Trip Report: Cedar Point
Sandusky, Ohio - 05/11/1996
"Weather Channel said this stuff would end at 10:00am!"
I really like Cedar Point (that's a well-known fact!), so Opening Day is an
important landmark in the season. But I'm not as fanatical about it as some
people...in other words, I don't camp out at the front gate or anything like
that; in fact, I had originally not planned to attend on Opening Day. But I
did anyway, and had a good time, in spite of the rain and the cold.
I arrived at the Po!nt right around 10:00am and started wandering down the
midway. Most everything was shut down at the time, mostly due to the light rain
and strong winds. Having no particular agenda, I struck up a conversation with
the Raptor employee who was turning away potential riders, and we chatted
a bit about the ride. Cool guy. Our conversation ended when Ted Ansley spotted
me, about an hour and a half before our scheduled meeting. So far things were
going OK, considering the inclement weather. $#@! it was cold!
We started simply, with a front-seat ride on the Iron Dragon. Was it because
my last suspended coaster ride was the Big Bad Wolf, or because Iron
Dragon was not running as well as it did last October. Or was it jus because
of the crummy weather. Iron Dragon was running OK, but it has been better.
It has also been a lot worse. From there, past the crowded queue for the new coaster,
and down the Frontier Trail. Moments later, we were boarding the gold train on
the Mean Streak.
Mean Streak was running with the back half of the train roped off. My guess
is that in the cold weather this early in the season they are trying to fend off
unbalanced-train problems by making sure that the front end is loaded when the
crowd is light...I saw this on both of the wood coasters. Anyway, we took the
second-to-the-last open seat. Just walking under the third drop and into the queue,
you can see that there is something different here...there is now an upright support
under every cross-tie in the high-speed valleys. Trying to stay dry, I didn't
look at most of the ride until I was on-board. But lots of work has been done
to this ride, and a trip proved it. Mean Streak was running better than
ever. Fast, and unusually smooth. While the first drop brake still exists, it
was not functioning. And believe it or not, there were at least three instances
of actual airtime! It has always seemed to me that Mean Streak runs rougher
when wet...assuming that to be the case, Mean Streak should be glass-smooth
and flying if it ever dries out. This was FANTASTIC. Not glass-smooth by any stretch
of the imagination, but fast and much smoother than ever before. We went back
for a front-seat ride
Unfortunately, the front-seat ride was not to be. The decision was made to
remove a train from the coaster just as we were about to ride, but difficulties
with the transfer table forced potential riders...including us...to make other
plans. Our plans took us past the (closed) Gemini, where we noticed the
valleyed red train, past the (closed) Jr. Gemini, where we noticed another
valleyed train, and to the (closed) Magnum XL-200 which was waiting for
the rain to subside. We then determined that due to the large crowd, Macaroni's
was not a good choice for lunch, so we headed out of the park and wandered over
to the Breakers in the bitter cold wind. Helpful hint: Dominic's restaurant
does not open until 3:00pm...that was the second time I made that error. We
returned to the park, and noticed that the Magnum XL-200 was running.
This was good for a back-seat ride. And was it ever good!
This coaster is a good, solid performer. Even in the high wind, Magnum was
fast and furious, running two trains, and later in the day, brakeless. What can
I say about this coaster that has not already been said? I didn't notice any significant
changes here from last year.
After Magnum, it was lunch at the Chuck Wagon and past the still-closed-due-to-rain
Mine Ride. We noticed the Mean Streak was running, so we tried
again. This time, it was shut down due to weather before we made it to the platform.
More wanderings commenced, and we found ourselves waiting for Disaster Transport.
Before long we noticed that it didn't seem to be running. Waiting in the building
was better than getting rained on, but a long wait in the dark wasn't what we
got to the Po!nt for. So we wandered across to the Pirate Ride and Blue
Blue Streak had not run all day. We saw two test trains run, but that
was it. Maybe later. At this point, the Raptor queue appeared to be packed,
so we skipped that one as well, and headed for the new coaster instead.
Mantis: The Coaster Formerly Known as Banshee
I suspect that the current entrance to this coaster may be temporary. Right
now, it is entered from the Main Midway by crossing the railroad track to the
Giant Wheel plaza, then crossing the tracks again through a tiny gate.
I noticed that there is enough room between the railroad track and the coaster
queues for an entrance adjacent to the ride exit, but that wouldn't provide enough
space for the auxiliary "overflow" queue rails. The paint scheme is
striking, but tasteful with violet upright columns and red and yellow track. After
the earth-tones and subdued colors of the 1970's and 1980's, the Point is becoming
a much more colorful place. The long line snakes past a giant 4-screen projection
videowall and across a floating bridge to the stairs to the elevated loading platform.
Someone else noted that the station seems smallish; I noticed that as well. I
also noticed that the queue gates look like an afterthought, and appear to be
sloppily installed. The gate is attached to an upright which extends from floor
to ceiling, and is actuated by an exposed mechanism at the ceiling. Worst of all,
the gate posts are not installed even with the end of the queue rail, but instead
next to the queue rail where they obstruct the path to the coaster even with the
gates open. And the operation of the "seats" on this ride differs from
the descriptions I have heard, so really the gates are not needed.
Enough about the station...what about the ride?! Well, some of you may find
this shocking, but I actually liked it. I'll concur with Mr. Siefert that the
seat horn seems a bit wide, but other than that it is a comfortable train. The
ride itself features good visuals, extremely strong vertical forces, and the
only uncomfortable laterals are really the transition into the half-corkscrew
where the strobes are. I didn't have any of the consciousness-loss problems
in the loops described by other riders, but by the end of a back-end ride, my
calves were extremely sore. I guess they're not used to handling that kind of
weight. This ride is really fast from the bottom of the first drop to the brake
run at the end of the ride. The crew is still a little slow (the second train
routinely had to wait for the first to leave the station...not a good sign for
a coaster intended to run three trains) but it was only the first day of the
season, for crying out loud. Due to the design of the seats, I have long thought
it a mistake to have female attendants on stand-up coasters (that was an unpleasant
ride on the PKI King Cobra), but there was no problem on the Cedar Point
stand-up. The crew was very nice about letting me put the seat exactly where
I wanted it. All in all, this is really a good ride, though it could possibly
be too much for some riders. We'll see what happens.
We took in a show at the Cedar Point Cinema. This year's movie is "Speed"
about man's quest for same. It's not to be confused with a film about an exploding
transit bus, but it does have POV IMAX footage of Colossus and Revolution.
It's actually pretty good...MUCH better than the abysmal film they ran last
Corkscrew seems to have received some fresh paint this year. The exterior
of the station has been painted, and the ride itself is running fast and smooth
as ever. It seems that the overhead restraint mechanisms and the bar padding have
been replaced...I believe this used to have the hydraulic bars; it now has mechanical
bars that are easier to move, but which can come down during the ride. It's still
fun, though, and that's what counts.
The weather improved dramatically by early evening, but Gemini never
opened. I did see steel cable being strung to clear the stuck train on it, though.
I think this is the first time since 1979 that I have visited the Point and
Gemini has been closed all day. I did notice that they got the train
back to the station on the Jr. Gemini, though.
Cedar Creek Mine Ride
I didn't notice any major changes here, but the interior paneling on the car
I was riding in had been replaced. Everyone knows that this coaster takes you
up 50' into the air then drops you 4', but everyone also forgets about the 40-some
foot drop after the first spiral, too..
Proof positive that the weather had improved was seen when Wildcat was
actually running. It went down again before we got a chance to ride, though.
So it was another ride on the stand-up instead, then we headed to Raptor.
Remember all the head-banging I was complaining about last season, particularly
on inversions #3, #5, and #6? Well, I'm pretty well convinced it was worn-out
wheels. Raptor had a short wait, and so we took a back-seat ride and it
was the smoothest Raptor ride I've ever had. The seats are still too close
together, though...when the bar came down a notch during the vertical loop, I
got an arm trapped underneath (OUCH!). But no lateral jerking/headbanging of much
note except on Inversion #5. A ride a few minutes later on a different train had
two bad spots, on inversions #5 and #6. Which is why I suspect wheels or other
train-related problems for earlier rough rides. Raptor is running really
well these days
Well, they did finally get it working. From the stand-up coaster's lift I was
able to see three maintenance types climbing the lift, and when the test trains
were running it seemed okay...so I suspect it was a computer/sensor problem. Y'know,
before that ride had a solid-state computer, I don't think I ever saw it closed
due to mechanical problems...now it seems like it is down all the time. Anyway,
we got in line and took a ride in one of my favorite seats, Row #10, which is
the first seat of the last car. The new lap bars are mechanically actuated by
a lever hung like a wart from the front end of each car. The seat backs are ridiculously
high, and are that molded high-density foam junk, though the seats, dividers,
and side-pads are upholstered. I checked both Mean Streak and Blue Streak
with a tape measure and both came out to 16" of seat space, but for some
reason I can slide right into the seat on Mean Streak, while Blue Streak
now takes quite a bit of wiggling to get past the seat divider. Maybe it's because
I took the measurements AFTER I sat down instead of before. And Blue Streak
is now severely deficient in legroom thanks to the lap bar pivot and return spring
attached to the inside wall of the train.
Trains aside, Blue Streak still delivers speed and air-time. It was
squeaking really bad on the turnaround, but I suspect that it was lubricant-deficient
due to the rain, not due to a maintenance lapse. For a later ride, we went for
Seat #3, the last seat of the first car. This proved to be an error. The new
lap bars on the Blue Streak do NOT stay in place when you leave
the station, and therefore riders...particularly riders in rear-axle seats...are
likely subject to the same problem as on the PKI Racer. When we left
the station, my bar was positioned in roughly the same position as a traditional
bar would assume. I got pretty good air-time on the first speed-bump, but by
the turnaround I was mercilessly pinned to the seat, having suffered a 3-notch
ratchet which resulted in a "torque-lock" condition in the station.
In other words, the bar refused to open at the end of the ride, the attendant
rushed over with the manual release key, and still couldn't get it open until
I finally got Ted to step on the @#$! thing. Also, on the subject of the train
modifications, the Blue Streak is the first coaster I have seen with
the PTC ratchet bars, but WITHOUT the grab-bar fixedly attached to the seatback.
Odd...I thought that was practically a requirement with these bars...
A subsequent, front-seat ride did not have this problem, though I did land
cockeyed in the seat a couple of times. Fortunately, the seat divider is high
enough that landing on top of it isn't likely to be a problem. This is more-or-less
the way the Blue Streak is supposed to run. All-out fast, smooth, and
brakeless. And speaking of brakes, the computer has been re-programmed again
so that the stop is a little more Arrow-like and less Wildcat-like in
the brake run. At least they improved SOMETHING on this ride.
Other changes in the park
The Giant Wheel has a new lighting program, some changes in the lighting
package design, and a new lighting color scheme, as well as an all-new lighting
package on the BACK side and around the roof of the operator's booth. The main
midway railroad crossing has been re-done. All of the Sky Ride gondolas
have been re-painted, and the Troika has a new color scheme for the cars.
The Jr. Gemini platform building has been painted. The water tower has
been painted, but I never remembered to take a good look at it. The red chaser
lights on the Corkscrew's Corkscrew seem to be twinkling instead of chasing.
And the Skycoaster ("Ripcord") arch and towers are up, but the
tracks and landscaping are still incomplete. As close as it is to Magnum,
the two attractions really don't visually compete with one another.
I'm hoping to get back to the Point in the next couple of weeks; but I'll be
much more brief with any subsequent CP trip reports. 8-)
Next trip: Wyandot Lake
1996 Trip Report index
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--Dave Althoff, Jr.