“You’re going to go back.”
I usually don’t do trip reports for parks that I go to a lot, unless there is something new and major to talk about. The last four Sundays have been some of the best times I have ever spent at Cedar Point. With each visit, I wanted to write a trip report about the cool things that took place each weekend, but it seemed that the next visit to the park was better than the last, so I decided to not write a report until after Cedar Point closed its gates for the season. As it turned out anyway, yesterday was the best day I had this season.
As mentioned before, the last four Sundays have been incredible. With each Sunday, there was a benefit. A few weekend ago resulted in short lines, the weekend after that, hanging out with great friends I hadn’t seen in a while and riding, the weekend after that, spending the entire day riding Dragster and meeting up with another enthusiasts from “across the pond.” Each weekend had its own “treat” about it and made me proud to be able to visit.
I am going to start this report off from a while back though. Back in Janurary, I was with a large group of enthusiasts in Chicago. We had just finished attending a non-coaster event and decided to go up to our rooms and just chat about stuff. Later that evening, something happened to someone in the room. I won’t go into specifics but it was horrific and at one point, we thought we had lost this person for good. Luckily, this person survied, however, no one would think he would be riding coasters again. As a matter of fact, we were even going to tell him it would probably be a good idea to not ride for a while. Espcially Top Thrill Dragster.
Also during this time, another friend was going through a rough illness. She really had doubts if she would last this season, but she had something to fight for as did my other friend. Both really wanted to ride Dragster more than anything. This was their goal. While that may sound like a strange goal to some, to me, it sounded like a great goal.
During the downtime that Dragster had in June resulted in both friends getting approval from their doctors to see if they were in the right shape to take on such a monster of a ride. As luck would have it, both got approval and just waited for the right time to ride.
Fast forward to yesterday.
I was having so much fun these past few weeks that I didn’t want the season to end. Sometimes I will get burnt out from a park by the end of a season, but for some reason I wasn’t the least bit tired of Cedar Point this year. I am addicted to Top Thrill Dragster. It’s easily the most fun ride in the park IMO. It’s my kind of ride. It’s fast, tall, and gets to the point (no pun attended) in no time flat. I don’t mind waiting any amount of time to ride it.
I met up with friends Scott Short, Josh Wozny, and Larry Scott once the park opened. Larry was aiming to take his 200th ride on Dragster this day. He already had the record but wanted lap 200 once he realized how close to 200 he was. I just wanted to ride as many times as possible, in hoping in getting a rollback. While I know plenty of people luckily enough to get one, I wasn’t lucky enough. I would miss rollbacks by one train at times, or even see a group of friends get a few. Larry and Steve Sergent ended up with 4 or more rollbacks just this year. If I was to get one, today would be my last chance.
When I left for the park in the morning, it was raining in Columbus. It looked like it was going to be a wet and cold morning. These are the best days to visit parks IMO because rain, for the most part, scares people away. Today was no exception. I knew Dragster wasn’t going to be running in the early morning, but I was willing to wait it out. Once in the park Josh, Larry, Scott, and I met up at the Dragster entrance and waited for the rain to stop. We also chatted a bit with a few of the ride operators that we have gotten to know as the year went by.
During the testing phase, we witnessed 5 rollbacks or so. One of the ride operators that was waiting out in front of entrance mentioned to us that today was a great day if you wanted a rollback and even commented on how he was sure we would get one. As cool as that sounds, the idea of getting a rolllback was unreal and I certainly wasn’t getting my hopes up. The weekend before, we came very close, as in stalling at the top for around 7 seconds, but no rollback. It seemed that the black cherry train was the one that a lot of my friends got their rollback on.
Once the rain had stopped and the operators opened the quene, we quickly made our way up to the left loading side thinking we would be the first to load. As it turns out, the right side was the first to load with no train being sent to the left side first. The first train dispatched and made it over the top with ease. Two more trains pulled into the station. The train we were getting ready to hop into was black cherry, however, only the first half was loaded so chance for a rollback were slim.
A group of enthusiasts who had exit passes hopped into our train as well. I looked back and noticed that everyone in the train knew each other. I also noticed Dan Haverlock (Magnum Dan) was in the train. Dan and I have had a rollback before (Volcano) and I joked throughout the season that in order to get a rollback, I would have to ride in the same train as Dan. He had gotten like 4 rollbacks just this season. Another enthusiast, Dave, was riding right behind me and he had gotten 3 consecutive rollbacks a few weeks back. I was sitting next to Josh and we jokingly hoped we wouldn’t make it over. As a matter of fact, some of the train was chanting “Rollback! Rollback!”
Then we launched…….
The launch felt strong as ever. We shot up into the sky, rotated and began our climb over the top of the tower. Something happened though. We started to slow down pretty quickly. I heard Scott Short say something like, “We are going over”, and that was about it. Everything became silent and almost in slow motion. I mean, beside Scott’s comment, no one said anything. It was eeriely silent. We slowed, slowed, and slowed some more, then stopped at the very top.
The silence continued……..
Then, it happened. The moment I have been waiting for all season. The moment that I thought would never happen.
We started to head backwards.
Josh and I looked at each other and gave the same exact facial expression. Everyone on the train knew what was happening and our silence qucikly turned into a party like atmosphere. We all freaked out.
It was rollback time!
Back down the tower we went. I was surprised to find out that the ride down felt much different than I thought it would. For one thing, you can’t see the half-twist coming so you just kind of see the track going away from you in a strange way, and the float on the way down was more than I expected it also. I don’t know exactly what I expected but it was different than I thougth it would be. Make sense?
Once we slowed down, our cheering continued. People were lined up all along the fence watching us look crazy. Some people had look of terror on their face as they probably knew that couldn’t happen. I also looked down and noticed a few of my friends from Texas. The Reagan family. It was nice to see them, even though only for a few minutes.
As with most rollbacks, it only takes a few minutes to get back to the launch area. We actually coasted through most of the brakes in the up position before they lowered and we coasted faster. Once we were back at the launch area, we launhed again, faster, and over the top and back down and through the 270-degree twist. Once we hit the final brakes, a good portion of the line was looking up at us and clapping and giving us thumbs up. Getting the rollback on closing day made it that more special for some of us. So, I can offically join the club that have had X and a half number of rides on Dragster. Mission accomplished!
With having such a good ride, most of us jumped back in line and rode again. While the line was about 45 minutes long, it didn’t seem long because of us chatting about our last ride. During our wait the ride went down for a few minutes while they took off a train and put one on. We also witnessed another rollback, and to the best of my knowledge, the last one of the season. This second rollback took place in black cherry as well, and included another group of friends.
While our rollback made for a great time, there was one enthusiast in line that was jealous. I mean REALLY jealous, as in being rude and cussing about how he deserved a rollback more than anyone. First off, no one deserved a rollback. It just happened and he missed his chance. I could tell others were laughing about him being pissed about it but what do you expect? He was acting childish.
After we rode one more time, we went and got something to eat. Larry decided to concentrate on getting more and more rides. He had some exit passes to use and took advantage of when the line was at its shortest. He had a big goal this day so we left him by himself while he continued to ride. Josh, Scott, and I went to Midway Market to get a bit to eat before taking advantage of the short lines on the other rides.
As Scott Short said the weekend before, Raptor seems to like cold weather. With no wait we were on and off this coaster in a matter of a couple minutes. True to what Scott said, Raptor was running great as it usually does.
Each time I ride this, I see something different. I have only ridden this once this year, but I did notice some new “artwork” at the final brakes. Scott and Josh noticed this as well.
I have only ridden this thing 5 times or so. It was a nice change of pace and offers a greart view of Wicked Twister. Speaking of….
While the launch is weaker than Dragster, this ride still holds its own. As a matter of fact, this was running almost like it did in its first two weeks of operation. What a nice surprise.
After our ride on Wicked Twister, we ran into Brent Kneebush (Magnum Force) who joined us for the rest of the day. I have never really hung out with Brent for more than like 5 minutes so it was cool to hang out with him this day. We continued to make a lap around the park and ride everything we could in the remaining hours of the last day.
I haven’t ridden this many times this year either. In the last two years, this ride has been giving incredible rides. Today was no exception. There was a bit of squealing going on, but I expected that the final day of the season. The overal ride was exceptional.
Some new orange paint has showed up on the lft of this coaster. Magnum orange. The bottom of a couple of supports looked like they were painted in an off white. Iron Dragon should look a bit different next year. A lof of the coasters are being repainted and should look great next year. While we were going up the second lift, we looked down at the Dragster line and saw Larry standing on the right station ramp. We yelled his name. He noticed and gave us a quick wave.
I don’t think I had ridden this this year. Today the first drop trim was off providing rides that were comparable to the first opening week back in 1996. I forgot how strong this coaster is without the trims on the first drop.
All 4 of us had exit passes we hadn’t used so we took advantage of using them on Millennium Force. While the line was only about 20 minutes or so, we didn’t feel like waiting it out. This is still one of my favorite rides in the park. I have never had a bad ride on it.
My first “bigger” coaster at Cedar Point. Mine Ride played a huge role in helping me break my fear of coasters years ago. All of us had a conversation while in the station about horror movies. Someone that was standing in front of us got into our conversation and we talked about movies for a few minutes, however, I wasn’t allowed to really mention anything about the new Texas Chainsaw movie as no one in the group had seen it yet. Josh and I plan on seeing it Saturday night. It’s scary as hell and easily the scariest movie I have ever seen. Just you wait Josh. Ride wise, the coaster was as smooth as ever and we had a good time riding it.
I limit myself to one ride a year on this one. I have never been a big fan of this ride; however, I decided to give it a ride this evening. Scott and I rode near the back. We laughed as the train was squealing while going over straight track. To be honest, the ride experience wasn’t as bad as I remembed. It’s still not my type of ride, but I wasn’t hurting when the ride ended. From the looks of it, it’s going to get a lot of treatment next year.
While only the red side was running, and only two trains, the line was still very short. While we were riding, I explained to Josh that riding Gemini felt almost exactly like riding Colossos in Germany. It’s that smooth, but has a few strange bumpy sections on the first drop similar to those found on the helix on Colossos. We also talked about the supposed “modifications” to the ride for next season like a 4 train operation and updated operation system.
Josh had us cracking up as we walked up to this ride. Josh did an imitation while in line that had all of us laughing. Not much to talk about as far as this ride goes. We had a good ride and if I remember correctly, it was my first night ride on this coaster.
Once again, almost no wait. We headed towards the back of the train and had a great ride. The trims after the third hill were totally off providing a shocking last half. We were so impressed we rode again, this time in the front. Brent even commented that he had his best ride. Magnum looked to be getting the same paint as Iron Dragon is getting next year. Bright orange. The bottom of the lift on Maggie was already painted.
Josh and I had one Freeway pass each left for Dragster. We decided to use them. We still had an hour left in the park. Scott and Brent didn’t have any passes left so they went for a ride on Corkscrew as Josh and I waited for a front seat ride on Dragster. We saw Larry getting in his last few rides. As soon as his train was getting ready to depart from the station, we heard the announcement that this was Larry’s 200th ride! This is such an accomplishment considering I rode with him on his 100th ride just a few weeks ago.
Josh and I took our ride and then met back up with Scott and Brent and waited by the entrance. This is where I need to explain something. During our second ride of the day, we noticed the ride operators doing something at the loading station. They were passing to each other some sort of plaque and signing the back of it. We caught a climpse of the plaque and it read something about Larry. You see, while Larry has the record for most rides on Dragster, he also became very close with everyone on the crew. Everyone loves him and it showed. Every time I was in line with him, there never was a time where somene from the ride crew didn’t say hello to him. They loved his support and comments.
We had heard from a ride operator when Larry was to get the plaque. We wanted to be there when he got the plaque as it was to be a very special moment for him. One of the ride operators we talked with told us to wait out in front of the ride entrance for Larry and as soon as he took his last ride, the operators would give him the plaque.
For 5 years or so I would try and get the last ride of the season but I stopped doing so when I saw some enthusiasts getting ugly about getting the last ride. It was an embarassing moment so I stopped trying. Tonight, I had a chance of getting the last train out on Dragster, but I wasn’t aiming for it. If it happened, it happened. I rather wanted to watch Larry getting his plaque more than anything; however, we couldn’t let him know about it.
At just after 8:00pm, the line for Dragster closed and we proceeded to walk towards the station. There was a group of people that clearly wanted the last train, and they were more than welcome to it, but I did hear one of the people make a comment as we passed them. They wanted us to walk by them so they could be last. One person said that if we wanted the last train, we weren’t going to get it because they were getting it and there was basically nothing we could do about it. How rude is that?
First off, I was hoping this wasn’t going to get ugly. I even thought about leaving the line because I knew something nasty was going to happen. The same ride operator that talked to us earlier asked us to stand in the back of the station so they could clear the station out. She claimed there were 14 seats going out on the last train and we could take them if we wanted, but she couldn’t gurantee everyone would ride. This was fine with me, but I just wanted to see Larry’s expression after he took his last ride, even if that meant that I didn’t get a last ride.
The last ride die-hards weren’t about to give up their last ride but they didn’t know what was going on. They didn’t know about the surprise that Larry was about to receive so they continued to argue with ride operators saying they deserved the last ride and not us. No one deserved the last ride but if the crew asked us nicely to wait it out, then I had no problem with that. No one asked for the last ride but the crew wanted us to be there. One man in particular was basically yelling to the ride operators. It became ugly. At this point I could tell Larry was feeling uncomfortable and he had every right. I was thinking about leaving again when the people that were complaining were asked to get into a train or leave. They weren’t happy about it and soon got into the train.
The ride operators told us to board the next train if we wanted. The funny thing is, those people that were yelling at the ride operators could have easily gotten the last ride had they not argued with the ride operators as the last train went fully loaded. Instead of just 14 seats being open, the whole train was open to anyone that wanted to ride. Everyone from ride operators to a security guard got onto the train to fill up the empty seats.
The last ride was incredible as usual, and one of my few night rides. The energy of that last ride was incredible. Everyone was so happy, but the best part was about to start. Once we arrived at the station, Larry was given his plaque that officially named him Top Thrill Larry. If anyone deserved an award from the crew, it was Larry. Congrats Larry!
Once we left the ride area, we all decided to meet up at Chet & Matt’s for dinner. There were 14 of us that showed up at the resturaunt including the group I was hanging out with, and other enthusiasts like Jay and Richard Hendry, to other fans of the park who I met for the first time. The dinner was something special as everyone realized we wouldn’t have another weekend at Cedar Point until next May. We wouldn’t be hanging out like this for quite some time. It was kind of sad, actually, but very cool at the same time.
However, the end of the season meant much for two people in particular. Jay Hendry was the friend that had an illness. Her goal of riding Dragster was enough to make her fight her illness, and win. This season meant a lot to her and it showed. I cherish getting another chance to ride with Jay and was glad to see her take her first ride a few weeks back.
Larry was the other friend. For someone that we didn’t think would ride coasters ever again, to getting the record for most rides on the tallest and fastest coaster on earth means something. Larry took his first ride on Dragster on July 4th, the grand re-opening, and took 202 rides since then. This just goes to show you that coasters are more to some people than just rides. The bring people closer together, and in a way, they can help extend life. Some might find that statement to be of a corny nature but thanks to Top Thrill Dragster I still have two friends to hang ride coasters with, with many more years to come!
I look forward to riding again with Larry, Jay, and everyone else I have had the pleasure to ride with this season. Instead of looking at the negative things in life, hop onto a coaster, have a scream, and realize life is just too short. Cherish every moment with your family and friends and have a good time.
Thanks for reading,
*** This post was edited by Sean Flaharty 10/27/2003 11:03:35 PM ***
If it wasnt for the great crew none of this would have happened. Thank you to them. I am also sorry for what they had to put up with from some of the people at the end of the night. That's one of the reasons I am sometimes embarassed to be an enthusiast.
But I think it's better to remember the good times and not the bad ones. Thanks to my friends and to the TTD crew. Congrats Sean, Scott and everyone else on that rollback, you guys should try it a few more times :)
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
TTD: 121 & 5 Rollbacks
*** This post was edited by shorty 10/27/2003 11:53:31 PM ***
The glow on Larry's face before that last ride is still in my mind. And the impersonations......well now those were priceless ;)
This season really brought one thing to the forefront to me, and that is that the frindships I have made are more important to anything to me. I consider a few people who I have spent a lot of time with this year to be the closest friends I have and that really means the world to me. Without them I think I may have already given up on this hobby. You guys know who you are and I really want to thank you.
The only sore spot in the day was the downright rudeness of those waiting for that last train, everythign from smoking in line to cussing at us and giving us all kinds of looks. :(
And that ride in 53 was definitely the best Maggie ride of my life :)
See you at IAAPA
From SFKK in April to Dragster's Last Train of the year, thanks everyone for such amazing friendships.
*** This post was edited by MagnumForce 10/28/2003 1:08:34 AM ***
Thats right, we got the speed ya need, the rock and roll for your soul, we're gonna pick ya up, spin ya round, drop ya down, one more time, here we go! One more blast of the super-fast for your @ss!
I hate orange and Magnum should stay classic red and white, oh well Im sure it wont affect the ride experience :)
I dont care what anyone says Magnum is better then MF, which is better then TTD!
Usually I don't have the patience to read extra-long TR's on here but that was absolutely beautiful!!! I always enjoy reading your TR's and articles. You are very passionate and keep such a positive attitude. Awesome man!
Congrats to Larry!
Gimme speed, height, airtime and plenty of LAUNCH!!!
*** This post was edited by coasterqueenTRN 10/28/2003 7:10:53 AM ***
Great TR as always Sean, probably the only thing worth looking at on this site since maybe your last TRs for the ECO Trip. :)
It was great to see Larry, and his turnaround (I was with him for ride 125 or so, and at the hotel for NCC).
This people, is what its all about.
I'm not sure why we haven't talked as much as we used to lately (both of us are probably busier now) but I am incredibly glad you wrote that TR. I didn't know about any of your plans really, and was surprised to see a TR from you.
I read the whole thing (I figure if you took the time to write all that out, the least I could do is read it!) and enjoyed every bit of it. Great job!
And I'm excited to hear that Larry (another person whom I wish I was in contact more often) got his 200th ride. I was there a couple Sundays back (Oct 5) and saw him on one of his 20 or so rides for the day, happy as ever. He even stopped by the station to say hi to me when I was getting on, and then he got ride back in line for some more go arounds on the strata-coaster. Larry is such a great guy, it's no surprise that the crew gave him that plaque.
Congrats on your rollback (lucky SOB!), too. I never got one in my 10 rides for the year. Maybe next year, but like you said, I'm not counting on it. Would be nice though!
Again, great TR, and thanks for letting us read about your day. Hope to be in touch with you soon, and see ya at IAAPA!
Joe "I miss CP" C.
You suck big time.
You did forget to mention the 120 MPH punch, though..HA, but we won't go there.
Seriously, this year was my best at CP. Not just because of Dragster (but that's a huge reason) but because I've had so many opportunities to hang out with current friends, make new ones, and just have a great time. I spent many weekends just hanging out, and I developed a huge appreciation for Live Entertainment (and Merchandise:) )
I'm sad that the season is over, but I have plenty of off-season hangouts planned. I got my roll-back, I got 75 Dragster rides for the season, and I had a great place to escape my 9-5 work week for 6 months. How can you beat that?
Thanks to everyone for a great season. I'll be travelling around this winter (not just for coaster, but to get the hell out of Ohio and escape this nasty winter) so I hope to see you all.
Last, but not least....in fact, especially... HATS OFF TO LARRY. It was great taking a majority of my rides with you, and I'm very glad to see you doing well. Congrats.
-Josh "I'm usually not this sappy" Wozny
We can't buy more time, cause time won't accept our money. -Bad Religion
*** This post was edited by Raven-Phile 10/28/2003 3:00:56 PM ***
And Josh I had the same feeling of sappiness.
From SFKK in April to Dragster's Last Train of the year, thanks everyone for such amazing friendships.
*** This post was edited by SFgadvMAN 10/28/2003 5:57:27 PM ***
I'm saddened to see that there ARE still enthusiasses out there. "Deserve" a rollback? "Deserve" the last train? Give me a break...
--Greg, aka Oat Boy
"Friendship -- more lasting than love, more legal than stalking."
I waited for the last train on MF and will never do that again. It was my first time and my last. There was a group of us that assembled at the entrance. When the ride op closed the line, we had 26 riders. But then, as we entered the station, the ride op let in some ACErs. The ride ops catered to them and gave them the last train. They told us to get into the train or not to ride and gave the last train to the ACErs. Things did get ugly. Like you said, never again.
2003 Parks: Cedar Point, SFWOA, Kennywood, PKI, MIA, SFGAM, SFKK and HW.
Still deciding where to go in 2004.
*** This post was edited by CP ismyhome 10/28/2003 8:36:32 PM ***
CP ismyhome said:
But then, as we entered the station, the ride op let in some ACErs. The ride ops catered to them and gave them the last train. They told us to get into the train or not to ride and gave the last train to the ACErs. Things did get ugly. Like you said, never again.
I have heard about that also but I also heard those that were let in at the end of the night had exit passes that they decided to use for the last train of the night. I had thought about doing that with Dragster but I used up my passes by the end of the evening. I only had two.
Thanks for reading and responding everyone.
But back on topic, I really have only met one enthusiast my entire life. His name? Larry Scott.
May 5, 2002
Inaugural opening day of Cedar Point in the 2002 season. My friend Aaron and I sprint to Millennium Force. Only one man is ahead of us and is already waiting at the gate. I approach him and not even .5 seconds later, he greets me with a friendly hello. His first impression lasts forever with me. He then immediatly starts a conversation with me and I couldn't believe how nice a stranger could be. I talked to him the whole time until we got on. That was when he told me how to contact him.
I've been talking to him ever since. Keeping me updated on every possible thing that he has going on especially with Top Thrill Dragster, he simply amazes me. I've been following his progress all season long and couldn't be more proud of a guy than him. I can't congratulate him enough.
Larry, you da man...
If you have love for Top Thrill Dragster, copy this and put it in your signature.
I HEART OHIO
Exit passes were handed out at Coastermania, and Dragster passes were handed out at many off-season enthusiast events this past year. Plus, I know a few people that gave their passes away to people like Larry because they had no way of getting back to the park for the rest of the year.
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