Cedar Point: TTD VIP charity ride 5/4/03

Associated parks:
None

Sunday, May 11, 2003 6:49 PM
Round trip flight to Columbus, OH: $221
Rental car: $25 a day
Hotel room: $90 for two nights
Being one of the inaugural riders on Top Thrill Dragster: Priceless


The story so far…

I had planned a trip to Ohio to ride my 100th roller coaster, Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster. Why not make the world’s tallest roller coaster your 100th? This would be no ordinary time, though. I would be a VIP rider from the American Red Cross charity auction. I received many generous contributions from people on the DIS Boards (www.disboards.com) and got $355, which put me as #25 out of 96 people. We weren’t technically the first riders since the media rode it on May 1, but we would be the official “inaugural riders” before the coaster opens to the public. What a way to celebrate my 100th roller coaster!

I woke up at around 6 am and headed to the parks. I felt a little scared to ride Top Thrill Dragster that morning. Some things scare me – Skycoaster, Slingshot, some of my friends singing karaoke – and I can honestly say I was a little fearful to ride Cedar Point’s new coaster. The fear was overcome a bit because I was excited to ride my 100th roller coaster. As I headed down the causeway, I saw the familiar skyline of Cedar Point – there’s Millennium Force and Wicked Twister. What’s this red thing? It’s Top Thrill Dragster, of course! It shadowed over everything in the park, even the almighty Millennium Force.

I arrived before 7 am and paid my $8 parking free. The American Red Cross refunded the parking fee to me later. I waited in a lineup of cars. I was pretty worried that I wouldn’t make it in time, but the traffic employees started to let people in around 7 am. I checked in at the American Red Cross table, headed into the park, and went to the Midway Market for the continental breakfast buffet. The front of the market had a sign that said “Welcome Red Cross VIP riders.” We had a breakfast of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. It was a cop’s dream and a diabetic’s nightmare! I met up with two other Florida Coaster Club members, Marc and Bill. I think we were the only ones from Florida that day! Park officials made a short speech. Then they began to call the riders up in the order of their bids. Every time a rider’s name and their bid amount were mentioned, people applauded. The biggest applause went to the highest bidder of $1,504. The applause died down, but even the lowly 96th bidder was applauded! Of course, they didn’t know that this was my 100th coaster (even though I tried to let the park and ACE know), but it seemed like they were applauding my 100th roller coaster ride when they called my name and bid amount.

We were able to choose which seat on the coaster to sit in. The first train had a seat left in the next to the last row. The second train had a seat in the last row. Since I heard the Xccelerator at Knott’s Berry Farm (a similar type of ride to Top Thrill Dragster, but much slower and smaller) has some great airtime in the back, I chose the back seat on the second train. I was sitting next to Marc. It would be good to celebrate an accomplishment with someone you know. I think Bill had the next to the last row in the first train.

We were then assembled according to our seating in the train, but this didn’t work out too well because some people had already headed over to Top Thrill Dragster. We all headed over to the coaster and stood in line, where we were again assembled according to our seating arrangement. We chatted a bit in line. Marc prayed for a rollback before we hit the top of the coaster. He wanted to go backwards at 120 mph. I think he would die happy if that happened. Bill was saying that he placed a bid for $1,505 over the phone to be the top bidder, but the person misunderstood him and thought he said $505! There seemed to be people from all over. I met some people from Illinois and Pennslyvania. Snoopy, in Top Thrill Dragster gear, kept people entertained in line.

Guests of the VIP riders waited in the grandstands. I could have had friends cheer me on? Darn! I don’t think they’re crazy enough to wake up at 7 am, though. A reporter from the Sandusky Register was interviewing people in line. She interviewed the people behind us, who were from Illinois. I wonder why we weren’t picked. Surely our t-shirts said Florida Coaster Club and we came all the way from Florida for this celebration. Surely we would have been newsworthy!

We waited about 30 minutes until the Cedar Point officials, head of the American Red Cross Firelands Chapter, and the Ohio state auditor made a short speech. During the speeches, a Top Thrill Dragster train launched as a test and people applauded loudly. The head of the American Red Cross said that there were people as far away from Louisiana and Florida here today. Only coaster crazy people would fly from Florida to ride such a beast!

Finally, we were let in. The signage in the queue tells how fast the coaster goes and some other technical information. One sign said that occasionally a train will not make it over and will safely roll back. Now that is a sign for Marc!

The loading arrangement for the trains is pretty neat. There are two load areas so the ride ops can load two trains at once. The first two trains were loaded in. Dick Kinzel, head of Cedar Point, was shaking hands of the riders in the first train. I hoped to shake his hand and say, “Mr. Kinzel, this is my 100th roller coaster,” but he went to someplace else before our train was loaded. I was loaded into the green train. Funny, hunter green is my favorite color, but this train was more of a lime green. We were all stapled into the coaster! I hoped to get some airtime at the top, but I suppose this one time it’s good to be stapled. I don’t want to see what it’s like to fall 420 feet down without the assistance of a train.

The trains then rolled out. The first train rolled into position. After a little wait, it was launched and cheers came from our train. Then our train rolled into position. “Arms down, head back, hold on” is what I heard. After a little wait, we were launched. As the train was launched, I yelled out, “100!” It was just like the commercial on Cedar Point’s website said – launch and hit 0 to 120 mph in 4 seconds. Whoosh! The train then raced up and did a slight twist as we hit the top – 420 feet from terra firma. It was so intense that I yelled, “Oh s---!” I didn’t feel much airtime, but it was such a rush I didn’t really care.

It was time to come back down. The train began its journey downwards. All I could see was green grass. We were twisted 270 degrees. The twist down happened so fast that it was all a blur to me. I yelled out, “Whoa, whoa!” during the twist. Finally, we hit the break run and rolled back into the station. As we entered the station, I looked down in the queue and it was full. The queue was full of the 96 VIP riders and 500 who won a Pepsi contest. I saw one guy in the queue that had his arms up and were cheering us on. I’m sure he didn’t know, but it seemed like he was cheering my 100th roller coaster. The ride op at the end said the signature “How was your ride?” and everyone cheered loudly! I bought the on-ride photo to remember my accomplishment and I was smiling during the ride. By the time I exited the ride around 9:15, the line was out the door. The bulls were pretty much heading to Top Thrill Dragster.

A lot of people say that the coaster is a one trick pony. But it’s one heck of a trip. It was one of the most thrilling, intense ride experiences of my life. If I combined my first 99 roller coasters into one, they wouldn’t even come close to the thrill I experienced on Top Thrill Dragster. I kept on repeating the ride in my head all day long. I had hoped to ride it again, but the wait never dropped below 4 hours and Freeway wasn’t available. I’m sure as we get into the season, waits will drop to more reasonable times. The ride ops are new, they only have 12 seats instead of 16 in the coaster, and they haven’t certified some of the trains for service. People were saying Millennium Force had 6-7 hour waits during opening and they’ve dropped significantly since then.

After riding Top Thrill Dragster, do all other coasters seem tame? Not really. Like I tell people, I can ride pretty much anything that says “roller coaster” on it. I’m not ashamed to admit that I ride kiddie coasters for credit! That is, I don’t ride Dragon Wagons anymore. I usually can’t ride it alone and the only dragon-themed ride I want to go on is Dueling Dragons!

Marc, Bill, and I split up on our separate ways.

Here’s how I spent the rest of my day at Cedar Point…

MILLENNIUM FORCE

After Top Thrill Dragster, I headed to Millennium Force. The line was nearly non-existent, but the wait was about 15 minutes. They were running only one train. They were testing out the other train with a bunch of water jugs. The best thing wasn’t the short wait (relative to Millennium Force’s usual wait). It was that the Millennium Force lady and the funky Millennium Force theme were back! It wasn’t boring guy anymore like last season. Now I could enjoy my “record-breaking ride” on Millennium Force. The ride was pretty good, but it seemed to pale with Top Thrill Dragster. The excitement from the Top Thrill Dragster ride still hadn’t diminished. I still like to lean forward in Millennium Force’s first drop. It almost feels like you’re going to fly out of the seat!

The wait got a little longer (about 20 minutes), but I decided to wait until later to ride. I wished I hadn’t. The wait in the middle of the afternoon was 1 hour and 45 minutes. Near closing, it was about 1 hour. So that was my one and only Millennium Force ride this trip. I was checking on the Top Thrill Dragster line and it was too long. Power Tower looked short, so I decided to try that.

POWER TOWER

I waited about 5 minutes for this one. I rode on the red side where you’re launched up rather than dropped. I like the sensation of being launched. I don’t think others agreed because the line for the other side was pretty long. In this line, I met two people who tried to wait for Dragster, but they said the queue was over 4 hours long. They lived down the street, so they were always around. I wanted to check out the waits at the front of the park. Raptor had a 30-minute wait, so I decided to check Wicked Twister.

WICKED TWISTER

I rode this two times without a wait in the morning. There was no line! I rode once in the front and once in the back. I have to say that the back is a lot better. The twist as you go backward into the spike is very intense. I was going to ride it a few more times, but Wicked Twister wiped me out. I came back later in the mid-afternoon and waited about 20 minutes. The queue was the coldest queue in the park! The breeze from Lake Erie was strong and cold. The ride ops were bundled up pretty well. I headed towards the back to check out Gemini and Corkscrew.

CORKSCREW

I rode this once without a wait in the morning. I think Top Thrill Dragster became a giant queue sucker in the morning. While everyone ran to Top Thrill Dragster, the other rides became barren. Corkscrew became a head banger, but I rode it anyway. It wasn’t any better than Python at Busch Gardens Tampa. Magnum XL-200 had a few minutes wait, so I decided to ride it next.

MAGNUM XL-200

I’ve had past bad experiences on this ride. The last few airtime moments bruised my thighs. This ride wasn’t too bad. There was little banging on the last part of the ride. I think I finally had a smooth Magnum ride! I wanted to ride Gemini and Mean Streak, but they weren’t open yet. The next closest was the Cedar Creek Mine Ride.

CEDAR CREEK MINE RIDE

I waited about 5 minutes for this one. I know a lot of people who ride the Cedar Creek Mine Ride rag on it. I’ve even heard some ride ops make jokes about it, like “Cedar Point has some world-class roller coasters. The Cedar Creek Mine Ride isn’t one of them.” This ride was much different. Some teenage girls sat behind me and they were screaming a lot. Then about halfway through, they started singing Sk8tr Boi.” Hey, we aren’t at Paramount’s Carowinds (see Robb Alvey’s coaster videos for this reference)! They broke into “Sweet Home Alabama” at the end of the ride. I wish I could have filmed this ride, but I would have probably gotten kicked out. Should I have risked it? Even though I was still carrying my Six Flags season pass and could have gone to Six Flags Worlds of Adventure, I better follow the rules.

Gemini was open, so that was next.

GEMINI

They were only running the red side of Gemini. Even though two trains were running, the wait was about 15 minutes. I like this ride. It has some nice airtime. I wish blue was running. Gemini doesn’t feel like Gemini unless both sides are going.

Mean Streak had an hour wait, so I would save it for later. Queues were getting pretty long. Mantis and Raptor had hour waits, Millennium Force had a 1 hour, 45 minute wait. Top Thrill Dragster line was still around 4-5 hours. All of Millennium Force’s Freeway passes were out. I did some shopping first and bought two t-shirts, one of which was a Top Thrill Dragster t-shirt. I stored them in a locker by Wicked Twister.

I got a Freeway pass for Raptor and my return time as 5:00 to 6:00. I decided to go to lunch at the Midway Market buffet. I think it’s a good deal for $10. You can spend that alone at other places on a burger, fries, and a drink. Why not do all you can eat? The buffet was pretty good, although I dropped a fried chicken into the corn on the cob. I felt so embarrassed that I fished the chicken out. A fried and buttery chicken – delicious! I rode Wicked Twister once and then I had forgotten about good old Blue Streak! It’s hidden away and it slipped my mind to ride it.

BLUE STREAK

I rode this one twice without a wait. I think Blue Streak is Cedar Point’s hidden gem. It’s a little rough, but nothing too unbearable. It gives some great airtime. Best of all, I’ve rarely seen a long line on it. I think the longest line I’ve ever seen on Blue Streak was (believe it or not) during ERT of Coastermania 2001.

A ride op here was having a good time. On my first ride, he said, “Everyone moo!” On the second ride, he said, “Do you know what ride you’re on? The Blllllluuuueeee Streak!” Here’s a guy who must really like his job!

I then rested on the grandstands of Top Thrill Dragster. I think the grandstands are a good idea. It’s a nice place to rest and you could get a good view of the coaster in action.

Next up was Iron Dragon.

IRON DRAGON

I waited about 20 minutes for this one. I think this was the shortest wait of all the rides in the afternoon. This is actually a pretty good suspended roller coaster. The last part after the second lift hill really picks up speed.

I then took the train to Mean Streak.

MEAN STREAK

In the past, Mean Streak was really rough. It was almost painful to ride. I almost skipped it, but I wanted to try a trick a friend told me to avoid pain on Mean Streak. The wait was about 30 minutes.

As I rode Mean Streak, I did the trick and leaned forward a bit. That relived a lot of the roughness. I sat back in a few spots and I felt the roughness pretty bad. All in all though, Mean Streak still isn’t my favorite woodie.

I hadn’t rode Raptor yet, so I took the train back to Millennium Force and rode it.

RAPTOR

I still had my Freeway pass, but the line was short enough to wait. I waited about 20 minutes. Raptor is a good ride, but it’s not as good as Islands of Adventure’s Dueling Dragons or Busch Gardens Tampa’s Montu. I didn’t use my Freeway pass because I wanted to ride Mantis.

MANTIS

Mantis had about a 20-minute wait. I usually try to avoid this stand-up coaster because it hurts my knees. This time, I kept my legs at an angle and there was no pain! I thought the ride ops would tell me to stand up straight, but no one bothered me. The only bad part on this ride is the tiny bicycle seat. I was almost afraid I wouldn’t be able to have kids after the ride!

I avoided Wildcat because I don’t like the end breaks. They’re too hard! Wildcat did have a funky color scheme of green and purple. I thought I was looking at the Joker’s Jinx!

I left the park around 7 pm. I felt I had a full day at Cedar Point, even though I did miss out on a second ride on Top Thrill Dragster. I may come back in a year or two to see if it has improved or not. Surely it must as ride ops and things are broken in.

My flight was going to depart on 6:05 on May 5. I was unsure what to do since the parks were closed then and there didn’t seem much else to do in Sandusky. I did go to the Sandusky Mall, which seemed like a generic mall. I hung a little around Columbus waiting for my flight to depart. I was looking for a new game for my Game Boy. I found a few cheap ones, but I ended up playing Puyo Pop on the plane again. There is no such thing as too much Puyo Pop. I wish I had taken my Game Boy along to play in the queue lines. It would have made things a lot easier to bear.

So after my 100th roller coaster, what shall I do now? Start heading towards 200, of course! It may take a few seasons for me to get there, but surely Cedar Point will have something new then. It’ll be time again for another American Red Cross VIP auction.

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Sunday, May 11, 2003 7:33 PM
Sounds like you had a good time, and helped out a good cause. Nice job!

Safety tip for Magnum: While enthusiasses would tell you the opposite, I say pull that seat belt as tight as you can. It's flexible and gives a little, which is more than I can say for the lap bar. Rest assured, you'll still get a ton of air, and it's a lot more comfortable.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
"Pray that your country undergoes recovery!" - KMFDM

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Wednesday, May 14, 2003 12:47 PM

Barry H said:
"Round trip flight to Columbus, OH: $221
Rental car: $25 a day
Hotel room: $90 for two nights
Being one of the inaugural riders on Top Thrill Dragster: Priceless

My comment....Well, actually, just over $200 would have done it...but yeah, it WAS a priceless experience, wasn't it.

Barry H said:
MEAN STREAK

In the past, Mean Streak was really rough. It was almost painful to ride. I almost skipped it, but I wanted to try a trick a friend told me to avoid pain on Mean Streak. The wait was about 30 minutes.

As I rode Mean Streak, I did the trick and leaned forward a bit. That relived a lot of the roughness. I sat back in a few spots and I felt the roughness pretty bad. All in all though, Mean Streak still isn’t my favorite woodie.

I hadn’t rode Raptor yet, so I took the train back to Millennium Force and rode it.



my comment:...I always take a napkin from one of the food stands to use as a bite guard after nearly shattering a tooth after one particularly rough ride.

Barry H said:
MANTIS

Mantis had about a 20-minute wait. I usually try to avoid this stand-up coaster because it hurts my knees. This time, I kept my legs at an angle and there was no pain! I thought the ride ops would tell me to stand up straight, but no one bothered me. The only bad part on this ride is the tiny bicycle seat. I was almost afraid I wouldn’t be able to have kids after the ride!



my comment ... I think the trick is to ignore the ride attendants (even though that's technically a violation of state law !!!) and keep your knees bent just a tad until they lock the saddle in place. Then stand up straight to establish a half inch or an inch "comfort zone" between you and your saddle.

My concluding comment .... Bottom line - the Red Cross auction is one heck of a good deal (how much should one pay for breakfast, bypass a 4 - 6 hour wait, and get a nice tax deduction?) and it is for a good cause. It rocks!

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"Patent Lawyers are WAY cool! - Plato 353 B.C.



*** This post was edited by ssbn608 5/14/2003 4:52:04 PM ***
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