Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio, USA
My wife is an absolute sweetheart. I've said it before that despite her not being the park/coaster person that I am, she has been incredibly supportive of me enjoying this hobby. We were hoping to move into parenthood in the near future, so we decided to make our non-home park selection this year really count: Kings Dominion, Cedar Point, and Carowinds, three of my absolute favorite parks that we could also enjoy on a single pass. We were very blessed to find out, in mid-August, that we were expecting, but that meant that her coaster-riding days were over for a while with two of those three parks, as well as the unexpected Walibi Holland trip, still to come. Nonetheless, she was all in favor of still going even though it meant she'd spend a lot of time waiting on benches for me.
I promise I'm not a terrible husband and I offered to cancel the remaining park visits, haha, but she said no. ;)
Anyway, due to the terrible Sandusky forecast for the weekend after Labor Day, which was intended to be when we'd visit Cedar Point, we moved Carowinds up and found ourselves with a brief Friday October evening in which to get as much accomplished at America's Roller Coast as possible. I was concerned that crowds would be possible issue, so we made sure to take advantage of early entry. We parked in the back lot since I wanted to get Steel Vengeance out of the way with as little waiting as possible, but an apparent lack of activity over there meant heading to the walk-on Maverick to kick off the evening.
Honestly, I'm not sure I could have picked a better way to get things going. I've thought very highly of Maverick since my first ride on it, but wow...it was even better than I remembered. Cedar Point and its rides are the subject of probably more TRs here than any other park, so I'll spare you the play-by-plays, but the brutal intensity of this little red devil puts it in the top echelon of my coaster ratings. Jeff, if you want to add a special six-star rating for those rides that are just off the charts, I would definitely support that, haha.
Steel Vengeance had sprung to life, so I went over and found a modest twenty-minute or so line standing between me and the ride about which people just can't seem to say enough great things. I found myself in row six for my first ride on this beast, and WOW, was it awesome...
...but it didn't shoot straight to my number one spot like it has done for so many others. I got off unsure if it was even the best coaster at the park. It really did everything right, and I commend the fine folks at RMC for wasting not a single inch of track. The airtime was unreal, and I felt like of the four RMCs I have, not a single inversion felt like it was just for show, instead with each being a perfectly-timed and perfectly-executed maneuver designed to throw some unpredictability into the mix of airtime hill after airtime hill. From start to finish, it really delivered, but still, despite how absolutely epic it was, it didn't leave me so completely awestruck as to declare it the finest ride ever constructed. It wasn't out of contention for the title of best ride at the Point, but it was unable to snatch the honor of being my favorite roller coaster from Fury 325. Hopefully in a few years, I'll be able to get back and snag some more laps to get a better feel for it. I want to clarify that I found the ride to truly be the stuff of legends and I want you all to read this and take my opinion of it to be overwhelmingly positive, but I also want to also convey that I'm still on team Fury, haha.
Ride number three, and probably the last one where any early entry benefit was realized, was Millennium Force, my silver medalist going into this visit. My wife was really excited to hear about the first two rides, and we talked a bit on the walk over about how excited I was to ride Millennium Force as it's held a special significance for me since I got into this hobby. We checked out the Steel Vengeance model in the Cedar Point museum on the walk over, and good grief, was that an impressive work.
I was doubly excited for Millennium Force because I felt that it would wrap up my comparison-shopping for figuring out what the best coaster at the park really was. The wait was extremely short with the line only going as far as the back of the exit platform, but I opted to wait a few extra trains to take the front row.
I'll say this: with Millennium Force, the two giant parallel hills seem to be almost completely devoid of airtime in the cold. My criticism of the ride ends there, though. I feel like once the 300-foot threshold is breached, the level of speed a coaster attains moves beyond the the point of description. Millennium Force, more than anything else, seems as if it was designed to spend the entire length of its circuit just showing off how fast it goes, and while one could easily argue that it resulted in a rather bland layout, I would contend that such maneuvers could not have been more perfectly designed. Instead of trying to recreate a typical hypercoaster layout on a gigacoaster scale, I felt like they made a bold choice to just keep you going as fast as possible for as long as possible, and the end result, especially in the front, is one of life's greatest thrilling experiences. If the day should ever come where I question if my heart is still in this hobby, send me to Sandusky for a lap on this monster and I'll be as gung-ho of a coaster geek as I've ever been.
At this point, the lines started to pick up somewhat. We worked our way toward the front in hopes of getting a delicious baked good at that bakery in the front of the park...only to find out it had become a Starbucks. I applaud CP for stepping up its food offerings and I enjoy Starbucks, but this was a huge letdown. That bakery was amazing, and I'm really sad to see it gone. My wife was actually having a great time, though, having got into listening to eBooks, and she decided to set up camp in the warmth of the restaurant while I made off for the other new-to-me ride on this visit: Valravn.
Valravn, unfortunately, was down, so I went over to Raptor. The line seemed a little too long for my liking, though, and a testing Valravn convinced me to bail and go there to wait it out for a bit. The test run seemed to be a one-off, though, so I went back to Starbucks to check in with my wife. Not wanting to waste any more time bouncing around from line to line, I said I'd swing over to GateKeeper. I went over to find a very short line...that was closed off due to weather. There was some intermittent rain, but I wondered if maybe winds were to blame as I knew from past experience that some rides were susceptible to it. However, Valravn seemed to be testing regularly, so I walked over and found the line to have just opened. A very short wait later and I was in the center of the back row, riding one of the two remaining US B&Ms I didn't have (I'll come for you soon, Wildfire) on my track record.
Scour my track record for Griffon and SheiKra and my ratings should be telling of my opinion on dive machines: I give five stars to an awful lot of rides, including almost every B&M, but those two got four apiece. They are not terrible rides by any means, but I've found them to be rather uninteresting, being amalgamations of B&M speed coasters and looping coasters that fail reduce to rides of a few highlight moments and not much else to write home about. Valravn, however, did the impossible and delivered an experience about which I still can't stop raving. Instead of being a pair of steep drops with an Immelman or two thrown in just to avoid coming off as one-trick ponies, Valravn brought out an extended second half that made those drops (especially the post-MCBR one) come off as equal players in a symphony of a design instead of the only defining moments. The barrel roll near the end was especially sublime, with the hangtime being some of the best B&M has ever delivered. Finally, a challenger arose for the title of best B&M at the park, a distinction I've previously assigned to Mantis (no Rougarou on Friday nights meant I'll still have to wait to try the ride in its floorless incarnation). I can't say definitely that Valravn takes the top honor, but it proved that a dive machine with a little something to it can be an unbelievably great ride. Staring into the abyss of a pitch-black Lake Erie at the top of the ride, coupled with not having my glasses on, made for a very unnerving start to the ride as well, and that only made the experience that much more awesome.
We worked our way back toward Top Thrill Dragster which apparently fell victim to the winds early on in the day. Things didn't look good and we were looking to leave the park sooner rather than later, so we pressed on a bit further toward Magnum XL-200. It was also down for weather, but they started cycling it almost right after we got there, so a few minutes later, I was walking right up to the back row, which for whatever reason had nobody in line for it even though every other row did.
I usually opt for a wheel seat near the back if the front row isn't a viable option, but I'll take no wait at all over anything else in most cases, so I hopped in the back and hoped for the best. I like Magnum and always have, but sometimes the jolting on wheel seats gets old.
As was the case with Steel Vengeance and Valravn, though, my expectations and the end result proved to be very different. As we approached the pretzel turnaround, I prepared for the brakes to temper our forward momentum somewhat. We hurtled right toward them...
...and nothing happened. No sound of brake pads squeezing fins. No hindrance to our progression. They just sat in their open position as we sailed right through them. I would imagine it was just the usual it's-cold-and-you-aren't-going-fast-enough deal (Steel Vengeance's MCBR didn't kick in either even with its three trains running), but unless I just forgot what it was like in the five years since my last ride, I could swear that run through the ride's back course was the best it ever was by a landslide. The airtime was of the variety that made me wonder if my demise was at hand with all the brutality of the Skyrush or El Toro variety, albeit with some breathing room between my legs and the restraint that made it all the more terrifying. That train HAULED through those hills with unyielding speed and aggression, and I was just grateful to still be alive by the time we slammed into the brakes. I got off the ride with a whole new opinion of Magnum, a ride of which I'd always been fond but which had never been more amazing than it was on that lap.
By this time, GateKeeper had opened up again, so I decided that unless Raptor had no wait, I'd ride GateKeeper and be done. For a myriad of reasons, I didn't want to push things to the bitter end of the night, so it seemed like a good time to wrap up the visit. GateKeeper had about a twenty-minute line, which at this point was one of the shorter ones, and I worked my way toward the second-to-last row on the left side for that nice flip at the top. Right before I was about to board, though, they decided to add the third train. This added a good ten to fifteen minutes to the wait, which was a bit unfortunate as my wife was hungry and needed to eat, but there wasn't much I could do at that point.
I hopped on and had an absolutely wonderful ride on a coaster that I think is a bit underrated. It wasn't particularly forceful, but it was wonderfully exhilarating. I feel like wing-riders deliver sensations more similar to a flyers than inverts, but with comfort more similar to inverts than flyers. It made for a great last ride, save for the ten minutes spent on the brake run at the end due to some hold-up in loading the new train.
We grabbed burgers from Gaucho y Gringa, a great food truck parked near the Coasters Drive-In, and despite being pricey, the fresh-made food beat anything we could have picked up at a park establishment. We walked back to the front to shop briefly, checking Raptor's line along the way but skipping it due to length, and then we called it a night.
My life is definitely going to change in these coming years and my already irregular regional park visitations will become even more scarce for a number of years until the little one (and any future little ones) becomes tall enough to start riding anything, but I'm glad that the scarcity is going to be caused by something even more amazing and not for any sad reason, and I'm glad that I got to say, "See you in a few years," to trips like these with such a wonderful visit to a park that I hold so dear. I'm also glad to be married to an amazing woman who was willing to keep traveling to these places and who found ways to share in the memories even if she wasn't able to be sitting there with me on the roller coasters. We still have the Disney parks here in Orlando, and maybe I can sneak some more SeaWorld, BGT, or Universal visits in the coming years to get coaster fixes locally, but I look forward to hopefully raising a little coaster fan with whom my wife and I can create all sorts of new memories at places like Cedar Point in the coming years!
Great report, I'm glad you had a good time. Best of luck to you, your wife, and your impending arrival. And who knows, maybe you'll be lucky to get a couple of coaster trips in before the kiddo gets big enough to ride!
Call me a sap but I love trip reports like this.
My wife suggested a trip here or there in the interim, but I'm going to view those opportunities as unexpected blessings and not expectations. I have a wish list just in case, but as weird as it sounds, I'm kind of looking forward to just embracing domestic and local life for a while. ;)
I'm glad you enjoyed the trip report!
Nice TR! My wife and I have a 1 year old and I am happy to report that it hasn't slowed us down drastically from visiting parks and riding coasters. We use child swap for long lines and enjoy the rides we can all do together (normally the carousel, train, things like that), Our one year old is just happy to be outside walking around and loves watching the roller coasters and other rides, so everyone has a good time.
I think bringing your child to a park is a great experience for them. We brought our son to CP with us so many times the summer he turned One. (August birthday.) He was enthralled by the lights, sounds, and movement of the rides. He'd watch the trains run through their courses, say "up" and "down" as he followed along. And he even took his first steps at CP!
No doubt that our many visits to the park as he grew up was what helped him become the fearless coastertool that he is today.
We only wish he were a little bit taller.
(He wishes he had a girl who looked good, he would call her.)
I wish you nothing but the best in your upcoming fatherhood!
I waited 13 years. By the way, regarding the 6 star feature. When I got back from my first trip in forever this past summer, I found that I had to re-rate all of my credits, saving 5s for rides like Millennium Force and, ahem, the best in the world, Steel Vengeance. :)
I've considered that. It just seems like I'll wind up clumping at one of the star levels, but I guess it doesn't matter if it's a lower tier, haha.
The bigger issue is that it seems like an awful lot of work, haha, but I think I'll go that route.
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