CP 5/18 - 5/20: My Authoritative Opinion of GateKeeper

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 12:55 PM

For the none of you that care (in which case you can skip to the next paragraph), a little background: Despite living five hours away in Indianapolis, I had managed to make it to Cedar Point every year from 1995 to 2008. I worked at the park in the summer of ’05 and that is where I met my wife. We both happened to be from Indiana, and really what more do you need? My streak came to an end in 2009. That summer, my wife somehow got pregnant with our first daughter, so no coasters for Bakeman. Same situation last summer with daughter number two, and with our last visit having been in May of ’11, it had been two full years since I’d been on a coaster! Naturally, I was very excited for this trip, especially with the smell of Gatekeeper’s fresh paint tickling my nostrils. One concern we did have was how my wife would hold up. You see, while giving birth, a lot of body parts have to stretch in order for the baby to fit through the baby hole, and in my wife’s case, her tailbone was of particular impedance. She couldn’t really sit comfortably for about three months after having given birth, and even up until this trip she hadn’t completely healed. Because of this, we were concerned that she wouldn’t be able to comfortably ride the coasters. But, having been stuck with two small children with adorable faces and devilish temperaments, my wife was willing to do anything to get away. Cedar Point is a very special place to us, and it had been far too long.

We dropped the kids off with my family on Saturday morning before making the 5-hour drive from Indy to Sandusky. We checked into our minimally adequate hotel room at around 4 pm and then made our way to the park. I swear, driving up The Causeway and watching the trees peel away on the left, revealing what has to be the most awesome amusement park skyline in the world, will never get old. The lot was pretty full, but wasn’t quite as bad as some of the Halloweekends crowds I’ve seen in the past, where cars were parked in the grass by the toll booth—a sight more horrifying than any of the haunts or monsters inside the park. We found a parking space near the front, and as we got of the car, my wife was a little saddened by all the newness. “Our” park just didn’t look the same as when we’d last left it. I had to reassure her that all would come back to us once we got inside. We made our way to the season pass center and quickly purchased our Platinum passes with no issue. Upon entering the park, one thing was abundantly clear: Disaster Transport was a lot different than I remembered.

We weren’t planning to ride much since the lines were long and we knew we had two more full days ahead of us, so we took our time and soaked in the atmosphere. We strolled over to Gatekeeper plaza just to check things out. Very impressive. The arrow on the wait time board was notched passed the 90 minute mark, and my wife wasn’t quite ready to try something radical given her condition, so we headed to Millennium for something a little more familiar. My wife was able to take her seat and get strapped in with little discomfort, so we were encouraged. Millennium took us up, down, and around its exceedingly familiar course, and I’ve got to say: the ride delivers every damn time. We got back to the station and my wife started to tear up. She had no problems riding! She loved it, and she was overcome with emotion because she had worked so hard to get herself back to a good physical condition. The months following our daughter’s birth were very rough, and it was only with great diligence and persistence that she stayed with the physical therapy regimen that she was given. Well, she did it, and I was very proud of her. Alright, enough of the weepy stuff. After MF we headed over to Gatekeeper, and though the sign showed 75 minutes, we only ended up waiting about an hour. The line seemed to move very quickly. Check below for my thoughts on the ride.

We got to the park early for some ERT Sunday morning and managed to get MF, two rides on TTD (including a front seat ride) and Maverick by about 11:30. The day was split by an afternoon nap (again, we had to take advantage of not having the kids around), so that evening we rode Mean Streak and Gemini before I finished up the day with solo rides on Gatekeeper and Raptor.

My wife slept in Monday morning so I was by myself for more ERT, and boy was I glad I got up. I managed two rides on GK, one on Raptor and one on MF—the ride host asked if there was a single rider for the front row, and he got his answer in about 0.2 seconds. This got me to 10 am, just as the “regulars” were starting to pile in, so I went back to pick my wife and grab some lunch. When we got back to the park, we were disappointed to see how full the parking lot was once again. More thoughts on this below. It was also starting to get really hot and humid, so all we managed was another MF ride and a trip on Windseeker (which went down for wind right after we got off) before we decided to head home. We had originally planned to close the park down and drive straight back to Indy, but that would’ve gotten us home well after midnight, so leaving around 4 pm worked out better in that regard. All in all, we had a good time and are looking forward to coming back in August, this time with the little ones. Now onto some specifics:

Crowds: The weather was perfect both Saturday and Sunday, so I wasn’t surprised that the park was pretty packed both days. By Sunday evening, most everyone had filed out, so Gatekeeper was down to a 15 minute wait and Raptor was a walk-on. Monday, however, was a shocker. When we went back after lunch, the lot was about half-full, maybe more. The lines were all over an hour, and there were tons of kids. Not sure what was going on, but after reading other threads on here it sounds like I wasn’t the only one that was surprised by the Monday crowds. Was it senior skip day? Gatekeeper? Weather? Extended weekend? Probably a combination of all of the above, I guess.

FastLane: I never saw where FastLane was sold out, and it never really made much of a difference to me. There was always a small line for it at MF and GK, and the ride hosts did a decent job of merging people from both lines. No one in the commoners line seemed to be annoyed by it, nor was I.

Employees: All of the workers were fantastic. Everyone from the greeters at the front gate to the ride hosts to the gift shop employees was very friendly and approachable. The ride hosts were working at a crisp pace while maintaining a certain level of liveliness and enthusiasm. The GK, TTD, and MF crews especially were top notch.

Gatekeeper: Ok, now to the good part. I was very excited for this ride, in part because it was to be my first winged coaster, and it’s not often that I get to experience a brand new sensation on a thrill ride. My goal going in was to ride in each of the four “corners” since I expected each to deliver a unique thrill. Well, I manage three out of four spots. The only corner I didn’t ride was back-left. Since I’m a coaster enthusiast, I evaluate and rank each roller coaster’s performance by assigning it a score from one to five for each of a set of standard criteria before calculating the aggregate score using a weighted scale as follows:

Layout x2

Smoothness/Comfort x3

Pacing x2.5

Airtime x1000

Intensity x4

View x 1.5

Color Scheme x1

My overall impression of the ride is that it is a solid addition to the park and will be one of the must-rides for each visit going forward. For the record, my personal must-rides are MF, Maverick, Raptor, TTD, and Gatekeeper. Magnum, WT, Gemini, MS and BS are the next tier, and everything else falls below.

Gatekeeper didn’t completely blow me away, but I enjoyed it. I think I like the front seats better than the back, primarily because the view and exposure take full advantage of the feeling of isolation that the winged coaster provides. The rollover first drop and the keyhole inversion are the best parts. My first ride was in the front row, left side, inside seat. I thought it was butter-smooth, but my wife thought it was a little bumpy. My other three rides all had a noticeable shimmy to them, to the point where I could imagine that an attempt at marathoning would quickly give me a headache. The shoulder vest was a little uncomfortable, and again I could see how marathoning would make it more problematic, but for a couple of trips at a time it wouldn’t be an issue, at least for me. Just for reference, I’m 5’ 9” and weigh 195 lbs (all muscle, expect for the fat).

The ride does look fabulous at the front of the park and by the beach. It is a nice ride, but the slightly excessive vibrations and that paint-by-numbers feeling you can sometimes get with a B&M ride take it down just a few notches for me.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013 7:05 PM

In my experience Mondays at any park are the last hurrah of a 3 day weekend. People will arrive on friday to get settled in their accomadations, and spend the weekend riding, and stay through monday, assuming that it will be less busy. Where they then meet up with the people who come for the day on monday, thinking it won't be busy, and you end up with a huge crowd.

That's why I try to keep my visits to the larger parks to the middle of the week, or go very early on Sunday when a lot of people are in church. Sundays are typically less busy than a friday or Saturday, but get busier later in the day, and usually dies down early. Where as the friday and saturday crowds will stay til the park closes, with a mass exit out of the parking lot.

But, I have only been at Cedar Point once where the lines weren't horrible. Most of the time the park is packed, thought weds and tursdays seem to be the least busy.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013 7:48 PM

This is crazy to me, Bakeman, but I'm assuming I was in line directly in front of you monday morning when you got the single rider call on MF! The timing makes sense, and, if it was you, you certainly had your hand up fast. Such a small world, lol.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013 7:06 AM

Yeah it would've been at about 9:30 or so. Someone else already seated tried to raise his hand too, but I was a blink quicker and I got the nod. My ears were perked, needless to say.

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