viking86 wrote:I have zero interest in baseball, but I have a thing for classic old stadiums, regardless of what sports they are being used for. So I love the pictures from Wrigley Field, particularly the one with the catwalks leading to the upper tier. Yes, it may not have the comfort factor of a new build, but it just oozes character and charm and I'd take that any day over a soulless new concrete bowl!
Absolutely! Personally I love baseball but the cool thing about baseball is that even if you don't like the game that much the slow paced nature of it means it's a great excuse to sit outside in the summer, drink a few beers, shoot the breeze with the people you're sitting with and (in this case) check out an awesome piece of history. Everyone who visits Chicago should go to Wrigley. Even though I'm a big baseball fan, I didn't have a dog in the fight so I remember very little about the game itself.
Anyway, time for the final installment of our Labor Day weekend road trip!
Since we didn't do the tower and left Chicago earlier than anticipated we found ourselves (for once) shaking hands with the clock. While we had initially planned on starting our drive late Sunday night and getting a hotel somewhere in Indiana, we were way ahead of schedule and by 11:30 we found ourselves making the familiar drive down Milan Rd in Sandusky on the way to our hotel.
We had stopped at a rest area in Indiana (not to get graphic but we had just eaten personal pies from Giordano's and my Empire State digestive system was pissed off) and while there I did something that proved I never learn and booked another Sandusky Econo Lodge
from the Choice app. Sandusky has two Econo Lodges very close to each other but this time we were staying at the one on Route 6 across from the Thirsty Pony and I actually highly recommend it. I don't recommend it in the sense that it's an overly amazing room (it's dated for sure), but it's clean, very cheap and the location is second to none as it's right at the entrance to the park. Choice Privileges has made me a little spoiled as I'm slowly getting accustomed to their nicer brands like Sleep Inn and Comfort Suites but sometimes I end up compromising quality for location and this location was perfect.
As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out, and in what seemed like a split second I woke up 8 hours later to the sound of my alarm going off. Initially I was pissed (as I generally am when I hear my alarm going off), but a split second later I remembered my alarm wasn't going off to remind me that it was time to go to work but instead it was going off to remind me that it was time to go to Cedar Point. I suddenly felt much more awake and excited at the prospect of my alarm going off. Funny how that works...
We packed up the car (poor little Honda... don't you wish a normal person would have bought you instead of someone that drives all over the country and beats the living sh*t out of you on a daily basis so they can go ride roller coasters like a 12 year old?) and a few minutes later we were on our way down the Causeway with about 15 minutes to spare before opening.
Knowing we had to leave at 4:00 I had already worked out a pretty solid strategy in my head for how we wanted to hit the park, so we parked the car as far left as possible with the intention of walking to the Marina gate to beat the crowds to Valravn before heading back to Maverick for the rest of Early Entry. The last few days had been a little cool for Labor Day weekend, but as I stepped out of the car I couldn't help but take a moment to appreciate the summer like weather, abundant sunshine and nice mild summer breeze...
... mild summer breeze?Sh*t!!!! Anything but that. MILD BREEZE? F*CK!
Knowing what park we were at, I quickly pulled out my phone and realized we might have a problem. The forecast was calling for 20 MPH sustained winds with some stronger gusts. At most parks nobody would give a sh*t but at Cedar Point that's enough to make the entire peninsula come to a screeching halt and make park executives crawl into the fetal position under their desks and cry. At the moment, winds were at about 18 mph but they were set to get a little higher as the day went on so I quickly adjusted our plans. Maverick would have to wait.
Back when we thought we'd only have time for a few rides (before we left Chicago so early) we really only had 3 must-rides. Gatekeeper (Brit's favorite), Maverick (because we both love it) and Millennium Force (my favorite). If there happened to be a convenient transportation system between Millennium Force and Gatekeeper we would have slipped that in too, but you already knew that.
Now though, we were there for Early Entry and I was feeling greedy. We decided to stick to the plan of going to the Marina gate and riding Valravn first to beat the rush, but instead of heading to Maverick next we decided to go up to Gatekeeper which was guaranteed to go down for wind and ride that until a few minutes before the park opened. Then, we'd walk back through the holding gates and get in line for Raptor for it's 10:00 opening because we both knew that despite it's catchy tag line about "ruling the sky", Raptor only rules the sky until there's a light breeze. Once that happens Raptor surrenders the sky and takes cover in the transfer shed line a scared little b*tch.
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. With our new strategy planned out, we made our way down the walkway along perimeter road (crossing the same street twice since whoever designed that walkway was clearly high) and found ourselves in a short line for the Marina gate right as the national anthem started playing. We made it through security in a breeze (why is Cedar Fair so much better at this than Six Flags?) and a few minutes later found ourselves walking on to the front row of the world's tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster.
I know this ride isn't a favorite of enthusiasts, but Valravn kicks a**. It's one of the smoothest coasters ever built, the view from the top is stunning, the dives are awesome and I actually really, really love that weird little barrel roll. It's not going to make many top 10 lists, but Varlavn is a home run and our train returned to the station to an eruption of cheers. What an awesome way to start the day!
On our way out we said hi to Josh (who was crushing it per usual) and made our way over to Brit's favorite bird.
Gatekeeper is actually one of my favorite early entry rides because while riding it first is strategically asinine (unless it's windy and you're worried about it closing like in this case), you can get a ton of rides in. We managed 3 front row rides in about 25 minutes and as usual, every single one of them was absolute perfection. The ride's not forceful at all, but honestly that's really not the point of Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper is all about the insane keyholes, one of the best first drops on any steel coaster anywhere and the awesome (and super smooth) sensation of flight the ride provides. Plus, Brit must have been feeling generous and on one ride she even let me have the wing seat (I normally give it to her every time since she's so in love with this thing, in return she gives me the Kumba magic seat so it's a fair trade deal).
After our third ride we saw that we had about 5 minutes until opening so we quickly made our way back towards the main gate and (due to poor planning) almost got trampled by a few hundred people as they opened the gates as soon as we got in front of them. Luckily we weren't crushed by crazed coaster enthusiasts (that would have been sweet revenge for them I'm sure), and we were rewarded for our bravery by getting to Raptor when it was only posting a 15 minute wait time. No guts no glory in the theme park world I guess.
Part of me wanted to go to the first available row since I knew this ride wouldn't be open long, but I like to live dangerously so we opted for the front. The line didn't look too bad and lucky for us our gamble paid off and 10 minutes later we found ourselves all clear and out of here... or "out of there" if I want to be grammatically correct but that doesn't rhyme so f*ck grammar. This here's Murrica'
With our initial plan I never expected to get a ride on Raptor so I was pretty proud of myself as we ascended the lift on the best inverted coaster this side of Tampa. I f*cking love Raptor. Raptor and I are besties. Is it more aggressive than the other inverts? Yup. Does it throw your head around a little on the cobra roll and last turn? Yeah. But it KICKS SO MUCH A**. This thing is easily my favorite ride in the park after Millennium Force and Maverick and I can't get enough of it's relentless intensity. As always, the ride was flying and as we aggressively slammed into the brake run I had a giant sh*t eating grin on my face.
Normally I hate when enthusiasts personify coasters because it's idiotic but I find myself doing it with Raptor all the time. Given the ride's preposterously aggressive layout and recent history of incidents I've decided that Raptor is the bad a** motherf*cker on the block. "Get too close to my queue gate? I'll f*ck you up
. "Want your cell phone back from a restricted area? LOL let me know how that works out. Want a nice smooth ride into the brake run like every other B&M on earth? No. Because f*ck you, that's why. Go ride Valravn like a b*tch".
Anyway, after our amazing Raptor ride we decided to grab something to drink and make a quick pit stop at the nearby restroom. While waiting for Brit to come out I was killing time and taking a few pictures of the ride, but that picture I just posted would be the last one of the day as 5 minutes after we got off (and about 30 minutes into the day with a 45 minute line and trains flying through the course without issue) the ride went down due to high winds. Given the forecast they immediately cleared the entire queue and as expected, the ride was down for the remainder of the day. So far, our plan was clearly working. Hooray for us
At this point we were really proud of ourselves and apparently feeling overconfident, so as we walked down the midway and saw something we never expected to see (a Dragster train blasting over the top hat through the wind) we decided we'd head over and check out the situation. As you may remember, we had tried on 2 separate occasions to ride it in the spring and so far were 0 for 2 on the season. Maybe the third time was a charm?
I knew I was being stupid but we were playing with house money at that point so we made our way over. Lucky for us, the ride decided to take mercy on us and save me from my own stupidity. As we walked by the bleachers they backed a loaded train into the station and announced that Top Thrill Dragster was closed due to high winds and dumped the queue knowing it would be closed for the day. No big loss... at least we didn't waste much time on it this time. We ended our season with three attempts to ride Dragster and nothing to show for it. Sounds about right.
While in the area we decided to grab a pretzel from our favorite pretzel place by Magnum. I briefly thought of riding Magnum, but it was posting a 60 minute wait since Dragster just dumped it's entire queue next door so (much to the relief of Brit), we decided to move on.
We still had a few hours before we had to leave, and two more rides we really wanted to ride with Millennium Force and Maverick. We were tempted to hit Maverick before the lines got too bad later in the day, but just to be on the safe side we opted to hit Millennium Force first. It's rare that Millennium Force closes for wind but stranger things have happened, Maverick gives zero f*cks about wind so the only risk in saving that for last was it's usual mechanical temper tantrums.
As we made our way up the greatest steel coaster in the history of the world (lol get mad), we had a bit of a scare. The queue was closed off and no trains were cycling. I was immediately regretting my decision to ride Gatekeeper and Raptor first, knowing that if Millennium Force was down for wind it would be down all day. I walked up to the greeter and said something to the extent of "Please say you're not down for wind" to which he laughed and said they were just down for a minor tecnhical issue and they didn't know how long the delay would last... you know the drill.
I walked over near Panda Express (which by the way... how do they get something that mediocre to smell so damn good to the point where your mouth starts watering if you're anywhere within a 500 foot radius?) to check on the situation in the station. Millennium Force's entire ramp had cleared, so we opted to take a seat on a nearby bench and wait for it to open knowing that if we did we'd be rewarded with a complete walk-on. We also didn't want to take any risks with the wind since we had just seen on the app that Gatekeeper, Slingshot, Ripcord (because that's it's f*cking name, let's be real) and (hilariously) Lake Erie Eagles had all joined Dragster and Raptor in being closed for the day due to high winds. Rides were falling fast and we wanted to get on Millennium Force as soon as possible.
As we sat around waiting for the ride to open, I began to feel an incredible amount of sympathy for the greeter. I don't mind people coming up and POLITELY asking a question about a ride being closed if they didn't overhear a prior announcement, heck... I even did it since I wanted to know if it was a wind closure. That being said, Millennium Force has a loudspeaker at the front entrance that they started using about 10 minutes after we showed up. On many occasions when the greeter saw a large group coming they would explain over the loudspeaker that Millennium Force was down due to mechanical reasons andthey didn't know when it would reopen. You would be amazed at the amount of times the people that were 10 feet away when they made an announcement over the loudspeaker STILL formed a line to ask him when the ride would reopen.
In most instances, it would be a guy and a girl who (I guess) he was trying to impress who would hear the message on the loudspeaker and would get disappointed. The guy would give her the douchebag "don't worry babe, I'LL
go talk to him" look (or in some cases would audibly say that verbatim). On at least 5 separate occasions we saw this scenario play out where the douchebag (always wearing one of those Ohio style T shirts with the sides cut out by hand... ALWAYS), after just hearing that they didn't know how long the delay would last and would go talk to the guy, walk back to his girlfriend and announce that he went up and asked him, and the greeter told him it was broken and they don't know how long the delay would last.
Thanks douche. You're her night in shining armor. You really took charge and showed that greeter who's boss. Between that and the brilliant scissor job you did on your shirt you're definitely going to get laid now.
Anyway after about 30 minutes that really made us question the fate of humanity, it seemed like our patience was about to be handsomely rewarded. We saw a train make it's way up the lift and decided to walk over and start forming a line. A few trains cycled, and then... nothing.
By that time a long line had built up and after about 10 minutes of nothing happening we were starting to get nervous. The empty train really crawled over the hill out to the island. Was it down for wind? Luckily we wouldn't have to wonder too long as someone came out to relieve the poor greeter of his misery and we overheard him telling him that they found something with a wheel so they were taking a train off and were planning to go up with one train.
Millennium Force running one train on Labor Day weekend with 3 major coasters closed for wind and huge crowds? Yikes. Good thing we waited. Thankfully after waiting for about an hour, a loaded train finally made it's way up the lift to an eruption of cheers from the (now sizeable) line that had formed behind us.
Once the train hit the brake run they opened the gate and we excitedly made our way through the empty queue and up to the station. It wasn't looking good there for a minute, but now we were just 5 minutes away from a Millennium Force ride. We were hyped!
I wanted the front, but between the wind and the fact that Millennium Force was throwing a mechanical sh*t fit I opted for the second to last row which had no wait at all. This ride is awesome everywhere, and while you don't get the same blast of speed in the back you do get ripped through the overbanks in a really cool way so I didn't mind too much. The gates swung open, we got in the train, fastened our black lap bar first and yellow seatbelt second per usual and got ready to ride (I was just checking to see if you were paying attention Josh, sorry if I gave you an aneurysm with that one).
"Everyone please take one big step back, everyone in the train please exit to your right behind gates. At this time Millennium Force is down due to mechanical reasons, we don't know how long this delay will last, you're welcome to wait with us if you want but blah blah blah. Holy sh*t this ride's being a d*ck today.
The ride ops joked with the crowd that the ride was taking Labor Day off and didn't want to work, making the best of a bad situation. Luckily maintenance hadn't even bothered to leave yet so 5 minutes later without even having to run a test train the op at the panel said "open gates, load train" to an eruption of cheers. Let's try this again.
Once again we found ourselves fastening our BLACK seat belt first and YELLOW lap bar second (see, I was just kidding earlier... black and yellow, black and yellow... we know what it is) and a few seconds later we exited the station to more cheers and finally found ourselves making our way up the 300+ foot lift hill.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. This ride is my absolute favorite coaster anywhere ever. I ALWAYS second guess myself before riding it since it gets so much hate from enthusiasts, but every single time the ride delivers an insane experience with amazing overbanks, fantastic speeds and (yes) some great airtime too. By the time we hit the brakes we were both grinning from ear to ear and joining the rest of the train in an explosion of cheers. This ride has everything you could ever want in a coaster and I can't wait for Steel Vengeance to make it's lines shorter next season.
After Millennium Force we were in an awesome mood, having an awesome day and I was feeling pretty accomplished since we'd managed to knock out every ride we wanted to ride that was prone to wind closures. The fact that Gatekeeper, Raptor, Dragster and others were already closed with more closures likely to follow definitely solidified the fact that we made the right call.
With a Millennium Force ride finally under our belts we decided it was time to head back to Maverick. Along the way we stopped in a few of the shops on Frontier trail and browsed a little which I always enjoy. I was tempted by the moonshine place but I knew that with an 8 hour drive ahead of me (meaning we'd get home at midnight at the earliest) after walking around a huge park in the sun all day I'd probably be tired later and regretting that decision so I passed on it (which wasn't easy). One thing I couldn't pass on though was the petting zoo since as soon as we got near it Brit veered off in her endless quest to pet every animal that's ever walked the earth and I had no choice but to follow along.
We actually spent a decent amount of time in the petting zoo, checking out the cool animals. They had a pretty impressive selection including some things you rarely see in a petting zoo like a camel and this huge rodent.
After hanging out at the petting zoo, we decided it was finally time to get back on track (see what I did there) and move on. We checked out the glassblowing place real quick as well as a few more shops (did I mention that I REALLY love Frontier trail?) before we finally found ourselves in Frontier Town.
I had a passing thought about riding Skyhawk, but somehow it was posting a 45 minute wait (probably since everything was down for wind) so we passed on that knowing it probably wasn't a good sign of things to come over at Maverick.
When we got up to Maverick we were greeted with a posted wait time of 90 minutes. That was a bummer, but not counting the Millennium Force breakdown we hadn't waited more than 20 minutes for anything all day so we couldn't complain. We felt it was a small price to pay for skipping it during Early Entry since it meant we got to ride 2 awesome coasters (one of them 3 times) that were now closed due to wind. There was no way we were letting a long line keep us from riding one of the best coasters in America before heading out, and honestly we sort of expected it going in so we happily hopped in line. The best things in life are worth waiting for.
Honestly, the line wasn't that terrible. It was absolutely a 90 minute wait but the crews did a great job and kept it moving the entire time. From the queue, we admired the new hotness in the back of Frontier Town and snapped a few pictures that I won't even bother posting since they're completely outdated at this point. I knew that would happen but I was bored so I took them anyway. I guess my inner optimist thought I'd actually get off my a** and write trip reports in a reasonable amount of time. I should have known better.
When we finally got to the stairs I quietly took note of the trains that were waiting in the brake run. I'm normally not very good at math but we were only getting one ride in on this trip and I wouldn't want to let Brit down so I (quietly) located our fearless hero, Beau (still pronounced byew) and found a row where I thought it would work out.
Once we got in the station Brit started looking at the trains and commented that she didn't see Beau yet and that it probably wasn't running. Of course I was thinking that I didn't want to see Beau yet since if I did it meant I f*cked it up but a few minutes later when we were next to ride (when Brit had given up all hope
), the trains rolled out, Brent (f*ck Brent) pulled in to the front station and a few seconds later Brit's noble steed appeared. Something she got way too excited about
I don't even think I need to say this, but the ride was (of course) amazing. Maverick is always complete and total awesomeness, but as far as Brit's concerned it becomes complete perfection when we get to ride Beau. When we hit the brakes she said something I never thought she'd say, that Beau (that's the ride's name now... I don't try to fight these things) is her new favorite coaster instead of Gatekeeper.
See that... Brit has a more socially acceptable favorite coaster than I do
now. Ain't that some sh*t?
After Beau we were running a little short on time and realized we had to be on the road in about an hour. Normally we like to end our park visits on a big ride and go out with a bang, but Millennium Force and Beau were sporting enormous lines, Raptor, Gatekeeper and Dragster were closed and Brit doesn't appreciate the coathanger twisting, brain beating brilliance of Magnum so we decided on Valravn (which was only sporting a 40 minute line).
On the way we thought of cramming in one of our go-to walk-on rides like Gemini or Power Tower but Gemini wasn't racing and Power Tower was closed for wind so we pressed on. It didn't impact our visit one bit since we planned for it, but it was a real shame to see so many closed rides on such a beautiful and busy summer day.
As we approached Valravn, we saw it cycling an empty train. We thought nothing of it at first but when we got to the entrance we saw them clearing the entire queue, a sign out front saying the ride was closed for wind and overheard the greeter telling people they expected it to be closed for the rest of the day. Another one bites the dust...
At that point we had two ideas. One of them was to ride Maxair and head out (because who doesn't love Maxair?) but Brit also noted that on our previous trip to the park this year
we never got to ride Iron Dragon which was really the only Cedar Point coaster (aside from Dragster) we had yet to get on this year that we cared AT ALL about missing. Obviously as Arrow suspended coasters go, this one's a turd but like Brit I sort of have a soft spot for Iron Dragon, Dragin' Iron, Puff the Tragic Dragon, whatever you want to call it so we hopped into the absurdly long 45 minute queue (that's what happens when 4 of your biggest coasters are closed I guess).
While it does seem sort of ridiculous, I didn't really mind ending our weekend on Iron Dragon. It's nothing amazing, but it's a super fun ride and that pretzel at the end is an absolute blast. As an added bonus the front row line wasn't that bad so we got to end our weekend in style with an Iron Dragon front seat ride. Go us! You know you're jealous of our f*cking loser a** Dragon.
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and after experiencing the "greatness" of Iron Dragon we decided we should probably head out. It was time to go anyway since we had an 8 hour drive looming and we were both hungry and had a date with Jimmy John's on Milan Rd. (a sandwich chain I had just discovered a few days prior in Hammond but am now a huge fan of for some reason that even I can't completely explain).
On our way out we took note of the humongous line at Guest Relations of people who were presumably b*tching about the fact that Valravn, Raptor, Dragster, Gatekeeper, Power Tower and others were closed for the day but luckily it didn't impact us at all and we had an absolute blast!
Up Next: Another Florida Trip!