7.22.2018

Special "Thrills by the Lake" update - First trip to Cedar Point!



It was the year 2000 when I was becoming more and more exposed to the coaster industry and was seeing that the "Coaster Wars" were going down. It was the battle for the tallest, fastest coasters out there. Tuning into the Discovery Channel after my parents telling me that they had some coaster program running, I was immediately introduced to Millennium Force, Cedar Point's newest coaster, which was the tallest and fastest at the time. After the program had ended I had fired up the good old dial up internet after clearing with everyone in the house that the phone lines would be tied up (good times...) and decided to look up Cedar Point to see what the park had to offer. I realized this park was a huge coaster park and then realized that when I then saw Magnum, I recall seeing Magnum on TV in the early 90s and it looked massive. I locked it in my mind that one of these days I need to get out to Cedar Point. In this special "Thrills by the Lake" trip report, let's take a look at this park!

18 years later, the park had expanded their lineup of rides further solidifying my need to get there and the final pull of the trigger was the unveiling of Steel Vengeance, the world's tallest, longest and fastest RMC Hybrid. I'm a fan of RMC's work despite having only been on 3 of their coasters at the time. First one was Twisted Colossus down at Magic Mountain (which completely blew my mind), second being Joker (was excited to have an RMC right in my own backyard practically, and third being our very own RailBlazer (even more excited now that my workplace has an RMC!).

Steel Vengeance was the conversion from their former Mean Streak roller coaster that opened in 1991. Mean Streak was regarded as the worst coaster in the park, and having watched a few POVs on YouTube, I felt like as beautiful as the ride looked, it felt like what would have potentially been an oversized rough Grizzly - a ride that is drawn out and doesn't do much force-wise. Rocky Mountain Construction took this ride and turned it a completely different direction.

It was late July when I made the trip out to Cedar Point and spent 2 full days, plus a couple hours in the evening on my "zero day" to get a taste of what they had to offer. Upon entering the causeway for the very first time I was greeted with a gorgeous sunset over the peninsula with the park's skyline off in the distance. As a coaster enthusiast, I felt like this was a rite of passage, and of course, a sign of what is about to be an epic adventure coming upon me. The next 2 full days, I was armed with the Fast Lane Plus which came to be very useful for many of the star attractions.

My first ever look at Cedar Point. Needless to say I had to pick my jaw up off the
passenger side floor (I was not driving)

Before I talk about the attractions, I do want to mention a couple "survival tips" based on my first experience. First off, you will want to make use of the lockers there. $10 gets you a movable locker that you can move to different locations/plazas throughout the day. Catch is that each location has a 3 hour window. What I ended up doing was after I did a couple attractions in a given area, I grabbed my stuff and travelled to the next locker and "moved" my locker there ultimately resetting the 3 hours. If you feel like you're going to be in the said plaza for more than that, you'll have to unload the locker, go to the kiosk and just move your locker to a different spot in that same plaza for a fresh 3 hours. A little clunky but with how I tackled the park it wasn't a big deal.

This rain makes CA rain look like a light mist.


Secondly, would like to address the weather. Summer is the perfect ingredient for thunderstorms in Ohio. Different levels of rain will close certain attractions and passing thunder will ultimately bring the park to its knees until it clears. The storms come fast too and move out pretty quick. I may have lucked out as the second day I was there, they were forecasting thunderstorms throughout the day but was scattered and far enough away not to affect the park. If you go on a day with weather threatening, do make use of the Doppler radar and see if anything is coming. Hard lesson learned was trying to grab lunch as the storm hit. Everyone else had the same idea. Best to plan ahead and if you see something coming, get to the restaurant before if you plan on eating at that time and beat everyone to the punch.

If you're wanting to take shelter, check out the gift shops or if you're in the back of the park, visit the Town Hall Museum where they have a large model of Steel Vengeance that will soon actually function! There's a lot of CP history inside there too as well as some cool scale models of other attractions.










Last bit of survival tips - You can use your plastic souvenir cups from CGA at any Cedar Fair park! Also your all season funpix will work there too! I'm not 100% sure though if the disposable cup option though will work outside of CGA.

I didn't try the rest of the restaurants there but the one place that hit home with me was Cedar Point's take on the "Smokehouse" restaurants, "Miss Keat's Smokehouse". It's situated near Steel Vengeance and by the train station. It's conveniently accessible if you happen to be in CP's Celebration Plaza or near Millennium Force as you can just take a scenic ride on the train. The place reminded me a lot of CGA's Maggie's but the restaurant was fitting in its western area. Not to mention you can smell the smoked brisket from outside and even from behind if you're on the perimeter road.




Speaking of meat, time to get into the meat and potatoes of CP: the rides!



GateKeeper
GateKeeper is the park's headliner attraction and among the first you see entering the park, You walk right under the zero g roll as it sweeps over the park's entrance. GK is a B&M Wing Coaster and initially I was not expecting much after hearing everyone saying that it was dull and some calling it "GateSleeper". The ride took me by surprise and the ride delivered what I expected out of it. I rode in the front and found that a smooth, graceful ride with some occasional "Oh crap!" moments was a great recipe for this kind of ride. The ride starts off slowly flipping you over upside down before diving down. Coming out of the immelmann I actually lightly began to gray out on multiple rides! The keyholes were the highlight of the attraction especially in the front as I felt like my body was going to slam right into them. Even more so sitting on the right! The ride itself didn't have more than a 15 minute wait despite the crowds. Not sure if that was because it is a people-eater or if people would have preferred to ride others but I took advantage of that and went back for seconds (and thirds) before grabbing my stuff from the locker


I began to gray out at this spot. I dare not say this on certain coaster sites
unless I would like to be publicly humiliated and banned by the site's "overlord" :p




Wicked Twister
Wicked Twister is the dual spiral Intamin Impulse coaster. It reminded me of a taller (2001 version) of V2 at Discovery Kingdom. Fun ride and often overlooked. I tried it in the back so I can get the full twist looking down. Other than that, I think I preferred the hangtime on SFDK's V2 from the modified roll.

The rear tower of Wicked Twister, I sat at the back row
to get the full twist coming down.


Raptor
Raptor is another headliner that pulls in the crowds. This B&M Invert was long, LOUD, and fun. I tried in the front and then in the back. Front was actually pretty rough and not what I expected from a B&M. Due to that rough first impression, I held off on coming back until late on my last day, tried it in the back...why didn't I try this sooner? It was a lot smoother in the back!





Rougarou
If there was another ride I came in with low expectations, it would be Rougarou. I have heard that it was still pretty rough after being converted from the standup coaster known as Mantis. Fun fact: Mantis was originally going to be named Banshee but local opposition swayed the decision. Back to Rougarou - I found it to be a fun ride, wished I took more time to ride it again. I found it to be smooth when I did it in the back. I like how it was placed over the water. Also a decent length ride and it's not over a parking lot! Would have to say it was about as smooth as Patriot. Pro-tip: This ride seems to have shorter lines, possibly a sleeper hit of CP!





Top Thrill Dragster
Everyone knows about Dragster, the world's first "strata" coaster. The ride itself is short but sweet! The first time I rode it, there was sustained float-jector air over the top hat from 420 ft and all the way down! The first time I rode it was at night. We took the front row. The ride operators warned us not to scream unless we wanted to eat some bugs. During the launch, I felt some juicy ones smack me in the face and hands. When we hit the brake run, I was brushing off dead/unconscious and twitching bugs off of me. This was actually the first coaster I did of the trip, and what better way to be introduced to the infamous CP bug splatters!




Braving the bug splatters and shielding the bug splatters in the front row :)

Steel Vengeance
The ride that made me finally decide that I'm going to Cedar Point. The ride felt like the intensity of RailBlazer but expanded. First ride was in the back at night. I didn't know what was going on other than relentless airtime. Just when you think the ride is finished, there's more. The final moments are what I feel like is the famous "Finish Him!" saying from the Mortal Kombat games as you are winded from battle. This final moment will finish you off! The rest of the trip, I did SV in the front and found that all the rows provide a great experience. I enjoyed the front for the views. The highlight moment was getting on this right as soon as the thunderstorm cleared. It was still a steady rain and they had just opened the ride. Feeling adventurous, I opted to do the front. That will be one ride to remember!

Post Steel Vengeance...my legs are still sore! No bruising but can definitely feel the lap bar pressure :)

I did ride this 11 times over the course of the trip, 1 on the preview day, 4 on my next day, and 6 on the final day (with 4 rides in a row thanks to Fast lane and no line, kept going back until my legs said "enough!")

In before the cell phone ban in the queue :)

Steel Vengeance likes to chuck seat cushions.
Apparently this is a common occurrence.
The park has a box of spares on hand!

Zero Gravity!


Looking back at SV when heading out for the night (taken on the Perimeter Road)

As of the end of my trip, cell phones are no longer allowed in the queue.
This was literally just added! And yes we saw the ride get e-stopped many times.
Soon to be rare views of the station due to the recent
phone ban. These were taken prior to.

Soon to be rare views of the station due to the recent
phone ban. These were taken prior to.

Soon to be rare views of the station due to the recent
phone ban. These were taken prior to.
Oh, and I spy familiar logos!



Gemini
The park's smaller hybrid, Gemini is a racing Arrow hybrid that actually races! There were some fun moments and even more fun friendly competition going on. My train won both times when I rode both sides. Ride itself was pretty smooth and has some of that unique "Arrow kinks".



Cedar Creek Mine Ride
If you want a ride full of the jarring signature Arrow kinks, check out Cedar Creek Mine Ride! It's a fun family coaster and once you get past some of the kinks (I rode the very back), it's a fun breather ride from the likes of Steel Vengeance. Ride itself is placed over water and trees making for a scenic ride!


A picturesque view of the Arrow Mine Train

Magnum XL 200
The world's first full-circuit hyper coaster, and the coaster I saw on TV in the 1990s... One thing I learned is to not ride the back. Sitting in a wheel seat made me realize that this ride doesn't handle turns well, roughest moment being the pretzel turn. It was much better in the front and of course, the Arrow kink airtime hills! The hills provide short, quick bursts of ejector airtime while the bottoms provide some quick upward directional changes.

Look how tiny those upstop wheels are!

Thigh Crushing Airtime Bursts!


Corkscrew
Your typical Arrow Corkscrew, if I recall, it was a few days shy of being the first modern looping coaster with a vertical loop. The airtime hill was a nice surprise, similar to Magnum and the ride itself was actually very smooth! I rode in the "Arrow Magic Seat". The entry into the corkscrew was much smoother than Demon.

This looks like something straight from RCT1/2!

The corkscrew was very smooth!


Iron Dragon
Cedar Point has a lot of Arrow coasters! This arrow suspended coaster did live up to its nickname, "Draggin' Iron" as it didn't feel as fast as Ninja, a suspended at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Ninja had more tree interaction too. Still a fun, relaxing ride and something you might be able to drag your non rider parents on!

The best part of the ride, sweeping over the pond!


Valravn
This was my first "Dive Coaster." A dive coaster is one with a vertical drop and a holding brake giving you a quick view before taking the plunge. Valravn offers stunning views of Lake Erie before you take the plunge and when I had sat in the second row, I just saw nothing but water straight ahead, couldn't even tell that there was a midway right there. At night it was cool looking off into a black void of nothing straight head. Ok, you might be able to see a patch of light pollution in the distance from Cleveland. The lift is decked out with an LED light strip that lights different colors, and as you climb the lift the lights are synced to follow you up the lift. I think my favorite spot was in the front on an edge seat. Like Gatekeeper, it was smooth and loved the feeling of being in the open air!

Fun fact - You can feel the track sway from 200 ft up sitting in the holding brake. This is caused by the forces applied when the previous train hits the mid-coure brake below you. Cool feeling swaying side to side!

These 3-car trains viewed from side angle looks odd.
It looks like a standard B&M floorless train and somebody
lopped off the back 4 or 5 rows.





Millennium Force
The first Giga coaster (term coined by manufacturer Intamin and Cedar Point) to enter the arena, and the coaster that I saw on the Discovery Channel that introduced me to Cedar Point. After a year or so of it running, many had stated that the ride was overrated (due to the hype surrounding the ride). I've dealt with hype before surrounding a Discovery Channel-showcased ride, being Superman: The Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain. I had ridden that in 2001 and was hugely disappointed. So with that said, I had this "overhyped" thing in my head despite wanting to try it for myself. Some had even dubbed the ride "Millennium Force-less."

Now that I've ridden it several times I can say that it's just a fun ride! Sure, it's more "chill" than the likes of Steel Vengeance and it's a ride I would go to when I need a break from SV's crazy intensity but it packs some nice speed and some great floater/zero g feels over the airtime hills. The views of Lake Erie to your left is stunning especially as you're up at the top. When you look below you only see the water. If you're in the back seat you get great floater air, almost as if you were just free falling down the initial drop. In the turn I had actually began to gray out a little. Definitely a ride I had become attached to and made it a point to return to it multiple times in a day!





The quick final pop of air before the final overbank

Millennium's cable lift pulley system

Millennium as viewed from the train, looking behind me

Maverick
This one was another I had looked forward to. It's puny 105 feet max height and plethora of elements seemed like a ride right up my alley. It lived up to my expectations. This Intamin Blitz Coaster features a 95-degree drop, snappy turns, airtime, inversions, and the highlight for me - the launch at 70mph out of the tunnel. I recommend trying this in the front at night. The cool aspect of the launch is rocketing through total darkness before you make a quick left and are back outside! The other cool aspect of this from a sensory standpoint is that inside the tunnel is warm due to the LSMs. You rocket through some hot air and are suddenly feeling a quick temperature difference once you're outside, especially in the evening when it cools down some.

Maverick in a sense reminded me of RailBlazer due to the variety of elements, snappy turns some rock work (there was originally supposed to be more as shown in the animation and airtime. RailBlazer's airtime is stronger but Maverick makes up for it with a decent length. Another one I made it a point to go back and re-ride!

Maverick's tucked under drop provides a fun pop of air, similar to RailBlazer!





Blue Streak
Last but not least is the often overlooked and well hidden coaster tucked behind Valravn and Raptor, Blue Streak. This simple out and back woodie features some fun pops of air. When I had rode it on my "preview night" as I call it, I rode it 3 times back-to-back as there was nobody in line. The roller coaster is not as old as it looks as it was only built in the 1960s. It is however the park's oldest coaster! Side note: the spiders of CP love to hang out on the lift hill of this ride.



When not riding the coasters, I opted to check out the more "obscure" attractions of Cedar Point. I say "obscure" because the average person is going to think of going to Cedar Point to experience the roller coasters. After all, CP markets themselves as the "Coaster Capital of the World." While they don't have as many as SFMM, the rides they offer live up to the name. Any who, Cedar Point has a nice collection of classic and high energy flat rides.

Skyhawk
This S&S Screamin' Swing is the largest one in the world. I initially wrote this off due to its short cycle and kept thinking of the upcharge swing that was at Knott's. I remembered that Skyhawk was not an upcharge and opted to give it a spin. This ride took me by surprise as at the high points of the swing, I got some great floater air. It was actually a little frightening looking down at the ground from a slightly beyond vertical (direction I'd be facing) angle. To put it in perspective, the structure itself is around 100 ft. The height of the swing goes beyond the height at about 125 ft. You only have a lap bar holding you in and honestly, you've got a lot of wiggle room.




Cedar Downs
Cedar Downs was one of the flats I looked forward to as it looked like a carousel on steroids. It lived up to it. Each row is set up with horses, 4 across. The horses themselves move forward and back while they gallop giving the illusion of racing. Toward the end of the cycle, the forward/backward motion stops giving 1 horse in each section the winning title! During the cycle, you will want to hang on as it actually provided some light lateral forces! I had heard that one time it used to rotate at 25mph. It currently rotates at 15mph.



Troika (Troika Troika!)
Troika (or if you want to call it "Troika Troika Troika!") was one of those flat rides that hit home with me. I only got a chance to ride a Troika once, and have not ridden a Troika since I was in the 2nd grade. This was when Great America had their Triple Play. After having been down all day, it finally opened with 2 hours left of operation. It was dark out and the ride was decked out with its colorful lights. Once boarded and cycling, the ride's motions and experience hit me right in the nostalgia feels, hitting that soft spot and sending chills down my body. It brought me back to my childhood. Part way through the cycle I closed my eyes and clearly visioned "Patriot Park" (the area where Triple Play once stood) as I whirled around, complete with a green Vortex coaster. As I said I only rode it once and kept it that way to keep this experience a unique and special one. I would be delighted if one ever came back to the bay though it did seem to have some reliability issues during my visit on both days.


Troika Troika Troika! (Yes, it's fun to say it!)




Windseeker
A Cedar Point iconic ride. Some shutter at the fact of being up that high with a lapbar but the ride itself offered great views of the park and provided a nice, relaxing experience. It went down a lot though due to  the frequent high winds the park experienced.

Monster
I wanted to try out the Monster as I never did try the Lobster when Great America had one. While I wished my tub spun more, the ride was quite fun, providing quick pops of air as my tub bounced about! Downside - loading on this was a pain, suffering from "ferris wheel syndrome." 2 tubs can load at a time.

Who would have thought that this little flat would be so fun!


MaxAir
The slightly smaller swinging pendulum ride (smaller than SFDK's Wonder Woman) provided a fun ride. While not as intense and floaty feeling as Wonder Woman (due to bulky restraints), it did not take long for the ride to get going and to stop as it has a dedicated brake system to slow it down. Wonder Woman is using its one motor up top to do the work of getting it to swing and to slow it down.




Witch's Wheel
The Huss version of the Enterprise was interesting. The seats were flat on the floor of the cabin and during the cycle since I wasn't actually straddled over a bench, I ended up slouching due to the forces and riding the ride nearly laying down. Was a little unnerving but fun. It also remained vertical slightly longer than Orbit at CGA. Drawback is that each door has to be manually opened making loading very slow.




Power Tower
This set of S&S towers was experienced in pouring rain. I experienced Supreme Scream at Knotts and found it to be underwhelming so I was almost going to pass this one up. Power Tower was also slightly underwhelming, only rode the "space shot" side. It pales in comparison to Doubleshot over at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (which is far more intense!). The rain did spice up the ride though.

Shortly after my ride, everything closed in the park as the
t-storm rolled through. I was drenched after getting off of this ride.


Cedar Point & Lake Erie RailRoad
Even if not riding it, I love the sounds of a train whistle blowing through an amusement park and seeing it pass by. The CP & LE RR takes you from Millennium Force on over to Steel Vengeance. I had actually boarded this as it was quicker to get back there than walking. I was trying to beat a potential storm after learning about the morning's storm mishap and really wanted to have dinner at Miss Keat's Smokehouse. During my travels back there, I got some great views of Maverick and Millennium Force (and particularly it's cable pulley system)!





Of course there's live entertainment at the 'Point. I checked out their All Wheel Sports production, Vertical Impact! The stage is set out on the midway and the show consists of BMX and Trampoline stunts along with dancing and other acrobatic maneuvers!





This trip to Cedar Point was definitely one to remember and will definitely be back again! 18 years in the making and it was well worth the wait! If you are in love with coasters, I highly recommend to begin booking your trip! I found the park overall to also be very well-rounded with a nice selection of more mild rides along with the high-octane thrills, much different than it's rival coaster park, Six Flags Magic Mountain (which has the crown for most coasters). Where SFMM falls short is the flat ride and gentle ride dept. Lastly one of the aspects I really enjoyed at CP were how the rides were easily visible out on the midway and even often interacting with it (Magnum, Corkscrew, Valravn, and Raptor to name a few).