Stuck behind the daunting shadow of Cedar Fair’s mega parks – Cedar Point, Kings Island, and Canada’s Wonderland – exists perhaps the most divisive park in the chain. Michigan’s Adventure is a smaller 250-acre park located about 30 mins outside of Grand Rapids. The home to 7 roller coasters, 6 of which are credit-friendly (I was denied at the Big Dipper kiddie coaster), 3 fun water-based rides, and a nice collection of flat rides. Unfortunately, Michigan’s Adventure is better known as most people’s lowest-ranked Cedar Fair park than they are for any of these attractions. During the 4th of July holiday, I was able to make my first visit to determine if it deserves this bad reputation or if, perhaps, it is an overlooked gem.
Setting, Theming, and Atmosphere:
Michigan’s Adventure is an amusement park in every sense of the term, meaning no one will confuse this particular place with a “theme” park. The entire park looks essentially the same throughout the midways. The only exception is the VERY loose attempt to a western theme in the area of Shivering Timbers and Wolverine Wildcat, but this is only done via some western-style music, the old time photo booth, and some western theme shops where you can purchase cowboy hats and other western-styled merchandise. The rest of the park is essentially just that, a park. Concrete midways, ride signs, and queue lines make up most of the sights as you go from ride to ride. For the most part, Michigan’s Adventure feels like a very big fair which I found to be perfectly fine! Most Disney and Universal fans may find the lack of theming to be a bit boring or uninspired, but, for casual park goers, it can provide a nice and simple escape.
If there was anything I can say that I found disappointing, it was the seeming lack of music on the midways. While this may be just be a personal choice, I enjoy having music played as I walk through the different sections of Cedar Point, but, at Michigan’s Adventure, the only locations I remember music playing were in the kid’s area by Zach’s Zoomer and in the “western” area by Wolverine Wildcat; otherwise, the midways were mostly silent (I did not experience the waterpark section during this visit, so they may have had more music there). But, where they lacked in music, they certainly made up for in cleanliness. Like most other Cedar Fair properties, Michigan’s Adventure was very clean and did an excellent job of keeping a respectable and comfortable environment for its guests!
Non-Roller Coaster Attractions:
This is where I believe Michigan’s Adventure shines! First, they have a top-notch waterpark, WildWater Adventure, with several excellent slide complexes and a very impressive tornado slide called “The Funnel of Fear.” Unfortunately, it was nearly 90 degrees on the day we went, so that resulted in a very busy waterpark; so, we did not ride any of these attractions. Continuing on the topic of water rides though, Michigan’s Adventure provides 3 different water attractions. The most impressive though was Logger’s Run, a very fun log flume that turned out to be my 2nd favorite ride in the park. I cannot say enough positive things about this very scenic flume ride, definitely a hidden jewel.
The flat rides are mostly your typical classic fair rides – a big swing ride called “The Flying Trapeze,” a tilt-a-whirl, a ferris wheel, and a classic matterhorn-style ride are some of the highlights. While the park may not have any giant pendulum rides like Cedar Point’s maXair, it does provide enough classic rides to complement your day in-between coaster credits. The one thing you will not find at Michigan’s Adventure is a stage show. Unlike its big brothers to the south (Cedar Point and Kings Island) that put on some rather entertaining shows, Michigan’s Adventure does not. Granted, after walking the midways a few times, you will quickly see there are just simply no venues to house any shows. While this did not bother me at all, non-thrill seekers or families may find this to limit the number of things to do for their trip to the park.
The Roller Coasters:
Let me first start this out with a very simple warning. If you walk into this park expecting Cedar Point, Kings Island, or Canada’s Wonderland, you will be greatly disappointed, and it will likely hurt your experience. Luckily, I walked in with lower expectations, which only enhanced my time at the park. As I said earlier, this park is home to 7 roller coasters. When I was there, the Big Dipper was denied to me without a child, but I did see later in the evening a few adults on the ride alone, so perhaps you have to get the right ride op. The other 6 coasters are available for your coaster counts including the CCI junior woodie, Zach’s Zoomer (which, believe it or not, was probably the 3rd or 4th best coaster in the park). The rest of the lineup includes the Vekoma SLC Thunderhawk, which any Geauga Lake fan will remember as Serial Thriller; an Arrow corkscrew coaster with the classic “Corkscrew” name; a Dinn Wooden coaster named Wolverine Wildcat, which is unfortunately quite the bumpy ride in its current state; a very fun wild mouse ride called “Mad Mouse,” that also happens to be one of the few remaining Arrow Wild Mouse rides left in the world (currently, only 2 others are operating – one at California’s Great America, and the other at ValleyFair); and what most would consider the crown jewel of the park, the awesome CCI Wooden beast called Shivering Timbers. I personally loved this ride! Many people had warned me that it had been getting rougher over the last few seasons, but I found it to be quite smooth actually, especially for such a large wooden coaster that is approaching 20 years of operation. Shivering Timbers is easily the best ride at this park, and I enjoyed it enough that I would recommend a trip just to try it out for yourself.
Michigan’s Adventure is NOT a super park, but anyone with any knowledge of this place should already know this. To the park’s credit, they do not market themselves as a mega destination park either. They seem very aware that they are a regional park trying to provide regional guests with some summer fun. With that in mind, I feel they succeed in this attempt. In my opinion, the bad reputation this park has is very overstated. Does the park have the greatest collection of roller coasters? Absolutely not, but it does have enough to have a very fun day with your significant other or your family. Shivering Timbers is an excellent wooden roller coaster that any enthusiast should try to ride at least once; Logger’s Run is a fantastic little log flume that was a nice surprise, and the Mad Mouse provides you the rare opportunity to ride one of the few remaining Arrow Wild Mouse coasters. Michigan’s Adventure is simply the victim of being the next-door neighbor of Cedar Point and Canada’s Wonderland, who offer twice as many coasters, live entertainment, and a more-varied flat ride collection. Of course, when compared to that, this park has no chance. But, if looked at as its own individual park, you can find a lot of fun on its midways that is sure to provide you or your family with a great summer day full of memories!