Cedar Point: 14 years of waiting; 3 days of bliss!

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Sunday, May 18, 2003 5:44 PM
In the summer of 1989, I moved away from Los Angeles, and my best friend sent me a postcard from his visit to his grandparents in Ohio. The card pictured the new record breaking coaster at Cedar Point, the Magnum XL 200. The moment I received this in the mail, I knew I had to make it to this park sometime in my life.

14 years later, Cedar Point announced their latest record breaker, the Top Thrill Dragster. I immediately began scouring the net for travel deals. I was finally graduating college, and wanted to reward myself with a trip to Cedar Point, finally! I emailed Sean Flaharty for info about the park after meeting him at the IAAPA show, and he said he would love to show me around the park during my stay.

The day finally came, and on May 14th, 2003 I boarded my plane for a flight to Columbus, OH for my trip of a lifetime. 8 hours after that, which included 2 flights, an exciting drive from Columbus to Sandusky, a check-in at my hotel, season pass processing, and several minutes in awe staring at the skyline, I got in line for the Magnum XL 200 for my first ride ever!

After a 20 minute wait for the ejector seat (1-3), I was off up the lift for the first exhilarating 2 minutes and 30 seconds of my trip. This ride lived up to all of my expectations, and the ejector air on all of the bunny hills made me laugh hysterically! I now knew what so many enthusiasts had been raving about for years.

Due to rain predictability for the remaining 2 days of my trip, I decided to hit all of the major coasters that I came there to ride. After an hour wait for Millennium Force (including a 15 minute breakdown), I took off on a backseat ride and experienced "first drop Nirvana". This incredible ride did not live up to my airtime-filled experience on Superman at Six Flags New England, but the speed and thrills more than made up for that.

I then headed over to catch a ride on my first ever impulse coaster, Wicked Twister. This back-seat ride was disorienting, and accentuated the headache I was developing thus far. The forwards and backwards launches were a new experience, and I really enjoyed the float out of my seat on the back spike.

Raptor was calling my name, and after 2 Advil, I boarded in the 2nd to back row on the right side. This is the most intense inverted coaster I have ridden (blew away Fire Dragon & Montu in this category), and the midcourse was off causing “tingling feet” throughout the helix. I’m not a big fan of cobra rolls and flat spins, but they were taken at such insane speeds that they were too good to not like.

Blue Streak was next with a walk-on ride in the back seat. Great air on this classic woodie, and plenty of surprise hills that weren’t seen from the midway. A little screeching on the initial turnaround before the lift had me worried, but it didn’t matter. This ride was flying!

It was now 7:20, and Top Thrill Dragster was testing empty trains, coming off of a lengthy breakdown. I took my chances, and 5 minutes later the queue opened! It was about a 2 hour wait for my first ride on this incredible machine in the back seat at night. The anticipation for the launch is one of the scariest coaster moments ever, especially when the countdown lights went out and the sound effects stopped.

Did the ride breakdown? NO! It launched the train by surprise and flung me over the top of its 420 foot tower without warning. This ride is INSANE!!!! I have never experienced such sensory overload on any other coaster. Before your brain can process the launch, you are cheering on the break run getting jealous stares from those in line. After this ride, I headed to my hotel as I was meeting Sean in the early morning to take advantage of the Joe Cool ERT session.

I pulled into the parking lot at 8:10AM on Thursday, May 15th and was the 4th car there. Sean arrived at 8:40 and was the 6th car there. This was the beginning to a perfect, empty 2nd day at Cedar Point. Approaching the marina gate, we were informed of the Dragster commercial shoot, and that the ERT for the morning would be on Millennium Force and Magnum. Instead of using negativity to make this ruin our day, we ignored the fact and headed to Millennium Force as soon as the gate opened.

We decided to wait for the front seat since I wasn’t too impressed with my back seat ride the night before. WOW! The front seat of this ride is a whole new experience, and completely blew me away. As Sean put it, the “310 foot wake-up call” did its job, as we were buzzing from the coaster high this ride gives.

Since there was no line for Mantis, we took a spin on this stand-up coaster in the front row, which was running without the trim on the first drop. I prefer the Georgia Scorcher due to its intense and compact layout, but Mantis had my legs wobbling all the way down the exit. No complaints there.

We then took spins on both Iron Dragon and Wildcat, both without waits. Iron Dragon was slow, and could not compare the Ninja or Big Bad Wolf in the suspended department. It did, however, provide a nice view of Dragster. Wildcat was my first compact Schwartzkoph, and I loved it! What a fun little ride.

This is where the day turned from great to incredible: While walking past the camera crews filming the Top Thrill Dragster commercial, Cedar Point’s Public Relations Manager called out to Sean.

She informed us that the CBS Early Show was at the park filming a segment on Dragster, and wanted to interview some enthusiasts on their reaction to this “record-breaking ride”. The fact that I had flown all the way from Florida really impressed the CBS crew, and within moments Sean and I were in front of the camera answering questions. They also filmed us walking down the midway and pointing at the ride.

It was my first time doing a television interview, and I wasn’t nervous until Sean mentioned the millions of people that were going to be watching.
If that weren’t exciting enough, the crew also wanted to film us boarding the ride after it opened later that afternoon. We exchanged cell numbers, and headed to Magnum for a quick ride in the second to last seat. This time, it was less rough, yet the airtime wasn’t as intense.

We saw Dragster running, and wanted to wait as short as possible. We told the CBS crew we would see them at the front of the line and would get in line as soon as the ride opened to the public. After waiting for about 30 minutes, the ride opened, but the TV crew couldn’t wait. "Unfortunately", we had to walk up the exit for a front seat ride with no wait! I could not believe it! Not only was I going to get my first front seat ride on Dragster, but it was all going to be filmed for national television.

After riding through the stations to people asking “Are you 2 the designers?”, we made our way to the launch area and waited for what seemed like an eternity. Once the Christmas tree counted down, we were off at 120 miles per hour. If you haven’t ridden Dragster, or haven’t ridden in the front seat of Dragster, it is the only way to ride. The back row failed in comparison to the front seat ride. Although we rode over the top fairly slow with little airtime, this time I actually got to see what was below us – WAY below us!

The camera crew filmed our reaction coming down the break run, and then asked us more questions right after getting off. I think I said some thing about “oxygen blowing into my eyeballs” or something along the lines of that. I will probably look like a complete idiot on TV, but it was worth it. The CBS Early Show spot will air on Thursday, May 22, sometime between 7AM and 9AM.

After buying an on-ride photo (which, if your in the front left, your reflection is seen on the hood of the front of the train), we headed for more riding on the rest of the coasters.

I can’t remember the exact order, but we got to ride every coaster in the park this day, with another ride on Millennium Force, in the front row again, and Dragster, again in the front seat. Here’s the synopsis of the other Cedar Point coasters we rode this day:

Corkscrew: Front seat. Ejector air on the bunny hill after the drop. Very little head banging and a nice surprise for an older Arrow looper.

Mean Streak: Front row. Little air, Little roughness. Nothing too exciting, but you could imagine how great this coaster one was and could be again.

Disaster Transport: second row. What a surprise! I was expecting this horrible ride due to the reviews, and was shocked at how much fun this ride was. It was a ittle short, but there aren’t many long bobsled rides out there. I’m glad I didn’t skip this trip to Alaska, whatever that was about. It was disappointing that the “we’re losing control” sound effect wasn’t working.

Gemini: Front row. This ride was SO much fun! I wish it would have been racing for the full effect, but it was definitely a highlight of the trip. Too bad there aren’t any other coasters like this, because it was just plain fun. Great ride for the whole family, and no trims before the helix too!

Cedar Creek Mine Ride: front row, no wait. This was a fun little mine train. Not jerky like the one at Six Flags Over Georgia, but I could see the potential for easy rollbacks all over the course. As we approached the ride, we laughed because someone had lost their wallet in the helix. Then we got to play “good guys” since we approached the station as the girl was looking for it in the train. We told them where it was, and they were VERY happy. It was complete irony that we saw the wallet there just after they lost it.

Overall, this turned out to be the best out of the 3 days at the park. In addition to riding all the coasters, we met a lit of other enthusiasts that were there for pleasure or for the NAPHA conference. It was great meeting so many friendly people, as there aren’t any ACE events in Florida, so when people visit, it’s usually with a small group. It seemed as though there was an event at the park, but I was told it’s almost always like that. We also didn’t have any “coasterbob” issues, making it a pleasant day.

The last day at the park, Friday May 16th, was also fun filled. Although more crowded than Thursday, we scored 3 rides in the front of Dragster, and got to jump on the other favorites one last time before heading back to the VERY VERY VERY VERY HOT Florida weather.

This trip was well worth every penny, and I’m seriously considering making reservations for next years Con since I had such a good time! If I met you, I don’t remember your name (as I probably met about 50 people over 3 days), but will definitely remember a face, and if you come to FL, look me up. I wish I could have extended the trip to include other parks in the area, but I was on a limited budget, and I don’t have any regrets.

Congratulations to Cedar Point for blowing away all of my expectations. The 14 year wait to go to this park was well worth it, but I hope it doesn’t take me that long to get back to the park.

A couple final tidbits:
1) There is a Hy-Miler in Bucyrus on the way from Columbus to Sandusky
2) My pilot informed me that there is “about an hour of airtime from Atlanta to Orlando”
3) Arms down, arms down, arms down, arms down......

-Matt “No slunts allowed” D.

*edit: I can't type

*** This post was edited by Matt D 5/18/2003 11:26:52 PM ***

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Sunday, May 18, 2003 6:26 PM
A Hy-Miler where? I must ride it, from everythign I have seen they look incredible.

Glad you had such an awesome time at the Point. I haven't missed a year in 20 years at the point and am always amazed at just how happy I am there, even when things are going bad. It truly is liek no other amusement park out there.

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God bless Intamin, Company that I love. Stand beside her, and ride her, from the opening to the closing of the day.

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Sunday, May 18, 2003 6:36 PM
Wow! That sounds like a trip made in heaven. Glad you had such a good time.

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All who think Mean Streak needs a match taken to it say I.

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Sunday, May 18, 2003 7:02 PM
MagnumForce:

Sorry to bum you out, but the Hy-Miler in Bucyrus is not the same as the Hi-Miler (unfortunately). The Hy-Miler is a gas station, not an intense traveling coaster that I, too, long to ride. I almost pulled off the road when I saw the sign, then cracked up laughing when it came into view!

-Matt

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Sunday, May 18, 2003 7:16 PM
Yea Matt, sounds as though you had a wonderful time.

Im really surprised you got so many rides on dragster. I keep hearing about 4-6hr waits yet you scored several runs in one day.

Ill be going again next month(June 19/20th i think)for my 2nd time in 2 seasons. Last year was my first time as well, and was so amazed with the park. It made PKD feel like a little play pen when I got back to VA.

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G-Forces: The only positive addiction out there!
CoasterCount: 42

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Sunday, May 18, 2003 8:24 PM
Ah man why do they do that :( LOL

I'll get on that thing eventually. It just looks so wrong.

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God bless Intamin, Company that I love. Stand beside her, and ride her, from the opening to the closing of the day.

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Monday, May 19, 2003 12:14 PM
I forgot to mention something interesting while waiting in line for TTD on Thursday evening. A woman jumped over the railing on the station ramp right next to the brake run. She then proceeded to pull her pants down and pee right in front of the loaded train! The passengers had comments like "this is the real ride right here" and such.

Needless to say, she E-stopped the ride, causing a 10-15 longer wait for the rest of us. Thanks, dirty biker peeing lady, thanks. And she didn't even get kicked out (not that it mattered since the park was already closed anyways).

-Matt

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TTD: the most exciting & intense moments of every coaster rolled into 17 seconds of pure sensory overload!
*** This post was edited by Matt D 5/19/2003 4:14:53 PM ***

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Monday, May 19, 2003 5:22 PM
Matt,

It was a blast showing you around one of my home parks. I love to go to parks like this with first timers because I totally see the park in a whole new way.

I agree wtih everything you have said about TTD. This is easily the most impressed I have been by a coaster yet. Out of the 9 rides I have taken so far, each ride has been better than the one before it. I can't get enough of this ride and I will be spending a LOT of time at the park this year.

As far as the whole CBS thing, I am dreading it as much as you. What is it with TV crews and having coaster enthusiasts point at structures? Needless to say, it was a blast riding in the front.

The last few front row seat rides we got were among the best coaster rides I have ever gotten.......anywhere. I still can't believe the difference the front row makes and I will continue to wait for that particular row as long as it is allowed.

I am glad you had a great time at the park. Everything seemed to work out better than expected, but the next time you come up this way, don't expect the "royal treatment" from the CBS folks again because that was a fluke. =:^)

-Sean

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Monday, May 19, 2003 6:17 PM
Sean: Thanks again for showing me around! Even if we did not have the royal treatment, the trip would have been well worth it! Good thing it didn't start a flame war over here...

I really can't stress enough how important it is to ride in the front of Dragster. Trying to comprehend the visuals, intensity, airtime, and obstacles (supports flying at you) within the 17 second time frame is unlike no other ride I've been on.

After visiting this park, I keep thinking: Islands of what????????

-Matt
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TTD: the most exciting & intense moments of every coaster rolled into 17 seconds of pure sensory overload!

*edit-I need to start reading these things before I click reply...
*** This post was edited by Matt D 5/19/2003 10:24:44 PM ***

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Thursday, May 22, 2003 3:05 PM
Yeah, so I tried taping it this morning from 7-9 CT and the Early Show had spots on Cosby, cooking, weight loss, etc. but nothing on your experience on TTD. Did they happen to make a mistake and tell you the wrong date?? Unless the Early Show is cut short here in the central time zone (we only see 1 1/2 hours of the Early Show and the other 1/2 hour is filled by our local CBS affiliate) If someone saw it and could let me know about where this segment came up at it would be greatly appreciated.
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Thursday, May 22, 2003 4:17 PM
What, no Woodstock Express?
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If you have a problem with clones, the solution is real simple—Stop traveling.
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Thursday, May 22, 2003 5:33 PM

rollercoast01 said:
Yeah, so I tried taping it this morning from 7-9 CT and the Early Show had spots on Cosby, cooking, weight loss, etc. but nothing on your experience on TTD. Did they happen to make a mistake and tell you the wrong date?? Unless the Early Show is cut short here in the central time zone (we only see 1 1/2 hours of the Early Show and the other 1/2 hour is filled by our local CBS affiliate) If someone saw it and could let me know about where this segment came up at it would be greatly appreciated.

Sad to say, but the producers decided at the last minute to not air the segment this week. I am not sure when, or if it will air but I was told I would be updated on the status of it.

-Sean

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Thursday, May 22, 2003 5:55 PM
You mean to tell me that our 5 minutes of fame (that 15 minutes no longer exists) had to be taken away to make way for Bill Cosby, weight loss, and cooking? How dare they!

Actually, it's probably better they didn't air the segment because I probably looked like a total moron. I mean, how often do you walk through a park, stop, and point at a ride?

-Matt
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TTD: the most exciting & intense moments of every coaster rolled into 17 seconds of pure sensory overload!

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Monday, June 2, 2003 9:23 AM
The CBS segment aired today! You can read the story and watch the video of the segment here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/05/29/earlyshow/contributors/melindamurphy/main556072.shtml

-Matt "who was a little over excited after his first front seat Dragster ride" D.

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TTD: the most exciting & intense moments of every coaster rolled into 17 seconds of pure sensory overload!
*** This post was edited by Matt D 6/2/2003 1:26:15 PM ***

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Monday, June 2, 2003 9:57 AM
The video is worth watching. "Why are we going backwards?" Too funny.

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http://www.eecs.umich.edu/~bnoble/

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Monday, June 2, 2003 5:17 PM

Matt D said:
I forgot to mention something interesting while waiting in line for TTD on Thursday evening. A woman jumped over the railing on the station ramp right next to the brake run. She then proceeded to pull her pants down and pee right in front of the loaded train!

You're serious? Was she drunk or something? God, I'd be embarassed.

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2002/2003
KWTM

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Monday, June 2, 2003 5:43 PM
That was one of the best coaster segments on a news show ever. Good job CBS.

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Check out this awesome park!http://games.coasterbuzz.com/filedetail.aspx?GameFileID=3001

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