We traveled across to Cedar Point having spent the night at Niagara Falls. So after negotiating the border crossing in to the states and hitting the open road for a 5 hour mission, we finally arrived at Cedar Point just after midday. We were staying for a couple of nights at Hotel Breakers on site, so parked the car, checked in, grabbed a bite to eat and then headed into the park.
From the hotel, you enter via a side entrance next to Magnum XL200. As with Canada's Wonderland, we decided to grab a Funpix pass, then headed into the centre of the park.
I know Cedar Point is described as 'The Roller Coaster Capital of the World', but it's difficult to appreciate how apt that term is until you're stood in the middle of this steel and wooden jungle of huge, world class attractions.
We started off with Rougarou, formerly a B&M stand-up which has been, thankfully, re-fitted with floorless sit-down trains. I really enjoyed this. I'm a fan of the floorless model anyway, but with this being a more traditional stand-up style layout, with the 180 degree pre-drop turn and slanted loop, it felt different to other models I've ridden such as Kraken and Bizarro. Really good, solid start to our visit.
Raptor had suffered a bit of down time and was re-opening as we walked past, so we took the opportunity to jump into a small but growing queue. Being a B&M invert, Raptor doesn't do anything that other similar ride types don't - but who doesn't love an invert, right? Very forceful, as you'd expect, a cobra roll half way through - which are always fun on inverts, and a pretty insane helix towards the end added to what was otherwise a fairly standard layout. Another very enjoyable ride.
Cedar Point is one of these parks where there isn't really a natural route. Everywhere you look there is something you want to do, so at this point we fired up the app to check out what the queue times were like, to see that Gatekeeper only had a 10 minute wait. The fiance went on the carousel en route (she always does), and we headed to the front of the park.
Gatekeeper is another B&M, this time the Wingrider model which takes it's name from the fact that it flies over the park's main entrance. We took in a couple of rides, one on each side. The first thing I'll say is that this is a really beautiful, elegant looking coaster. The electric blue track really pops, especially with the lake in the background.
The coaster itself is typically smooth, as you'd expect from a modern B&M, yet provides enough force to keep it interesting. The near misses on Gatekeeper aren't quite as intimidating as on The Swarm, but some of the elements here are awesome - particularly the air time hill. Over all, I think I preferred the right hand side as it seemed to pull a few more Gs, but it's just a great coaster and a really decent headline attraction for the park's entrance.
Just across from Gatekeeper is Wicked Twister, a suspended impulse coaster from Intamin. This was a totally new experience for me, and one which was both fun and intense. You launch out of the station directly up a vertical spike with a twist at the end, slow to a halt, drop backwards and do the same the other end, back and forth a total of 5 times before you come to a rest in the station. The launch is powerful, and sitting at the back, you get a really unique experience as you reach the top of the backwards spike and twist around at the top.
Huge fun, and on such a small footprint. I get that the throughput isn't fantastic due to the nature of the ride, but something like this would be perfect for somewhere like Thorpe Park, which is high on thrill but limited on space.
After a series of thrilling coasters, we decided to take in the views from the giant wheel and then grabbed an ice cream, a drink and chilled for a few minutes, before walking up to the west side of the park for the ride I'd been most excited about - voted Best Steel Coaster 2015 - Millennium Force!
Now, I've always understood the hype around Millennium, but having watched the POVs many times always felt it just looked 'really good'. I was wrong. This is truly a world class attraction from start to finish. From the moment you crest the 308 foot lift hill, it is completely relentless - the speed, the twists, the 2 huge airtime hills, the tunnels - all traversed smoothly but with force. You feel every MPH, every force, every element. This wins steel coaster polls for a reason, and immediately shot to the top of my 'favourite coasters' list - tied with El Toro.
So how do you follow that? Well, you head into the Wild West section of the park, and tackle the other insane Intamin at CP - Maverick! We were getting close to closing time now and everyone was looking to get their final ride in of the day, so queues were unavoidable at this point. In the knowledge that we had a full day on park to come, we decided to jump into the 50 minute+ queue and suck it up. It was a very slow moving queue, which doesn't give you much view of the coaster, or much else for that matter, other than people and bad music videos. But you come to expect that from American amusement parks.
Eventually, we reached the front, took our seats and off we go!
Maverick has a launched hill rather than a lift, albeit a fairly gentle one, which takes you over into a beyond vertical drop and into the most crazy sequence of twists, turns and inversions you will experience. Then you slow almost to a stop in the building under the station, it gives you a couple of seconds to catch your breath before launching you out into the 2nd half of the ride, complete with mad 'swing-out' bits of track and a section over the lake that fires off water explosions. This is just a mental, mental ride. There is no other way to describe it. Great stuff.
It was approaching 8pm and park close by now, so we decided to take a walk back to the hotel, grab some dinner and get a decent night's kip. As we headed out, both Corkscrew and Magnum XL200 had non-existent queues. I did Corkscrew solo - standard Arrow business, which the exception that the double corkscrew goes over the central walkway, which is a nice visual touch. Then we rode Magnum together. Oh. My. God. What a painful experience. I'm so glad this was the final ride of the day, as I couldn't handle a full day's walking after this.
I'm a huge fan of airtime hills, but after the first major bump crushed the lap bar into my thigh, I anticipated each futher bump with increasing dread. And there were a lot. Each more brusing than the last. The on-ride photo actually shows our discomfort. Definitely wouldn't be riding that again...
Day two arrived, and after grabbing some breakfast on site at Perkins, we joined the queue to enter the park, a couple of minutes before opening time. What I liked here is that the security guards walked the queue to check bags etc. to speed up the entrance process, so top marks for that.
We had early ride time, which featured a handful of top attractions, including the newly opened dive coaster, Valravn. We hadn't ridden this on day one due to 90 minute+ queues, so made a beeline straight for it... only to find everybody else had the same idea, and that it hadn't even started testing yet. Consequently, there was already an hour+ queue built up outside the ride entrance, and we weren't about to waste our ERT stood in a queue! So we went and did another 3 rides on Millennium Force and got another ride in on Maverick too, then headed down to Top Thrill Dragster a few minutes after it had opened as it only had a 10 minute queue. Can't argue with that!
As we walked down, we noticed Pipe Scream was open, which had been down the previous day and had no queue. Seeing as we were right there we decided to hop on. This is very much a family attraction, in the style of the Zamperla Disc-o except with a surfboard shaped err.. train? Cart? I don't know. Anyway, it was ok. Definitely a filler attraction, but they all count as a credit
I've ridden Stealth and Kingda Ka, so I knew what to expect from Dragster, but was interested to see how lap bars changed the experience - if at all. I've been quite vocal in the past that I don't see the need for OSTRs on the like of the aforementioned rides, or RITA, or indeed anything that doesn't invert for that matter.
TTR is now the 2nd tallest coaster in the world and 3rd fastest. Reaching a height of 420 feet and accelerating from 0-120mph in just under 4 seconds. To answer my intrigue, lap bars did create a better experience, especially getting that air time pop over the top hat, but I found the seats to be quite uncomfortable. I also missed having a big air time hill after the drop - as Stealth and Ka do.
Don't get me wrong, it's a great attraction, even if it does look like a giant penis rising into the sky, but perhaps the novelty of high speed launch coasters is wearing off, as I didn't quite get that super-excited a vibe from this. Controversially, I still find Stealth's launch more forceful, too. Although, perhaps that's more in comparison to the to other rides around it. I don't know.
We didn't get a great on ride photo, the queue was still relatively short, so we rode it again. Why not, eh?
We spent the rest of the day checking out some of the flat rides, such as MaxAir (Mondial Revolution) and Windseeker (a Mondial...err.. Windseeker), as well as taking re-rides on Gatekeeper and Rougarou. At some point grabbing a really awful burger at Coaster's Dine-in (avoid!), and heading to the hotel to chill by the pool to break the day up, before finally reaching the realisation that Valravn's queue wasn't going to get any smaller, and it was now or never.
We queued through various cattle pens for just over an hour, before walking up the steps in to the station, where it became painfully obvious why the queue was so long and slow. For some crazy reason, Cedar Point have decided to break dive coaster tradition and build a station capable of only unloading and loading one car at a time. I'm absolutely baffled by this. The likes of SheiKra and Oblivion are queue eaters BECAUSE they can load multiple cars at once. Even if this had a seperate unloading platform it wouldn't be too bad, but no. Just a really poor piece of decision making from Cedar Point which has impacted on their newest and one of their biggest attractions.
Anyway, on to the ride itself. I love dive coasters. SheiKra in particular is easily in my top 10, so I was eagerly anticipating the opportunity to experience the tallest and longest dive machine in the world.
The key difference here is the restraints. Valravn comes complete with modern B&M vest style restraints, like the wing rider model. Unfortunately, these really restrict movement, so that floaty, detached sensation you usually associate with dive coasters just doesn't exist here, and that was a huge disappointment for me. The drop was OK, the elements were fine, but being pinned into the seat just took a lot of the fun out of it for me. I have no issue with these restraints on wing riders, for example, but they just don't work on a dive machine in my opinion. So I came off Valravn a little underwhelmed. It's a shame as 2 adjustments could have made this a genuine world class ride, but the loading and the restraints brought it down to being just a 'good' attraction.
I went solo on a couple of woodies after this - Mean Streak and Cedar Creek Mine Train. Both were OK, but nothing to write home about. Although the views from the top of Mean Streak are the best in the park, so it's worth riding for that alone! However, the fact that the land underneath the structure is being used to dump old pieces of theming, and the on-ride photo shop is boarded up, leads me to believe there might not be much life left in this particular attraction.
While in the area I also took on the incredibly intimidating Skyhawk. An S&S giant swing that's about 30 feet higher than Rush at TP. Wow! This was intense. If you think Rush is terrifying as you're facing down from the top of the swing, then you ain't seen nothing yet. I loved it.
We were reaching the end of the day and starting to feel quite worn out, so we jumped on the train to take us from the top of the park round to the east side. The train ride was actually unexpectedly good, as it takes you through a series of scenes featuring animatronic skeletons, while also giving you some alternative views of Rougarou and Millenium Force. Quite a nice touch.
Speaking of Millenium Force, I wasn't going to leave without one final ride on this beast. And while still an amazing experience, I learnt a valuable lesson. Riding massive gigacoasters, right next to a lake at dusk has it's downsides - bugs. I got splattered. It was kind of funny except I'm sure I ingested a couple. Lesson learned, but over all I think it was worth it.
We wandered back through the park, looking forward to eating at the BBQ restaurant on the lake, only to exit the East side entrance and find that it closed at 8pm - the same time as the park. What? The website advertised it as being open until 10, which would make sense given that one of the hotels is directly behind it. So that was a bit disappointing. Instead, we headed back to Breakers and ate in TGIs for the 2nd consecutive night.
My over all impression of Cedar Point, however, couldn't be much higher. It really is up there in the very elite of amusement parks. The key difference between this and other similar amusement parks, such as Six Flags or even other Cedar Fair attractions, is the sheer quality of the coasters. I mean, you have 4 B&Ms and 4 Intamins on site, all of which are of a high standard. Coasters which would be part of other parks major selling points are reduced to filler attractions here, and the line-up of flats isn't bad either. It's a bit of a nightmare park to get to as a Brit, and we were only able to reach it as part of a general North American trip, but it was worth every second of the drive and every penny of the cost.
MaxAir (which was taller and a lot more forceful than it's Canada's Wonderland counterpart)
The fact that, despite being busy on both days, rides were operated well to keep queues sensible.
The Skyline - which is incredible.
The food - again! (This might be a Cedar Fair thing!)
Valravn - not that it was bad by any means, just didn't live up to the hype.
Millenium Force x5
Top Thrill Dragster x2
Cedar Creek Mine Train
Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad
I've made my photos public on Facebook, so if you're interested, you can find them here: https://www.facebook.com/ponder80/media_set?set=a.10154189753818638.1073741864.633588637&type=3
(I've just edited the Canada's Wonderland topic to do the same, too