Gatekeeper opens to the public at Cedar Point
Written by Jim Koehl
Gatekeeper, the new B&M wing coaster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, opened Saturday, May 11th with fireworks, the Ohio State University Marching Band, and tens of thousands of excited "ride warriors". This record-breaking coaster, the first new coaster at Cedar Point since the acclaimed Maverick premiered in 2007, has been previously covered in TPI with POV videos showing the ride from both sides, the right and the left. Finally, though, a first-hand report is available.
First, though, the facts. This coaster sends riders through multiple inversions, including an Immelmann, a zero-g roll, and a wing-over drop while traveling on a 4164 foot-long track that starts on the Lake Erie shore, carries them over and actually through the two support towers of the new entrance plaza, then returns them to the loading building on the site of the former Disaster Transport coaster, which itself was located on the site of the Jumbo Jet and, before that, the 1929 Cedar Point Cyclone. Gatekeeper is a worthy successor to these coasters.
My son Anton and I were at the front gate at 7:30 a.m., far in advance of the 8:30 special opening for Platinum Pass holders. While waiting to be admitted, we enjoyed the beautifully designed new entrance plaza with a large LED sign board over the admission gates, running such messages as "Gatekeeper: It's Big, It's Tall, It Has That New Ride Smell." The dedication of Gatekeeper was scheduled for 9 a.m., with the first riders being the winners of an auction that benefited area charities and that raised over $30,000 for them. We were not among the winners, but thought that we were there in plenty of time. I got the feeling that Cedar Point was a bit overwhelmed and underprepared for the huge crowd that soon formed at the gates, and poor signage led to confusion among the early-arrive guests. Visitors with general admission were mixed with those with early admission, and when they finally opened the gates for the early admission guests, it appeared that they also opened all the other gates at the same time. We should have been much farther up in line for Gatekeeper than we ended up due to this confusion, but most people took it in stride and patiently waited. The line for Gatekeeper was soon snaking far out into the Midway, wrapping around several attractions and eventually doubling back down the far side of the Midway halfway to Cedar Downs. When the queue lines for Gatekeeper were opened after the dedication ceremony, the line began to move rapidly forward as the massive holding areas filled with thousands of guests, all anxious to be among the first riders to experience this beautiful ride.
The wait was worth it! From the ground, while watching it run first empty test runs and then with screaming guests, most people commented that it didn't look all that fast. Once aboard the beautiful bird-themed trains and strapped into the surprisingly-comfortable seats, and as soon as we finished climbing the 170-foot first hill and began the wing-over drop down 164 feet, we knew that this was going to be an amazing experience. The appearance of slowness from the ground is soon replaced with a non-stop series of swooping, soaring, flipping and thrilling maneuvers. The most breathtaking feature, and the signature move of Gatekeeper, is a giant flat spin followed by a zero-g roll through the keyhole openings of the two one-hundred foot entrance plaza towers. This takes riders sideways through these towers, leaving many screaming and wondering if they were going to lose a limb or two.
I am fortunate that I live close enough to Cedar Point that I will have opportunities to ride both sides of Gatekeeper (I rode the left side this time) and will ride the front seat on both sides and be able to compare. We rode in the center of the train, and to be honest I don't remember even noticing the seats in front of me once. The ride is that intense and that much fun! My son grabbed the outside seat, so I sat on the inside, and I had one of the best rides of my life. I heard riders that sat in the last seats of the train say that it was an extremely intense ride. It looks like more research is needed before I can decide where the best seat is.
Gatekeeper is an amazing addition to Cedar Point, and to the world of coasters. Its beautiful location, record-breaking features and crowd-pleasing excitement makes it a welcome and already well-loved addition to the Cedar Point family of attractions.
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