Cedar Point! Cedar Point! Cedar Point!
I was very tempted to start chanting this on the two days that we were visiting this Mecca of parks, a park on what must be a pilgrimage of a park for theme park lovers.
First, a small confession. We had decided that we were spending two days visiting Cedar Point – the first day without the camera, in order to go on as many rides as possible, and the second day with the camera, so we could have a more relaxing day and take pictures. Thus, all the pictures on this page are from the second day. Sorry.
In any case, I’d imagine Cedar Point is the main reason why people come to Sandusky. At the time of visiting (and also writing I think), the park has the most roller coasters of any theme park in the world. It’s also consistently voted the best theme park in various industry awards.
The drive to Cedar Point is pretty easy. Sandusky, though claiming to be a city, isn’t a big place – we drove from our hotel on the FAR outskirts, through Sandusky and to the park itself in about 20-30 minutes. The drive’s an easy one – pull out of the hotel, head down the road and follow the signs (again, Cedar Point seems to be the only thing of any interest in Sandusky).
But the drive itself is quite memorable – or at least when you get on the causeway. Cedar Point itself is set on an island just off Sandusky, in Lake Erie, and you have to drive onto a small bridge to get to it. The park is clearly visible in the distance, an island in the water filled with roller coasters and bright colours, looking like every small child’s dream.
Progressing through, we use the parking voucher we’ve got ($10 I think, cheapest parking of the lot) and park up close to the entrance as it doesn’t look too crowded (and this is just after opening). Whilst walking to the entrance we notice that some people have graffiti’d their cars, putting on their names and “follow us to Cedar Point” etc. which really showed the general “fun” that people have going to parks in the States.
Inside the park itself, there’s just far too much to see and do – and this is only the entrance “boardwalk” area. To the left is Raptor, a suspended looping coaster, and the Blue Streak, an old wooden coaster lurking in the background, plus several flat rides. Ahead are the must useless cable cars known to man, and the looming spectre of the Top Thrill Dragster. To the right are… lots of shops. And a cow. Wearing 3D glasses.
Going by order of what we did when, we progressed past the world’s most useless cable cars (they take you about 100 metres up the boardwalk) and the shops (including a Snoopy shop, or Peanuts as it’s known in America, and a restaurant called Johnny Rockets, full of people who seem to want to dance all the time wearing cheesy grins) up towards the Top Thrill Dragster.
The Top Thrill Dragster lies at a place where the park splits in two. If you imagine the main layout of the park looking like a drawing of a thin balloon, with a string. The entrance to the park is at the bottom of the string, and proceeding up the string you find the Top Thrill Dragster where the balloon itself begins.
Anyway, the ride itself. Again, it’s early in the day so you would imagine Top Thrill Dragster being busy, but we manage to get on it in about 20 minutes. Top Thrill Dragster is, according to Wikipedia, 420ft (or 130m) tall, and goes at 120mph. It’s the second tallest roller coaster in the world (only beaten by it’s successor, Kingda Ka, at Six Flags Great Adventure) and the third fastest (beaten again by Kingda Ka in 2nd, and Formula Rossa at Ferrari World as 1st).
Top Thrill Dragster certainly looks imposing but is designed in a very boring manner. The car gets into position and launches from 0 to 120mph inside four seconds. It then climbs vertically upwards until it gets close to the top of the 420ft tower, at which point the car rolls 90 degrees clockwise so that, when you go over the top, the car is level. On the way back down it twists 270 degrees clockwise again, until it gets to the bottom, levels out and comes to a stop.
All in 17 seconds.
And that’s it. It’s the most boringly-designed roller coaster, or at least it looks it, but the sheer “oomph” you get from the launch and the speed is what makes this good, as expected. It’s designed, it seems, to be all about the sheer adrenaline surge you get at the start (which is by far the best bit). The view you get at the top, whilst good, isn’t something you pay much attention to when you’ve just done that, more looking forward to the plummet back to the ground.
The ride is definitely good, but too short. Well, it seems so. In a few years they’ll probably have lots of coasters going that high and that fast. I guess you could liken it to the Revolution at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which basically does a nice tight loop and that’s it. There are lots of other looping coasters, but Revolution does one thing and one thing very well, and I guess it’s the same with Top Thrill Dragster – well okay, it does two things well – launching and height.
Needless to say, with it’s height, speed and where it’s located, plus being one of the newest things at the park, Top Thrill Dragster is probably the park’s main coaster. They’ve even got a small grandstand for it so that people who don’t want to ride it can watch from where it launches and hear the satisfying “whoosh” as it catapults itself off. And, strangely enough, they’ve taken into consideration that people may well be waiting for a while and put vending machines in the queue.
But enough of Top Thrill Dragster, which I’ve just written a LOAD about. What other rides are there?
Again, in the order that we went around, there is a corkscrew coaster (just called Corkscrew, I think) also near Top Thrill Dragster. I know we will have gone on it, but I don’t remember anything about it. Needless to say, it must have been pretty forgettable, because I’ve forgotten it.
Off to the right, and with a nice view of the beach area and shoreline, is Wicked Twister. Nearly identical to the V² at Six Flags Great America, it’s again a suspended coaster which is launched on a track, goes upwards until gravity takes it’s toll, then goes back down through the station and out the other side, again going upwards. Continue doing that for a few cycles. This one has more of a twist on the end of the tracks though.
Near this is the only ride I had been dreading at Cedar Point – the Windseeker. Though it sounds like the newsletter of a bizarre curry loving social club, the Windseeker is actually a giant chair swing ride. You sit in chairs and they start moving round, like a normal chair swing. Then the ride elevates – only not by just a few metres, as normal chair swings do, but by 300ft. Once you’re up there it’s a pretty nice view, but the ride itself isn’t anything brilliant. But this is a ride that lots of people weren’t daring to go on. Plus it kept breaking down all the time and still seemed to be having teething problems.
Nearby is Disaster Transport, quite probably one of the worst rides we went on in the park (if not the worst). Okay, I shouldn’t say “worst” but possibly disappointing. Similar to the Avalance at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, this is a bobsled coaster where the car isn’t attached to a track, but instead inside a bobsled “tube”. However, it’s in the dark and I couldn’t tell at all whether it was inside a tube or not. I also didn’t know what was going on. Various websites have promised all sorts of pyrotechnics going on when on this ride, including that favourite of every psychopath, a fully-functional flamethrower. These didn’t materialise for whatever reason, so all we were left with was a poorly-themed dark coaster which didn’t *seem* to do anything great.
Going back up towards Top Thrill Dragster and branching off to the left, we come across three coasters concentrated into the same area – Mantis, Iron Dragon and Wildcat.
The Mantis is a stand-up coaster, similar to the one at Six Flags Great America but more intense. And it still doesn’t convince us that we like standing coasters, if only because we have to get INTO them. Getting shoulders into the correct position and adjusting what can only be described as the “groin bar”. Then it’s all a bit shaky anyway due to the shoulder restraints banging against your head.
The Iron Dragon fares better, but not by much. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s not especially good. Though this is the first of these coasters we’ve been on – a coaster that hangs under the track and swings with it at the end of an arm. Still, it’s not too bad.
Wildcat, by comparison, is good old fashioned fun. A “Wild Mouse”-esque coaster, this is larger and more spacious than the one at Blackpool Pleasure Beach (which is the only ride where I keep feeling – with some justification – that I’m going to suffer a decapitation). It doesn’t have the 90 degree turns which BPB’s Wild Mouse has, but it’s still a good, compact and family-friendly coaster. The cars can seat 4 – a luxury compared to Wild Mouse’s 2-if-you’re-friendly limit, in two rows of two. We rode with a small girl and her grandmother, and the girl appeared to be having a whale of a time.
Further around is another of Cedar Point’s “major” coasters, Millenium Force. With cars and track like the Big One at BPB, this is taller (300ft I think, compared to Big One’s 200ft-ish), this is definitely a meaty coaster, though I don’t feel it does as much as the Big One. It’s higher and gives you some decent airtime, but I like how the Big One travels around a lot of the park and weaves around other rides. Millenium Force, by comparison, is confined to a small area of Cedar Point – mainly because Cedar Point has the room to play with. Which sounds weird. But I guess much of the Big One’s route was designed out of necessity of avoiding other rides somehow, whereas Millenium Force can do as it likes and subsequently doesn’t do much, track-wise.
I should briefly note that, whilst there have been queues, we are steadily getting around the rides. It was a Monday but the amount of people doesn’t seem like much.
Walking a bit further, we start to encounter the nicer, more pleasant area of the park. Towards the top half of the park it suddenly becomes sheltered with foliage and quite rustic and ye-olde-country. A China Express restaurant sits in a small clearing at which we eat, a decent select-your-own chinese meal (and of a good size) and drink for $10. Shortly after this is a small smoker’s area themed as a train stop, again looking every bit the part. And it’s definitely welcome how clean these parks are.
Further along is a small covered road bridge. If you remember, I think Beetlejuice had one which is where the parents died. Going through here is good as there’s lots of different coloured lights and, at night, it really does look quite pretty.
And then you enter the rustic half properly, along with an old fort thing, all sorts of quaint little shops selling sweets (okay then, CANDY… mutter mutter) and lots and lots of trees. Shops are tempting but we didn’t go in (we had only just eaten). Off to the left is a water ride, and off to the right is a small lake… with a water ride.
The water rides are a river rapid rafting ride (to the left from where we approached) and, to the right, a water coaster called Shoot The Rapids. There is actually a third water ride around here somewhere.
Given the heat of the day, we decide to take a quick spin on Shoot The Rapids. We normally stay clear of water rides but decide – what the hell. I mean, it’s only water, right? Even though I’ve got my brand-new t-shirt from Six Flags Great America with Wile E Coyote on (which actually has a few people commenting on it – weirdos) we still decide to go on, deciding to take off our shoes and socks beforehand (we soon learnt after the water rides at Islands Of Adventure and Busch Gardens Tampa, where I was wringing out my socks).
And mightily soaking it was. Probably not on the same level as BPB’s Valhalla, but it cooled us off. Thing is, in America, it takes about 15-30 minutes to dry off, but only parts of us were. I think I had a bit of a squelchy backside for a bit (and no, it’s nothing to do with the food from Panda Express).
It’s always amusing with those rides though – they always lead up to a huge drop at the end, over which there’s always a bridge for spectators to stand and get wet. If they feel like it. Yet there’s always a huge amount that do! The bridge is more popular than the ride!
Maverick is just around the corner, but the queue is a tad long and we decide to come back later. The Cedar Creek Mine Train is a mine train coaster that’s good fun – nothing special, but still worth going on. Also around here is the huge mound of wooden struts that make up Gemini, a racing wooden/steel coaster where the cars do get so close you can reach out and touch fingers with the people in the rival train. Mean Streak is also nearby, but I don’t remember it that much. Mean Streak also sits close by, so close to Gemini that you can’t really tell the two apart. A wooden/steel hybrid, it is actually quite a meaty ride and, according to Wikipedia, has its own carpentry staff due to the amount of work required on it.
We are now at the back of the park, as far as you can get from the entrance without walking through a fence, over a service road and into the drink of Lake Erie. From here it’s back towards the point where the route split in two at Top Thrill Dragster.
The only coaster on the route back from here is the mysteriously-named Magnum XL-200, a decent-sized standard steel coaster that did give a fair few pops of airtime (quite a lot of it in fact). I think there were the odd other one or two small coasters – I seem to recall a Junior Gemini – but nothing special.
There was a giant inflatable Snoopy presiding over the kids’ section at Camp Snoopy though, if only because… well, why not?
We go on a fair few flat rides, including Matterhorn, Calypso, maXair, Scrambler, Skyhawk and Troika – all of which are standard flat ride fare – before making our way round again and crossing any missed coasters off our list.
Raptor, back near the entrance, is a standard suspended looping coaster and not much to write home about. Also near the entrance, Blue Streak proved a bit of a pain to find the entrance to, and is a decent coaster and apparently the oldest operating coaster at Cedar Point.
Nothing, however, could have prepared us for when we eventually got on Maverick, quite late in the day. A steel coaster, according to Wikipedia it has a 95 degree drop – not that you really notice it at the speeds you’re going. It does also stay pretty close to the ground, giving a great sensation of speed as it winds round obstacles, your head pinging back and forth between the restraints, and just when you think it’s over, you’re launched off yet again!
We manage to grab some food around the country area (nothing great, just a burger or hot dog or something I think it was) and go on a few more rides, including Maverick once or twice again, with it quickly becoming a firm favourite.
As it was getting dark, we were dashing through the country area, barely able to see anything. The park had quitened down and I do recall seeing the procession floats as they must have been ready to depart the area – giant inflatable Snoopy characters on cars. Also lots of artificial mist. Unfortunately we couldn’t get on Maverick in the dark but we did dash back to get on Top Thrill Dragster in the dark, with fireworks going off.
And somehow we managed it. Every single ride at Cedar Point we wanted to do, we did. And we still had time to do some again. I honestly don’t know how we managed it – Cedar Point does have a HUGE amount of stuff to do – but we did. The queues weren’t long – it was a Monday – and we arrived just after opening time, and stayed until closing.
Amusingly, as we leave, the staff of the Johnny Rockets diner near the entrance (I mentioned it a while ago) decided to have a sing and dance, in such a manner that it must be part of their contract (I think they were doing a musical routine to Happy Days). See? In America, the TV show Glee is actually quite realistic.
We knew, of course, that we would be back at Cedar Point the next day. That day was quite different, and will of course be described in the next section, as well as my overall thoughts on the park. But for now… there’s a t-shirt available at Cedar Point. It’s got Charlie Brown and Snoopy looking towards the park in the starlit distance, with Charlie Brown sighing “what a day”.
Pretty much sums it up.