Monday, July 29, 2013

Coaster Summer Trip, Part 4: Cedar Point

"What kind of a trip is this?" I can hear you saying.  "It's called 'Coaster Summer', but there haven't been any roller coasters!"  All right, it's time to fix that.  Bring on the coasters!!!  Here we go...

Our next stop on our fantastic Summer vacation was Cedar Point Amusement Park, the "Roller Coaster Capital of the world", in Sandusky, Ohio.  An online search revealed that there are 17 coasters at Cedar Point (their website says 16), but after being there, we concluded that there were 14 "real" coasters (we didn't count the kiddie coasters, Jr. Gemini and Woodstock Express, though Melody rode the latter).  In alphabetical order, they include (with the ones we rode in bold):

Blue Streak
Cedar Creek Mine Ride


Iron Dragon
Magnum XL-200


Mean Streak
Millennium Force

Top Thrill Dragster

Wicked Twister*

It was a stifling hot and humid day, about the worst kind of day for someone with high blood pressure and diabetes, like me, but that didn't seem to diminish the crowds.  It was very crowded!  We decided to purchase Fastlane, which costs an extra $50, to receive a wristband that allowed us to use a shorter line to board the ride.  It proved well worth the cost throughout the day as the lines were extremely long for the best rides, which includes just about every roller coaster.

We started the day off by riding Millennium Force, and I was immediately reminded why it is my #1 favorite roller coaster when I rode ten years ago.  It is a steel "giga" coaster, and when it opened in 2000, it was the tallest and fastest in the world.  I still packs a thrill.  It climbs over 300 feet to its first drop, and it is spectacular!  The ride reaches 93 mph at its fastest.  It continues its smooth ride across the park, rising and falling as it doubles back towards the boarding station.  The speed never seems to let up as it winds its way back to where it started, and lasts 2 minutes and 20 seconds.  I think what makes it such a great ride is that it doesn't do a lot of fancy twists and turns which are so popular with more modern coasters.  It's built for a smooth, fast ride, and that's what makes it so much fun.

After Melody's ride on the Wave Swinger, one of her favorites, we rode Maverick, which is a steel launch coaster.  It features a 95 degree drop, the steepest at the park, and though it isn't the fastest or highest, it does provide a nice, fun ride.

We were starting to think about lunch and noticed they have a Chick-Fil-A at the park.  It was pretty crowded, though, so we went over to one of the older roller coasters at the park, the Cedar Creek Mine Ride, which didn't have much of a line at all.  It is 40-some odd years old, and doesn't have any spectacular drops or inversions, nor does it go very fast.  It has a steel track, with a wooden structure.  It's a nice ride, though.

We rode the antique cars, then decided to eat.  Having a name-brand restaurant at a theme park is something relatively new to me, something we noticed at Kings Dominion last month.  After we ate, we headed out to more coaster riding.

At the back of the park, there's a doozy of coaster called Mean Streak.  It's a wooden coaster that was the tallest and fastest when it was built in 1991.  It was a rough ride, but long and fun!  The wooden coasters always seem to have a rough ride, and this was no exception, but we enjoyed it a lot.

Next we rode Gemini.  Built in 1978, Gemini is a racing roller coaster with a steel track and a wooden structure.  When it was built, it was the tallest, fastest, and steepest roller coaster in the world.  We rode it twice, riding once on each side.  The blue coaster got a late start on the first time through and lost, and the second time through, the blue appeared to have the edge for most of the ride, but the orange caught and passed it on the last turn and finished first.  It's a nice, fun ride.

We went through the Peanuts themed area next and Melody wanted to try to ride the Woodstock Express.  The seats were a bit tight, so I decided not to ride.  Melody said it was okay, but nothing like the other coasters.

It was hot and we were taking a lot of water breaks.  Fortunately, the park has a lot of water fountains and rest rooms.

Our next ride was another one of the top roller coasters at the park:  Magnum XL-200!  Magnum was built in 1989.  It is a hyper coaster that was the highest and fastest in the world when it was built (sound familiar?).  It's a very fun ride, with a great first drop, lots of tunnels, and is fairly long.  Melody thought it was a bit too rough.  I like it, though.

By this time, the heat was getting to me and I needed a break.  The park has very few places with AC, and it was so hot.  We decided to get a caricature done of the two of us on a roller coaster, something we've done in the past.  The young guy who did ours was very good.  He is an art student from Virginia and very familiar with our favorite park, Busch Gardens.  He did a great job with Melody and me riding Millenium Force.

We decided to take the skyride back to the front of the park so we could take our portrait to the car, then come back in and ride a few more coasters.  The walk to the car did me in, however, and we took another long break.  We found a place that sold water and tried our best to cool down.  We rode a unique carousel that is set up as a racetrack.  It's a unique ride and goes much faster than a typical carousel.  It was much more fun that we expected.

I was feeling better, so we decided to ride a few more coasters.  Top Thrill Dragster is the feature coaster at the park, a 400' high towering spectacle.  But it kept breaking down and closing, and the line, which we didn't pay for with our Fastlane wristbands, was excessively long.  So we went to ride the Corkscrew.  Built in 1976, it is a pretty basic coaster that has a slight first drop that goes right into a loop, followed by a double corkscrew loop.  It was pretty fantastic in 1976, and had a twin that I rode about 25 years ago at Busch Gardens in Tampa (though that one is now gone).  Ironically, the coaster trains for the Tampa corkscrew are twins of the trains used for the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA, and when it was dismantled, those cars were brought to BGW as spare parts for Loch Ness.

Next, we rode Iron Dragon.  A steel-suspended coaster, this one also has a link as a twin to the Big Bad Wolf at BGW (and since dismantled), though it has a much different layout.  Nevertheless, Melody, who loved Big Bad Wold, loved Iron Dragon.

We were going to ride Mantis, one of the tallest, fastest, and steepest stand-up roller coasters, but I just wasn't up for that kind of ride.  We decided to run over to the Wicked Twister instead.  This is a unique ride.  It is a "steel inverted impulse coaster".  It shoots out of the station like a rocket, straight and true, then goes straight up while twisting around, then drops back down, shoots backwards through the station and does the same thing on the other end, then it repeats forward and backward before stopping again.  It's actually a whole lot of fun, and one I remembered vividly from ten years ago.  However, it appears that they redesigned the belt system, with the only one of its kind that I've ever seen single belt on the side of the harness system it uses.  When I tried to lock the belt, it just wouldn't close.  A ride attendant came over and tried and finally got it closed, but then said it was too tight, that I had to get off.  I said, "What???  You're kidding?!"  She said, "Nope."  And I had to get off.  Before I could tell Melody what was happening, the ride took off (with Melody on it).  After it was over, she said she enjoyed it, but she didn't know why I had to get off and was pretty scared before the ride took off.  I really had a problem with the whole situation. It's the first and only time I have ever been asked to get off a ride.  I still don't quite understand the point of the belt system.  It's the only one like it I've ever seen.  I'm a big guy, but not THAT big.

We headed over to Raptor next.  It is a steel inverted coaster, the tallest, fastest, and longest when it was built in 1994.  It was a pretty wild ride, very similar to Alpengeist at Busch Gardens.  I don't really like the inverted coasters, as they tend to be a little too "animated" for my tastes.  I never enjoy the ride, especially if you're not in the front seat, since you can't see what's coming.  You're just jerked around in every direction without knowing where you are, and I just don't like that feeling.  However, I did like it better than Alpengeist.

Next was Blue Streak, a nice, classic old wooden coaster.  It opened in 1964 and is currently the oldest running coaster at Cedar Point.  It's a nice, shaky, wild ride typical of an old wooden coaster.

We really wanted to ride the newest coaster, GateKeeper.  The lines were ridiculous all day long, and wasn't included in our Fastlane price.  It is a steel wing coaster, whatever that means.  It looked pretty cool.

It was dark by this time, and we were hungry for dinner.  We ate at the diner at the center of the park and had a couple of good burgers.  Then we went to Millennium Force for one more ride.  The line was long, but with Fastlane, we got to the boarding area in about 20 minutes.  The ride was awesome in the cooler night air, and was a fitting way to end the day.

We headed for the exit, stopping off for a couple of souvenirs before leaving the park for the day.  All in all, Cedar Point had some really awesome coasters, and we had a great day.  It was hot and crowded, not my favorite combination, but we made the best of it and it was memorable.

To be continued....

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