Day Five: Cedar PointFriday, July 15, 2016Trip Report
Determined not to make the same mistake as the previous day, our alarms were set for 7:30 with a secondary alarm set for 7:45. This wasn't even remotely necessary, however, because I was up and out of bed by the second obnoxious buzzing of the alarm--partially out of excitement, but mostly out of fear of falling asleep again. So, we were out of the room by 8:15 and after a quick stop at Subway for a breakfast wrap (it was actually halfway decent, though if we had more time/energy I wanted to stop at Berardi's as suggested by Philrad71) we made our way over the causeway once again. It's interesting how your perception of a place changes so much after spending more than a day or two there, as this sight, though still spectacular and striking, began to feel more "normal," more routine. This isn't a bad thing, though, as it began to feel more real in a sense, less like some fantasy place I'd only read about and seen in pictures. That probably made very little sense, but I'll discuss more in detail in my review of the park.
We made our way into the second row of parking spots ten minutes before early entry, we sprayed on the sunscreen and made our way to the gate. I wanted to use the Marina gate for a head start to Maverick or Millennium Force had we arrived another five minutes earlier, but the gates were already opened by the time we step foot onto the recently redone plaza, so we quickly entered and stormed through the parade of photographers.
We started the day with two laps on Maverick--once in the front and once in the back. Around 9:50 we started our trek back towards the front of the park to wait in line for Dragster's opening as we hadn't made up our minds about Fast Lane for the day yet so we wanted to ride the heavy hitters early. Well, wouldn't you guess it--Dragster opened late. Not so late though, as we made our way into the station and down the exit before 10:30.
We talked it over for a minute and decided that being our last full day and with blue skies and already heavy crowds, we would bite the bullet for Fast Lane plus. More of a Nerf gun bullet though, as even on a beautiful Friday in the middle of July the Fast Lane Plus upgrade with Platinum Passes only cost us $73 apiece. Expensive? Yes, but for a 15 hour day at Cedar Point with no line over 20 minutes, it was worth every penny.
From here on out, we essentially rode whatever we liked, whenever we wanted to, and only had any sort of substantial wait (~20 minutes) for Maverick, Valravn, and Dragster in the front row. Everything else was between two trains and 10 minutes--the perfect day.
We started the rest of the morning with the B&M's at the front of the park, continued on with Millennium Force, then back to Maverick, Dragster, Magnum, Raptor, rinse and repeat. We did Iron Dragon VR towards the end of the day around 8pm after some technical difficulties and took some short breaks throughout the day for a ride on the train (choo choo!) and some milkshakes at Coasters Drive In.
July 15th was the official kick off to "Cedar Point Nights," the midsummer celebration with games on the beach and, most notably, extended hours. That means a midnight closing this particular Friday, and by far the best night for coaster riding with back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back full on darkness night rides. After a sunset Maverick ride, we went Dragster front row in the dark, followed by Raptor, Valravn, and Millennium Force back-to-back, finishing in the front row. What an absolutely unforgettable night that I don't know will ever be topped--even with a painful sunburn and piercingly chapped lips that I had put off dealing with for the better part of three days now.
I don't know that I ever thought I'd spend 15 consecutive hours in an amusement park, let alone without running out of things to do and still being excited to be at the park and to ride the next ride. Cedar Point is a special place, and this hobby is a special thing for people like myself (and probably the majority on this board). Sure, our time at the park was coming to a close after the following morning, but this trip went better than I had ever imagined it would and was an incredible "summation" of sorts after dreaming about such a trip during my time in high school. After planning a trip for so long it can be a little nerve racking the days leading up to departure (Could I have chosen better parks or better days to visit? What if the parks suck and the trip is a dud altogether?) or immediately after getting home, not having something to look forward to. Honestly though, there isn't one regret I have from this unforgettable week. I'll reflect back on the trip a little more after the final day six update.Review
Cedar Point is one of the most well-documented parks on the internet, especially on these boards with the constant discussion on the park's thread, so I don't think it would be worth my time to give an in-depth opinion on the park in general as the majority of that would just be an 18 year old's far less informed view than a lot of users on this site that have travelled infinitely more than myself and have ridden hundreds more coasters (I think I'm somewhere around 75 now but I haven't counted and I don't really care). So, I'll just touch on a few things I want to discuss most as well as respond to something a certain user has pointed out (that a lot of people have brushed over) that I found really interesting and wanted to think about before posting my thoughts.
First off, I mentioned how surreal it is to drive across the causeway the very first time, particularly for first time visitors. Especially considering how well documented the park is, it's one of those "dream" moments for a lot of enthusiasts. Something I noticed, however, is that after making that drive multiple times, particularly by the third time (Friday), the park started to seem more "real" to me. What I mean by that is it felt less like this fantasy place that you really only see in pictures online and dream about going to someday, so as when you actually visit it doesn't seem real. As a result, I could kind of mentally take the park off that "pedestal" and really appreciate the park for its collection of rides and the atmosphere they've created, as well as be more critical of the park and the coasters. So, with that said, I will say the following...
--Valravn isn't that good. Sure, it's fun, but I can't help but think they could've done something a little more special, a little more unique. I'll actually throw out the unpopular opinion of mine that GateKeeper is better than Valravn. It's a perfectly decent dive coaster and it's better than what was there but I'm left wanting more, though that's probably biased because of the caliber of rides elsewhere in the park.
--Parts of the park (particularly in the front half near Kiddie Kingdom/Wicked Twister and between Valravn and Millennium Force) are rather generic and could use some more shade, but that's compared to the rest of the park which is absolutely beautiful and more appealing than most large parks.
--After riding Thunderbolt, Jack Rabbit and The Beast earlier in the week, it's obvious that Cedar Point is lacking a good wood coaster. I'm not going to say that the next ride they build has to be a wood coaster, because parks don't actually care about these fictional "steel/wood coaster ratio" or anything of the sort that enthusiasts like to believe "needs" to happen to be well rounded, but Mean Streak and Blue Streak are both in the lower tier of rides at the park.
--The storage bin policy is a head scratcher for some of the rides considering how much they're pushing the all day and all season bottles. I totally understand it for Millennium Force with an unload station and *maybe* Valravn for capacity, but on GateKeeper when it's a walk-on and
they have bins on the platform, you can't bring a sports bottle in line and keep it in the bins? You basically have to pay every ride (we rented five hours each time and did several rides before renewing the rental) to simply have the sports bottle that you bought from the park.
--Everything at Cedar Point seems very carefully planned and well thought out, and as a result is very well executed and visually appealing. From the layouts of rides to the aesthetics of an area (the new Valravn plaza/midway connection is very nicely done), to the presentation of a ride itself (Dragster's station design and launch visuals off-ride are a nice touch). It probably helps that they're constantly pouring money into this park.
I mentioned that I could take the park off the imaginary pedestal, but I should note that I'm keeping Millennium Force night rides on that pedestal. The ride during the day might be a little overhyped and Maverick and probably Fury 325 (haven't ridden yet) are better rides, but there's something amazing about Millennium Force at night that just puts itself right atop that pedestal again and is completely unmatched by anything. Yes it is corny and I'm glad coasterbill called me out on that but that ride at night is seriously my "happy place" and you can find me sipping the Millennium Kool-Aid all night long.
On the positive side of things, after spending parts of four days at the park (and previously frequenting nearby Six Flags parks and Kings Dominion) I'm more able to appreciate just how amazing Cedar Point's operations are. I touched on it with GateKeeper sending out 63 trains in an hour and Millennium's crew at night allowing re-rides for no apparent reason but the park as a whole is very consistent and staffs every single ride appropriately. I'm going to have a hard time dealing with the nonsense that most parks (ahem *Six Flags* ahem) try to operate with. Round of applause to Cedar Point though--I guess this park as a whole is kind of a sampler of what Cedar Fair is all about if they gave every park an ideal operating and expansion budget.
Speaking of operations, I won't give an in-depth analysis of any kind of Iron Dragon virtual reality mostly because it's been a two weeks now and I don't really remember each exact scene, but I would like to mention a few things. One, the beta testing of sorts they're doing is the way to go, especially with sign ups and limited hours to do it. It was executed in a very organized fashion that eliminated the obscene waits generated at Six Flags parks and the disappointment along with it by the VR not working properly most the of the time due to overuse and poor training. The story and graphics were considerably better than the Superman version at Six Flags America, though that's not to say they couldn't be improved. The choice of ride was also exactly what I thought it should be, as I otherwise wouldn't have ridden Iron Dragon more than once over the four days. The operations were infinitely better than Six Flags even with what seemed like intentionally reduced efficiency as the attendants spent additional time talking to each rider about how to orient the device and to not touch their restraint until they're ready. All said and done we're talking about five minute unload/load time, a far cry from SFA's frequent 15 minute dispatches (and occasional 21 minute) on their most popular ride, an Intamin mega coaster.
The last point I would like to discuss is something I had mentioned earlier about prozach626's view of Cedar Point's collection. Something he's mentioned a few times (and feel free to chime in here/correct me on this, prozach) is that because Cedar Point has probably eight or nine rides that most parks would feature prominently in their top three, it's overwhelming to have all of them in one park and they take away from the significance of each other. As a result, it's hard to focus all your time and energy on one ride and appreciate it for what it is when there's always another right nearby--especially rides like Millennium Force and Maverick. I hinted at a similar feeling in my review of Rougarou when I mentioned that I thought it was a solid ride, though it didn't have a sizeable line the entire week and would probably be more appreciated at other parks without so many headliners.
To an extent, I agree. Rougarou, and other similar rides (in terms of major attractions that would be a selling point at most parks but are just kind of "there" at Cedar Point) like Raptor, Wicked Twister, Magnum and even GateKeeper would be more successful at other parks. If they were at other parks, I would probably spend more time riding and re-riding them, and I could focus on these rides without being distracted by a dozen other rides I want to ride just as much, if not more, and probably form a more favorable opinion of them. If GateKeeper were at Kings Dominion I would probably spend most of my day riding it and Intimidator 305, with a few stops at Dominator and Volcano.
A perfect example for this argument is Kennywood. That park only has six coasters, but with only a little over half a day to spend there I felt like with any more top notch rides it could've taken away from the positive experience I had as instead of riding Phantom's Revenge or Thunderbolt for a second time I would've been off waiting in line for some other coaster.
However, there's another side to this argument that I think is worth presenting. Cedar Point proudly touts themselves as the "Roller Coaster Capital of the World," yes? At most parks (especially my first visit), after riding the headliners I'll give the "supporting coasters" a ride, maybe two if they're better than I expected, then I'll make my way back to my favorite two or three rides until it's time to leave. What Cedar Point's arguably excessive lineup of "headlining" coasters has done is taken away the often times mediocre or even straight up crappy experience I would've had riding the supporting coasters, and replaced them with rides that are *just* not quite as impressive as the headliners. So, if it's your first time at Great Adventure, you might ride Green Lantern once just to see how it compares before moving on with your day. At Cedar Point, even if you do end up only riding their coaster that takes the same role as Green Lantern--say Rougarou--it's a hell of a lot more fun than you'll have on a ride like Green Lantern. Sure, you might feel like you want to ride it again but you'd still rather ride Millennium Force just across the midway, but Cedar Point has that rare status in that the "average" ride at the park is of a much higher caliber than it is at most parks, so you've essentially replaced all those inevitable "meh" coasters with well above average rides, some that might even be better than any ride at another major park.
To support this argument, take the other park from this particular trip--Kings Island. After initially riding Banshee, Diamondback and The Beast at night, we rode almost every other "supporting" coaster (except Flight of Fear since we've ridden it at Kings Dominion and it had a long line) once, then found ourselves riding Diamondback and Banshee pretty much the rest of the day, because none of the other rides were really worth riding more than once, twice tops. The problem with this is that given the low attendance on that particular Tuesday, we rode those enough times to understand what they were about and ended up chilling in our hotel for an hour or two; not because we were tired, but honestly a little bored waiting for the sun to set before riding The Beast again. If Kings Island had another stand out ride or two (hopefully Mystic Timbers will help out with this) on the same caliber of Banshee or Diamondback we wouldn't have had this issue. Not saying they need five more B&M's or Intamin's like Cedar Point, but just another top tier ride to keep us occupied for a full day (since we're not into shows or waterparks). Then again, maybe it is unrealistic to expect to be occupied for a full day with short lines and Cedar Point (and maybe Great Adventure) is the exception to the rule. I could be way off base with this.
In the end, I thought it was interesting point that prozach626 that really nobody else has talked about. To be honest, I'm not really sure which side I fall on because I had an incredible time at Cedar Point for the better part of four days with tons of top tier rides, but I also had just as much fun in just seven hours at Kennywood with only six coasters, re-riding four of them. I think it depends on the specific park and what they're going for, and those two parks are obviously going for entirely different experiences. Kings Island landed somewhere in the middle in that discussion, but I think we went in expecting an experience more similar to Cedar Point than we should have. Or maybe Kennywood's rides are just way too high quality for their own good. Either way. Attractions
My reviews of all the attractions we experienced at Cedar Point can be found on page five. No need to rehash what I already went over, so I'll just leave some daily totals for Friday, July 15, 2016. Some of these are my best estimate because I didn't keep exact track.GateKeeper
- 2xWicked Twister
- 1xMillennium Force
- 5xTop Thrill Dragster
- 4xMagnum XL-200
- 1xIron Dragon (Virtual Reality)
- 1xBlue Streak
- 1xSky Ride
- 2xWhite Water Canyon
- 1xCadillac Cars
Now that I've ridden each coaster enough times to properly compare, here's how I would rank Cedar Point's lineup, based on my typical experience...
0) Millennium Force at night
2) Millennium Force
9) Wicked Twister
10) Blue Streak
12) Mean Streak
13) Iron Dragon
14) Cedar Creek Mine Ride
--Big drop off here