3 Incredible days at America's Roller Coast (long)

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Tuesday, September 17, 2002 1:59 PM

Cedar Point Trip Report/Diary
August 19-22, 2002

This was our 2nd trip to CP this summer. My sons Alex (14), Shaun (12) and my first trip (ever) to CP was back in June (24-27) and that time we tent-camped at Camp Sandusky. While it was a low-cost vacation the public bathrooms and showers and noisy hillbilly neighbors made it seem less like a vacation and more like a test of our endurance. But despite all that and near 100-degree heat every day (in June?!) we had a great time, as in the best vacation of our lives. Within hours of getting back home I just knew we had to get back to CP before the summer was over.

In preparation for trip #2 I worked tons of extra hours at my evening job which allowed us to stay at Breakers Express (the least expensive CP resort). If you’re not familiar with CP resorts I highly recommend checking them out as the half-hour early admittance to the park is worth staying with them for that reason alone. You realize what a great deal this is when you get off Millennium Force at 9:30 in the morning and see the line rapidly approaching a 2 hour wait for the general public. Combine the ERT with a Freeway stamp later in the day and you can look forward to two 20-minute waits (tops!) per day for MF (and in the morning you can usually squeeze in a ride or two on Raptor too).

So, after much preparation, scrimping and saving we found ourselves going to bed Sunday, August 18 around 8:00 PM so we would be rested and ready to hit the road by 4:00 AM. But excitement was high and I don’t think any of us did much except toss and turn until the alarm went off at 3:00 AM. We live in Minnesota and it’s almost exactly 700 miles to CP one way. The best time we’ve driven it in was 10.5 hours and aside from Chicago (will road construction ever end?) the drive is pretty much a breeze.

We were on the road by 4:10 AM and arrived at Breakers Express almost exactly 11 hours later. Taking the 110/6A exit off I90 we made our way into town via OH-4, then right onto Monroe which turns into First Street which then quickly intersects with the CP Causeway. The first few glimpses of the CP skyline in some ways is the most exciting part of the trip, it really is breathtaking! We made the right turn off First Street and there about a block down is Breakers Express on the right hand side. We pulled under the porte-cochere and made our way through the doors to the front check-in desk. The person at the front desk was very friendly and helpful and within a few minutes we had our room keys/cards and ERT pass (they only give out one per group). We were told we could enter the park at 9:00 AM when MF and Raptor would be open for resort guests only. WT has apparently been permanently removed from ERT as earlier in the summer Raptor was a back-up for when WT was down. Before heading for our room we checked out the lobby and were very happy to see the Krispy Kreme display/racks. Donuts arrive every morning by 7:00 AM and honestly that is a big motivator for us wanting to stay there again. By the end of the trip all our faces had broken out and I think I gained five pounds but that’s the price you pay for heavenly globs of sugar and grease.

Our room was 2051 meaning it’s on the 2nd floor and faces the parking lot. Even number rooms look-out over the pool and odd number face the lot. The first thing that strikes you as you’re lugging your suitcases through the lobby are the huge pictures/prints of CP coasters on the walls in the south entrance – they are absolutely incredible! Would love to be able to purchase smaller versions but for some bizarre reason CP does not sell posters of their coasters (which seems like a glaring marketing oversight).

When we first got off the elevator on the 2nd floor I was struck by one thought – "this place is a pit!" The hallways literally had housekeeping-stuff strewn all over the place, it really was the worst I’ve ever seen a motel and obviously was a major letdown/disappointment. Fortunately by the time we got back from the park that evening the entire mess had been cleaned-up and things were pretty much spotless for the remainder of our stay. After a quick unload of the car and checking out our room (very nice, clean, 2 queen-size beds plus a great selection of cable channels including Comedy Central!) we were on our way to the world’s largest amusement park.

The weather was very unsettled and in fact it looked like it could pour at any moment but since we have season passes we decided to risk it. And that brings us to my first ride on our 2nd trip to CP – the blue CP minivan – woohoo! On our trip back in June I toyed with the idea of purchasing a parking pass but at $50 I decided to pay the daily rate. Luckily I had hung onto all four parking ticket-stubs from that trip and knew that I could apply two of those ($16) towards a pass this time. After discussing our situation with the parking gate attendant he let us use one of our stubs from June to get into the park – whatta nice guy! He said that we needed to go to member services near the front gates to purchase the parking pass. Unfortunately member services told us parking passes can only be purchased at the front gates for people with CP season passes and our season passes are for Valley Fair. So they directed us back to the little building by the parking/entrance gates where we would be allowed to purchase this persnickety sticker. After driving 700 miles and being frustrated with this run-around I did something sorta foolish. Instead of driving out of the park I parked in the back row of the lot by the traffic-directing guy and explained to him I was going to jog the last 50 yards back to the parking gates/building. I told the kids to sit tight and knew they’d be fine with the attendant right there. I arrived at the little building completely out of breath and the guys there apparently felt sorry for me and let me use all four of my previous parking ticket stubs from June towards the purchase of a season parking pass. So with some effort and hassle we managed to get a parking pass for a mere $18! The trip was already off to a great start - love getting a deal even if I have to work a little. Unlike parking passes at Valley Fair the CP folks insist on putting the sticker on the windshield themselves. Why that is I have no idea but I wasn’t about to argue after getting such a great deal. So they led me over to the blue CP minivan and two very bored-looking employees drove me back to the car and within a few moments the sticker was applied (altho all wrinkly!) to our windshield. We pulled up to our usual parking spot (13E) and finally made our way to the gates.

The gate/park attendant took down all the info off our VF season passes and finally we were inside the park – what a great feeling and sense of accomplishment! Our first ride back in June was Raptor and we decided that should be a tradition. The line was amazingly short and within 10 minutes we found ourselves buckled-into the third row. While we were standing in line we reminisced and joked about our first ride on our first ever suspended/inverted coaster. Our only other coaster experiences up until then were at Valley Fair and we all had a good laugh about how I screamed through that entire first ride on Raptor. There is nothing like that first time and really it is enhanced if you can exhaust yourself first by driving 700 miles before climbing on, lol - that was the biggest rush of my life, even more so than my first ride on MF. Even tho we were now veterans Raptor still provided an awesome ride and we were all very dizzy as we made our way down the stairs and back to the sights, sounds and smells of the midway.

The sky continued to look menacing so we went for another short wait and headed for Blue Streak and what a great ride it was! Love that all wiggly feeling on the track on the lift hill (but apparently "shuffling" is a bad thing?) and we were treated to some great air time. Even the kids who normally only like killer-rides agreed BS is a great and more importantly really fun ride – it’s not to be missed! After BS we made our way over to Wicked Twister and that had a really short wait as well, maybe 15 minutes. After hearing about all the problems they had been having we were very happy to see it running at what appeared to be full power. Plus the WT crew are simply great, getting everyone on and off the ride very efficiently. After WT we headed back to the motel so Alex could change shoes as his feet were really hurting (only wear well broken-in shoes to CP!).

We returned to the park and it really was absolutely amazing that it hadn’t rained a drop – the sky looked incredibly stormy. Since we had lucked-out so far we decided to get in line for MF which had about an hour wait. We rode near the front and it was a great, literally breathtaking ride. After MF we were exhausted and decided to call it a day – a very long but fun day indeed! Back at the motel Shaun fell asleep within moments of his head hitting the pillow with the lights on and TV blaring. Alex stayed up for a bit longer and I was almost over-tired and couldn’t get to sleep until after 11:00. The first night at the motel was very noisy for some reason, lots of slamming doors with the highlight being a boyfriend who locked his girlfriend out of their room after a heated argument in the hallway. If you’re looking to get to bed early Breakers Express is not the place to stay as things really don’t quiet down until a couple of hours after the park closes. I made a point to not let our door slam shut for the rest of the trip and thankfully most people were also considerate after that first night as well. My only other gripe is that it took three requests to get our clock radio replaced as the volume knob was broken turned all the up.

The next day I woke up around 7:00 and made my way down to the lobby to pick-up a half-dozen Krispy Kremes thinking to myself "I don’t ever wanna leave this place!" I mean, coasters and donuts – what the heck else can a person want? Woke the kids up at 8:00 and after donuts and juice boxes we were on our way back to the park for our first ever ERT. We arrived around 8:45 and there was already a pretty big line for resort guests and Joe Cool club members. One trick we caught onto is that if you have season passes you get into the park way ahead of everyone else as there is a turnstile dedicated for season pass holders only – you just need to sorta "excuse me" yourself up to the front. Makes sense the season pass line is short as most resort guests are from out of town and are likely buying the 2-day Ride N’ Slide passes. What we also found is that CP season pass holders get mighty grumpy waiting for the gate attendant to write down info for us non-CP season pass holders – sorry!

This first morning we were through the gates by 9:05 and sitting in the front row of MF by 9:45. That was my first time in front (with three of us we have to trade off) and holy crap was that a great way to start the day! The weather was absolutely beautiful, partly sunny, high right around 80 – a very much welcome change from the searing heat back in June. After a mind-blowing ride on MF (everyone should ride up front at least once!) we tried our luck on Mantis 3rd row. While I enjoyed the ride back in June and this time as well the kids absolutely hate it due to head-banging and strain on the legs. Looking back it really isn’t all that fun, I think "freaky" would best describe Mantis. It’s definitely not a "yay let’s do that again" (best said in Donkey’s voice from Shrek) kinda ride. More like, "that was weird, now let’s ride something fun!" reaction. And that was our only ride on Mantis for the trip and I really didn’t miss going back for another one. Next time if I can talk Alex and Shaun into it we’ll wait it out for the front row, but the line/queue moves so slowly to begin with. What’s up with running only 2 trains?

After Mantis we got in line for the MF Freeway handstamp which was now stretching back to the Red Garter Saloon. After about a 20 minute wait we were stamped for a 3-4:00 ride. We waited for MF Freeway stamps every day and it was amazing how many people stopped to make snide comments about how stupid it is to stand in one line so that you don’t have to stand in another. Each time I kindly replied and pointed out that we had done the math and that a 20 minute wait for the hand stamp plus a 20 minute wait (max) for the ride itself definitely beat-out waiting 1.5-2 hours.

With our hands brightly stamped we made our way to the back of the park and mustered up the courage to climb aboard Mean Streak. We had read so many negative reviews on the net that in June we skipped the ride altogether. But over the summer more and more people were coming forward saying that while the ride still isn’t very fast it’s nowhere near as rough as it used to be. While later in the trip MS (mostly the crew) put in me a very foul mood this maiden voyage proved to be a great time! Sure the first hill and the squealing are awful but it’s still an interesting layout and a fun way to blow three minutes of your life (never stand in line for this one tho). We rode the red train and after all the apprehension it really seemed like a very smooth ride.

By now it was around 11:30 in the morning and I remembered we were supposed to stand in front of the Demon Drop webcam (right in front of the games booth) at noon to wave at friends and family back home. It took us darn near a half-hour to make it there and sure enough when I got back home and checked email I found my very dear friend Kristen saved the picture for us. Sure it’s blurry and silly but it was a fun thing to do =). After the webshot we waited around 40 minutes for a ride on the always incredible Wicked Twister. This ride never fails to disappoint and it would get my vote as the most fun/happy/smile-inducing ride in the park.

It was pushing 1:00 and we were all hungry and decided to give the Friday’s at the Radisson (also a CP resort) a try. It’s nice to get away from the park and take a break somewhere air-conditioned and comfortable. Unfortunately Friday’s was not such a place. The restaurant was deserted and while we were seated promptly we waited at least 15 minutes before I got up and found someone to wait on us. Plus the place was infested with flies – not a good sign! The food itself was OK but I would not go back there again. I usually love Fridays but this one most definitely missed the mark. After lunch we headed back to the motel for a little rest and laughs with The Kids in the Hall on Comedy Central ("I’m crushing your head!").

We headed back to the park a little after 3:00 and were astounded by how crowded it was – way more so than any day when we there in June. Making our way through the very busy midway we entered the Freeway lane for MF. 20 minutes later Alex and I were buckling ourselves into the third to last row and Shaun took a seat more up front. Hands-down the most air time to be had in the park is on the third hill of MF in one of the back cars – absolutely loved it! While the front car provides the greatest rush the back is really more "fun", definitely not to be missed.

After MF we headed to the back of the park to give MS another whirl but get this – there was a 45 minute wait! We definitely knew it wasn’t worth it and made our way over to Gemini which usually is a walk-on but that had a 30 minute wait. We figured what the heck and got in line and endured the roughest ride of the trip. Every ride prior to and after had been amazingly smooth but this one caused real live "ouch" pain in all our backs, especially right after coming out of the first hill. I’m not sure what was going on but something was definitely out of adjustment but like I said that was our one and only bad ride on Gemini ever.

A little disappointed and sore we made our way over to Magnum which was sporting a 45-minute wait – the park was packed! I took the ejector seat and Alex and Shaun took car 1.2. While Shaun and I absolutely loved it (in some ways it is my fave in the park) Alex got the dreaded mid-course stapling action. The way I see it the key to a fun ride on Magnum all gets down to thigh size/circumference. Shaun has smaller thighs than Alex and mine are obviously larger, Alex must have one of those in-between sizes that equals pure Magnum agony. His on-ride picture revealed the poor guy pulling up on the lap bar with a very distinct "owww!" coming out of his mouth. The thigh-size factor pretty much explains why this seems to be a love/hate ride - it would be interesting to conduct a poll on how well people like Magnum and include thigh circumference as one of the questions. And why don’t they modify the lap bars so that they lock-in at a comfortable position for everyone and stay that way? Maybe next time we’ll load Alex’s pockets up with packing peanuts.

After two somewhat rough/less-than-stellar rides we decided to head for a sure-fire easy-going ride, Iron Dragon! Believe it or not the previous trip I managed to hurt myself on ID. If sitting in one of the front cars with the lip of the car at knee-level you can give yourself a heckuva good whack when it comes to a stop at the station. It’s the type of whack you tend to remember and not repeat (keep knees down!) so we had another peaceful and relaxing ride through the trees and the mist. To me Iron Dragon is the "let’s take a break" ride and it really is fun and relaxing, I’m sure we’ll ride it at least once on every trip to CP.

Then we were onto Raptor which had a posted 45 minute wait and that’s almost exactly how long it took for us to be strapped into our usual third row. I’ve been wanting to get an on-ride picture of us on Raptor but to date none have turned out very well. Every time at least one of us has an expression on our face like we’re on the toilet or something – what an intense ride! By now it was going on 8:00 and we decided to take another break at the motel (love that parking pass!) and we caught a pretty hilarious episode of That 70’s Show.

We headed back to the park around 9:00 and decided to get daring and parked in the Soak City parking lot. If only we had decided to do that on Wednesday or Thursday, then maybe we would have seen the new track for the new coaster laying next to Mean Streak! The sad fact is while we poked our noses around plenty around Area 51 we never saw one piece of new track the entire time we were there – and from what i’ve read you could see it from the lift hill on MS! It was a total rush getting home and hopping onto Coasterbuzz to read about the new track when we were just there – how could we have missed it? Not that it would have been that big a deal to have seen it but it would have been, well, cool.

We had read a lot about how much more fun MS is to ride at night so we made our way through the Magnum entrance to the park and over to the line. This was our first taste of what the MS crew does apparently at least once a night – the removing of at least one train (more griping on this later). Since MS was technically closed the line started at the entrance to the ride and was stretching back only half-way towards the railroad crossing. After inquiring as to what was going on we were told it would only be another five minutes and the ride would be re-opened. For the next ten minutes we watched empty trains cycle through the course and then we were allowed to actually enter the queue. Sure enough we had a great ride, seemed like way less squealing than during the day and it was just plain fun! Nothing outstanding but a good, crazy ride through the dark and maze of timbers.

By now it was approaching 9:30 so we headed for what would turn out to be the best ride of the trip – a night-ride on MF! The weather was absolutely gorgeous, a warm, slightly muggy evening and while it wasn’t perfectly clear the stars were out. The entire park takes on this magical glow as night falls, the walk through Frontier Trail at night is especially enchanting if not a bit spooky. When we arrived at MF we were taken aback by the loudly proclaimed 2 hour wait. We looked at our watches and then each other, attempting to imagine what two hours later might be like. But there really wasn’t any choice, this is the ride we had been waiting for more than any other. It turned out to be a little over an hour and a half and by 11:05 we were seated towards the back of the blue train. Words cannot begin to describe the feeling of going up the lift hill with nothing but stars and the moon reflecting off the lake, it’s a memory that will surely flash through my head in my final moments on earth. In some ways it’s too bad the ride up the hill doesn’t last longer because before we knew it we were screaming through the darkness at 90+ MPH and then, it was over. But whatta great ride it was – do whatever it takes to get a night ride on MF, it’s a moment you will remember all your life.

After heading out of the exit queue we started to make our way back to the car and noticed a huge line that had formed about a hundred yards in front of the laser-light show screen. Curiosity got the best of me and I asked one of the people in line who smiled and politely replied in a very eastern European accent, "employee cinema night" – how cool! I have no idea what movie they showed but it was interesting and ironic to see CP’s own employees standing in line, some with massive inflatable air mattresses, blankets, chairs, etc. Made me wonder why they had to stand in line – I suppose waiting for all guests to leave the park? Anyway the walk back to the car was very cool, almost eerie as the park was nearly deserted now.

We got up Wednesday morning and after another dose of two Krispy Kremes apiece we were on our way to the park by 8:30. What an incredible contrast the parking lot was to the day before at around the same time, easily half the number of cars. This held true for the rest of the day and lines in general were all very short (except for MF of course). Now that we had the ERT and season pass line routine down we made even better time to MF. This time Alex and I waited for the very back car and next to the front this is my 2nd favorite place to ride. You get such an incredibly different ride in the back, it’s hard to put into words except you feel more like you’re water skiing behind a boat rather than riding in it – a much wilder and slightly out of control kinda sensation. I could ride MF at least once a week for life and never grow bored, it seems like it always has something new and exciting to offer.

Then it was over to Raptor for a short wait for the front row – pretty much the only place to ride Raptor. The view of the gardens below and not having any obstructions makes it seem all that much more convincing that you really are flying. While I love this ride, much more so than Alex or Shaun, I wish they could end it a little more smoothly as it seems more often than not the ol’ ears get banged-up as it abruptly comes to a stop. This time I tried the Discovery Channel guy’s method of riding and kept my hands on my knees the entire time – that really is a great way to ride and makes you feel like you’re maneuvering (like skiing) through the course.

Then it was off to WT for a seat in the back - OMG whatta great ride! My favorite place still is the front (or 2nd to front as we’ve never been patient enough to wait for front row) but the 2nd or full time on the backwards spike is incredibly disorienting and thrilling. So fun to see everyone looking up at you, the beach and lake to the left – you can’t help but smile. It’s hard to believe this ride is new as it seems like it should always have been there – a very nice fit to the park.

After WT we headed back to Blue Streak but the line for some goofy reason was at least a half-hour long (longer than WT!) and the late-morning sun was proving to be brutal so we skipped out of line. Why don’t they provide some kind of covering or shade in the queue for BS? We headed over to the MF Freeway stamp line and 20 minutes later we were sporting temporary tattoos for a 3-4:00 ride. After that it was another fairly ok ride on MS but I was beginning to see why people don’t think too much of it. For one the crew, they really seem to hate being there as much as some people seem to hate riding MS. It’s like the little-big-sad coaster stuffed in the back that no one likes.

Then it was onto an incredibly, phenomenally, smooth-as-glass ride on Gemini – whatta contrast to the day before. We did the hand-slap thing and laughed and generally just had a great ride. If you look up fun in the dictionary there should be a picture of Gemini (well-maintained tho ;). Then it was the obvious next selection for a ride on Magnum and Alex being the good/brave-sport he is decided to give it another whirl. Once again Shaun and I loved it and while it wasn’t as bad as the day before Alex still got the mid-course stapling treatment. That is sucha shame because Maggie is sucha great, wild, unbridled, out-of-control, mad, crazy ride – I love it! I could have ridden it 10 times in a row but totally understood Alex not wanting to go back on again – vacations should be fun, not painful.

By now we were very hungry and after reading all the great reviews on the net we decided to give Midway Market a whirl. All three of us agree that MM is a great place to eat! Way better than Old Country Buffet, in fact if there was a MM near my house I would eat there quite often, amusement park or not. Amazingly everything was really, really good – main courses like chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole plus tacos, pizza, burgers, eggrolls, Italian stuff and a small but very fresh salad bar, the desserts kicked butt too. MM charges $9.95 per adult up until 3:00 when the price goes up to $12.95 (but the food changes to more dinner-oriented offerings). If you want to get a taste of lunch and dinner try showing up around 2:30, you only pay the lunch price but can enjoy the best of both worlds/menus. After all that food plan on taking at least an hour off to sit and chat and drink lots of pop (included with the meal, whatta deal!).

After a solid hour and a half break/rest at MM we hauled our bloated bellies over to Disaster Transport. The wait was around a half-hour and the air-conditioned queue was definitely most welcome. A family that just gotten off the ride handed us their 3D glasses and while it was interesting to check out their effect on all the blacklight stuff in line they mostly just made me feel dizzy, like wearing someone else’s prescription glasses. The ride itself is simply way too short, a fun, precious few seconds flying through the dark and it’s over before you know it. To me it would seem obvious that this will be the next coaster to be replaced/torn-down. With very little imagination you can picture a beautiful flying coaster in DT’s place providing swooping, breathtaking views of the beach and the lake. And maybe give it a name that has something to do with seagulls (or muffleheads or mayflies ;)? Anyway, if you miss DT (or Corkscrew or CCMR, the next two to go) don’t sweat it, you really aren’t missing anything.

After the ho-hum ride on DT it was time once again to enter the now beloved MF Freeway queue. When you’re walking up the lane past all those people who have been waiting 1.5-2 hours the only thing you can think to do is look down at your shoes because you know if you look up you won’t be able to help but crack a devilish smile! Seriously, taking the Freeway to MF is one of the best parts of the ride, you’re truly special for a few brief moments. What is interesting is that there isn’t an attendant waiting at the actual merge point anymore so you just sorta hope people will let you in (as opposed to beating you to death ;), thankfully we never had a problem there. Our general rule (excluding night rides on MF) is to never enter a line that has a longer posted wait than 45 minutes (as they are typically closer to a half-hour). If you come back later in the day the line will almost always be shorter, this is especially true for Raptor. Anyway, 20 minutes later we were treated to another great adrenalin-fest/rush on MF, sitting in the 3rd-4th cars.

By now we were ready for a break and decided the Sky Ride would come in mighty handy in getting us closer to the parking lot but the line was ridiculously long (at least 15 minutes). So we hoofed-it back down the midway, got our re-entry stamps and headed back to the car near 13E (we lost the car back in June and have since chosen 13E as our home). We all took a brief nap and watched a bit of a SNL re-run on Comedy Central. This place is heaven – how were we ever going to leave?

We got back in the park around 6:30 and headed over to WT for a 2nd to the front ride. Love that 2nd to last shot up the front spike and it was yet another great ride. The sun was starting to set and the glowing WT lights flickered-on and once again it felt like magic was in the air. While we were standing in line for WT Alex noticed a freighter ship out on the water – perhaps it was carrying track for the new coaster?

After WT we had a walk-on for BS and we enjoyed a great ride on this classic woody. I wanted to go again but the kids were more in the mood for something bigger so we hopped-on Gemini for another smooth and amazingly fun ride. After that we took another spin on the always rockin’ Magnum and Alex actually had his one and only good ride on it (are some trains/cars worse or better than others?).

Now it was time for yet another ride on MS and we should have stopped with the last one the day before. I finally got a taste of whatta crap operation and crew they have for what should be a great-running/performing ride. Once again MS had been shut down but this time and much to our horror they had removed two out of the three trains! Like fools we stood and waited and I kid you not it took close to a half-hour to get on the stupid thing and all of the wait time was in the station itself. I asked one of the ride ops exactly whose decision it was to take two trains off and he pointed to Tracy. Tracy walked over and explained to us that going down to one train was necessary and really saved on maintenance on the trains and track. I offered up the crazy idea that the price of admission should cover such maintenance and that running two trains would really save on guests having to wait in line! Besides, what the heck is the park doing building a ride they claim they can’t afford to maintain? Several people in line applauded my comments and I was uncharacteristically soured by Tracy’s flimsy, anti-guest response. When we finally got on I was fuming, it was like we had stumbled into a wormhole and been transported into an evil, alternate CP universe! Even the ride seemed grumpy and unhappy, screeching and howling through the entire course far more than on previous rides. Yes we too had joined the ranks of MS-haters and it’s really quite sad. With a little work, a few dollars invested and some guest relations training MS could be a really fun time.

It was pushing 9:30 so we headed over to MF for the last ride of the night and by around 10:40 we were silently gliding up the lift hill in the pitch darkness. No stars that night but still an amazing and thrilling ride. To think that some people will never know what that it’s like to ride MF is so sad – everyone should at least once! While standing in line we met a very nice couple and their son who were from the Chicago area (hi Bruce, Susan and Sean!). Meeting interesting people in line really makes the time fly by fast. We talked about their home park (SFGAM) and we’re looking forward to checking it out next year. They were staying at the Radisson and they said it was very quiet over there and not all that much more per night, may have to check that out for next year.

I woke up on our last day and was amazed I actually slept well! Despite being woke up by the mutant clock radio this was the first good night of sleep I had all week. Alex wanted to sleep-in so just Shaun and I headed to the park for ERT. It was very cloudy for the entire day (with some pretty heavy storms in the late afternoon) and the crowds the lightest of the three full days we were there. This time we really had the ERT/season-pass line down and were one of the first ones through the gate and we actually ran/jogged our way over to MF and by 9:20 we were sitting in the front row. Now that is a great way to start the day, another literally breathtaking ride, Shaun says that my face flaps in the wind! :-)) After MF we took a spin on Raptor, then WT before heading back to Breaker’s Express to pick up Alex.

Upon getting back into the park we headed over to the MF Freeway line and were stamped for a 5-6:00 ride time. Haven’t talked much about food but we absolutely love the boardwalk fries and the frozen fruit-drinks sold at the little stand between Iron Dragon and Corkscrew – mighty tasty! There are so many layers to enjoy at CP and the food is most definitely one of them, there’s still plenty left for us to try on future trips. That and I would like to check out the shows and perhaps a ride on the steamboat/paddlewheel but I’m sharing this trip with two adrenalin junkies who are only interested in being scared to death. Snoopy on ice would scare them but not in a good way (running out of the theater screaming!).

It was time for the usual walk back through Frontier Trail for a ride on MS which was thankfully running two trains, a little rougher than previous rides but still a fun ride/diversion. Then another slightly rough ride on Gemini, 3rd from the front (front car is best). The train Alex was on (red) got stuck about a ¼ of the way up the lift hill so we most definitely beat them :)). After Gemini was another appointment with seat 1.3 on Magnum. Once again Alex was brave but the stupid lap bar stapled him again right before the first lift hill! Major pain for him, I felt really bad – why can’t they fix the stupid lap bars?! In addition to a height requirement Magnum needs a recommended minimum/maximum thigh circumference chart posted outside the queue.

We were getting hungry for lunch/dinner but decided to take a run on WT in the back row and as always we loved it. So glad Valley Fair will have something similar for the 2003 season. After WT it was the usual 3rd row on Raptor followed by a little shopping for postcards and souvenirs. Lunch/early-dinner again at the Midway Market and it was even better than the day before. We hit the lunch to dinner menu switch and literally ate lunch and dinner – again, really, really good food for the money.

We were so stuffed we headed back to the motel for a little break which was a good thing as severe storms were popping-up all over northern Ohio. We watched the weather channel, a tornado had been sighted east of Cleveland and you could see on radar that Sandusky was going to get in on the action too. Luckily all we got was an hour of heavy rain and lightning. And finally the room service person knocks on the door with a replacement clock radio – just in time for us to leave, lol. By 5:30 the rain had stopped so we raced back to the park to catch our Freeway ride on MF before 6:00. This would be our last ride on this utterly amazing and outstanding machine – Alex and I sat 2nd to last row and Shaun more up towards the front.

Yes, you guessed it, back to MS (the only ride that really was "new" to us) but this time I witnessed something that made my jaw drop. Just as we arrived to get in line we saw dozens of people pouring back out through the entrance. The good ol’ MS crew were once again removing a train but this time they sent everyone in line packing! What they had done before was send an attendant to the front to close the queue and let those in line get a ride before doing the train maintenance. You could tell many of the guests were unhappy but I was beginning to realize this kind of arrogance was SOP for the lackluster MS crew.

Rather than waiting for MS we took a couple of laps on Gemini which was a total walk-on and a very smooth ride. Then back to MS which was now open and we all did our best not to laugh at the very depressed-sounding ride operator/announcer. Seriously, I’ve seen happier employees at Burger King – CP needs to do something about this! We took our last run on MS and all of the "newness" had worn-off and it officially became one of my least favorite rides in the park.

Our last three rides of the day and trip were WT (2nd to front) and then two final flights on Raptor which was nearly a walk-on. At 9:00 we headed out for the gates and took one last look back at the Midway now lit up so beautifully, just like out of a dream (the gates to heaven should look so good!). I asked a guy sitting in front of the Carousel to take one last picture of the three of us to which he cheerfully obliged but the bulb on the camera wasn’t working – it must been shaken to death on MS, it’s final laugh on us all ;).

As we were driving back to the motel we took one last glance at the CP skyline and it really was a great but sorta somber moment – we wouldn’t be back for another year. Still we more than felt we had done the park properly and were very much coastered-out. The next morning we loaded up on KK’s and hit the road. Traffic around Chicago was more awful than usual (hit it around 1:00 PM) but I had the kids back to their mom’s (just a few miles from where I live) by dinner time. We hugged goodbye and then it really struck me hard – the best vacation ever, was over. Time to start planning for next year!

Ride statistics (# of laps/rides):

Raptor – 6
Blue Streak – 2
Wicked Twister – 7
Millennium Force – 9
Mantis – 1
Mean Streak – 6
Gemini – 6
Magnum – 4
Iron Dragon – 1
Disaster Transport – 1

43 laps/rides altogether over 3.3 days!

Pictures of this trip are available at http://members.tcq.net/onhisown/photo.htm

Tuesday, September 17, 2002 2:07 PM

Nice long, complete, well-written review there. Took me a long time to read it but I enjoyed being able to relate my own experiences to yours.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002 4:14 PM
Nice comprehensive trip report. I am sure that most people who have been to Cedar Point share your enthusiasm and would agree that it is one of the greatest places on Earth.
Tuesday, September 17, 2002 5:31 PM

Great TR! About Magnum - yes, the ride has a lot of personality and the ride you get varies by seat, train, time, weather, etc. In general, if someone is having problems with the ride being rough or painful, I recommend sitting in the middle of one of the cars. There are three rows in each car and the middle one is not over a wheel so it is usually a bit smoother. Some people just can't take the extremely strong airtime that seat 1.3 offers. Anyone who has ridden Magnum and not liked it, I recommend taking a ride in 5.2 or 6.2. Those seats are a bit smoother than up front and still offer a fun, airtime filled ride!

The Mean Streak situation bothers me a bit. Obviously, the ride has lost a lot of popularity over the years as its ridership has dropped each of the last several years. Mine Ride gives more rides than Mean Streak believe it or not. One of CP's strengths has always been its capacity and honestly it bothers me that they dropped to one train. Two trains might be acceptable, but one is rediculous unless the park is a complete ghost town. The day they start doing that crap with all their rides is the day CP slips down a notch (or three) in my book. One of the things I love about the place is that in general, they run everything at full capacity regardless of crowd conditions. I get pissed when I go to other parks and wait a half an hour when the wait should be ten minutes and that sounds like exactly what you did on Mean Streak.

2001 Magnum Crew

*** This post was edited by MDOmnis on 9/18/2002. ***

Tuesday, September 17, 2002 7:05 PM

MDOmnis said:

Anyone who has ridden Magnum and not liked it, I recommend taking a ride in 5.2 or 6.2. Those seats are a bit smoother than up front and still over a fun, airtime filled ride!

Thanks for the advice, Alex will have to give it a try next time. I can see a thousand more rides on Maggie, haven't even tried it towards the back yet - tons more to look forward to. But eight whole months till next season, that seems *way* too far away.


Tuesday, September 17, 2002 8:10 PM

Just a note about accomidations:

Breakers Express may have seemed like a pit... I stayed one night at the Radisson Harbor Inn, and I would NOT have stayed any longer. The hallways were a bit cleaner, but everything else about the room was amiss.

Everything smelled like smoke (non smoking room), the bedsheets/couch had a musty thing going, the bathrooms are in such a way that if the people in the room next to you flush their toilet at 3 AM, you get every bit of that noise, the Fridays there was DIRTY (waaaaaaaaaaaay moreso than the Breakers Fridays), and so were the rooms (not to mention bug problems.)

But aside from those issues, it wasn't much of a problem.... :)

Stay at BE over Radisson... Be happy.

But Breakers is still the best place. Tower if possible. Had a broken fan one night, and they fixed it the next day while I was in the park. I couldn't complain. If you have the dough, it is the place to stay.

"Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation." - David St. Hubbins, Spinal Tap

Wednesday, September 18, 2002 11:21 AM
CPLady's avatar

Great TR, and glad you had a good time. As for the parking sticker, they probably want to be sure it is secured to your windshield, rather than taped so as not to be transferable.

It's sad to hear another MS horror story. I remember my first heavily trimmed ride and how shocked I was...so much so that when we got back to the station and the ride op said "welcome back green train riders, how was your ride", I did something I rarely do, and said it was terrible! That was two years ago. I'm sure the poor MS ops get grumped on constantly, and it's likely hard to keep up the positive, smiling attitude after a season of gripes from guests.

BTW, I also prefer Breaker's Express to Radisson

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

Wednesday, September 18, 2002 11:26 AM
Jeff's avatar

Radisson is in dire need of new furniture and such. It's in really bad shape.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
"There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, when it's all in your mind. You gotta let go." - Ghetto, Supreme Beings of Leisure

Wednesday, September 18, 2002 2:17 PM

CPLady said:

BTW, I also prefer Breaker's Express to Radisson

Aside from that inital impression/experience BE rocked. By the third night I was convinced I could live there ;). Like I-Nar said Breakers would be *the* place to stay, seems most prefer it to Sandcastle Suites simply because of location. Now I just gotta find a way to get rich!

Wednesday, September 18, 2002 9:48 PM
The back of the park is home to CP's most temperamental rides, Magnum, Mean Steak, and Gemini. Like Matt said, where you sit really plays into how smooth the ride is. Gemini trains are divided into five seperate cars. You need to sit in either the first or second row of a car for a smooth ride. Avoid the third row completely. And the closer you sit to the front of the train, the smoother the ride. Also, make sure you lean forward a bit. However, if you're an airtime junkie, the very last seat will give you airtime like none other when you're going down the first drop.

Brent Haley
Cedar Point Gemini Crew '02

Thursday, September 19, 2002 4:54 PM

I'm going to have to disagree with you, there. I've been in the very last seat of both Gemini and Magnum. 170 vertical feet of airtime, or 195? I rest my case.

That is not, of course, to say that Gemini is a bad ride. I like it a lot. In fact, it's the only coaster I can say I've ever really marathoned.

Marko, nice trip report. It's great to be able to read a well-written acount of one of my favorite places on Earth as a break from homeowrk (dormwork?).

*** This post was edited by (SF)Great American on 9/19/2002. ***

Friday, September 20, 2002 8:35 AM

Fantastic TR!! I'm going to CP for the first time the first weekend in October! You helped a lot! Great read! :o)

Go Gamecocks!!


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