"Where is everybody?"
As I alluded to last night, I spent Tuesday at Cedar Point. This was fun...I should hook out of work more often! It was raining lightly when I left home, but by the time I reached Bucyrus, it was mostly cloudy. By the time I reached Chatfield it was partly-cloudy; by the time I reached Attica it was mostly-clear, and when I finally made it to the Po!nt, the weather was gorgeous, warm (but not scorching hot), and stayed that way all day. I was late arriving (about 11:am) but the crowd was light...and composed mostly of school groups (physicists and bands, mostly) who had arrived on the many buses taking up the left-hand side of the parking lot.
Since I visited CP in the rain on Opening Day, I won't re-hash everything. But visiting alone (recall I met up with Ted Ansley last time) and on a day when I wasn't trying to keep out of the rain, I think I got a better idea of what the park is really like this season.
I began with a ride on the Blue Streak. This time I measured the seat
before I sat down. It's only 14-3/4 inches wide...no wonder I barely
fit (I am 16" wide). I also made the mistake of sitting in Seat #9. On
his second pass, the platform operator shoved the bar down an extra notch. He
shouldn't have done that...he took away the slot where I was going to put my
leg to avoid problems, and as a consequence, I got stuck again, sometime after
the second hill. The ride was downright painful, and when the train got back
to the station, the bar was torque-locked again. I'taint the return springs...it's
the wheel seats combined with my precise dimensions.
As further evidence that the combined changes to the Blue Streak are a Bad Thing, the ride-time from the station to the back brake is 1:51. The train then waits on the back brake for an additional 1:44 before entering the station. Let me see...that means a cycle time of 3:35...which is a dispatch interval of about 3:15...that's 18.46 dispatches/hour, 24 riders/dispatch, which means an hourly capacity of 443 PPH. By comparison, the pre-Raptor capacity, with a 1:00 dispatch time, was about 1,440 PPH. So the flush-loading resulted in a capacity reduction of 997 PPH. Great going, CP 8-(
Enough carping about the Blue Streak...though it seems noticably rougher with the hard seat-backs. A front-seat ride is still fantastic...for best results, keep clear of the seat back.
I wandered through the park and visited each coaster more-or-less in turn. Iron Dragon was noticably faster than on Opening Day...I think this one does not like the cold. Actually, my rides on it Tuesday were pretty good. After Iron Dragon, I decided I couldn't pass up the short line on Wildcat. What a fun ride! I don't get to ride it every time I visit CP since its capacity is so low (880 PPH...hey, it's better than the "improved" Blue Streak...). But it is a fantastic ride. Don't let coaster novices on this one as a first ride, despite the diminutive size. This is one ride that lives up to its name!
I then made my biggest mistake of the day and did not enter the very long line for Mantis: The Coaster Formerly Known as Banshee. The nature of my error will become apparent later. Instead, I walked past the Giant Wheel, which was closed for the day (what a...um...suprise.). Contrary to my earlier trip report, there is still no lighting package on the "back" of the wheel...but the new lighting on the front is visible through the spokes, whereas the old lighting was not. I chatted briefly with a man whose name I failed to get, but he is apparently the guy who does the control systems for B&M. He was installing a new control system in the Giant Wheel (which explains the closure). I also noticed that he went running when the stand-up coaster broke down.
I was happy to see that the Frontier Trail is still mostly wooded, in spite of the new coaster. Mantis: TCFKAB has an amazingly compact layout when you really look at it...not like the sprawling layouts of such coasters as Magnum, Mean Streak, Raptor, Gemini, and Iron Dragon. There has been a distinct plumbing improvement at the Po!nt, as a new Women's restroom building has been constructed at the midway end of the Frontier Trail (between Lusty Lil's and the Giant Wheel plaza), and the old restroom has been converted to all-Men. Another improvement that many people may not notice, but which many will appreciate, is that the perimeters of many of the wood planters, particularly in Frontiertown, have been turned into benches. This will make all of you who have complained about noplace to sit very happy.
I took a ride on Mine Ride, and noticed that all of the trains are actually coupled together...even Train #1, which was sitting on the storage track. The operators noted that they now have four fully-functional trains, and the fifth train is "almost" fully functional. But when I asked if they intended to run the ride with four, the tower operator replied that they (meaning the crew) are not permitted to do that. Of course, that day the crowd was light enough that it was a walk-on with only two trains running...brakes off with the last two cars roped off. This still has the old control panel on it...the operator "drives" the train into the station by hand.
I headed for the Mean Squeak. This thing is still running all-out fast to the mid-course brake (no first-drop brake). And in the non-rear-axle seats, it is fairly smooth. But I took a ride in a rear-axle seat (#4, I think...) and it was bouncing like crazy. I think a liberal coating of grease, oil, or graphite would really help this ride, and might even smooth out the wheel seats a bit. It also occurred to me that part of the problem is that the seat backs provide absolutely no shock-absorption or cushioning. Replacing the high-density foam seat-backs with upholstered seat backs (I won't get into the height issue here...) I think would curb most of the complaints about this ride. Someone please forward CP's Operations Director a copy of that RC! interview with Denise Dinn Larrick (RC! 57, P. 17):
"LARRICK: ...They need to grease the turns. When they're squealing, and they hear them squealing, and the park people hear them squealing, they need to be greased. That just means steel wheels are running on steel track and its getting hot."
Continuing on, the Gemini was running this visit...or at least the red track was. All of the orange queue rails on the platform have been replaced with brand-new silver bars as seen on all of the other CP coasters. The coaster is still "driven" by hand in the station...score one more for the humans. Moments after I left the ride, the blue side was started up. I watched as a loaded red train and an empty blue train climbed the lift. Both headed down the first drop fairly even, but the blue train just crawled around the first turnaround. I think by the time the blue train made it around the first turnaround, the red train was about to enter the mid-course brakes. I've never seen Gemini run so slow. Now, the red train that I rode felt just fine. Which gave me an idea of how much the ride has to warm up each day. I proceeded on to Magnum, and as we started out of the station, I noticed that the empty blue train and the loaded red train were about hitch-and-hitch going through the first Gemini turnaround.
Magnum was fantastic as usual. It seemed bumpier than usual, but still eminently re-rideable. And with the small crowd, that was easy to do! A couple of rides, then walk-on to the front seat of the Corkscrew. Whee! Three consecutive Arrow airtime-monsters!
I went back down the main midway, noting that Raptor was out of service. I chatted with the unfortunate person charged with keeping the queue closed, then went back and took a couple of rides on Blue Streak. Seats #1 and #4...no falling-bar nonsense this time around. They got Raptor back up, so I took a left-end back-seat ride. It's a great ride...just not my personal favorite. I got the smooth-running train this time. I noticed on Opening Day that there is a difference in ride between equivalent seats on different trains.
I paid a visit to Disaster Transport. The queue theming on this one is in really sorry shape. I mean really sorry shape. On the ride itself, there are ride theming elements (notably the strobe at the top of the lift hill and the tracer lights on the lift) that are not functioning, and I don't recall ever being able to see the outside of the track on the big helix (around the big satellite or whatever it is) before...perhaps a partition is missing? Someone else commented on wires hanging from the ceiling with scenery missing...I think I disagree. I also saw a large number of hanging wires in the middle of the big helix, but it looks like there is a small (say, 2" cylindrical) clear gizmo at the bottom of each wire. I think those are supposed to be mini egg-strobes...they were just not working when I rode. But theming problems aside, the ride is running really well, giving a fast, smooth ride. So it doesn't look like much, but it's got it where it counts.
Since I had ridden all of the other coasters, I hopped aboard the freshly-repainted Sky Ride and headed for the Manshee...er...Bantis...er...whatever. Whatever you call it, the line was reasonable (I'm guessing about 30 minutes). But ten minutes in, the ride croaked. One train on the lift, one in the station, and one on the back brake. Later, I talked with a gentleman who said he was next in line to ride when the lift mechanism made a very unpleasant sound and the ride shut down. All I know for sure is that the guy I met earlier (who was working on the Giant Wheel) arrived on the scene a few minutes later. I left the line and decided I had better things to do than wait for the coaster to come back up...I figured if they got it running, I could come back. They didn't, so I wandered the park some more and took lots of coaster rides.
In all, it was a really pleasant day for visiting Cedar Point. The crowds were light, and really well-behaved--in fact, downright nice. Okay, so the large number of closed food stands (a stand attendant told me that they are really short-handed right now) was a slight inconvenience, but only marginally so (I come to ride, not to eat). I couldn't have asked for a nicer day for visiting the park, and all of the park people I dealt with were really pleasant. In all, I think it is one of the best visits to CP I've had over the years. The moral of all this? If you can visit CP on a Tuesday before Memorial Day, by all means, DO SO.Next trip: Kentucky Kingdom
--Dave Althoff, Jr.