Cedar Point Trip Report - 6/4/12 (Day 1)
I haven't spent all of the last month on it, but a good chunk of my free time sure has gone into this - the trip report for the three days we spent at Cedar Point. I'll post Days 2 & 3 later this weekend. Once I write and post Waldameer and Canada's Wonderland, I'll be going through and adding pictures, along with hilarious/sarcastic captions.
In the mean time, enjoy!
Going from Marineland to Cedar Point is pretty much going from one end of the park spectrum to another - I'd been talking up this place to Megan probably not too long after she discovered this "unique" hobby of mine. It's one of the few parks that really offers both quantity and quality across the board - thrills, operations, scenery. Not that we didn't have a nice time the day before, but it was hard not to quickly change focus to a place widely considered the amusement industry's version of Mecca. Not to overstate it or anything.
But the geographical transition was our focus for the first half of the day. It'd be a mostly scenic drive back across Niagara Gorge into America, through Buffalo, along Lake Erie, and into Sandusky via Cleveland. Granted, the last 10 minutes were what was really going to get me excited, but it ended up being a mostly pleasant journey.
We were out at a reasonable hour, with another quick breakfast stop at the hotel's café, and we were on the road right around 9am. There was plenty of time, as we were aiming for twilight passes to enjoy the evening in the park, starting at 5pm. With any extra time, we'd be getting settled and checking out the historical accommodations.
That was probably the biggest upgrade for this, my third visit. My initial visit was an eye-opening experience in 1996. I was blown away by the park as a whole, and Magnum and Raptor made quite an impression. Eight years later, the skyline had changed dramatically with both Millennium Force and Dragster on top of the already impressive lineup. Another eight years later, no significant records had been broken. Don't get me wrong, I was eagerly anticipating my first rides on Maverick, and several impressive non-coaster thrill rides now dot the park. But the real change was the proximity we were now afforded by staying at the Hotel Breakers.
The excitement rose as we got closer to Sandusky. A quick lunch stop and slipping smoothly through Cleveland had us making great time, and it eased the tension a bit knowing we would have a few hours before we would rush into the park. Off the interstate and onto state and local roads, it was just another 20 minutes or so before we were there - the entrance to the Cedar Point causeway.
This was as far as I'd ever gone, to check into the hotel anyway. Visit number one found us (my family and a good friend) at what was then a Radisson, now Castaway Bay. Visit number two was a trip with friends while in college, so we went for the budget option, Breakers Express, converted from a Holiday Inn Express, so far as I could tell. There wasn't any large contingent this time around, so it was a good bit easier to splurge.
After some more ambitious travels over the past few years -Japan, England, Australia - it was almost shocking how reasonable packages were. We were staying in the older section of the iconic hotel, so it wasn't as luxurious as one might hope for, but it seemed certainly adequate, and its charm and location would surely outweigh any signs of aging.
Once past these official but outlying hotels, you're soon up to the water, and given a glimpse of one of the most memorable skylines sported by an amusement park. Full of coasters and towers stretching upwards of 300 feet tall, any eager driver can't be blamed for their right foot getting a little heavier than they're used to.
Of course I safely refrained from speeding, and soon pulled up to the leftmost parking toll booth. I indicated that we were staying on the peninsula, and was only mildly annoyed to have to front the standard parking fee before having it refunded upon check-in. I suppose without the ability to confirm hotel guests on the spot, they have to charge everyone. It was still a little surprising to see that nothing kept the general public from pulling around the back of the park and getting a spot near one of the other entrances.
As we would see every foot of, there is a lot of stuff going on this peninsula outside the border of the park. Only ever having parked in the main lot and used the main entrance, you don't get a very good perspective. Not even including the massive main lot, I'd bet that barely half of the remaining acreage was used for the park. We passed the sizeable marina, restaurants, what looked like some employee lodging, the RV park and campground, and that was all to the outside as we wound around Perimeter Road.
But the other side is where all the action was. Right through the tollbooth is Blue Streak, with a glimpse of Raptor's station and its far end. A quick heads up for a pedestrian crossing, and then it's back to the action with the Railroad, Millennium Force, and Maverick. The road is perilously close to Mean Streak, and then wraps around the back of the park alongside Gemini, and underneath Magnum. At this point we had to follow signs to the hotel check in, and found it across the small lot from Corkscrew, and in the shadow of Dragster. If that short drive doesn't get you amped up for a visit, nothing will. It's no wonder they have "No stopping at any time" signs all along the route: it's one impressive vista after another.
The sense of awe continued as we achily climbed out of the car after almost 5 hours on the road, and entered the hotel. It may take a bit to get oriented, so the key thing to keep in mind is that the park is really along the back of the hotel. When this hotel was built, the prime attraction the resort offered was the beach and shoreline, and its modest diversions. 100 years later, it does feel a little turned around, but that's part of the unique charm of this place.
It was a surprising highlight to walk the long corridor to the lobby, as the entire stretch is lined with photographs. There were photos of people, photos of rides, photos of the scenery - each seemingly taken right around the inception of photography, and almost certainly around the inception of the resort. The sense of history was palpable, at least to me.
Along with the coaster arsenal and notable operations, the place's authenticity is part of the draw here. I could walk in the steps of anyone in these pictures, assuming a ride wasn't now in the way. But that these were the genuine article, a pictorial of the humble beginnings is what struck me. This can get lost easily while traversing the park today, but I felt the genuineness rather strongly just walking down this hall.
At the other end is the lobby, and we found an attendant ready to check us in. There was a lot to go over - refunding the parking fee, administering the package tickets, giving us our room information, accounting for the booking deposit, and tacking on a some extra tickets. The package was for three nights of lodging and two-day passes for the both of us. At a grand total of something like $500, it was a stark contrast to even the most modest Disney vacation.
The deal was partly thanks for absurdly low $32 daily tickets for hotel guests, and that was something to consider since it was barely now 2pm. The twilight ticket was discounted to $24, so I did some quick math. Ignoring that we would be paying the same rate for half a day today as our full days, I netted out the twilight ticket at $5 an hour. Paying our rate for the full-day ticket, we would get an extra the hours, and the evening would cost $4. I'm not an idiot - we'd be able to go into the park as soon as we wanted to.
We wanted to, but after a quick trip back to the car, and pulled it around closer to where our actual room was. Eventually finding a good spot, we dragged all our belongings into the room (we wouldn't need the car for three days), momentarily freshened up, and prepped ourselves for an evening in the park. It really started to sink in - we were moments away from stepping through the gates.
There was remarkable little time to revel in the anticipation (as if I hadn't been doing it for weeks already), as the distance we covered from the hotel to our entrance was all of 500 feet. Unless you've stayed at one of the rare Disney hotels built atop one of their parks, you've never stayed this close to a park before. We certainly hadn't.
Yet, in that little distance, I'd managed to lose our tickets. I'd put the two-day passes that came with the package immediately into my wallet, and they were still there. But the additional ones I'd meant to keep handy were certainly no longer in my hands, or in any of my pockets.
This should have been more an annoyance than the surreal déjà vu it was. Some 16 years ago, the close friend along for the trip misplaced his admission right as we tried to enter the park. I had passed through first, licking my chops to get to Raptor, and spent the longest 90 seconds of my life fully considering ditching him and ending the friendship right there. The blame mostly lies with the park, which prints its official tickets on the same paper it uses for receipts. I assert that something more sturdy would be easier to keep track of.
It wouldn't have been all that far to go back to the room, (hardly a 5 minute detour, round trip) but it was the principle of the thing, and I assumed a day pass is a day pass. It didn't seem like when we used the passes mattered, and I was glad we'd gotten the extra full day passes since we'd now need those for Wednesday. We crossed our fingers that this was indeed the case and that we'd find them at the end of the night, and took our first steps into the park.
Compared to the parks we visit the most, Disney parks, the strategy is very different here. There's no Fastpass, and the park is downright massive. This place is more like Epcot than the Magic Kingdom, meaning not conducive to darting around, and the lack of Fastpasses meant we'd have to earn each and every wait. Yes, Cedar Point had just instituted their paid line-cutting option, Fast Lane, but I've resisted such greedy money-grabs before, and I will continue to. You can't pay a fee and circumvent other park rules, like smoking in line or photography on rides - why in the world is it ok to hand over some cash and then cut in line? Parks do it for the obvious reasons, but that doesn't make it ok, and it's not something I have any interest in supporting.
Diatribe aside, we'd planned our visit to avoid crowds, weekdays in early June were hoped to be bearable. I've always made such early season visits, and have had modest success. I was really optimistic about manageable crowds, probably more so than I usually let myself be, but it's hard not to hope for the best at a place like this.
Our first indication would be at one of the park's bellwethers, the famed Magnum XL-200. Since we had gotten out of the car, we've been hearing trains climb the lift with no interruption - the machine-like consistency we expect from Cedar Point. We turned the corner to join the queue, and saw the line way down by the station stairs, with only a couple switchbacks needed. It was about the average wait I saw during the last visit, which was a great sign, and an almost laughably short given the significance of this ride.
Say what you will about the ride experience both then and now, but there's little argument that this ride didn't single-handedly kick off the coaster arms race that has shaped the amusement industry for over 20 years now. As the first coaster to break the previously unthought-of 200 foot height barrier, and to do so in a smooth(ish), safe, reliable manner, it was the envy of park operators around the world. As the cliché goes, it was often imitated but never duplicated, and to this day stands as an icon in the industry.
In the 23 years since its debut, plenty of rides have since surpassed its thrill, its popularity, and certainly its stats. But no one would be able to convince me that any of those has surpassed its impact on the industry. I've been able to, rather recently, ride several of the noteworthy coasters created in its vein - Pepsi Max Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Fujiyama at Fuji-Q Highland, Desperado at Buffalo Bill's Casino. Each of these followed Magnum skyward with great promise, etched its own place in history as the most impressive ride of the day, and has since faded as a commendable but ultimately deficient effort, by direct comparison anyway.
Yes, of course Magnum's favor with the park-going public has similarly waned, though not nearly as drastically. What many new coasters lack in impact, they make up for in smoothness, and if a coaster isn't rideable, what good is it? I'd certainly noticed a bit more jostle going from Year 8 to Year 16, and I was eager to see what Year 24 had in store. It wouldn't be much of a wait to do so, as after a few minutes we were at the top of the stairs and found that the station was being kept empty. Without any prelude, we jumped into the deep end, and headed for the last car.
I obviously had a lot of faith, as back row rides on both Desperado and Big One were nothing short of harrowing. While those two rides spend most of their layout twisting and turning through sprawling footprints, Magnum is a true out-and-back more about rising and falling - as though getting thrown from a bull is a walk in the park. I like to think I gave Megan a heads up, but to be completely honest, I didn't even remotely care what the ride would be like as we slowly climbed the panoramic lift. Sure, I'd be disappointed after the ride if we'd gotten wildly knocked around, but for now I was in my own little euphoric world, cresting the lift and plummeting down the first drop of our first ride.
At the bottom things were shaky, even bumpy, but far from the manhandling I'd received on those other more ambitious Arrow entries. The first drop was great, pulling up nicely into and over the relatively calm second hill. The third hill is where all the airtime is kept and it provided a terrific float with only a modest jostle. Next we slowed through the pre-turnaround trims, banked a little awkwardly, and wrapped around 540 degrees to head back to the station.
The rest of the ride is bunny hop insanity. No, it's not smooth. It's not the train or the antique cars, or a park bench. This is a thrill ride, and the breakneck maneuvers are taken with a level of roughness perfectly on par for such an aggressive ride. You might get a headache, you might bang your knees, but you'll have a joyful two and a half minutes.
Needless to say, I was pretty pleased. I'd say it's closer to bumpy than rough, and still was part of the character of the ride. At least there was no shoulder harness, right? It was a hell of a way to start. In an eerily similar vein, we went next door to one of Magnum's direct ancestors, Gemini.
Gemini is often described as a Mine Ride on steroids, and I'd fully concur. Comparing it to the ride we had just exited, Magnum is a bit like Gemini on steroids. That meant a sizeable step down in the thrill level, but with a lot of the same history as it's also a former coaster height world record holder. In 1978, 125 feet tall was something to behold, and 34 years later, it remains a fun ride, and an absolute capacity workhorse.
The twin tracks may only run with two trains each these days, but they both hold 36 passengers, and are dispatched with Cedar Point's typical urgency. That still puts the throughput way over the 1500 riders per hour rate, at least double the majority of other coasters in the park. So you can understand our surprise when we saw a line as long as Magnum's.
It was still on the order of only five minutes before we were in the station and headed towards the front of the right track. In addition to the enjoyable ride, racing is still the standard here, and done rather enthusiastically by most riders, based on the prevalence of trash talking. At more than a few decades old, I was a little wary about the kind of ride it would be giving, but as we were smoothly out of the station and up the lift, I was a little relieved.
The layout is a double figure-8, with graceful falls and rises and sizable turnarounds. It never reaches any great level of thrill, but is easily enjoyable considering it mostly lacks anything beyond a few momentary jostles here and there. The final helix is taken somewhat awkwardly - thanks to early age banking being done without the aid of computers, but usually everyone's in such a frenzy about crossing the line first, it easily goes overlooked. Actually I can't tell you if we won or lost, but we certainly had a good time.
Akin to my visit eight years ago, starting an initial half day provides something of a warm up. Or, at least it is meant to. The downside to this sort of preview is that you arrive when wait times are pretty much at their peaks across the board. If anything, this almost forces you to begin with some of the lesser rides, maybe fit in a marquee coaster or two around closing, and then start properly the next morning with the other headliners.
It obviously wasn't going to happen last time as soon as we stepped into a 90 minute line for Millennium Force, and as we rounded the back of the park and came upon Maverick this time around, easing into it was once again out the window. What was going for us presently was a more bearable 45 minute wait.
I'm always a little wary of the queue situation for a coaster I've never ridden before, but seeing some long switchbacks just inside the entrance not being used was a great sign. It was a few minutes before a rather full queue house came into view, but that seemed to lead up some stairs, right into the station - and everything was moving ok.
Until it wasn't. The 50 second intervals came to a halt, and given our poor vantage point, there wasn't much we could assess about the situation. Over the years I've gotten pretty good at assessing a breakdown (thanks, Intamin) though it has more to do with how the guests are managed and any operator or mechanic activity than a technical understanding of the ride.
We were given the usual breakdown spiel about an unknown delay, being able to stay in line, and forfeiting our spot if we left. That's smack dab in the middle of "The ride is going to start up imminently" and "Go away, the ride is closed for the day". That is, it doesn't tell you much - but it does do a good job of scaring a lot of people away. For the first several minutes, we snaked through the queue considerably faster thanks to folks bailing than we would have if it were running.
Riding that out, we were almost halfway through the queue, having just been in line for barely 15 minutes. And then we played the waiting game. From the new spot, I could see a mechanic going between the station and the brake run several times. Knowing the transfer track is just after the station, it wasn't a train issue. Once he climbed into the track on the brake run, I could tell it was going to be a more time-consuming problem.
All-told, the delay itself went on for 30 or so minutes before any serious signs of progress, difficult mostly because of the awful country "music" blasting into the queue, but made bearable by a slow but consistent trickle of more people ahead leaving. We still may have been towards the back of the line, but it was now a much shorter line.
Things eventually were up and running, and finally one of the cheers made by the crowd was actually warranted. Here's a tip to not look like an idiot - don't cheer when the ride moves, cheer when people actually get on it. We'd be on it in about 15 more minutes, raising our total wait to a bit over an hour, though with the breakdown easily taking the majority of that time.
Despite it being eight years since my last visit, Maverick was somehow the only coaster added to the collection. Throw in the removal of Wildcat, a fun but aging compact coaster from Schwarzkopf, and it seemed the park had been treading water somewhat. Even so, this was a notable addition from Intamin, and I was eager to see it for myself.
The small trains, two two-abreast rows per car, and only three cars per train, mean your ride experience isn't impacted all that much by your seat choice. Sure, everyone loves the front, but for our first ride, I just wanted to get on. We settled underneath the awkward combination lap bar and shoulder restraint device, yearning for far more bearable configuration, a la Intimidator, but were excited to be on our way.
This one is a little hard to peg down, it's got something like a lift, though it's technically a slow launch, and there's an actual launch later. It's sort of a mix between Xcelerator and California Screaming, though it's low to the ground, with snappy twists and inversions that we haven't really seen a lot of.
Granted, for this first ride, I had very little idea what was coming. Of course I failed to stay away from a preview POV in the days before the trip, but even with seeing it, the layout is hard to digest. For now, we sat back, and figured to take it as it came at us. After a post-station pause, the lift is taken with good speed, and really whips you up into the restraints over the top. The over-steep (95 degrees) 100ish foot drop is short, but packs a good punch.
What packs a punch at the bottom of the drop is the harness, with some serious thigh pressure. They're sent downward onto your legs with the help of some impressive G-forces. There is absolutely no time to recover though, as you're thrust into a series of rapid-fire, highly banked left and right turns. The sequence is broken up with a sudden and severe hill, which provides absurd airtime - or would, if there was any room between your body and the restraint for air. The first half wraps up with a couple more side to side twists and the ride's only inversions - two non-sequential corkscrews taken with plenty of speed.
Intermission is brief as the trains slow a bit in a tunnel underneath the station, and the real launch gets things going with speed not felt in the first act. The exit of the tunnel is a swift left turn, and climbs in that direction up to a brake-laden hill. Before you get all up in arms about the noticeable slowdown, it's pretty easy to see how necessary they are. All that speed out of the launch was not entirely necessary.
The rest of the second half is a series of low-altitude but acrobatic twists, turns, and dives. On a first ride it seems all but impossible to anticipate exactly what's going to happen next, which can leave riders a bit vulnerable. Things finish up with another, more gracefully executed hill, and a sweeping curve up into the brake run.
Hitting the brakes and returning to the station, there was a lot to process. This ride does a little bit of everything, and it does it with some serious bravado. The modest stats and mostly unintimidating layout give no indication of how intense it is, and even watching the trains zip through the course is no help in predicting the forces. You've really got to ride to believe - it just does everything so fast.
I was a bit blown away after the first ride, although not entirely in a good way. The combination of thigh pressure and occasional ear smacks definitely had me taking note of the discomfort during the course, and I'd say that was easily the ride's biggest drawback. Everything else was mostly just disorienting, though in a good way. Intense and fun aren't necessarily paired together, though I did have a good enough time, at least enough to be eager about a second ride. I figured with a better sense of what to expect now, I might be able to enjoy it more.
Taking a quick break from coasters, we headed for one of those new, impressive thrill rides that weren't here last time around. Sky Hawk is an S&S Screamin' Swing - simply a huge, mechanical swing. Riders get taken back and forth over 125 feet of the ground, past vertical, and hit speeds of 65mph. It looked like a hoot, and after watching a few cycles while in the queue, it was our chance to see.
We had a couple false starts. First, as the ride started, some jackass took out some sort of recording device, and the ride was immediately shut down, in accordance with the park policy. This place is not shy about their attitude towards recording equipment - it's not allowed. Period. The person got a good talking-to from the operators, with some boos even from the queue. It felt like a good reprimand, and we would have been on our way if it wasn't for the next delay, a queasy rider clamoring to get off. After what happened the day before at Marineland, we were more than happy to wait a few extra moments as he was allowed to disembark. Once we were underway, we enjoyed the heck out if it. It's not a super long cycle, but you get several full-tilt swings giving nice airtime and a great rush of speed. We'd be back.
With more time in our day than we'd originally anticipated, it was hard to avoid the headliners when their waits were so reasonable. We were around Frontiertown into the Millenium Force/Mantis midway, and we figured we'd hit both if the lines were bearable. The former was of much stronger interest to us, and to see it with barely a 30 minute crowd was a thrill in itself. So many of the queue sections were closed, and in just a bit of time we were on the final ramp to the station.
Finding another station kept intentionally quiet, we were loading into the back of the train, and I was eager to reassess this coaster masterpiece. No question this is a top ten ride, but exactly where this goes is a subject of much debate, both externally and internally. I had it at #8 in my steel list, which was obviously fair in my estimation, but perhaps laughably low to others. I only got two rides in during the last visit, so with crowds like this I knew I'd be getting a few chances to take a closer look.
Megan was eager to be getting her first ride, and I had a feeling she would enjoy it. Without overselling it, I did a good bit of cheering as we were up the massive lift, and soon over the top into all the madness. Actually, this ride really isn't that crazy. It's just so much damn fun. It's so easy to experience all the joy of coaster riding on this thing. The drop is probably the peak moment of intensity; the turns are more graceful than sudden, and the hills provide more butterflies than ejection. In some ways, it seems almost the opposite of Maverick, trading in insanity for bliss. One thing is for sure, when you hit those final brakes some 6,600 feet later, no one is disappointed.
Amped up both by the adrenaline rush and the manageable crowd situation, we were immediately across the promenade to Mantis. This was the big, bad new coaster in 1996, and believe me, it was something to behold in its day. In the 16 years since, this massive stand-up been outdone multiple times over, both by crazier coasters of the same type, and by plenty of higher profile rides here at this park.
One of my favorite "Good story, grandpa" moments I provide is when I zip through a now-empty queue that has seen some busy days in the past. Granted, we smartly hit Mantis first thing in that inaugural season, so I never waited more than 30 minutes, but it stacked up times in excess of two or three hours. Right now, it took longer for to walk into the half-empty station than we had to wait once we got there.
Unfortunately, I knew the reason for this dearth of popularity - it's just not that great of a ride. The long drop and interesting inversions are nice, and there's a good flow to the second half twisting of the ride, but its modicum of intensity is almost entirely canceled by some noticeable earbashing. It's not done over the entire course, most of the first half is bearable - but what fun the second half aims for doesn't really seem worth the discomfort. It's a shame really; it's such a visually stunning attraction. Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad, and it's definitely worth a ride. Our consensus was that considering we don't even give Riddler's Revenge (Mantis big brother) more than the token ride during ERT at Magic Mountain, there wasn't much reason to come back here.
In another drop in profile, we continued on the loop and queued up for Iron Dragon. I suppose I can see why this aged suspended coaster doesn't pull in the crowds, but in my book it's a unique and historically notable type of ride, and one that's only becoming rarer. It was no surprise to be able to walk on, and we laughed at the entirely unnecessary shoulder harness as we were quickly dispatched. This thing probably doesn't even need lap bars.
Intense this coaster is not. It has its moments of excitement (I don't even want to say "thrill"), and its minor jostles are forgivable considering its age. The swooping and swaying is nice, and the pretzel finale over the water is a scenic touch. Don't expect too much here and you'll probably find it pleasant enough. No reason to berate it so far as I can tell.
Feeling like we had a good surge since that Maverick breakdown, it seemed a fine time for a meal break. Cedar Point isn't exactly a foodie paradise, not that we expect that from most parks, but we may be a little spoiled by some of Disney's options. Once again convenience won out, and we went to the very nearby Coasters. I was sure to inquire what the Coasters Burger was, and of course I didn't order it, but we had some of the standard options, with onion rings to boot. The meals wasn't much to speak of, but at least we didn't go out of our way for it.
I knew I wanted to get to the front of the park before the closing time surge I had vague memories of. We hopped on the nearby Sky Ride after taking just a few minutes to work our way up the ramp, and we were aiming for the other end of the park's main midway. Most of the attention during the ride was paid to Raptor, the stalwart B&M inverted coaster, though the ride we were currently on is one you see less and less of around the country, and we certainly didn't take that for granted.
After a solid photo shoot of the green monster, we headed right there, and as we spied from the sky, found an absolutely ridiculous lack of a wait. It's funny to think back to waits during my first visit - it was merely in its third season and everyone was in awe of how it just towered over the front of the park. I like to think everyone still holds Raptor in high esteem, and we just timed our visit well, as the wait was barely outside the otherwise empty station. If you were keen on the front row, you'd have to be a little patient. We essentially walked onto the last row.
I can't deny the special place this ride holds in my coaster riding heart. At the inception of my absurd hobby, this ride did some absurd things. It's one of very few #1 coasters I've ever had, and it's not something I mindlessly top even to this day. Even after my last visit, it clung to my rankings as the best ride in the park. It just does so many things so well.
Off the top of the lift, the drop is more of a ramp than a dive, but it gives riders a chance to take in the midway they'll be interaction with many times over. The B&M maneuvers we've gotten to know all to well over the past 15+ years may have become commonplace, but are still executed perfectly. An intense loop and a zero-G roll with great snap start things off, and a rare inverted cobra roll provides some serious disorientation. A nice spiral ends the first half, and off the seemingly deactivated mid-course brakes you're into great twisting dive.
The respite is clearly over as corkscrew number one is taken, and a run back over the midway sets up the finale perfectly. It starts with the signature dip and flip, dives into a solid downwards helix, and finishes off with a sharp left turn into the final brakes. Finally getting to revisit it after all these years, I was thrilled to see things were still in great shape, offering a complete ride with just of a bit of edge. I know it's all just personal opinion, but I was further confirmed in how I see things.
A line this short shouldn't be taken for granted, and of course we looped back around and were right back into the line, passing section after section of unused queuing. To mix it up we went toward the front, not really seeing the need for the very first row, but finding things quiet for the second. When it was our turn to load, we saw only a twosome take the front, and were instantly there when an attentive operator asked for a pair to fill in. Needless to say, the operators here were on top of their game. Where one person might see three train operation as pointless with a short line, I see a short line thanks to three train operation.
The ride was slightly different up front, still fantastic but with a little less edge. Walking away completely satisfied, it seemed reasonable to ease it back a bit, so we went for our token ride on Blue Streak, and found no wait with two trains going. My usual comment is that this is the best wooden coaster in the park, but that really doesn't say much.
Coaster-wise, this is the last link to some of the park's impressive history, but in an industry focused on the latest and greatest, it's hard to find much respect for it. I tried to keep an open mind, but was actually less impressed than my previous rides. It had its flashes of fun, a couple nice dips here and there, but even the non-wheel row provided a good rumble that was hard to ignore. Still, worth a visit for no other reason than historical appreciation, though probably not much beyond that,
The next instance of appreciating history took us back even further, and offered even more nostalgia with less headache. Cedar Downs is an ancient carousel downs ride you just don't see anymore. One other exists in the US, at Rye Playland, and a third at Blackpool Pleasure Beach is the only other I know of. In a odd coincidence that really only happens if you turn down no park visit, a ride here meant a ride on all three in just about two years for us. The quiet accomplishment was mostly overruled by a fun whip around the course - this carousel on steroids, sans restraints, is nothing to sneeze at.
Thanks to another Facebook-fed coincidence, we learned my cousin and his girlfriend were finished up the last of their multi-day visit. Glad to finally see some family on this east coast swing, we finally coordinated a rendezvous and met back up the midway as they exited off of Dragster.
Having had the run of the place with crowds like this over the last day and change, there wasn't much left undone for them. I felt a little like a ham suggesting they double up for a ride on Dragster, as this was the last biggie we had left. Not surprisingly, it's hard to turn down a ride on anything here, and they were fine waiting another 20 minutes for repeat ride.
Yet again the short wait was mind boggling, and after dumping our stuff in a locker we felt like we were getting away with something with the vastly empty queue. It was nice to catch up, but we really didn't have that much time as we were soon into the station and onboard for one of the most impressive coaster thrills out there.
There are no secrets with this ride. You go really fast. You pull lots of G's and climb way, way up. You have a fraction of a section to take in being at the pinnacle of the park, and you just have to hold on while getting whipped around that unending drop back down. There is no subtly here, but if you're lucky enough to get to enjoy the obvious thrills, you'll have way too much adrenaline going through your system to complain about a one trick pony.
The one attraction our friends had missed in their two days was Maverick, so we made the trip to the back of the park and join a busy but moving queue. If anything, the wait was about to the point we got to after the breakdown cleared much of the way, so it ended up being not much more than a half hour, and seemed perfectly reasonable.
Ride number two improved my impression, as I hoped it might. Not just having a better sense of the twist and turns to better anticipate maneuvers, I really felt like knowing what the ride had to offer made it easier to enjoy. The twists were more natural, the flips were more exhilarating, the hills were more raucous. Granted, the restraints were exactly the same, and they still were the ride's primary bummer, but the progress after just one ride was a great sign, and I looked forward to getting a lot more exposure.
With less than an hour in the operating day, we couldn't think of a better way to end things off than on Millennium Force. Thanks to the late daylight, darkness was just settling in, but we were able to enjoy the Starlight Experience as we made our way down the Frontier Trail. Ok, so it's not much more than a conglomeration of twinkling lights strung up all over the place, but I'm not one to besmirch the awesomeness of millions of lights.
Getting to the queue, we found it to be even quieter than our mid-day visit, and had no trouble passing the wait which may have taken the better part of a half hour. Darkness had now properly descended, so this was officially a night ride, and as such one of those unforgettable coaster riding moments. We climbed quickly up into the skyline, and tried to take in every last watt of the glowing park beneath us.
The mood changes ever so quickly from anticipation to action, and again our rearward seats were whipped over the apex down into the absurdly long and steep first drop. We spent the next couple minutes absolutely careering through the darkness across the peninsula, avoiding bug strikes as best we could while absorbing every second of the intensity. Maybe this ride had more to it than I've really given it credit for. Any true assessment would have to wait. First, I needed to get insects out of my eyes and mouth.
Our foursome would soon be down to two as they called it a night, and Megan and I saw fit for a nightcap on Dragster. After all, the park didn't close for another 15 minutes. On our way there and their way out, we passed through the new Luminosity show, now in full preview mode ahead of its official opening on Friday. The over-the-top music, dancing, lighting, and pyrotechnics seemed aimed at an entirely younger demographic, though the small crowd seemed adequately riled up, even if I did see one of the coordinators clearly wince at a note sung way off-key. I'm sure they'd tighten things up by Friday.
The capstone ride on Dragster was executed flawlessly. Funny, I'll stay away from caffeine after 4pm, but I'll take a ride on one of the tallest and fastest coasters in the world not 30 minutes before hitting the hay. The clock struck 10pm just as we exited from the ride, and we were pretty damn pleased about it. Couldn't have been happier with how it went, in fact.
It was a mere couple minutes before we were out of the finally quiet park, using our special access. We took a quick peek at the now darkened shoreline, and then ducked into our hotel room. There would be more special access in the morning, at 9am in fact, but for now I was satisfied to be able to call it a night, and having come upon those elusive passes I had simply left behind.
All in all, it was an absolutely fantastic day, and we did more in half a day than we could have hoped for. There were double rides on all the biggies, and plenty of other fun filled in the afternoon and evening. Even so, thanks to the greatness of this place, there was so much that we glossed over, and we looked forward to not one, but two more days to not just fill in, but really get to feel like we had the run of the place.
I agree with just about everything you've said and described. Maverick always breaks down on me too - one of the reasons I don't like it very much. Not worth all the time I've spent waiting for it IMO. It has grown on me more over the years but it's not one of my favorites and I can live without it. Your description of MF vs Mav was spot on! I laughed at the end with the MF insect comment. I was there about 3 years ago and I was on my way out of the park. I passed Millie and there was literally no line so I had to take a night ride, couldn't pass that chance up. I waited for the front seat and had on a white shirt. Needless to say I was MORTIFIED and spent the entire ride with my head between my knees trying to shield my face from the midges. I got off the ride and ran right to the restroom to check myself and I had carnage all over me - it was disgusting. Never again! ;~)
Glad you had a great day! Amazing writing and I can't wait for day two! (I feel like I just read the first chapter of a novel and I want to see what happens next!)
Maverick was obviously a huge novelty for me, so I was willing to put up with the wait. When running, it moved well enough. As much as I enjoyed it, there are a few negatives that kept me somewhat ambivalent, though considering the spot I put it in, obviously I'm pretty fond. There just happen to be a number of coasters out there that I'm even more fond of, so it sounds like we're in the same boat.
MF at night is unreal, and I honestly don't remember all the bugs - at least not on-ride anyway. The view from the top at night is remarkable, and zooming around the park in the darkness is such a treat, it was pretty worth it to me. I'm not sure my wife was so thrilled, as after one ride we had to stop on the exit, and I had to help her remove insect parts from her eye! Hah, I guess there are a few details I do leave out. :)
Thanks so much for reading, I'll have Day 2 up tomorrow! Feel free to check out my collection of TRs on my site, and let me know if you catch any you enjoy.
Wow, what an amazing TR. I hope everyone on this forum gets to read this. You painted a mental pitcher of Cedar Point. Everything you wrote brought me to Cedar Point, as if I was there with you. I live 3 hours from Cedar Point, so as you can imagine, I've been there quit a bit. We stayed at Hotel Breakers once and described it perfectly. From the long hallway to that respect of that place's history. The first time I rode Maverick, I was not impressed. Each ride after that was more impressive than than previous. Now it's close to a top 10 steel coaster for me. As far as Millennium Force, the first time I rode it, it was at night. The last time I rode it was at night during Halloweekends. A night ride without bugs, but with fog and strobe lights. Just an awesome experience. I also briefly checked out your blog. Pretty impressive stuff. It seems you have been to most of the major parks across the globe. That's something I hope to do one day myself. After seeing your blog, it makes me want to learn how to set one up. Anyway I can't wait to read day 2 and day 3.
Thank you so much, your response is such a delight to hear. I'm so glad to hear that someone who frequents the park as much as you do still found something interesting about my TR.
I really had chills when I walked down the hallway when we first checked into the Breakers. I think my wife thought I was nuts (and maybe I am), but I was just in awe at the history and authenticity of the place. There are few places outside of Coney Island that get the recognition they deserve as pioneers of the amusement park, and thanks to all their modern scream machines, it's easy to forget that Cedar Point is among them, and one of the few that survive to this day. People are mostly amazed by what Cedar Point does today, I'm probably more interested in what they did 100+ years ago.
I'm not sure if I see Maverick ever climbing into my top 10, but I'd *love* the chance to get back to CP before too long to see. Unfortunately it'll probably be quite a while, so I'm glad I have my TR to relive it. :}
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed my site! I've been lucky to get to visit lots of parks over the past 15+ years, and it's fun to see the pins on my map grow over the years. It's certainly not the most intricate site, or the best-designed for sure, but I like having a place to share experiences and the opportunity it affords to meet other people in the community. Thanks so much for visiting!