Trip Report: Cedar Point Coastermania
June 15, 2007
It's a long ride up to Cedar Point, so I started the night before the event, traveling from Coasterville to Coaster Central to spend the night in Columbus. Rideman and I had reviewed the event schedule, and came to the mutual decision to skip the morning ERT session. After all, the evening ERT runs till 12:30AM, and morning ERT would require a 4AM departure from Columbus. We had planned on leaving Columbus such that we could arrive at the park around the normal opening time. That was before the trains, slow moving trucks, slower moving farm implements and whatever else had conspired to delay our arrival in Sandusky.
As it turns out, rather than arriving at the park around 10AM, we actually arrived shortly after 11AM. We arrived at the park and using Rideman's All-Ohio parking pass, we dodged the $10 parking fee, and proceeded to drive most of the way around the perimeter of the park to park in the super secret lot behind Gemini. Cedar Point has multiple admission gates, including one that is really meant for Cedar Point patrons to be able to access Soak City and Challenge Park. Fortunately they also allow admission through this small back gate. Admission with Kings Island passes was easy, we were directed by the gatekeeper to go through a door marked "Employees Only" into the ticket cage for this gate, at which point we we were aksed to sign in on a clipboard, while the attendant in the office scanned our passes on a computer to verify our photos. Recall that Kings Island passes do not have photos directly on the pass. Rideman indicated the computer is a relatively new addition to the process. We walked through another "Employee Only" door into the park, and through a tunnel under the perimeter road.
We entered the park and headed towards Magnum to find a 30 minute wait. We decided to skip it for now, besides its on the ERT schedule for tonight. Since we had entered in the back gate, we still needed to pick up Coastermania credentials at the front gate, also Rideman had an interest in the Q&A session which meant we had to head to the front gate soon. We made our way to the center of the park, then got in line for the Sky Ride to the main gate. Who should come up the Sky Ride entrance ramp behind us, but none other than Paul Drabek. Hi, Paul, haven't seen you around much this season. We chatted while waiting to ride the Sky Ride, a wait that was delayed as they decided to add on all the extra cars. The Sky Ride is a nice peaceful ride over the main midway. We also learned that Raptor had its usual long morning line, and that Blue Streak which had been closed when we drove around the park had just reopened.
We headed to the Guest Relations office hoping to avoid exiting the park, but nope off to Group Sales we go. Get our arms stamped, and head out to the Group Sales building where we have one of the most efficient coaster event check in's possible. Since we had season passes, the event was FREE, and upon checking in, we received lunch tickets and credentials. This year credentials came in the form of a lanyard upon which hung credentials only slightly smaller than those seen in the Olympics. The lanyard was also useful in that it had the full event schedule, and we noted the reverse side had the credentials and schedule for tomorrow's event at Geauga Lake. There was one other thing, I had taken the 30 seconds to go out to the Coastermania website a month prior and pre-register. Rideman did not, despite numerous reminders from assorted people. What this meant was, I was qualified for complimentary all day beverage service. I was hoping this would come in the form of a wristband, but instead it came in the form of a small white plastic cup that had a stylized drawing of Cedar Point on one side and "Coastermania 6/15/07" printed on the other. Yep, I have to haul this cup around with me all day.
We re-entered the park, and Rideman headed to the Convention Center for the Q&A, and since I don't get to Cedar Point that often, I decided to use the time to ride some rides. I first stopped at Ben & Jerry's to claim the first of several free drinks, then headed to the rides. I knew from past trips to save Raptor till the evening as the lines are much shorter then. Blue Streak had just opened up, so I entered the Blue Streak queue and about 15 minutes later I was getting into the third seat. I was a bit concerned getting into the train as I had struggled with the standard PTC seat belt at SFKK the month before, but not to worry, no troubles getting into the Blue Streak train. Blue Streak was running two trains, and soon I was up and through the lift hill cupola, then out onto the course. It may be a John Allen coaster, but it is packed with airtime in the third seat on almost every hill. A great coaster to start the day with.
I next headed to what some refer to as the million dollar midway which is a name it was given a long time ago. It is now that area in the center of the park that has Milinneum Force, Wildcat, Iron Dragon, and Mantis. I know Wildcat is more fun in a group so I skipped that one, and I looked over to Iron Dragon and saw a queue way longer than I have ever waited for Iron Dragon. Mantis was posting its usual agonizingly slow 45 minute wait. I did go over to Force. Even though it was posting a 45 minute wait as well, I wanted to try out the test seat. Now I could ride Force on my last trip to Cedar Point, but I had also heard bad things since then. I sat down in the test seat, tried the belt, and "Not even a chance!" Not that I wasn't expecting it. The one good thing about being at Cedar Point at an enthusiast event is you can commiserate with other riders who used to be able to ride Force. It was at this point, that I could not hold off any longer, time to see f I can ride Maverick.
I made the long hike down the Frontier Trail to Maverick. I sat down in the test seat for Maverick, lowered the shoulder bar, reached down for the seatbelt, directed the belt towards the buckle and I am eligible to ride Maverick. The wait was posted at 75 minutes, and looking at my watch, I figured oh well, I'll be late for lunch, too bad. New coaster or lunch, I'll pick the new coaster. I have learned with new rides to ride them the first chance you get, you never know when a ride is going to decide to go belly up for the rest of the day on you. Carpe Diem!
The line was back to the vending machines in what used to be White Water Landing's queue area. It was a formidable queue maze, but I was shocked when I managed to make it through the maze in only 45 minutes. Yes, that is without cheating. Maverick may be new and only seat 12 per train, but it moves trains through like a well oiled machine. First you wait out in the sun in the old White Water Landing queue where every other queue rail has been removed to use the wider queues. You then cross a wooden bridge that takes you from the queue area over to where the boat ride station was. Look carefully at the old trough under the main queue house floor to see how they cleverly hid the ponds filtration system. The bridge extends alongside the old boat ride station to the far midway side. Now the turntable and trough have been removed and replaced with a solid concrete floor upon which a queue maze has been setup. At the other end, you go up the old stairs from the White Water Landing days. At the top of those stairs, you have a landing then you go up a new set of stairs up to the Maverick Station. Maverick offers a single rider queue, but the entrance to the single rider queue isn't until halfway up the station stairs, where apparently it isn't an option. The sign is quite clear, "Single Riders use Right Stairway ONLY!" For the very little queue area you skip, I think looking back on it I'd rather just stay in the main queue and be guaranteed a seat. However, since I was a single rider, I did follow direction and go up the right stairway, where I did proceed to watch those who were behind me on the left stairs get on the ride faster. I knew I was right, that this is just about the stupidest installation of a single rider queue. Guys, look at Universal Studios and Disney to see how this is supposed to be done! You see they here single riders are purely stand by, so you may wait longer than if you just stayed in the normal queue, thats not how single rider is supposed to work. Remember you gave up your choice of seat and ride partner. At least other parks that have single rider, they will put a couple singles on each train needed or not so you aren't unduly delayed. But hey, in the end I did win the jackpot, "Next single rider - go to row 1"
So I join the queue for row 1, and two trains later I am getting into a Maverick train. The Maverick trains are very roomy before you put the bars down, with plenty of room between riders, and the front row is very open in the front, leaving you feeling very vulnerable. I proceed to lower the massively overbuillt shoulder bar. It contains both a lap bar that wraps completly around three sides of your body to join another fixed bar which means the lap bar effectively circles your body, mounted to the lap bar is the shoulder bar. which prevents you from leaning forward or moving too far either way laterally. A crotch strap comes up from between your legs, goes over the lap bar and connects to the bottom of the shoulder bar. Okay now that everybody is well restrained, two trains leave the station at once. The front train proceeds past two brakes and onto the lift hill, the back train parks on the first brake area, leaving one set of brakes in between trains in case of a rollback. This isn't your father's chain lift, the train is launched up the lift hill, initially at a high rate of speed, then they slow it down a bit as it crests the top. The first drop is at an impressive 95 degrees, so in effect you roll around past vertical to where you are actually going down the first drop somewhat inverted. Its a real unusual feeling. You then go around a curve and proceed into a course that has a few pure air hills on it, and a lot of overbanked turns. I think all in all it says you get inverted 5 times along the ride. Halfway through the ride you enter a long dark tunnel where you slow down to a bear stop, then the strobes come on and temporarily blind you just in time for the second launch to fire you at high speed right into one of those overbanked turns when you can't see it. Oh and watch out for the high pressure water spray along the second half of the ride, not enough to drench you, but you will know its there as it seems aimed right at your face. All told, I really like Maverick as it seems so different from anything else out there. Taken alone, the stats for the ride aren't that impressive, but its what you do with it that counts. I quickly exit Maverick, an affair that involves going UP even more stairs to a trestle built above the loading station, then down three flights of stairs to the ground level, and suggested exit through retail as I note there is a bypass.
My, its not even 2pm yet. But it is time for lunch, so I walk over to the nearby train station, and proceed to probably wait longer for the train than it would have taken me to walk down the Frontier Trail. Well, I can see there may be hope for Kings Islands train ride yet, as Cedar Points train ride has a lot of animated sets along their train ride, with fake gun fire and all, and it's in working order here. Then again the animation on Kings Islands train ride may be too far gone to save. From the train ride, I forget exactly where on the Main Midway the picnic grove is, so I high tail it down the midway. I thought the entrance was by Raptor. Nope, thats not it. Ah, here it is where this lone queue stretching from the grove almost all the way back to the main gate is. It took me darn near 45-60 minutes to get through the serving line. There was one line back to the picnic grove entrance, then that line split into three, and each of those lines split onto two. The lines just kept getting slower and slower the longer I waited.
After an eternity I get to the serving line, and what a nice spread it is: Fried chicken, brats, mostacholli, potato salad, baked beans, cookies, ice cream, soft drinks, and cotton candy. I play balance your food, its a game I have become well versed in from going to other picnics where they keep giving you more and more food without a tray or suitable carriers. I quickly find a table and am finshing up lunch right as the presentations start. Wow, 1,700 here today, thanks for the foods crew, reminder to go to Geauga Lake tomorrow, will the people that found the scavenger hunt plaques, please turn them in for your $100 gift shop shopping spree. After lunch I scour the picnic grove to meet back up with Rideman, and I find him in the cotton candy line. "I may have to come back here, I like your cotton candy" Rideman is touring with I think Mike Shutte(?) and after lunch we proceed to wash the sticky cotton candy residue off our hands, the head towards the rides.
We first head to MaXair. It was only a 3 to 4 cycle wait for MaXair, but they were loading it funny. They had totally closed off the entrance leading people to line up on the midway, then when the entire queue maze emptied out, they would let another group in from the midway to fill the queue maze. Apparently, this was because they were short a person, so they didn't have a greeter to monitor the queue entrance. Strange. MaXair may look similar to Delirium, but there have been some changes made. One of the more important changes is that MaXair has TWO exit ramps, greatly easing congestion at the end of the ride, it also has a smooth floor instead of the cheese grater floor Kings Island has. Those who ride barefoot must appreciate that. Also the lose item storage is a cleverly designed round shaped cabinet (4 total) with round cubbyholes. As if the asthetics aren't enough, it also seems to run a longer, better program than Delirium. Oh, also to ease congestion, the holding area after you are given your seat number has queue rails that keep you in order all the way till you enter the ride area.
From MaXair, we head to Disaster Transport but do a hasty retreat when we read the 45 minute wait sign. I look at Troika, the Troika here has a much better paint job than the one at Kings Island, and wait a minute this one did not get seatbelts like the one at Kings Island did this year.
Ah, now to go check out another Intamin coaster I can't ride. I could not ride this one on my last visit, and after some quick research with Mr. Test Seat I still can't ride it. We did go over and take a quick 1 cycle wait ride on Ocean Motion.
We started to head back towards the back of the park. We skipped Power Tower and headed to Corkscrew. There was hardly anybody riding Corkscrew, and as we were waiting to ride, the ride went down, and it looked like it wasn't going to be resolved quickly, as evidenced by the fact they didn't cycle the trains to clear the ride of passenegers. We bailed when it became apparent this was going to take awhile.
Oh well, for the formality sake, I knew I could not ride Top Thrill Dragster last visit, and guess what, I still can't. We again skipped Magnum saving it for the nighttime ERT, as looking at the ERT schedule, Magnum is my only option. We headed around to Gemini and took an almost no wait ride in the third seat of Gemini. Gemini is stil a very fun coaster, the classic looks of a wood coaster, the smoothness of steel track, and the ride has airtime. What's not to like, except maybe stacking with two trains when they used to run smoothly with three on each side. I noted they have given up on three train operation, they have removed the second turnstile, and the second station entrance.
We continue back into Fronteir Trail, where we cram ourselves, quite literally into the back seat of Cedar Creek Mine Ride, cross my ankles, and dang this lap bar's one setting is TIGHT. It's hard to believe they used to run 5 trains on this ride. The rides antique turnstile was replaced with a newer version. Still a solid performer.
Next I visited the Frontier Lift restrooms, I mention it because Cedar Point is renovating a lot of their restrooms, and a nice touch for this restroom is since it is the nearest restroom to both of the parks water rides, the front half of the restroom has been outfitted with changing stalls, which means that people are no longer having to use the toilet stalls as changing rooms, and I suspect it helps keep the floor in the main part of the restroom drier. Nice touch.
We next headed to the "Unlicensed Chiropractor", yep Mean Streak. To no one's surprise there was almost no wait to ride Mean Streak, and soon we were climbing into the back seat. The belts do seem a bit longer on Mean Steak as it was even easier to get into this train than Blue Streak. We rode in the green train, and proceeded to have a Mean Streak ride which was actually a halfway decent ride. Imagine that.
From Mean Streak, we went and took another ride on Maverick, same 45 minute wait, and this time we got sent to Row 4. I still like the ride, but must admit it is more of a headbanger in row 4 than it was in Row 1. Rideman did not appreciate getting stapled into the ride, particularly when he discovered the 4 exposed bolts on the bottom side of where the shoulder bar and lap bar connect. As he said the exposed bolts were pushing through his shirt into his gut. Thats a minor issue the park should address. Put a little padding or something there.
From Maverick, we went over to Skyhawk, and after waiting about 10 minutes had wonderful Skyhawk ride, I really like the S&S swing rides. Cedar Point added a short belt and carabeaner that connects to an eyebolt between the seats. I am told the bar is the more limiting factor, and they ask you to lower the bar, and fasten the beaner, then the ride op comes and adjusts the bar by pushing straight down on it. I was actually allowed to ride witht he bar sort of loose, so enjoyed the most delightful odd feeling airtime on the tops of the arcs when your body still wants to go up, and the swing is suddenly going back down
From Skyhawk, we hike back down the Fronteir Trail and take a ride on Wildcat, the line was a bit longer than we would have liked, and we also found out that Rideman and I cannot sit in the same seat due to the lengths of the belts. So they sent us out with only 2 in the car, one in each seat. Shame, I remember being able to load 4 heavy coaster crazies into one car and watching that thing FLY around the course. Its still a very fun ride, in some ways more intense than the biggeer coasters, and watch out for those stop-on-a-dime-and-leave-nine-cents-change brakes.
At this point we were going to ride a near walk on Iron Dragon, but it was tile to meet April over by Magnum. We went over to Magnum, we waited, we waited, we waited some more. We took a ride on Magnum in the third seat. Magnum still has it all, amazing airtime, and a great layout. Looking down at the waterpark and challenge park going up the lift hill almost looks like a carnival with a grid like layout of attractions below you. We exited Magnum, we waited some more. We headed back to Corkscrew, we finally scored our front seat ride on Corkscrew.
Cedar Point's Corkscrew also has the crotch straps that Cedar Fair has been adding to the Arrow multi-element trains, but being the original installation , it was done cheaper and different than the rest. Instead of tucking a restractor under the seat, and putting the buckle on the bottom of the shoulder bar, like most shoulder harness crotch straps, they put a fixed length of belt on the shoulder bar, and mounted the buckle to the front of the seat, between your legs. Not only that, its a lift latch buckle, and to lift up you have to be able to reach the bottom of it. A nice little challenge since you can't lean forward with the shoulder bar strapped down. Even when its unlocked. Still though a loop and corskscrew ride that runs three trains, has an air hill, and has those two photogenic twists right over the midway. I understand it was quite the ride in its day.
We had also received a phone call that April was by Wildcat. We proceeded to Wildcat, we looked around Wildcat, no April. We tried to ride Iron Dragon but it was closed for the nighttime spectacular.
So lets see - coasters I didn't ride:
Top Thrill Dragster
Coasters I skipped
It is a sign of an amazing park, when you can fail to ride NINE of its coasters, and still have a great day, getting in EIGHT coasters and other rides as well.
We knew we had time for one more ride, and Rideman thought April was wanting to rde Maverick at night, and of the choices another Maverick ride sounded right up my alley as well. We headed back to Maverick where Rideman proceeded to attempt to contact April. I enjoyed some free drinks and we waited just outside the Maverick queue as long as we dared before darting inside before they could cut if off. As it turns out, they were lenient about cutting the Maverick queue, and the ride actually closed 10 minutes after the park did. We also soon learned that April was at Blue Streak anyway. This time it only took about 30 minutes to wait to ride Maverick, and I noted a good portion of the crowd waiting were event attendees. We were assigned row 2. Row 2, while an improvement over Row 4, is not quite as good as Row 1 in therms of smoothness. By the end of the ride, Rideman was expressing his distaste for Maverick while I was still raving about it. He also pointed out a shirt in the gift shop where it compares Magnum to Maverick in states, Magnum beats Maverick in every category except steepness of first drop.
We next make our way over to Magnum for Magnum ERT. Ack, Magnum decided it didn't want to participate, and there was a train stopped on the lift getting a pep talk by the mechanics. They didn't get Magnum open till shortly after 11:30, but they did keep it open till 12:30 instead of the advertised 12:00. As a make good, they opened Wicked Twister, which did me a lot of good, not. Since Magnum is the only thing any of us could comfortably ride, if ride at all, we hung out at Magnum talking till they got it open. We then proceeded to cram in several Magnum rides. I must have gotten in 6 or 7 rides in that hour, mostly in the third seat, but I did a middle seat and a back car ride. For the last ride, we noted the mid course trims did not hit, prepare for the most intense airtime laden return run imaginable.
We met back up with April at the end of ERT. We then proceeded to head out to Sandusky to haved a particularly slow meal at Steak and Shake, followed by trying to find a hotel. Oh, there were lots of No Vacancy signs up, but Sandusky hotels are as a rule older run down joints. The first one we stopped at was so bad we checked out 10 minutes after checking in.
We did find a place that would give us a noon check out time, which was nice since we wound up checking in at 2:30am, and we noted that thy had purposely scheduled no morning events at Geauga Lake. The event flyer even said "SLEEP IN!", we're just following there directions!
Stay tuned, next up: Geauga Lake for CoasterEXT.
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