The island located in the heart of Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, has always been shrouded in an air of secrecy. Before World War II, the previously inaccessible island was rumored to house a speakeasy during Prohibition. Later, the island’s still waters and thick vegetation became a hideaway for romantics in rowboats following the ravages of war. Now dubbed Adventure Island, the centrally located island is again enveloped in mystery with the debut of Forbidden Frontier. But … what is it?
“It is truly a new land to see at Cedar Point. It’s like walking through your own ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book,” says Cedar Point Communications Director Tony Clark. “Forbidden Frontier is not like anything we’ve ever done in the park. It’s great for nonriders and families.”
Getting to Adventure Island is part of the fun. Visitors can climb aboard a raft, reminiscent of those Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn used, and pull themselves across the Snake River Swamp. Or guests can traverse a bouncing bridge or wandering passageway leading through waterfalls. From the swamp, the residents of Forbidden Frontier reveal themselves.
“The characters are shady but likable. You don’t know who you can trust!” Clark explains.
The characters will ask guests to complete a task, go on a mission, or solve a puzzle, as visitors scour for clues to unlock the mysteries of Forbidden Frontier.
“Each character’s story is intertwined and can take visitors to different places,” says Lisa Jones, Cedar Point’s director of entertainment. “There’s a narrative that starts the day, but then the guests drive it.”
For example, some guests may be asked to lend a hand on Shuckerman’s Farm and help Otis overcome his fear of live chickens, deliver packages, decipher cryptic codes, or have their fortune told by Nadya, a Roma who was accidentally left in her father’s wagon as a young child. The backstories are deep, and the investment large.
“It’s a huge undertaking, especially for our live entertainment team,” Clark shares.
Cedar Point hired 20 professional actors to play the island residents; contracted with Weber Group to create a dozen immersive, weather-tolerable sets and structures; built new restrooms (disguised cleverly as oversized outhouses); constructed a new quick-service dining location; fabricated a central stage; and dug several fire pits—along with hiring additional staff to operate Forbidden Frontier. The associates’ new uniforms borrow a page from a Hollywood Western, while their name tags are handwritten in white paint on a piece of slate. Scores of rocking chairs allow parents to rest, while a new climbing structure from WhiteWater allows for active play three stories above the ground. Rope nets, elevated obstacles, and physical challenges on WhiteWater’s “Highground” climbing structure are all enclosed in safety netting, thus preventing the need to wear a harness. Parents can climb with children who are at least 32 inches tall, or they may choose to watch children taller than 42 inches while lying in a hammock below the structure.
“This is not an age-targeted attraction; it’s a personality type of demographic. There are so many things for people to do as a family,” says Cedar Point General Manager Jason McClure.
Forbidden Frontier opened Memorial Day weekend and will conclude its inaugural season on Labor Day.