TTD---is it worth the headache?

Saturday, June 12, 2004 1:58 PM
**I touch this subject with apprehension, as I know how sensitive any discussion that does not paint Cedar Point in the brightest of colors can be on CB. I myself am a found supporter of the park.

However, it has become abundantly clear that TTD is just NOT a reliable coaster. Last year we had all the excuses that it was NEW and you had to give them time to work out the problems…so on and so forth. We are now well into the second summer season and the odds of riding TTD on any given day are clearly STILL a coin toss. My buddy made the second trip in 2 years to CP this week and waited 9 hours only to have a final rain shut it down for good. He still has not been on it. I’m not sure which day it was as he has not returned yet and only sent a quick email. My parents live in Ohio and have season passes. They have been to the park 4 times this year and over 10 times last year and still have been unable to catch a ride due to the excessive downtime. Maybe they are statistically unlucky, but nonetheless there is a problem.

I read all the great reviews and about how it is doing better, yet the people I know continue to go to the park and hope and pray that they just get to see it test.

This is starting to look more and more like The Bat every day. This may just be a ride that was before its time. I cannot see how CP can continue to deal with the negatives this ride brings to the table. We can talk all day about all the other great rides they have, and I agree they do, but it is still a disappointment to all involved when the star attraction continues to miss performances. We have the same problem out here in Vegas because Celine Dion is always canceling performances at the last minute! This is just not a good business model, even when the troubles are out of the companies control.

When will it be enough? We make fun of SFMM (the most) and other parks for excessive downtime. How much longer does Cedar Point get the free pass? At some point I would guess the may have a painful and expensive decision to make about what to do with this thing.

Is it worth having a great, but unreliable ride in a park that will thrill some on the lucky days they get to ride, yet disappoint so many others when they don’t? That is the question open for discussion. I personally think it would be best that it go the way of The Bat should they not figure a way to get this running daily and without breakdown THIS year.

P.S. Any bets on when the next major repair needs to be made on this thing. Has it ever ran for one full week without a breakdown of 2 hours or more? Ever?

Saturday, June 12, 2004 2:09 PM
I'm not as frequent of some of these people, but I was there 16 times last year, and 3 times already this year. The only times I ever saw it down for *maintenance reasons* was during the couple of months last year when it was down for good. Other than that, it's never been down all day for maintenance reasons when I've been there.

What it does go down for is weather-related reasons, and if you can't see the logic and sense is behind that, well I feel bad for you. Rain at 93 mph is pushing it, but when you're getting up to that speed, you're practically falling at the same angle as the rain. No impulse has it's launch track completely uncovered, and Hypersonic is the only other major launched coaster I can think of that does have an uncovered acceleration track (and I've never been to PKD so I can't speak for its rain operations). Now, put rain in your face perpendicular at 120-125 mph. Even better, put rain that's freefalling into your face while you're going the other direction at probably a good 110-115 mph. That's a scary collision, and one that could possibly cause some damage. Also, when you have rain, you have wind. Wind just is not friendly to this thing, that's the way it was designed. It doesn't have a mechanical way to combat the wind, and it's not designed to go over the top hat with enough speed to combat the winds in a typical rainstorm, let alone a lake Erie rainstorm.

So yes, I think TTD is definitely worth the headache because it's an absolutely signature attraction, and while it may disappoint a few (including the idiots that waste an entire day sitting outside of the line in the rain waiting for it to open) it brings in so many more who may anticipate a ride, but even if they don't get one, will pay gate, buy some food and maybe even a souvenir, which therefore increases my stock price and makes it worth the "headache".

I also have encountered many people this year who look at the downtime as part of the thrill - will I make it? Will it roll back? People want to rollback now, so it's more and more "acceptable"

Saturday, June 12, 2004 2:12 PM
First off......Nice rant! :)

Second off, the bigger and more complicated a machine is (Roller coasters can be considered heavy machinery) the more that can go wrong with it. Once they figure out what causes downtime, (For example, the flywheel thing broke a few weeks ago, I think. If they replace it with a much stronger model and get a few in the warehouse of parts, that problem is solved.) They just have to find out what breaks and fix it.

Saturday, June 12, 2004 2:22 PM
He did not spend all day in the rain. It was broken down and testing most of the day, as has been my experience. Of course 9 hours was not for weather. The guy flew from Vegas for a second time. This was the reason he went back to CP. I agree 9 hours is crazy, but I can understand since he has done all the others! :-)

Seems like it is always something else breaking. My contention is that at some point in time it may not be worth the headache.

Does this ride ever go all day without a breakdown? I honestly do not know. The people I talk to that go consistently say it is always suffering downtime for one reason or another. The guy above says "Other than that, it's never been down all day for maintenance reasons when I've been there." This is not exactly a glowing praise of a reliable ride.

If it is open for 3 hours of the day, do most of you consider that acceptable? I know I don't. Others may disagree. I’m sure that with time and effort The Bat could still be running for a few hours a day hit and miss. I just do not see how they can continue to tolerate the consistent downtime. It is not year one anymore!

Saturday, June 12, 2004 2:37 PM
Very interesting post!

Any new technology runs the risk of not functioning flawlessly (or even regularly) for a long time, and TTD is no exception. Neither are X, the Deja Vu's, or the B&M flyers without fault during opening. That having been said, it isn't time to toss any of them as bad ideas, and especially not TTD.

The first year that Batman at SFGAm came out, the ride suffered significant downtime on a daily basis. The general public accepted that because it was a new ride and nothing in the world was like it. TTD is in the same boat as that ride was. Now, it doesn't break down as often but still has off days.

Just like the original Batman, TTD is an extremely revolutionary ride that will continue to get both press and rave reviews far into the future. The downside of relatively common downtime is far less than the upside of the national mark this ride has made. Tearing it down would make the ews media focus on how they were getting rid of it, and would be very bad for the chain.

Just like Deja Vu, X and the S:UF's, give it time and it will perform regularly.

Saturday, June 12, 2004 2:51 PM
Is TTD worth it? I would have to wholeheartedly say yes. Last year didnt get a ride on it due to downtime when I was there.
This year I went opening week (Sun night -Thur) and got 11 rides on it. First off there really isnt anything like it anywhere(being as high-fast etc..) It brings people to the park from all over the U.S. Does it have problems? Yes- but it is to be expected with a ride like this. I heard that CP would have it running consistantly all year so I went opening week.
It broke down and was fixed aprox 20-30 min later 9 out of 11 times I was in line. It ran everyday so I cant complain. We have Deja Vu which runs a handful of times a year in the last three years since it was built. If all three Six Flags dont tear that money pit down why would Cp remove theirs. DV isnt really a record breaker must ride. CP is committed to keeping it running and are vastly improved over last years downtime. I think they are doing a great job. as for the people ripping on SFMM or any SF it is because they have a bad rep of poor customer service and being poorly run. So it is easy to pile on non running rides to that list. Cp is the benchmark of how a park should be run(just my opinion)
Saturday, June 12, 2004 3:02 PM

I think it is worth the headache. I have been to the park 4 times this season and did notice that TTD was not running up to par the first couple of visits, but my visit last week surprised me as the coaster was running great. I didn't see a single rollback and only saw one minor breakdown the entire day I was there. Since the ride is visible from most anywhere in the park, I saw trains constantly flying over the top all day long.

As for the comment about Cedar Point getting a "free pass" for excessive downtime, I am not sure what you mean. I have seen and heard just as many complaints about TTD being down as X and Deja Vu to name a few. While Intamin aren't exactly known for reliability, Cedar Point is known for uptime. Perhaps there is a conflict of sorts but there is no doubt in my mind that Cedar Point is doing everything they can to get that up and running as much as they can. Some people may not agree with the breakdowns, but the park is dealing with it the best they can. Stuff happens.

I guess the answer to your question lies in your patience. Anyone expecting any coaster to run flawlessly is kidding themselves. Top Thrill Dragster will have downtime. How long you decide to wait it out is up to you. Last year I waited 6 hours, in the station, just so I could ride with my friends from out of state.

You know what?

It was well worth if.

-Sean *** Edited 6/12/2004 7:03:55 PM UTC by Sean Flaharty***

Saturday, June 12, 2004 3:53 PM
I have been to CP 3 times in the last 2 years. Opening month and Halloweekends of 2003 and opening day 2004. Each time I rode TTD 3 times.

Go out and buy a new model car, you will be amazed that the recall trips back to the dealership will number in the double digets. Does that make the car unreliable? No, it just needs the bugs worked out. And in 2004 it has been difficult for TTD to run consistantly since there were 24 days of rain in May, and anyone that goes to CP often knows that most May days are cool on the shores of Lake Erie, and TTD does not like the cold.

Even in 2004, TTD had trouble with the launch cable, and CP had the ride operating the next morning. Whereas in 2003 when the cable snapped, TTD was down for a much longer time. There is a learning curve here, have some patience. Comparing TTD to the Bat is matching apples and oranges. The Bat was the first of it's kind, and was not engineered correctly (track not banked and braking problems). The sheer size and speed of TTD is new, but the concecpt of a launched coaster is not.

It seems like you have had bad luck, play the lotto, perhaps your luck will change.

Saturday, June 12, 2004 4:26 PM
Is it worth it?

In a word..........YES! ;-)


Saturday, June 12, 2004 4:42 PM
While I agree that TTD is still not running the way it was intended to, it's absolutely plain as day that it is running 100% better than last year. Last year I made around 15 trips to the point and I think I ended up with around 15 rides on Dragster. There literally wasn't a time last year when I got in line that I worked my way through the line without a single breakdown. I'd say my average wait last year was around 2.5 hours, with a maximum wait of 4.5 hours (I was on the ramp to the station when it broke down, it's very hard to leave once on the ramp).

This year, in only 4 trips, I've already gotten 12 laps in. The ride opens on time for JCC'ers almost every morning, and it experiences more downtime due to weather (wind/rain) and block violations than for maintenance reasons. My longest wait this year has been 1.5 hours and that was because of winds in excess of 35mph. All in all I'd say it's night and day versus last year.

Saturday, June 12, 2004 4:58 PM
I don't think there's any headache this year. I've been there four times, and the only downtime I saw personally lasted all of five minutes. Aside from the cable replacement, I haven't even heard of any significant issues with the ride. That's a far cry from last year.
Saturday, June 12, 2004 8:09 PM
Hell yah its worth the wait! Alright, I have'nt actually been on it, but I waited in line for it for three hours when I went to Cedar Point last year. It brokedown and the it started to rain. All I can say is, I had alot of fun just standing in the line watching it. Its just so amazing! I can't imagine what it will be like to ride it.
Saturday, June 12, 2004 8:10 PM
Glad it is better than last year! Seems like it is still a crap shoot on any given day. I guess I'll skip the Point this year and wait until next (did the same thing last fall). This will be the first year I've not hit CP in my 31 years alive. I'm the type of guy that will not get out of line once I've invested an hours worth of time and effort. I've just done the others so much that TTD is the only one that interests me at this time(interests me in the sense that I'll spend a whole day of my cross country trip at the Point).

There is a certain point of time in every person in which they cannot go back and must wait it out. The emotion involved in deciding that limit is not something I'm interested in testing this summer. I certainly cannot wait for TTD to run like the other CP rides! I still think another summer's worth of complaints may at least have to get the higher ups thinking about a different strategy for TTD.

Saturday, June 12, 2004 9:35 PM
Resident "Po!nter" here...
the longest wait I ever had on TTD was 4 hours on Media Day. Of course we were going to wait no matter how long that took. Was it worth the 4 hours? YES! But that was because it was my 1st ride on it, and it was the ONLY thing running!!!
I managed a meer 21 more rides on it during the season, most of which I admit were on Halloweekend Friday nights. That was my night off so would spend it in the park playing.

We all chalked it up to being a new ride, and during the off season CP would get it worked out.

This season has not been as bad as it was last season. My hubby and I have ridden it 2x in our 4 visits thus far, and if the wait is over an hour we don't touch it. We see few rollbacks and very little downtime.

For me, CP is more than just the rides anyway. We have gone and rode Raptor once and I could be content just walking around the park all day. But that's just me :)

I DO know what it's like looking forward to riding a ride only to be disappointed it is down or goes down when you arrive at the park. I recall "Son of Beast" being a waste case from the get go. 3 different trips were made by me before it was finally up and running. I simply moaned and rode the other stuff.

It is my understanding that TTD can not operate in the rain, I do not think it has anything to do with rain in your face (MF still runs) but more towards the mechanical aspects.

TTD is probably the most thrilling ride ever built, the suspense of waiting to launch, the launch and the trip itself is awesome. Total ride time is like 17 seconds, you have to decide if you want to wait that long for that 17 seconds or opt to ride the other 60+ rides CP has.

I DO feel badly for people who travel afar JUST in anticipation of riding TTD, (for us CoasterMania fans, think about '02 when WT wasn't running and '03 when TTD wasn't running! :() I am sure I am not the only person who thought CP would have ALL the kinks worked out. But the fact remains it is a machine, not just a machine but a UNIQUE one that does and will have it's faults. It appears TTD IS running much better this season and I only hope anyone here who wants to try it, will get their chance!!
As for me, you can find me on that green bird of prey! :)

2000 Raptor Crew
2002 Raptor Crew
2003 Raptor Crew

Saturday, June 12, 2004 10:44 PM
We'll never be able to fight Mother Nature, whether we're talking about an amusement park, wedding, picnic, etc.; you just never know if everything is going to cooperate, so I think it's pointless to get upset when rides are down (although I certainly am dissapointed, but what can ya do). I was extremely fortunate last summer & got to ride TTD a bunch of times with no wait ("Thank you" again to those great people at Coastermania from California who gave us all those walk-up passes). I'm an extremely impatient person, so I'd only be willing to wait about 1 to 1 1/2 hours to think it was "worth it". Eventually the bugs/quirks will be worked out. Personally, I think the adrenaline rush is amazing, and I'll be happy to ride again this year.
Saturday, June 12, 2004 11:12 PM
TTD is the first true prototypical coaster that Cedar Point has built, thus the reason why most of their rides do not tend to experience a lot of downtime upon opening.

Seriously, think about it -- In the last twenty years of building rides, they have never built a ride type that wasn't already installed and functioning somewhere else. Magnum was the first hyper-coaster, but the general design of it had been a solid functioning ride for years. Raptor was built two years after the first Batman arrived. Mantis was built years after Iron Wolf opened.

Cedar Point builds rides from manufacturers that have been proven to function consistantly in other settings. Usually the rides that they build are taller and/or faster than other rides of the same type, but the general idea is the same so most of the kinks have been worked out.

As for their newest editions, Millenium Force had a new type of launch system, but it wasn't drastically different than the other rides that Intamin had built. This was Cedar Point's first real prototypical system, and as some people may remember, upon opening the ride had a lot of problems including a cable break that first year.

Wicked Twister had been done successfully in four other variations before Cedar Point built it, and even then the others still had some difficulties. Considering that the others have had supports added to them too now, you can chalk it's downtime up to a design flaw more than being a prototype.

And along comes TTD, being a huge step above anything that Intamin (or really anyone) had ever done before. The launch system has to handle more speed than anything else before, and it only makes sense that the ride experiences downtime while the kinks are worked out. Think about the other rides that were really new ideas, and how much time it was before they ran solidly -- Son of Beast, the Deja Vus, X, Vekoma Flyers, B&M Flyers, etc.

Anything new takes some time to get used to, and TTD is no exception.

Sunday, June 13, 2004 12:06 AM
I personnally think that TTD is worth it and that it is deffinetly something has its issues. I have been to the park 5 times....3 of which Dragster was built. All in all i have rode 4 times, three of them which have been in the front seat. Yes Dragster has it's bugs and everyone has given exscuses as to why its not running. But when that cable started causing issues recently, i saw mechanics working on that thing all day and all night. Eventually i do believe all the bugs will be worked out and it will consistently run like everything else. Until then I wish the best of luck to everyone who chooses to wait the wait and experience the thrill of Top Thrill Dragster.
Sunday, June 13, 2004 12:21 AM
I guess my impatient nature gets the best of me. How long do you guys consider this to be a new ride? I’m usually willing to give that first year. After that, I expect rides to be running consistently. By that, I expect that when I wait in a line for a ride the second year and beyond, that on most occasions (90% seems about consistent with most rides I’ve ever waited for---and I’ve waited for just a few) I will not have to sit out lengthy resets and downtime for stuck lap bars/rollbacks/insert your reason here. I just don’t consider a 2nd year coaster to be new. They’ve had years, not months, to fix the problems. I assume whatever the problems are; they might be in the design and cannot be fixed. Maybe present technology is not capable of CONSISTENTLY moving trains so high and fast.

I only know the people I talk to back in Ohio and have yet to hear anybody that is not disappointed with the TTD problems. Very few have a bad thing to say about the ride experience though (I only know 2 that have been on it and about 12 who have waited to no avail). I just wonder how long they can tolerate an attraction that leaves so many people disappointed. I can’t imagine that it is good business practice to have TTD running like it is presently. I’m sure they are doing everything they can to get it running consistently. I’m sure the ride is great and hope to some day get my chance. I was at Coastermania last year with the same guy that missed it again this week. So of course I’m saddened by my inability to get on such a statistical giant.

As enthusiasts we are more likely to repeat visit and make every effort to get on these rides. I just can’t believe that CP is marketing to us. I would guess that their strategy is to assure that all of their guests have a good time and not leave the park with any ill will. As much as I agree that there is plenty to do at CP, it is only human nature to be disappointed should you not be able to ride the signature attraction at the park or have to waste 1/4th to 1/2 (or whole day in the case of my buddy) of your day to ride the gem.

This brings up an interesting discussion. Does anybody remember a ride that has had this many troubles the first 2 years (2 years is the operative word) of operation and now runs on a consistent basis? It seems that once a ride starts with this many problems, there is usually some sort of design flaw that cannot be easily fixed. The only ride I can think of is maybe Test Track. I think it runs daily without interruptions these days. Superman/X/Déjà Vu all are the same now as they were then. I just wonder how much hope there is for improvement if history is indication. Obviously CP has a little better record than Six Flags, but I think they may have a big old lemon. A fun lemon, but lemon nonetheless!

P.S. I think the only real solution if they cannot fix this thing and do not want to tear it down is to build something bigger and faster that uses more conventional and reliable technology. That way, people won’t be so upset about missing TTD! :-)

Sunday, June 13, 2004 12:50 AM
Rides that had constant downtime for the first few seasons that have since improved:

- Flight of Fear (x2)

- Mr. Freeze (x2)

- Son of Beast

- Superman: Ultimate Escape

- V2 (x2)

- Stealth

It is common for a ride with new technology to break down more often than others. It doesn't matter which company put it in their park, it only matters what type of ride it is. The Premier launched attractions are the best example of this, as they were so buggy that they even had a publicly announced ride canceled due to their problems, but they all now run reliably. Give the Dragster time.

Sunday, June 13, 2004 8:10 AM
browntggrr made a good point about a new model car and all of the recalls. Auto manufacturers spend about a billion dollars and several years developing and testing a new model. Intamin only had one shot, two if you count Xcelerator. Rain is not the only weather factor you have to contend with when talking about TTD. Wind will keep it down. Cold weather causes the hydraulic fluid to thicken and slow down. Cold wheel bearings slow the train down and cause rollbacks. Everything has to warm up to run consistantly before they can open the ride and one rollback lets things cool down again in cold weather. Most of the temporary breakdowns are probably caused by those who lean on the air gates when trains are moving into or out of the station. This shuts the ride down for about 15 min. while they reset everything. Yes it can be frustrating and yes I have been upset about TTD being down, but it was and still is well worth the "headache."

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