We were on a little “working vacation” this weekend. Stevie Ray Entertainment, is proud to announce that our very own Lighting Designer Bill Fruit tied the knot this weekend, on the beach at the Breakers Resort at Cedar Point, OH. I say it was sort of a working vacation, because I was asked to video tape their ceremony, so that next week at their Wedding Reception back in Pennsylvania, we can show the Wedding ceremony to their Friends and Family who were unable to make the trip to Ohio. Of course we are going all out at Bill & Christine’s Wedding Reception. Including our Multimedia package, so everyone can share in Bill & Christine’s special day. I have a few pictures of the new couple to share now, but next week we will have some video and pictures to share from their reception. I was happy to have shared in this special moment of Bill & Christine’s Wedding day, and it was great to see as part of the bridal party, a former SRE employee, Michael Kemmerer. I haven’t seen him in over a year, since he found some great full time employment up in chilli New England.
Now a note about my best (and coincidentally only) employee, and great friend Bill. He as well as myself are what some might consider Coaster Enthusiasts (along with his best friend/best man Matt). Well Bill & Christine have been going to Cedar Point for years, and he has always told me about how awesome every ride is, in the park. I tell him I just rode such and such ride, and he ALWAYS says well you should ride [insert Cedar Point ride here (usually Millenium Force)]. Well this was my first trip to Cedar Point and now I have had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the rides he loves.
Warning! The following section is pretty geeky
Cedar Point First Impressions The park is huge, the coasters were huge, the flat rides are huge. The Ride Ops are very interactive with the guests in the station. There are very few parks in the country that have this fun feature in the stations anymore. When the wind blows, 80% of the top attractions need to shut down.
Blue Streak – It turned 40 years old 2 weeks ago, and they tout that fact every time new riders board the train. I am almost the same age, so that didn’t impress me, on top of the fact that within 2 hours of me lies 4 coasters many times older. After boarding the train, the seat is comfortable, and the individual lapbars make both me, and my 6 year old son both feel secure. The ride itself is a standard mid 20th century out and back wood roller coaster. This means, it is fun, with a alot of airtime over various hills and bunnyhops. It is not as good as the Knoebles Phoenix, but a fun small Wooden Coaster.
Cedar Creek Mine Ride – I loved the look and feel of the track, many mine rides have too much steel. The way the wooden supports looked, I could actually envision being on the tracks inside an actual mine. The ride itself left no long tem memories except the wooden supports themselves.
Corkscrew – This was a common 3 inversion coaster. Six Flags, the Great Escape has an almost identical twin called the Steamin’ Demon. I did feel Corkscrew was better for 4 reasons. 1) There is a Bunny Hop which is thrilling right off of the main hill before the first loop. 2) It felt very smooth and not as rough and painful as the Steamin’ Demon. 3) It actually travels over people on the ground. You wind up inverted over the pedestrians on the ground during the corkscrews, which is a neat visual.
GateKeeper – This is the coaster everyone wants to ride. As I approached the station, I there is 2 different loading lines, so I heard the ride attendant say pick a side. Each side is a different ride, so I asked which side is better and he directed me to the right side (which was actually the left side of the train). I rode the left side, and he was right, it was a very smooth and exciting ride. It was not scary, or intense, it was so smooth it was enjoyable and relaxing at the same time. So I had to try the other side. Because of the way you turn, you actually flop around in your harness a bit more, which adds a bit to the scariness, intensity and in MHO the pain a little more, so my recommendation is to be on the right side of the train. But I also want to note that Christine the bride of this day, likes the right side more. I guess it is a matter of opinion. My final thought, that although Gatekeeper is fun, it is actually underwelming. I recommend X2 at Magic Mountain as the best winged coaster experience.
Gemini – I didn’t have the opportunity to ride this until my last day, and even though only one side was running, I found this to be the smoothest wooden coaster I have ever been on. It was a fun ride for most of the ride, although all of the turns were very slow for my liking, I can imagine this was to let the trains ride side by side for the guests to taunt each other. The hills wand hops were fun, but little airtime on the hops between the hills. One warning, there is a break run and a hard dip in the last helix up before the station, which is a bit jolting and painful if you are not ready for it.
Iron Dragon – a small compact suspended coaster with 2 lift hills. It was enjoyable, but even though Ninja at Magic Mountain is longer with more thrills. The Iron Dragon is fun, and the best part is the ride ops almost always get the two lift hills lined up, so you always get to have to another train before dropping in for more turns.
Jr. Gemini – This is a kiddie coaster very similar to the Timberline Twister in Cedar’s Sister park Knots Berry Farms. The way the ride at Knots is more fun due to the way it is built around trees that have been there forever, but my kids liked it alot.
Magnum XL-200 – Although many would disagree, this was my favorite ride in the entire park. It wasn’t the biggest, it wasn’t the fastest, it wasn’t the longest, but in my opinion, it was the most intense. This coaster is non stop action from the time you crest over the main hill. It is a little rough, due to its age, but I think it gives it the character of a good wooden coaster that I love. The tunnels, and the many hills, turns and pretzel turnaround were AWESOME!
Mantis – In 1995 Mantis opened holding a bunch of records for stand up coasters, but the only record Mantis seemed to hold for me was how many times it could bounce your head and man parts off of the supports. It hurts, alot. I don’t know if it is the advances in technology, but Green Lantern at Great Adventure, is 100 times better.
Maverick – This ride was my nightmare ride. The first time I tried to ride, I waited an hour, then it started to pour rain (I know, this is no fault of the park). The rain lasted around an hour. Then they tried to dry run the trains, and it misloaded, and the coaster broke down (2 1/2 hours of my life I will never get back). So I get in line the next day. The sign says 1/2 hour wait. I said to the attendant, it looks longer, and he says your right, and changed it to 45 minutes. 2 hours later, after the ride shut down 4 times I am finally in the station. Then the ride ops let people load into the train I am trying to get on. Then a kid try to sit in the wrong seat, and he gets kicked off, and put in front of me. I felt like, I was destined to never ride Maverick. Well I finally get on, and I have to say I loved the ride. This was my second favorite Coaster at the park. It is non stop action, with tons of surprises. There are many times that the coaster twists you into a direction, where you think you are going to wind up inverted, but it whips you back upright instead. The only thing to keep this from being one of my all time 5 favorite rides, is first the water cannons go off after you pass them, I never even knew it happened, and secondly, this was the second most painful coaster in the park behind Mantis.
Mean Streak – Well as a coaster enthusiast, most have their favorite type. My favorite type of coaster is a Woodie. This may be due to my age, when I was a kid, there were very few steel coasters, and most where lame. So when I looked up and saw the size of Mean Streak. I figured this is going to be Epic! As a kid I rode Cedar’s sisters park’s record setting Hercules a couple hundred times (before they “fixed” it), and it is the measuring stick I use for all Wooden Coasters, less than a handful have surpassed it. Mean Streak is NOT one of them. It starts off high, but never really drops as far or as fast as I would expect it to. There are no thrills between the multiple 100 ft. drops. The turns are weak, and very little Wooden Coaster rattle. The best big woodies (sounds funny) are at Knots, Magic Mountain, Great Adventure, and Kings Dominion, not in Ohio.
Millennium Force – This coaster is billed as the best “Steel” Coaster in the world. I find this funny, as even though, I feel this is an incredible coaster, it is only my third favorite in the park. I can see where people love it. My personal prefence for thrills place Magnum and Maverick a touch higher. Although I have to admit, I have never experienced a more thrilling lift hill/first drop, and the turns were amazing, how easily and effortless they were to navigate, I don’t think any engineer can ever design a more perfect system of overbanked turns.
Raptor – I thought I would never get on this ride, and as we were getting ready to make the 7 hour drive home, I mentioned to my wife, how I wanted to to back in the park and get a model of the Millenium Force Train for my son, who rode Millenium 6 times. He is only 6, and loves things like that. As we walked to the gift shop, I saw Raptor running, so I convinced my wife to letting us delay the return the ride home, by another 45 minuted. Well as I stated early, my first love is Wooden Coasters, and my Second Love is Inverted Coasters. I had high standards for Raptor after riding the best at 3 other Cedar Fair parks and this one was supposed to be the best. Well The first drop and loop seemed faster and more extreme than the others, than the barrel rolls, and turns started, and I felt how horrible the track felt. There was one moment when the track was so misaligned that I could feel the train shift. I admit my favorite inverted, isn’t a Cedar Fair ride (Busch Gardens Alpengeist), second is Kings Dominions Volcano, Third is Knots Silver Bullet, Fourth is Hersheys Great Bear, Fifth is Dorney’s Talon. So three of my top 5 inverted coasters are Cedar Fairs, but none are Cedar Point’s.
Top Thrill Dragster I have only had the opportunity to ride 4 launch coasters that are similar to Top Thrill Dragster, and even though this one went 405ft. at 120MPH, it was my third favorite. My first is the oldest in existence. The Xcelerator, which isn’t as high or fast, but has 2 overbanked turn around elements, which makes the ride last longer, and add more fun to the ride. Storm Runner add some inversions, and is my second favorite, Kingda Ka, is the fastest, and my third favorite, which leaves Top Thrill Dragster in a dispapointing fourth place.
Wicked Twister – I have only rode one other ride like this, which is the relocated Possessed (aka Vodoo at Cedar’s Sister Park Dorney Park). IMHO Possessed is better with the straight rear tower, due to the straight rear tower that breaks and hold the trains for a few seconds on the second rear launch causing negative G’s that throw you into the harness in a very scary hold.
Woodstock Express – This was the absolute best pure kidee coaster I have ever been on, all of the cedar parks I have been at have had a Woodstocks Express, Some are very painful and small for adults, this one was definitely fun.
Closing Thoughts – My final thoughts are that as a pure adrenaline park, I think Magic Mountain or Great Adventure are better choices, as a family park, from kiddie sections, to great thrill rides and great employees, then Cedar Point is awesome. Just hope you don’t experience more than 15MPH winds, or you will have a hard time getting on the big rides. I plan on returning to Cedar Point and I think everyone should go there at some point,and I think everyone should experience it for themselves at some point in their life, you will not be disapointed.