Gatekeeper Media Day - May 9

Friday, May 10, 2013 7:05 PM

I just got home and am surprised nobody's posted a trip report yet. Ok, here goes.

What a day. I don't think I've ever had a 16 hour day at any park ever, but that was the potential length of stay the kind folks at Cedar Point provided for the media and enthusiasts to promote and celebrate the opening of Gatekeeper. It was thrilling and fun, if not exhausting.

I drove up to Sandusky on Wednesday afternoon without a plan. My hope was to grab a bite to eat, find a room somewhere, and get to bed early in anticipation of the morning activities. Only part of that plan worked out. After a little drive around Sandusky, a view of CP from across the bay, and a stop at Corso's garden center (always shopping for plants...) I decided on a whim to check out Castaway Bay just to see what they had available. Turns out there was a 79 buck media special, any room in the place. I told the clerk to load me up and she gave me the key to a Tarpon Suite. Foyer, two rooms, king sized bed, 4 bunkbeds, a huge bathroom, walk-in closet, fridge, wave, balcony, coat closet, and I don't know what else all decorated in bright Cedar Point tropical colors. I was cracking up, we all coulda stayed there. By the time I got situated and found out Friday's was closed (what a happenin' town!) it was 8:30. After a quick run throught the Meijer and Steak n Shake, I was finally back in my luxurious suite and ready for bed.

Do you think I could sleep a wink? No. Musta been the excitement or something but I tried just about everything but a stiff drink. (one again, damn Friday's...) My alarm was set for 3 and I watched 11:30, 12:30, 1:30, roll by until I finally gave up and rolled out of bed at 2:30, got my shower, and got ready to go. I was so mad. But happy to be going to the Point in the middle of the night. I stopped by the desk to extend my stay an extra night. Good thinking.

The trip across the causeway was beautiful, through blurry eyes I could see they had the whole park lit up from front to back with Gatekeeper putting on the best show. It was about 3:45 and there was a fair amount of cars rolling through the toll booth. I found a place to park and joined the crowd making it's way across the dark lot toward the fantastic new entrance plaza. I had arranged to meet our Jeph there sometime, and just then a text message came in. Turns out he was right behind me. After a brief wait, (the line moved quickly, I was shocked, and the staff was very efficient) we showed our CoasterBuzz cards, got our stuff, and in we went.

Gatekeeper looked spectacular and was already flying through the keyholes making test runs. The lighting for the ride is stunning. By the time we got back to the new Gatekeeper plaza they had the ride open, offering unlimited access for the media and enthusiasts alike throughout the entire day. And there was a line of eager riders all day, but we were offered what I imagine will be a rare opportunity for the rest of the season, ten to fifteen minutes was all we ever had to wait!

About the ride- all I'm going to say is I've decided I'm not a rabid fan of the Wing Rider style of B&M coaster. It's my second try, after last years Wild Eagle at Dollywood. Gatekeeper was fun enough, and not terrible, but I found it to be a little slower and less snappy than I had hoped. Nature of the beast, I guess, right? I would also say the ride is somewhere between bumpy and vibrate-y in spots, you can see what i mean in the on ride videos. The keyhole roll-through was very effective, but I found to my surprise my favorite element was the somewhat longer roll on the return side, behind the gate. All in all, the park did a great job with the ride and it's surroundings, it's perfectly placed. They've got a hit on their hands, that's for sure.

Cedar Point knows how to throw a party. Did I mention food? From pastries, coffee, and juice at 4A to an enormous breakfast buffet at Midway Market, to donuts and coffee at Donut Time, to lunch at Midway Market or Hot Potato, or Coasters, it was all great.

Mike Roberts met us mid-morning and we did a lap of the park, which was alive with crews training on rides and workers putting last minute touches on the rides, buildings, and midways. Someone mentioned it seemed like there was a lot to do yet, but I reminded them it was show business- things always come together like magic at the last minute! As another delightful surprise, they opened Raptor and Millenium Force to the group for a few hours, which allowed the crews to practice with a live crowd. We also checked out the yellow contraption over there at Windseeker (which was testing). It's easy to see there behind the stadium and we got a pretty close look. Now, we're all three pretty smart guys, but we stared and stared and couldn't figure it out. Hopefully we'll never know, right?

More rides and lots of socializing took place, and I'm sure many enthusiasts scored dozens of rides. Free bottles of Coca Cola products (yay) kept us all hydrated.

Finally the day grew long and the event was over at 7. We dragged ass outta there, but not before we picked up our souvenir Gatekeeper backpack, travel bag. Another nice touch, thanks CP.

A shout out to the fantastic Gatekeeper crew who worked the entire time with smiles on their faces, and everyone else who waited on us. And thanks to Jeff and Walt who made it possible for all us 'Buzzers to go. We had a blast, and I can't wait for the next one!

Last edited by RCMAC, Friday, May 10, 2013 10:32 PM
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Friday, May 10, 2013 8:42 PM

The second roll over the gate is kind of better, I agree. It's super floaty and taken at a slightly slower pace than would be typical for that maneuver (presumably because the distance between supports was dictated by the first roll).

The back definitely gets more vibration in the low, high-G spots (giggity), but I never found it to be uncomfortable. What surprised me is the crazy upward forces in the front as you go over the airtime hill. Wow! You'd think with those restraints clamping down you wouldn't come out of your seat, but you definitely do.

There seemed to be a lot of discussion about whether or not GateKeeper will replace Millennium Force as the park's signature ride. I don't really think it will. It's good for different reasons. (By the way, weird that Wild Eagle still doesn't have enough ratings to make the top 100.)

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Friday, May 10, 2013 10:49 PM

$79 at Castaway Bay? I'm jealous.

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Friday, May 10, 2013 11:46 PM

No need, it was what I'd call Castaway Bay Lite. There was no swimming and I'm not sure if the restaurants or little stores were open. I think it was a way for CP to put up attendees without having everyone at the Breakers. but I was grateful for the cheap room at a convenient place.

Here's a funny thing that happened to me there. When I got back from media day, around 8, I got to my room, went to put my key in and jumped back. There was a "do not disturb" sign over my door handle. I thought oh no, I'm at the wrong room, the wrong hall, the wrong floor, what? So I checked all those things and decided even though I was dead tired this was indeed my room and somebody must be having a good time in there without me. So I tried my key card ever so slowly and "beep beep" it opened. There was my room exactly as I left it- bed unmade, wet towels on the floor, trash not emptied. And my do not disturb sign was in its holder behind the door.

So what, did someone prank me trying to keep the maid out of my room all day? Do people do that? And if they do, wheres the payoff? Did the hotel do it because they had no staff? I didn't care, I was just gonna pass out anyway and there were plenty of towels in that room designed for twenty, but at the same time it was kind creepy to know someone was at my door and messed with me, ya know?

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Saturday, May 11, 2013 9:40 PM

So when you say no swimming, are you saying that the waterpark was not open? That's a shame. That little waterpark is really fun.

I seriously thought that they kept the waterpark open year round. Don't they get visitors in the off-season who just want to ride an indoor waterslide? A kid I know got to visit The Great Wolf Lodge next to Kings Island for his birthday a few weeks ago, waterslides and all.

I'm sure that Kalahari's indoor waterpark is open in the off-season too.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013 12:44 AM

Weekends only in the winter, I believe, unless it's Christmas or spring break time. I was ok with it.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 8:59 PM

What's the point of having an indoor water park if it is not going to be open when it's cold? Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City does heavy adverstising in the winter, to get people to come to the warmth of their year round 80 degree indoor park. And, that place is huge! With rooms greatly reduced, I think $69.00 a night. I guess, with Castaway Bay being owned by Cedar Fair, I shouldn't be too surprised.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 11:18 PM

I was wondering why it was so positive and peaceful around here for the last few months. Mr. Grumpy-pants is back.

Timber-Rider, did you accidentally pull your brain out of your ear with a Q-Tip or what? A business might have limited operating hours during the off-season because of a lack of patronage. Perhaps parents don't want to bring their kids to an indoor waterpark on a school day?

You don't run the business, so you don't know any better than those who do. Am I right?

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013 3:05 AM

Castaway was open every day for the first year or two of its existence. I think right about the time Kalahari opened was when they cut back to weekends only plus winter and spring break. Another year or two later they started putting it into total shutdown between the end of Halloweekends and the winter break season.

Media day was an absolute blast. The park really went all out, and Gatekeeper is a fantastic new ride.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013 7:37 AM

If only they could have went "all out" on opening day...

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013 8:55 AM

RE: Castaway Bay

I too would have thought they'd have kept it open during the winter months, as that is actually the only time that going there would really appeal to me. In fact, the one time I went (before Kalahari opened), it was during the winter, and I loved hanging out in the outdoor portion of the hot tub area while it was cold! That being said, I can see the business end of it too, and frankly, while Castaway Bay is nice enough, it's pretty hard to compete head to head with Kalahari...

Regarding Media Day, I too send out MASSIVE kudos to Cedar Point for the entire day, and was blown away by the experience! They certainly went above and beyond to make sure it was a memorable experience for all of us, and the weather was nice enough to cooperate too! It's a shame Opening Day didn't come off as well for those who went, but a big part of that was the bad weather, which isn't even in CP's control, so, you have to cut them some slack there...

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013 2:54 AM

My question: I have been on X-Flight, Wild Eagle, and Swarm and have hated all three because of how the restraints seem to push into my shoulder blades and the restraints seem to continue to vibrate and dig into you during the ride. Is this the case with Gatekeeper?

On the other rides I have tried seats all over and they seem to hurt more in the back of the trains than the front but are still pretty bad in most seats. I don't seem to like these wing coasters that much but I am curious if they have made progress with the faults on Gatekeeper

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013 3:05 AM

I thought the restraints were very comfy. As did everyone else in my group. That said, I've seen a lot of other people complaining about them.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013 3:10 AM

I think the wing coasters should have gone with restraints similar to X2. I find those restraints to be super comfortable. I think the wing riders cause pain dependent on your posture. My friends and I have all just had a rough time with them. Plus with as slow as they maneuver their inversions there is an immense amount of pressure constantly applied there.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013 7:53 PM

My friend James that invited me to the Gatekeeper Media Day, said that he had a great time. Said he got 18 rides on gatekeer, and was able to ride M-force and Raptor a couple times too. But, he didn't say much aout the ride experience, though he said Cedar Point did a good job with the event, and said that they had some decent food for the event as well. Plus great weather. One of the reaons I decided not to go, was because I assumed it was going to rain, and Inever did get that club membership. Oh well, I am making plans to go to Cedar Point sometime in June, If that doesn't happen, I will go in the fall, when the kids are in school.

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