TR: Cedar Point (05/17/2013)
Place: Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH)
This past Friday I took a trip to “America’s Roller Coast” to try out their big new addition for 2013, the GateKeeper B&M Wing Coaster. I arrived at the park at 8:45 in hopes of getting on GateKeeper during the early entry period for Platinum Pass Holders, but for some reason, everyone seemed to be able to enter at 9:00. By the time I got to the ride, I’d say I was around the 300th person in line. GateKeeper was not yet open though and it would not open until 9:20. I have to say that the ride looks simply stunning. It’s truly amazing how much that old warehouse (Disaster Transport) used to block out the view of Lake Erie. With GateKeeper there now, the area feels open and vibrant.
Once the ride opened, I made it to the point in the line where you must decide whether you want to ride on the left or right side of the train. I opted to try the right side out first and since CP is assigning seats (or at least they were on my 3 rides), I ended up in row 6 on an inside seat. Not exactly where I was hoping to take my first ever ride, but at least I was aboard. I pulled down the restraint, which at first felt comfortable and very well designed. The ops were doing an amazing job at moving people through and getting them fastened into their seats. Soon thereafter, we were off. The train climbs the 170-foot lift and offers an amazing view of the Lake Erie shoreline to those on the left side of the train (which I would ride twice later on). Once at the top, the train slowly crawls forward into the ride’s first inversion, the inline twist into the first drop. Riding on the right side, you get rolled over pretty good before diving down. On the left side, you get much more hang time as the train slowly flips. Either way, it’s an unusual feeling and a neat way to start off the ride. The train then dives down the first drop and enters a giant Immelman inversion. It seems like this element is taken rather slowly, so you get the full effect of flipping upside down here. Next up is a large “airtime hill”, that really doesn’t produce much airtime. Even so, it’s a smooth element, as is the entire ride. I was very surprised at just how smoothly the ride navigated through the various elements. A huge corkscrew follows that wraps around the ride’s “mid-course” brake section, marking the third time we are sent upside down.
Next up is the ride’s landmark “keyhole” element. Soaring high above the park’s new main entrance, the train twists through two holes carved into the towers attached to the gate, which provides an amazing head/foot chopper visual for everyone on board. I didn’t get to ride in the front due to the assigned seating, but even so, you can still see the towers and the visual effects pretty well in other seats. It’s very impressive to watch as a spectator as well. Seeing that enormous train gracefully glide through the two keyholes above the entrance is a sheer genius move as it provides an incredible “welcome” to one of America’s largest coaster parks.
After the keyhole, the train maneuvers through a dive-style loop/turnaround that sends riders back towards the main entrance for the sixth and final inversion, another inline twist that takes place alongside the keyhole towers. Again, the visuals here are quite awesome. The “mid-course” brake is next even though it is placed about 7/8 of the way through the ride. I didn’t feel any noticeable slowing, so perhaps it’s only used when necessary. A downward helix leads to a bunny hop and then the ride hits the final brakes. My opinion of the ride is that it’s a lot of fun, very smooth and re-rideable, and a definite visual masterpiece. I also have to say that I personally like the left side better than the right as you get a better view while going up the lift and you get a cool hanging sensation on the first roll-over inversion. That being said, I still rank Millennium Force and Maverick higher than GateKeeper.
My few negative reactions to GateKeeper were that the park is assigning seats, the restraint vest can really end up quite tight and uncomfortable by the end of the ride, and it seems rather short despite its enormous appearance. Other than that, thumbs up to CP who have a definite winner on their hands and will probably have a huge summer crowd wise.
Other rides I rode during the visit:
Millennium Force: Running great. Rode in the last seat of the red train and that thing was hauling. And let it be known that when the ride op asks returning riders how their ride was, the train still erupted in applause 13 years after its debut. File me in with the GP as I absolutely love this ride.
Maverick: Also running very well. The launch was awesome as always and the water bombs were on as the train rounded the turn near the bridge to Frontier Trail. I’ve always thought that was a neat visual for passers-by.
Magnum: As long as I ride a non-axle seat, I love Magnum. The airtime is insane and I still stand by my opinion that the ride’s third hill has to offer the most airtime of any single hill on a coaster anywhere. Really good stuff.
Top Thrill Dragster: Celebrating its 10th Anniversary, Top Thrill Dragster continues to be a huge hit with the GP as the posted wait time was 45 minutes. You all know the drill- launch, up, over, spiral down, thanks for coming. Still fun, but not even anywhere close to being my #1 coaster. ;)
Cedar Downs: I hate to say it, but I’m starting to dig the annoying song that accompanies the ride. The ride looked amazing this year. I’m assuming they did some painting or something as it looked the best it has in years.
CP & LE Railroad: Took a leisurely round trip lap around to see the animated residents of Boneville. That is true “vintage CP”.
Yes, that’s about all I did while at the park. Some other observations: the new Main Entrance Plaza is fantastic. Cedar Point did a really nice job of making the entrance area more modern and as I mentioned earlier, seeing a giant wing coaster soaring overhead as visitors enter the park is definitely a memorable way to make a first impression. FastLane entrances have in some cases been moved around, resulting in slightly longer waits for Millennium Force and Maverick. The number of people using FastLane wasn’t huge, but there did seem to be quite a few folks with wristbands on trying to avoid waiting in line with Math and Science Week students. The park was clean, the employees were very good, and they even have music recorded within the past 3 years playing throughout the park. I still haven’t bought in to the whole CP is the “world’s greatest amusement park”, but it’s a pretty darn good one…
I’ll be back a few more times during the summer to get on the rides I missed (which hopefully will have shorter lines thanks to everyone wanting to ride GateKeeper). As always, a link to a few pics can be found below and I have attached my odd video combination of GateKeeper and Boneville for those interested.
Thanks for reading!
As I mentioned in the other thread, I feel the restraints on Gatekeeper tightening and becoming uncomfortable is NOT exclusive to Gatekeeper, I experienced that as well on Wild Eagle. I think it's the space you allow yourself when boarding and getting settled, then the inversions and seat arrangement apply force in an unusual way and catch you off guard, thus slamming it down a bit.
Good to know that Magnum has some airtime to offer. You're also the second person to comment on that third hill. I will have to keep an eye out for that! thanks!
157 Coasters -- Favorite Coaster -- Nitro (SFGAdv)
117 Steel -- 40 Wood -- Home Park: SFGADv
First off, yes, Gatekeeper was amazing! I've never felt such a true flying experience on a coaster. It was intense with great floater air all over the place. I rank it up there with Magnum and Maverick for the best coaster in the park. It's such a unique experience it's hard to compare to other coasters.
I preferred the left side, as you get whipped up and over on that first drop - truly a crazy experience.
Glad you enjoyed your ride on Gatekeeper!