennium Force) and choose a direction. The three coasters above are typically the longest lines, but there is no guarantee that everything is ready to run immediately at park open the day you arrive, so some flexibility is required. For non-coaster riders, I’d start near the front of the park during the cool morning and move to the back in the afternoon where there is considerably more shade.
I did a weekend trip to Cedar Point last year and loved it, so maybe my experience will help on what you’re figuring out.
Fast Lane: Absolutely necessary if you’re trying to do all the coasters in a single day. If you happen to be staying in one of the Cedar Point-owned hotels, you can get your Fast Lane wristbands at their gift shops before going into the park and save some time.
Park tickets: CP is dominated by coasters, so this is a judgment call for your family. There’s a few water rides, large flat rides like a drop tower and Windseeker, the train, Snake River Expedition, which is sort of like their take on Jungle Cruise, and some staples like antique autos. Cedar Downs is a unusual racing carousel attraction that I love doing, but your enjoyment may vary. I would not bother getting them Fast Lane, there wouldn’t be much point.
Restaurants: The park has changed out some dining locations this year (RIP Mac Shack), but I would personally recommend Chickie & Pete’s, Melt, or BackBeatQue for something close to a sit-down option. Pink’s hot dogs would be a good choice for a quick meal.
The best touring plan/rope drop strategy will vary based on where you’re staying since guests in CP hotels (and some passholders) get entry one hour early and access to different gates to enter the park. Unfortunately, the park’s list of Early Entry attractions this year is pretty slim. If you do the early entry, I’d suggest knocking out the two available coasters (the new Wild Mouse and GateKeeper) and then head towards Frontier Town to get on Maverick and Steel Vengeance as soon as the park opens to everyone. You’ll at least have a head start on guests who didn’t have Early Entry, and Steel Vengeance can sometimes be a 30-minute wait or more even with Fast Lane.
So helpful!! Thank you!
DH and DD want to go to the park, but agree there is no need for Fast Lane.
We are staying at Lighthouse Point at the RV site. I will try to find out which entrance is the closest.
I also watched some YouTube videos just now and learned that:
we need a stamp to go back to the parks if we leave midday.
a common advice is to avoid wearing white clothes that could be see-through when wet. I didn’t realize there were rides people get soaked.
I would avoid Magnum and Blue Streak. Raptor isn’t rough, per se, but does toss you a bit in a couple spots. Corkscrew should also be avoided if you don’t travel with a chiropractor! Rougarou isn’t rough, but really very skillable. Looks more fun than it actually is. Cedar Creek Mine Ride can also toss you around a bit despite being a tame coaster.
The new Wild Mouse opens this year… can’t speak to how smooth it is.
As far as rope drop and strategy, the best bet is to head straight to the middle or back of the park. For us, this means starting at maybe Magnum, then going back through Gemini, Steel Vengeance, Maverick, then back up toward MF. Or, start at MF and go clockwise. You will not avoid waiting a very long time for MF and/or SV…because they are amazing. My top two favorite coasters out of the 100+ I have been on. We will wait 2 hours and not be sorry.
Anyhow, by the time you round the back of the parks, the people who started in the front will be heading in the back, at which point you can start focusing on ValRavn, Gatekeeper, Raptor, Iron Dragon, and Rougarou if you so choose. But I also wouldn’t skip Sky Hawk and/or MaxAir.