Trash Cans, Spiders, the Tinsel Strength of Spines, and Fast Lane: A Cedar Point AdventureCedar Point Trip Report
From Jeff ElliottLast weekend I managed to get in my first amusement park since my son was born. I had reached out to the Cedar Point TPI expert and fellow TPA judge, James Koehl (pronounced “Kale” for those of you wondering), or just Jim to his friends….and he is seriously thinking about allowing me to call him Jim after this weekend. Since I am from the uber dry mountain climates of Colorado, I had an allergy attack the night before and delayed us on our quest, having to make an extra pit stop to get some meds.
Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:05 AM
Once we made it to the park, while we did get in the slowest lane to pay the parking fee (Tip #1: hang to the right in the toll plaza), the parking staff was extremely efficient and we were out of the car and walking toward the entrance within a minute or two of clearing the toll plaza. Now that I am thinking back, I can’t remember doing a bag check of any sort, not that I had a bag or anything, but I can’t recall a metal detector or anything along those lines….not to put too fine a point on it, but it is really nice to see a company not treat their patrons like criminals even before they enter the facility (I’m looking right at you Disney and Six Flags).
You know that the ticket takers at the front of the park are efficient when you don’t even notice them…..and I didn’t, we were through that front entrance way too fast (Tip #2: hang to the right in the entrance plaza for shorter lines).
Once in the park, we made a bee line right to the Fast Lane booth to get on to their line avoiding system.
A little background here, I have participated in line avoidance systems in most of the parks that I have gone to including all of the Disney parks, IOA & USF, SFoT, SFGA, SFMM, SFEG (when it was still owned by Six Flags), and probably more that I have forgotten about. Line avoidance system differ by park as well as the fees associated to them. Disney is the only one that I know of that does it all for free, but then they are also the only one that doubles their regular wait time by having to keep two lines going at the same time, making it a bad idea to ride a major attraction without a Fast Pass. Disney’s system is also irritating, since it runs out of Fast Passes for the best attractions, and has you come back later to ride your ride. The Six Flags Que-Bot system is almost as bad, sometimes shaving 10-15 minutes off of the actual wait, but as the park filled up, the Que-Bot would say that there was an hour+ wait and then no allow you to get on. The SFEG and Universal systems were similar as it gave you a front of the line pass without a wait, but it was limited to one jump to the front of the line (I think Universal may have changed this since then….it was 5 years ago when I did this). What was nice about Universal was that they were supposed to mark that you rode an attraction, but rarely did, allowing us to have a front line pass several times before one of the ride attendants caught on and made the mark on the bracelet. The Cedar Point Fast Lane is the best of all of them. It allows you to skip the line all day and depending on where the Fast Lane line joins up with the regular line, you may have a 5-15 minute wait before you are on the ride. There are no limitations to how many rides you can skip the line on, making the Fast Lane worth its weight in gold. If you think about it, with a great strategy, early admission to the park (so you stayed the night on property), eat meals in line, and the park is open for 15 hours, you may be able to get in all of the major roller coasters once (12-13 rides). With the Fast Lane, we didn’t get on our first ride until an hour after the park had opened, the park was only open for 10 hours, two of which we wasted (showing up late, and having a sit down lunch), and got in 26 rides including every coaster in the park except Jr. Gemini and rode all of the big coasters twice. So in about half the time we got twice as many rides in…..that seems economical to me.
Once we had made it to the middle of the park, James had mentioned a new policy that Cedar Point had this year, regarding trash cans. Apparently management has come to realize that when someone has something to throw away, if they cannot find a trash can within 10 steps, it goes right on the ground, and the result is that your theme park looks like crap because everyone is throwing their trash on the ground. We stopped several times throughout the day to do a trash can count and we were extremely impressed. From the path heading toward the water park, we counted 18 visible trash cans. From the front step of the museum, 23 visible trash cans. From the entrance queue of Maverick, 21 trash cans. It was impressive all the more in that the areas where we counted did not have extremely wide paths or long views, it was just that dense with trash cans. What was even more impressive is that they did it in such a way that you really didn’t notice them until either you needed one, or you started counting.
Something else that we had been told by the management of Cedar Point is that the Mean Streak had been fixed up to not be so rough. I at least was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one and carefully edged my way into the queue. Let me do away with any kind of suspense you may be getting at this point and say that it is slightly smoother but every bit has spine snapping roughness that it has always been. The problem here is that the ride is very fast for a wooden roller coaster and the wheels on the cars are very small, so you feel every grain of wood that you ride over. I don’t know if they can retrofit better wheels or a spring suspension onto the frame of the coaster cars, so here is a low tech tip: reupholster the coaster cars. In a long winded for instance, Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver has a 72 year old wooden roller coaster called, originally enough, Cyclone. This coaster is known around town for being extremely rough, and I rode it months before it shut down for a year and a half for refurbishment. But to my amazement, it rode like a dream compared to some of the other wooden roller coasters I have been on. Their secret? The seat that you are on and the backrest have about 6-7 inches of soft cotton/foam padding on them. The results are that the padding took the shock out of the coaster before it made its way into my back. The results are also that I would be willing to ride Cyclone all day and would not be willing to ride the Mean Streak again. Take that idea, please, it is free for you to use. If that does not make Mean Streak more ridable, I would be the first in line to ride the Mean Streak after it received an Iron Horse makeover. It would be about as much money as the company sank into a largely unimpressive Windseeker…..I understand that we have GateKeeper next year, but please reach out to Rocky Mountain Coasters soon and see if you can get on their schedule for 2014…..assuming the cheap padding idea doesn’t work.
Cedar Point has always had a problem with spider webs all over the place, since its location is also unique among amusement parks, it seems to be a haven for these cute little spiders. As soon as the sun went down, these little spiders came out in armies building their webs to get a feed on during the night. Just walking through the exit queue of Millennium Force we probably saw fifty spiders working busily on their large webs, which was funny because the girl behind us was scared of spiders and was freaking out. I know that Cedar Point this year has gone out of their way to try and pull down the spider webs every morning so it is an issue they are aware of. I really have mixed feeling about this, the spiders didn’t appear to really care about humans running around under their webs, and for all intents and purposes, they are doing us a favor by keeping the other insects in check, but it looked bad…..and if I was scared of spiders, I would have left and never come back. If you attempt to kill the spiders, or wage war on them with vacuums or poison, you may actually be making the other insects more of a problem. I don’t have an answer for this problem, but I am sure that Cedar Point would be willing to listen to any suggestions.
In most parks you can get a free glass of water at any food stand that has a soda fountain. In most parks the glass is fairly small and you need about two of them to get your thirst under control after a hard morning of riding coasters and standing in the sun. Cedar Point was different…..their free complementary glasses of water were given in a medium sized cup and filled with ice before the water……it was so large that we felt bad dumping these out a couple of times. But unless you have some sort of abnormal need for pure bottled water, always ask for a free cup of water, which is the same purified stuff they make the soda with, so it should be just as good…..and free…..instead of $2.50 or more for a bottled water.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. Using Fast Lane we got in as many rides as we possibly could and nearly completed the Fearsome Foursome challenge (Magnum XL-200, Top Thrill, Millennium Force, and Wicked Twister in one hour) in the last hour the park was open….and the only ride that we didn’t ride that we wanted to was MaxAir and only because someone protein spilled while we were waiting in line and we ducked out to try the Fearsome Foursome. The food quality was apparently much better than it has been in the past, and the lunch that I had was excellent.
Thanks to James Koehl for sharing his park with me and letting me in on the history of Cedar Point. Based on what I saw, Cedar Point deserves to be voted the best amusement park in the world again this year.
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
From Tim OdomI would concur with you on the Fast Lane thing. When they first announced it, I pretty much vowed to never buy it. But when my fiance and I went there in July, on a very compressed schedule, we decided to buy it. And it was worth every penny, we ended up doing 15 rides on a very busy summer day when we did not get into the park til 1pm. With getting in late, and having a sit down lunch where we had to wait 45 minutes, we hit a lot of rides. And that was with being in line for Wicked Twister for 30 minutes only to have it break down, and having to wait about 30 minutes for Disaster Transport (it was the day before they shut it down, so we HAD to hit it.) If we had more time, I probably would not have gotten the Fast Lane thing. But, on a Saturday in July, where we are driving from about 4 hours away, it proved to be very much worth the money.
Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:57 AM
On the spiders, I am glad we were not the only ones amused by this. We hit Millenium Force after dark, and let me tell you it was spider city there. I was amused at this big, burly guy ahead of us, in line for a 300 foot tall coaster but deathly afraid of a itty bitty spider. I understand that they help with other issues, but maybe they should try to reduce the spider population a little more.
As for Mean Streak, I did not notice a softer ride at all, if anything it was rougher for me. Seriously, I was afraid of injury on it. It was anything but fun, it was a painful experience. No matter what they do to that ride, I will never ride it again. Not cause it is too high or too fast, but because I really do not want to get a concussion. I don't normally refuse to ride a ride, I will ride anything and everything. But I really don't want to get injured on a ride, and Mean Streak is so rough that I fear getting hurt on it.
Overall, good report!!!!
From Rob PastorGood to see that the fast passes are working well. Probably the main reason we quit going to Cedar Point was that the lines were ridiculously long, no matter what time of the week we went. I just can't tolerate 1 1/2 to 2 hour lines anymore for a 2 minute coaster. I may reconsider now that the fast passes are in operation. Cedar Point is a beautiful park in a fabulous setting. I liked it better when they were imitating Disney and theming the park in the 70's. But it's still a good park, though oriented to the teenage demographic.
Posted August 31, 2012 at 12:33 PM
From Mike GallagherThanks for whetting my appetite, Jeff. I'm gonna hit CP in two weeks. I was also hoping to meet Mr. Koehl (whose name I have been mispronouncing in my head) but it doesn't appear that will work out, although it remains a possibility. I'm looking forward to rides on some of my favorites, especially MF, Magnum, and Cedar Downs. I'm also looking forward to their Windseeker. I rode KD's, it was all right, but I think the view of the park and lake will make CP's a better experience. Jim said you had a blast on Wicked Twister. In all my visits to CP..about eight or nine since the early 90's..I don't think I ever really noticed the spider situation.
Posted August 31, 2012 at 2:12 PM
From James KoehlI had no idea that Jeff was going to post this, but should have suspected it. We really did have a great time that day- perfect weather, very manageable crowds, and a chance to share "my" park with someone who hasn't been there so often that they take it for granted. There are just a few things that I want to add to Jeff's excellent report.
Posted August 31, 2012 at 3:11 PM
Jeff got to ride Wicked Twister, CP's Intamin twisted impulse coaster for the first time. I couldn't tell if he was nervous or not, but about 2 seconds after the launch he was roaring with laughter. I think he liked it! He also rode several other attractions for the first time (Cedar Downs, Windseeker, and Woodstock Express, where he showed how confident he is about his masculinity and was not ashamed to scream like a little girl).
We stopped into the Town Hall Museum in Frontier Town, another attraction that he had walked by on previous visits but never checked out before. Among the many displays showing Cedar Point's long history was an amazing collection of student-designed K'NEX constructions, the winners of the Great Thrill Ride Build-Off competition. Jeff spent a LONG time checking them out, and I know that he was just itching to plug them in and see them in operation. Something tells me that he dug out his own K'NEX kits and started to build his own entry as soon as he got home.
He made it sound like Cedar Point just started putting trash cans out- it has always been like that. Trash cans are everywhere, and people use them. The spiders- well, Cedar Point has always been an insect haven from spring to fall. Jeff was especially impressed with the spiders he saw building webs inside the trash cans, so that any flies that went in after the trash would get caught.
We really did have a great time, probably more fun than I've had there in a long time. It was great to share it with a true coaster fanatic. He was telling me details and specs about the coasters that I had never heard.
And Jeff, yes- you may call me "Jim".
From Bradley KeithI've tried the fearsome foursome. Didn't quite make it. Did you have an associate come around with you when you did it? Pretty much, to do this, you have to let them know ahead of time. This way it is a little more official.
Posted August 31, 2012 at 7:28 PM
From Tony DudaI read your account which was quite informative since I have never visited that park but was distracted by your Headline. I was wondering what the strength of the thin little stands of aluminum foil that one uses to decorate Christmas trees had to do with spines. I never thought much about their strength but often wondered why it was impossible to remove them from the tree once placed. I guess this would be called tinsel stickiness and might be measured in the same way atomic bonds are measured. Oh, you must have meant tensile strength. Never mind.
Posted August 31, 2012 at 9:02 PM
From James RaoNice report. Thanks for sharing, Jeff. Incidentally, I'll take spiders over wasps and sweat bees any day if the week!
Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:29 PM
From Ryan SpannMy family is currently trying to find an open time share or resort area near Cedar Point for next summer! I'm extremely excited to go back since my first time when Maverick opened up, and I was still in high school.
Posted August 31, 2012 at 11:39 PM
From James Koehl^Tony, Jeff really did mean "tinsel" strength- he doesn't have much of a backbone (ducking and running before Jeff decks me with my son's football). I actually agree 100% with him about Mean Streak's roughness. Some people talk about how much smoother it is than last year. I must find out what drug they're taking, because I found it as violent as in the past, and that is from someone who used to call it their favorite coaster. They had a small fire a few years ago- they should have left it burn and claimed the insurance money for something less painful- like a root canal. Visually, it's a beautiful coaster, just about breathtaking in its size (it is HUGE!) and I love the layout, but now I'd just rather watch it.
Posted September 1, 2012 at 3:39 AM
From Carrie HoodThis year seems to have been especially bad with the spider problem, I heard a lot of people saying all of Sandusky has been having issues with them since they didn't have a long freeze period over the winter to kill off a lot of the population. The only problem I had during my trip this year was the fact it appeared they hadn't cleared out the webs on several attractions that morning, which caused a lot of discomfort for other folks.
Posted September 1, 2012 at 3:59 AM
While I don't much time them, walking threw the exit to MF even gave me a moment of pause. I really didn't much enjoy the idea of one of those things landing on me!
From Jeff ElliottAhhh.....typo.....should have been "tensile strength".....phonics fails me again.....
Posted September 1, 2012 at 10:06 AM
From Mike GallagherGet hooked on 'em, Jeff!
Posted September 1, 2012 at 10:16 AM
From Jeff ElliottFor the Fearsome Foursome, we didn't do it "officially", it was just something I had wanted to do. We missed on it anyway....so it really didn't matter.
Posted September 1, 2012 at 4:55 PM
All I wanted was bragging rights and not anything official.
I am not sure about the process to go about if someone wants to make it official. Does anyone know?
From James KoehlAs far as I can tell from the "official" fan sites, the "Fearsome Foursome" was created for the Bert the Conquerer show, and the T-shirt was specially made for him. Yes, it can be done and has been done often, but you need to plan your route, get a Fast Lane or be there at the right time on the right day, and realize that the only thing you win is bragging rights (sort of like Theme Park Apprentice). If there is anything different I'll try to find out and let you know.
Posted September 1, 2012 at 6:52 PM
We probably could have done it, but we started at the wrong place. We went Wicked Twister, then Top Thrill, then Millenium Force, but ran out of time for Magnum. If we started at Magnum, hit TTD, then MF, then ran to Wicked Twister, with Fast Lane I think we would have been fine. We had to do too much double backing and wasted time.
Guess you have to come back and we can try it again. I hear that Friday nights during Halloweekends is the best time.
From Bradley KeithI've seen that Bert the conquerer episode before and maybe if was a little staged. The odds he gets a rollback that time? Sort of low. And they didn't film it in order. At one time he's walking past Wicked Twister trying to find Dragster and he'd already done Twister much earlier. I was suprised when I heard about the official thing because it seems like everyone would do it to ride the big four without waiting in line, not to really try. Sorry if you already mentioned it somewhere in there, but one last question: how much of DT is left?
Posted September 1, 2012 at 9:34 PM
From James Koehl^Nothing, unless you look at the piles of metal in the parking lot next to it. The last tower was brought down last week. Nothing stands now above the foundation level. It's really odd how a ride that was so bad-mouthed by so many loyal locals is now missed. I used to call it "Avalanche Walk-in-a-Box" but I'm glad I got one last ride in this year before it closed. Now the big question on the boards is "When does Space Spiral come down?" There's also lots of speculation as to what will come down next- my money is on the former Oceana Stadium (where the dolphin show used to be) because it's been reported that CF management wants to continue to open up and redevelop the beach. That would make lots of sense, since that is where CP started. It's a mile long and still one of the longest beaches on Lake Erie.
Posted September 2, 2012 at 4:43 AM
Regardless, it looks like we've got a magnificent new coaster coming in for 2013. Fingers crossed that this is just the first of many more.
From Bradley KeithThey removed it pretty fast. And I agree that no one cared about it and now it's missed. Just today I was thinking about how it was kind of fun and how dark it really was. DT shouldn't have been on the chopping block yet, but it's all in the location. They can't remove Wildcat and Space Spiral for the same ride. Space Spiral will close, I guess, Tuesday because they said it'll be open until labor day. I was able to get in a last ride on each last June.
Posted September 2, 2012 at 2:16 PM
From James Koehl
Posted September 2, 2012 at 3:53 PM
Jim Koehl and Jeff Elliott at the base of the Top Thrill Dragster tower.
Jeff and Jim, with Jim's son Anton, ready to fly on Raptor.
Jeff, Jim and Anton returning to the station after riding Maverick.
Jeff really wanted to ride Disaster Transport. I told him he could ride it if he wanted to, but only once. He passed on the offer.
From Mike GallagherWas Anton named after Mr. Schwarzkopf? Just curious...
Posted September 2, 2012 at 6:50 PM
From James Koehl^Haha! No, I'm not quite that big of a coaster fanatic. Now Jeff Elliott is another story, but he didn't name his son after him either. Anton was "pre-named"- we adopted him and his sister Kristina from Kazakhstan in 2004 when he was 5 and she was 8. Luckily their first names were OK for America, so we just changed their middle and last names. They are both coaster fanatics, especially Anton. The kid has no fear- the first year he was tall enough to ride Millenium Force (by 1/4inch)he had his hands up the moment we started out of the station and up the lift hill.
Posted September 2, 2012 at 7:20 PM
From Derek PotterGlad I'm not the only one who's noticed the overkill of trash cans. They've done that for a while now, and it works great.
Posted September 3, 2012 at 8:35 PM
Seems a little crazy, but I'm going to miss riding Disaster Transport. It was such a gloriously crappy ride that I had to partake in every time I visited....kind of like a movie that attained lovable cult status because it was so bad.
From James KoehlWhich "two" are you talking about?
Posted September 4, 2012 at 2:11 AM
From Jeff ElliottI don't see the resemblance:
Posted September 4, 2012 at 9:46 AM
From Dominick D
Posted September 4, 2012 at 5:28 PM
From Jeff ElliottAhhhh.....so you are just trying to be a rude little %^#$%^&^&.
Posted September 4, 2012 at 10:10 AM
So be it....
From Mike GallagherYeah, that *was* a bit rude, Dom.
Posted September 4, 2012 at 10:16 AM
From Dominick DI kid I kid.
Posted September 4, 2012 at 10:19 AM
From James KoehlDominick, I guess that was a sort of apology. I have never watched a NASCAR race in my life- I have nothing against it, but I have never had any interest in car racing. Those who do- more power to them, and I'm glad they enjoy it. Your comment made it sound like you can judge someone by how they look or dress. I don't usually dress up in a suit and tie, or in my white pharmacist jacket when I go to Cedar Point. I believe you should judge someone by their internal qualities.
Posted September 4, 2012 at 4:27 PM
There is a huge amount about myself that you have no idea of, because it has nothing to do with TPI. I suspect that Jeff would feel the same about himself.
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