6.5.03 and 6.6.03
CronieCon1 Day 1 and 2
Thursday, June 5
My last (and first) visit to Cedar Point was in September, 2000, the debut year of Millennium Force and a great trip for me. Since then, of course, Cedar Point had added two new goodies to the mix, Wicked Twister, and Top Thrill Dragster. The original plan was for Jay Miller, David Drake, and myself to make the trip to Holiday World for Stark Raven Mad, since I had raved so much about it to them after 2002, and to hit some other parks as well. However, thanks to the surprising winter weather that hit North Carolina, Jay ended up having to go to school a week late, meaning he would be in school the Friday of Stark Raven Mad. So, with the announcement of Top Thrill Dragster, and the CoasterMania event that took place a week after Stark Raven Mad, Cedar Point was looking quite enticing. Plans were pretty much set, but with a couple weeks to go, Dave had some pretty bad complications come up at work, and he had to back out. Jay and I can't rent a car or a hotel room or any of that, so the trip looked like it was out, but in the end Jay and I ended up flying up with my father, who enjoyed himself while Jay and I visited parks. Our plans were to fly into Pittsburgh Thursday morning, visit Cedar Point from 5 till close Thursday, do CoasterMania at the Point Friday, Six Flags Worlds of Adventure Saturday, Kennywood Sunday, and fly from Pittsburgh to Charlotte Sunday evening.
Wednesday night Jay came down from Greensboro to stay at my house so we could prepare for an early wakeup to get to the airport. We were both filled with excitement over this trip, and for Jay, it would be his first time experience the Point. I was pretty excited to get back there myself, and neither of us had been to Worlds of Adventure or Kennywood, not to mention this was our first trip together. We discussed when the fact that this trip was actually happening would really set in, and I told Jay, "Just wait until we go over that causeway." Jay wasn't really up for DDR, so we stuck with the coaster mood and watched Alvey's video from the ACE Europe trip before getting some much needed rest before what would turn out to be a tiring weekend.
Clear skies in the morning, no flight delays at the airport, and before you knew it, we were on the plane and the destination was coaster nirvana. By this point I was beginning to develop a cold that would arrive just in time to try and wreck havoc on the weekend, but at that point there was no way a stuffy nose was going to detract from this trip. After arriving in Pittsburgh and getting the luggage, the first reaction upon stepping outside was "Ooh! Cold!" At this point entered the first of many surprises on the trip. Apparently Budget did not have the car we had reserved (okay, didn't we reserve it?), and all they had was a Ford Mustang. I think Jay and I both found this to be pretty hilarious, and I will say it was cool getting to ride around in it, but I definitely would have preferred the normal four-door car we were supposed to have to having three people ride around Ohio and Pennsylvania in the cramped spaces of the Mustang. It was definitely an interesting highlight of the trip, though. But hey, you just want me to get past all of this stuff and get to Sandusky, right? We're getting close, keep calm. I just want to point out that I think those plazas on the turnpike are pretty cool, and a good idea, and it was good to see that they didn't take advantage of the situation and raise the prices as the McDonalds and such. We passed by the (many) exits for Six Flags Worlds of Adventure, and it was tempting, but that was for later (although I would love to go ahead and start rambling about Villain right now). Eventually we did arrive in Sandusky, and checked into the Comfort Inn on Milan Road (Perkins Cemetery!). We were doing the Starlight deal at Cedar Point using one of the buy-one-get-one-free coupons from the 2003 Visitors Guide, so we hung out at the hotel for a bit. It's always good to see an arcade with old classic games where you can actually play something for a quarter. Okay, enough of this, let's head down the road.
Remember how I told Jay the feeling would set in as we drove over the causeway and the park came into view. Well, as the coasters (so very many of them) rose into view, there was a moment of silence, and then, "You were right." It was just as stunning as I had remembered. Since it wasn't 5:00 yet, we drove around the perimeter as Jay said, "Like a kid in a candy store." "I haven't seen Dragster test yet," I commented after a good bit of time. Of course, we all know now why that was, and the painful truth about how long it would be down. But, that comes later. Upon getting to the entrance we did find the "Top Thrill Dragster is closed... It may open later.. yadda yadda" sign, and proceeded in when the gates were open at 5:00. Then it was over to...
Wicked Twister, my 93rd coaster. The wait for this really wasn't too bad, and the park was starting to clear out early. Considering what we had read online, we opted to wait for the back seat on our first ride. Did I mention this was my first impulse? All I can say is that this thing is powerful. The back spike on the highest launch was more intense than I could have ever hoped for. I came off this ride with my ears burning worse than as if I had been on a SLC, but unlike a SLC, it was worth it. I still think I like Deja Vu better as a shuttle, though.
Since we were in the area, and since Jay needed all the credits, and heck, since I happen to enjoy it, we rode Disaster Transport in the front seat. This actually had one of the longest waits of the night, and we both decided to purchase the 3D glasses, considering that we wouldn't be back any time soon (except for the next day, of course), and they would make a good souvenir. Unlike a lot of people, I really like this ride, as short as it may be. The theming... yeah well... not much to say there, but it is a lot faster than I would expect out of a bobsled coaster.
Moving on up the midway, we did a little gazing at the dormant Top Thrill Dragster, and took a walk-on ride on Corkscrew. I still like this one a lot with that air time hill after the first drop, but I think Carolina Cyclone is still my favorite of those old Arrow loopers. I hadn't given Magnum the time that it deserved on my 2000 trip, so I was really looking forward to ridin, and also trying out seat 1-3. We knew that Scott Connor (aka Roarrr) was going to be there that evening as well, and as we were queuing and forth in the Magnum line a park map comes from nowhere and slaps Jay on the head. It was none other than Scott and his friend just ahead of us in line. We opted to give seat 1-3 a try, and we noticed Scott on the train in front of us. Out of the station, up the lift, and down we went on Jay's first Magnum ride and my first in seat 1-3. I instantly enjoyed the ride a lot more than I did in 2000, and I liked it a lot then. That return run is absolutely ridiculous in that seat (and in other seats as well). I was really surprised that I didn't have severe bruises on my thighs, and I can picture myself being decapitated by that final tunnel if it weren't for the lap bar. Awesome ride.
We'd waved to Scott and his friend as we hit the brake run, so they were waiting for us at the bottom of the ramp. We would end up hanging around with them for the rest of the night. We were talking about credits and Jr. Gemini, and Jay and I were dared to go all the way through the line just to see what the ride operator would say. Obviously, she turned us down and suggested Woodstock Express as an alternative. What was funniest to me was the young kid (maybe 10 years old or so?) who was also too tall to ride. We saw him a few moments later re-entering the line with a small child who he was 'chaperoning' (credit whore in the making). Since we were already into the swing of the kiddie coaster thing, we hit Woodstock Express. This was my 94th coaster, since I had missed it on my 2000 visit. I think I like this better than the inverted version (Runaway Reptar). Also, Scott pointed out that a good place to get a funny picture was the Peanuts psychiatric help booth.
We hit the Gemini Red side for my 95th (yes... I count each side as a separate coaster, although it is one single attraction). I don't remember where I sat on this in 2000 (front seat maybe?), but I didn't think it was that great. "I don't remember this having much airtime before," I commented as we were going over the lift. "No airtime?!?" remarked Scott's friend as I was in the middle of being tossed up into my lap bar. I really liked Gemini this time around. Cedar Creek Mine Ride (cha-ching, coaster #96) was a walk-on, and some rows were even roped off. I can't say I'm too fond of this one, and it made me feel really happy to have the Arrow mine ride that I do at Carowinds.
Uh oh, here comes a touchy subject: Mean Streak. I was a little cautious approaching this one, as in 2000 I had really enjoyed the ride. I had expected a horrible, pathetic excuse for a wooden coaster, and instead ridden a coaster that I had liked. The line was closed for some reason or another, but after a few minutes they opened it and Jay and I took the front seat. I almost assumed that the ride would be much worse than I had remembered it, but once again I failed to find out what is so totally horrible about Mean Streak. In the front seat the ride was fast and perfectly smooth, and there were even about 3 small moments of airtime. Man, you really do get a good bit of muffleheads on this one though.
After much confusion and debate, we opted to head over to Mantis. This was maybe the one ride that I didn't enjoy the same or more than I did in 2000. We rode in the back seat, and while I think this is still my favorite stand up, I honestly don't like stand ups much at all to begin with. I like the drop and the first couple inversions, but after that I'm not really big on that high G glue-your-feet-to-the-floor stuff. Next up came Iron Dragon, and even this thing seemed to have improved (was I in a different mindset or what?). We rode in the back and it seemed a lot quicker than I remembered it. Racking up another credit (#97), we hit Wildcat. One of the ops noticed my Wally World shirt, and we had a brief little discussion/quote-off on that. The only previous Wildcat I had been on was at the South Carolina State Fair, courtesy of Conklin Shows, and I really liked that one. I liked this one just as much. These are just plain fun rides, and I wish more parks had them.
By this point I know I for one was feeling the effects of hunger, so dinner was beside Raptor at some pizza place. The price for a slice of pizza and a drink wasn't TOO horrible, and it was pretty good as well. Blue Streak was calling, so we headed over to find yet another walk-on, and also that Alan Conceicao was working it as an op. Blue Streak was a lot of fun, with nice moments of airtime up front. We decided that if we rode Raptor, we wouldn't have time to get to Millennium Force before closing, so we opted to head to the Millennium Force line, since we would have plenty of time Friday for Raptor anyway. Scott and Jay had never been in the front seat (Jay had never been on the ride before at all), so they went to try for the front, although they ended up getting told they couldn't wait for it. Scott's friend and myself rode somewhere near the middle of the train, and I was pretty excited about getting to ride the Force again. It was just as awesome as I remember it, although the airtime on the side-by-side camelbacks did not seem as powerful as it had been in 2000, and this continues to be my favorite steel coaster. It was 10:30 at this point, and the park had closed, so we departed and headed back to the hotel to get what little sleep we could before waking up bright and early. For those counting, we did 13 of Cedar Point's coasters in just over 5 hours.
Friday, June 6
4:30 AM comes really fast when you were just riding Millennium Force 6 hours earlier. The thought of Top Thrill Dragster was enough to get me up pretty quickly, but Jay was stuck in his dreams for a while. We managed to get to the park a little after 5 AM to purchase our CoasterMania tickets, and that was when we found out that Top Thrill Dragster would not be ready for ERT, and I figured by that point it would be a good assumption that it would not be opening at all, although that glimmer of hope would remain in me all day. The McDonalds across the causeway had been closed, but luckily Cedar Point had a Krispy Kreme stand up outside the entrance gates. Just before 6 we were ushered inside the entrance, and marketing director Robin Innes informed us that Millennium Force would be substituted for Dragster. Disappointed? Well, naturally I was a bit sad that I wasn't going to be doing what I was looking forward to most, but I was quite pleased to be able to ride Millennium Force at 6:30. The park was also kind enough to give everyone a Freeway pass good for any ride except Dragster on that day, and a Freeway pass good for Dragster any day of the season. We took our time and walked while a large number of people sprinted, but the line still wasn't very bad when we got to the ride. If we weren't awake by then, a backseat ride changed that.
Next comes Raptor, the only coaster (aside from Dragster, Jr. Gemini, and the other side of Gemini) that we had not been on Thursday evening. I rode this one time in 2000, in the front seat, and was not impressed. Don't ask me why, because I honestly can't remember it a whole lot, but it was at the bottom of my B&M inverted list. I had heard the back seat was the best on this ride, and I know it is great on Top Gun, so I made sure to ride in the back right. I know I wasn't expecting much, and because of that I don't think Jay was really expecting much either, but My God. The train kicked so beautifully to the right at the top of the first drop, and then there's that feeling of being sucked down. The loop and zero g roll were about as good as Top Gun's (my favorite inverted... at least until this point), and the cobra roll was better than I remembered, although I still prefer the batwing. But, this is where it got crazy. The mid course brake run was turned completely off, and plunging down off the brake run Raptor was unleashed. This is where Raptor went flip mode. I was in utter disbelief as we whipped (and I do mean whipped) onto the final brake run and my head was slammed mercilessly against the restraint in that oh-so-wonderful final turn. At this point there was no choice but to do Raptor again, so we did, and as much as I thought it would never happen, Top Gun: The Jet Coaster is no longer my favorite inverted. Raptor went from the bottom to the top, and it was just as good, if not better, the second time we rode.
I was still a little shocked every time I looked at my watch and realized we still had hours to go until the park even opened for the day. Continuing on with the ERT goodness, we took a spin on Blue Streak in the back seat, and I must say, this coaster is a lot better near the front of the train. We did Power Tower's Space Shot side next, which is fun, but not very powerful. Take my opinion for what it is worth though, considering the fact that still, even after Power Tower, Pitt Fall, Acrophobia, etc., my favorite drop ride is Drop Zone at Carowinds. I wasn't sure what was going on with Millennium Force, but the line had been emptied, and a new line had formed at the entrance to the queue. At first I thought maybe they were closing it to CoasterMania guests and opening it to resort guests, but they let us in when we showed our CoasterMania badge, and we got another Millennium Force ride before the park opened for the day.
We did a lot of photo taking and video shooting, and tried to go to Johnny Rockets for some food, but they weren't open yet (friendly employees though!). We did have some fries at a place near Raptor that had been recommended to us, and watched some amusing birds and met yet another exceptionally nice employee who was talking to guests while they ate. We rode the Space Spiral and Giant Wheel for more opportunities to take in the view, and then began casually strolling up the midway. We had not really examined Dragster that closely yet, so we looked at it and tried calling people back home to take a screenshot of us standing in front of the web cam. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement, and we both watched the green Dragster train roll forward into the station, as another train rolled onto the launch track. "Movement!" 'Sure, they probably won't do anything else though,' we thought as we walked along the fence. Then, the fins dropped. Keep in mind that Dragster had not even tested Thursday while we were there, so this was my first time seeing this. I was literally standing beside the train when it took off, zooming down the track and clearing the hill, although a bit slow. At that moment every single person in the entire park seemed to make a mad dash for the ride, and it seemed like only seconds before there was a massive line formed outside the entrance. Neither of us really had any belief that they would open the ride anytime soon, but we were interested, so we sat in the grandstand. Surely enough, another train rolled forward into the launch position. 'Maybe this is really happening,' I thought. 'Maybe I will get to ride this after all.' Fins drop! Train launches forward! Train goes about 10 or 15 miles per hour and comes to a stop... Then comes the agonizing process of watching the train verrrryyy slowly roll back to the launch position. We decided not to wait around for that, and headed over for another (excellent) Magnum ride, and the side of Gemini that we had not done the day before (Ouch, Gemini is a lot bumpier on axle seats!).
Since we had already taken in the rides and lines were long, we spent time walking around casually and taking photos and video. I got to play DDR Extreme for the first time, and then it was time for the CoasterMania picnic lunch. We had decided not to do the Q&A session, since we figured we could read online what had gone on, and wanted to maximize our park time. I enjoyed the lunch, and took advantage especially of the taffy that was on the tables.
After lunch we rode the skyride up the midway to find Dragster the same as it had been after the test run hours before, and we decided to go to Challenge Park to get some good views of Magnum. We're walking around and all of a sudden through the trees I see a Dragster train go down the hill. "Ddddd... TTrra... Go..." I tried to stutter out what I had just seen, but instead just pointed, and we decided to walk back over to Dragster to see what was going on since we had nothing better to do. We got there just in time to see the second launch attempt, which, just like earlier, failed miserably. That would turn out to be the last time Dragster moved all day. We sat in the grandstand for a while, took the obligatory photo beside the photo building, then went down the midway to something I was really wanting to ride: Cedar Downs. I thought Cedar Downs was a lot of fun, especially considering the wait (no wait).
We did some browsing in various gift shops, then took a spin on Chaos, which is always a fun flat. Jay decided he was ready to purchase his souvenirs, but I wanted to wait and see if Dragster was going to open (didn't really want to buy a shirt for a coaster I hadn't even been on, you know?). The only thing that had changed on Dragster was a train moved to the transfer. I watched people / napped while waiting for Jay. We then headed over for a back seat ride on Mean Streak. While we were riding it began to rain, and I knew that if there ever had been a chance that Dragster would open, then it was gone. On this ride I found out why people don't like Mean Streak. The smoothness and few hints of airtime that had been there in the front were gone, and in came the roughness.
Since we were at the opposite end of the park from where we wanted to be (not sure where we wanted to be, but not there), and since it was raining, it was a great opportunity to take a ride on the train (Judy). Some of the sets in the wooded areas were quite comical, and I especially liked the 'Hawkins Refrezhmentz' sign :-). I bought a Wicked Twister t-shirt along with a few other things, and we went to try and eat at Johnny Rockets. Johnny Rockets was PACKED, so we tried Macaroni's instead. Can't remember exactly what I had, I think it was a steak, bacon, and cheese sandwich or something, but it was quite good. We got rid of our stuff, donned jackets, and came back into the park with the rain still coming down for another ride on Raptor. Incredible yet again.
Remember those Freeway passes we had been given? Well, the park was about to close, Jay still hadn't been on Millennium Force in the front (heck, it had been 3 years for me as well), and we figured we had better use it, so we headed to Millennium Force. This is where things got interesting. It seems that a large number of enthusiasts had decided to do the same thing, and the line for us went down the exit ramp. To add to it, the third train was on the transfer, so the wait in the regular line was close to two hours. Let's just say we all had some 'nice words' yelled at us :-). Before we got on, the third train was put back on the track, and that was really cool to watch. While in line for the front seat, James Sukkert, his son, and Ken Beard from Charlotte got in line right behind us. This was probably the weirdest thing that happened on the trip, because I had no idea they were even attending CoasterMania. We saw each other, looked away, then did a double take. We chatted a bit in line and enjoyed the light show on the lift hill, then it was time to ride. This thing is unbelievable at night in the front seat, but the muffleheads were more insane than ever. Jay had his mouth wide open, I had mine pinched shut, but I still had A LOT of them in my mouth. It was disgusting, but wow what a ride.
By this point ERT had started, and from what we heard they were running Gemini and Disaster Transport, although not Millennium Force. I wish Millennium Force had stayed as scheduled, but I guess since they did it in the morning they didn't have the employees to go until 1 AM. No big loss though, as I was plenty happy to ride Magnum. A lot of people must have left, because Magnum's line was non-existent. We rode 6 times on Magnum during ERT, and also rode Wicked Twister in the third row, which was a walk-on. By the time we got to Disaster Transport (around 11:00 something), they had already closed it, which was unfortunate, as I later found out they had the lights turned on during ERT. By about 12:30 we were dead, and we finished out the night with a 1-3 ride on Magnum, then called it quits so we could try to get a little rest for Worlds of Adventure on Saturday.
Despite not getting to ride Top Thrill Dragster, CoasterMania was still an awesome event and a great time for me. It was good to be able to take in the park and some of the non-coaster things since there was so much time during the two days we were there, and I will definitely be trying to get back in the future so I can get to ride Top Thrill Dragster. Thanks for reading, and next up is Six Flags Worlds of Adventure!
Having two nights accommodation at Breakers I enquired at Cedar Point's 'so called' customer relations as to whether they were prepared to allow me free admission into the park on Saturday just to see if Dragster was up and running. Believe it or not I was told that only the Vice President was able to make that sort of decision and he wouldn't be at the park until Saturday. Can you believe it that at 9.15pm on Coastermania night there was no one available to make that sort of decision.
Best woodie on holiday: Phoenix
Best steel: S:ROS at SFNE
*** This post was edited by Coasterdave 6/18/2003 11:45:47 PM ***
I've seen a lot of criticism directed at Cedar Point both here and at GTTP. What message board are you reading?
We're talking about machinery, here. You're upset at Cedar Point because a roller coaster was down mechanical. Are you saying that Dragster's downtime should have been prevented? They should have been able to fix the ride in time for you to ride? Was the downtime completely within Cedar Point's control? I don't understand. They have their own experts as well as experts from Intamin on site working on Dragster. They have all those minds working on prototype technology and they still have extended downtime. Do you have a solution that would make them work faster or understand the problem better?
I understand you are disappointed. There's nothing wrong with that. But, honestly, what do you want them to do?
"were prepared to allow me free admission into the park on Saturday just to see if Dragster was up and running."
Why do you need free admission into the park to see if a ride is operating? If you really wanted to know, all you had to do was make a phone call. I'm sure someone in operations could have told you.
Cedar Point has earned the right to struggle with Top Thrill Dragster. Short term pain will lead to long term success.
Walt Schmidt - Virtual Midway
"What are you, a dentist? Or a hippie? Or some kind of hippie dentist?" - Strong Bad
*** This post was edited by Gemini 6/20/2003 1:09:33 PM ***
Montu, though, only good in the front. Boy inverteds have their own personality.
*** This post was edited by Blaster_1578 6/20/2003 1:29:31 PM ***
If Worlds of Fun gets an inverted for 2004, I want it to be a clone of the Raptor, becasue it is so awesome to ride.
And I'll never, ever, ever, ever, ever make a song about the Sibbie.
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