Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
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.
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!!!!
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".
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!
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?
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.
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.
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 and Jim with Anton showing off on the Mantis sign.
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.
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.
So be it....
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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