Me - Big-Fat-card-carrying AARP member and thrill junkie up for any coaster or flat. Oregonian, not the Portlandia kind, I’m from the dry-and-lonely side of the state. Extreme vacation planner (I have spreadsheets and I’m not afraid to use them). Avid motorcycle rider (no I don’t have a Harley). Retired as tech support and web design wench for a motorcycle performance firm a few years ago. Married to a retired UPS guy who is a fiend on two wheels but turns green on anything wilder than Big Thunder Mountain RR. I’ve been to all the major California and Florida parks, that’s about it. My ride list is pathetic, but I plan to work on that over the next few years and I do have the rare and coveted Washington State Fair Classic Coaster cred.
Nephew Kevin - Also a native Oregonian, from the wet side of the state, just graduated from Oregon State University as a mechanical engineer, no job yet which is good because we now have Platinum AP’s for Cedar Fair parks and Knotts and Great America are just a day’s drive away. This trip is his graduation present from us (okay, yes, it was a selfish present since I wanted to go as much as he did). Kev’s still a relative neophyte to coaster fanaticism, with trips to DL, WDW, Six Flags MM, and now CP.Trip Basics
- Trip dates: June 18 - 22nd. Flew Southwest PDX to Detroit (cheapest option for us), picked up a nicely upgraded rental car from Avis, drove through a hellacious storm
and arrived in Sandusky at our LaQuinta about 1am (we had upgraded King rooms in the detached building and they were nice, I’d stay there again). Park days 19th-21st. Platinum passes, bought FastLane+ every day after checking wait times, although only really needed it for SV and Maverick the first two days, the 21st was significantly busier and FL+ really helped. Stayed at the park open to close every day except Wednesday when we scheduled a 10:30 arrival due to expected rain. Ride Ratings:
Before the trip I’d created a spreadsheet (yeah, I’m one of those people) that included ride names, manufacturer, year built, interesting facts, and rating based on the excellent TPR Coaster Poll. After three days in the park our personal coaster poll emulated the TPR poll somewhat, with a few radical departures from the norm. Here’s our list and ride thoughts:Four-way tie for 1st place
- During our time in the park we talked constantly about our ratings and tried a bunch of different tricks to choose a true first place ride (like asking each other “if you could only ride one coaster before you died, which would it be?”, stuff like that), and were still undecided, I think this is a compliment to the park because each of these rides is so radically different that they feel like they should each be in a class by themselves. Steel Vengeance
- So yeah, we both came off our first SV ride thinking “Holy Shit, what did I just experience and when can I do it again because that was AWESOME!!”. We had multiple rides every day and tried front, back and middle, each offering a different ride and each a screaming good time. I have huge bruises on my thighs from the restraints (I’m fat, it’s not the ride’s fault) and we experienced a minor but worrying restraint malfunction, but we’d both still jump right back on that bad boy this instant. It’s that good. I’d also say if you can afford FastLane+ it’s worth it just for this ride.Maverick
- To hell with Disney, because this here’s the wildest steel ride in the wilderness. We loved the smooth and sleepy launch followed by a surprisingly effective first drop and more surprises around every forceful corner. Front row was our favorite, but every row delivered nearly the same exciting punch with no pain due to the vest-style restraints. I can’t believe that wild redhead Chess turned Maverick down, he’s the real deal.Millennium Force
- This ride truly has everything, comfy restraints, dizzying heights, amazing first drop, floater air, ultra-fast turns and incredible interaction with the park as it travels through a massive chunk of real estate at a constantly thrilling speed. The only thing missing is a FastLane+ entry point that actually saves you a lot of time.GateKeeper
- This is where our personal tastes vectored significantly from the TPR poll. Kevin and I loved this ride, in fact we probably had more laps on GateKeeper than on any other coaster in the park. We both loved how each seat gave such a radically different ride, the park side has a more intense first drop where the lake side had a couple of really fun disorienting moments. Inside seats offered a floaty feeling of flying, outer seats really messed with my fear of heights and had those great “close calls” with the gates. And it’s just so very pretty. Admittedly things felt a bit skimpy after the mcbr, but not enough to ruin the rest of the ride for us and I give it extra points for ride cars that look like freaking Romulan warbirds. Ride ops were blazing fast.2. Valravn
- I know dive coasters are one trick ponies, but this one’s trick is ever so fun and this supernatural Danish raven has a few extra tricks up his sleeve with some hanging air on one of the loops and a few other elements that make it a better ride than Sheikra for me. The only downside is that once we tried the front seat, we never went back (or middle).3. Top Thrill Dragster
- Nuthin’ but brute power and speed and if you catch it early in the morning a bit of a pause at the top to admire a really beautiful view of the lake. Like Valravn TTD does one thing, but it does it sooooo very well. Front seat is a bit more intense, but we loved back better because of the quicker whip off the top.4. Blue Streak
- Another one where we veered away from the TPR poll, we loved this rickety little woody. It’s not so rough that you need to brace at every bump, when we rode mid-car you could just let go and enjoy the crazy sensations of the car seemingly trying to rattle itself off the track. Such a giggle!5. Cedar Downs Rac Derby
- This was even cooler than I anticipated because the action emulated a galloping horse much better than any old silly carousel. Sluggish ride ops drive me nuts on flat rides, this was no exception, the single operator was decidedly in “relaxed” mode.6. maXair
- If you love airtime this is really a great ride. It also may not bother folks who hate spinning rides because the action forms more of a parabolic curve than a spin. Quick ride ops. 7. Wicked Twister
- My first looping coaster was Schwarzkopf’s brilliantly simple Montezooma’s Revenge (I’ve been a Schwarzkopf fan ever since) and I was hoping for a similar experience with this shuttle coaster, but the lack of hang-time air at the end of the spike sort of left me feeling a bit “meh” about it and Kevin said for some reason it made him feel a little queasy (he’s not a fan of spin-and-puke rides).8. Rougarou
- I’ll say right now that I hate regular OTSR’s, I’m short so my ears take a beating with the stupid things. Our first ride in the middle of the train left me with red ears and Kevin with a smile on his face. We tried it again the next day, I didn’t wear my sunglasses and also was able to brace my head better using my hands and I’ll say it’s a fun coaster, especially the first half. Kevin ranks this at the 6 spot.9. Cedar Creek Mine Ride
- This wasn’t as horrible as the coathanger-and-homemade-brackets-looking-track should have delivered. Actually, it was sort of fun. I might even have rated it above Rougarou if some kid didn’t eat too many crabfries and puke in the train in front of us, leaving us on the brake run for about 15 minutes while they cleaned up the mess. Hey, at least he wasn’t on our train!10. CP & Lake Erie RR
- Theming! What sorcery is this? We were happily amused and surprised by the entertaining skeletal denizens in the neighborhood of this cute little train. We were also able to verify that if you are able to get on the train just before it leaves you will get to the other station faster than walking.11. Iron Dragon
- A roller coaster is supposed to have air time, some forceful elements with both negative and positive g-forces. Neither of the two hanging coasters I’ve ridden have been able to deliver any of these and makes me yearn for a chance to ride the defunct Big Bad Wolf which supposedly got this formula right.12. Raptor
- See Rougarou for my reasons for this low rating. Kevin liked it much better, he puts it solidly at #5. I’ll also say this ride reminded me of the Hulk before refurb in that at first the distinctive roar was fun, but after a few days of having to quit talking while walking the front of the park because the thing was too damned loud when passing by was a little irritating.13. Woodstock Express
- No surprises here, just a basic little skater for the kiddies.14. Cadillac Cars
- Driving one of these is always more boring than watching other people drive. However, they’re running a Honda OHV v-twin side-valve engine and I’m a motorhead so we rode. The covered bridge is cute, the rest of the track is meh.15. Corkscrew
- Not last on the list only because it’s too short to cause permanent disability.16. Magnum XL-200
- Ow, ow, ow, what the F! was that. Ow, ow, ow, brake run. 17. Gemini
- The first half was okay, the second half tried to murder us in the worst way possible. Holy hell this sucked.General Park Impressions:
We were amazed at how many families rode everything together. At Magic Mountain I’m typically the oldest person on the big coasters, at CP we’d get off Millenium feeling all badass and then see some 3rd grader and his grandpa get off the car behind us. Maybe it’s because there are so many incredible parks in this part of the country, kids grow up around big rides and it’s just normal to ride everything. On the West Coast it’s not unusual to see 3rd graders cry after riding Snow White’s Scary Adventure.
I absolutely love how the coasters interact with guests even when you’re not riding. At many parks the station area and a little bit of track are all you see of a ride until you’re on it, here you are surrounded by track and cars and all the amazing sounds a great coaster makes when it’s going through its run (except Raptor which should be renamed 102dB, The Ride). I was pleasantly surprised to see that Cedar Point doesn’t have nets under the coasters that run through public areas, so many other parks seem to think this is necessary.
Park Food was better than expected, although the prices were unfortunately as high as expected. We ate twice at Melt and were very impressed with the food and portions were big. The side salad was a good (park) value.
We were less impressed with Chickie and Pete’s, we left wishing they offered a small size of the crabfries, the description made them sound delicious but a $10 gigantic bucket-o-fries was too much for two of us.
Getting to the park is so relaxing and easy. Driving to California parks means navigating crazy So. Cal. traffic and in many cases battling for position at crowded gates before rope drop. Driving to CP means tooling through a little seaside town’s two-lane streets gawking at old houses and century farms and then facing the flag with other exceedingly civil guests while we all stand at attention as the National Anthem plays and Gatekeeper flies by. This is thoroughly awesome.
The park itself is beautiful and has so many great areas to relax and re-charge. There's shade when you need it, and sun when you want, quiet areas and energetic spaces with tons going on. And rocking chairs. An amusement park with rocking chairs, how cool is that?
The museum was also an unexpected and wonderful thing to find in a park, it was so fun seeing the mini Steel Vengeance coming to life.
We were impressed with CP operations for the most part, especially ride ops, which were super fast and impeccably correct - even to the point of being stopped on lift hills twice because an operator saw someone with a cell phone out and walked out to confiscate it (felt sorry for the poor gal who had to run about 3/4ths of the way up the lift hill on Blue Streak to take a phone).
We did have a few minor complaints:
Bathrooms - most were fine, but some were downright disgusting, especially later in the day. The ladies bathroom next to Chuck Wagon in Frontiertown was out of TP in a couple of stalls on two separate days. The bathrooms across from Panda Express smelled worse than the horse ride area. Some of these issues stemmed from infrequent cleanings, other issues like broken tile and mildew in corners are maintenance concerns that should be taken care of during the offseason.
All-Day Drink plan - If you’re going to have an all-day drink plan and have drink stalls, it would be nice if at least some of those stalls actually stayed open all day. All the drink-only stations were closed by 7pm or earlier.
One very minor whine - Why do Maverick and Top Thrill Dragster have a dedicated gift store but Millenium Force gets a tiny little kiosk with a few basic shirts?
And...May Flies. We got to learn about these little weirdos after murdering hundreds with our faces on evening rides. If you’re in the park this time of the year ride with your mouth closed once the sun goes down.
So, what was our overall takeaway from our first Cedar Point trip? I think the best way to explain it is to say that I don’t own a single shirt from any other park I’ve visited with the exception of one Mickey shirt (I’m decently certain the Mouse won’t let you leave without at least one purchase). I bought FIVE shirts at CP, and Kevin bought two. I’ve basically replaced my casual wardrobe with Cedar Point gear because I freaking LOVE this park. I’ve only been home a day and I want to go back right now.