The Keystone, Timbers, and Vengeance Tour - Part 2

Edited: July 22, 2018, 5:55 PM

To read last week's report from the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, click here.

With our tour of the Henry Ford complete, it was time to pile into Joshua's car for the two hour drive down to Sandusky. Here, it was quickly discovered that the car wasn't quite as large as I thought it was. Fitting five was doable, but it wasn't comfortable. As the most well-rested, Douglas was elected driver for this part of the journey. As for the rest of us, Kevin slept, Evan slept, I somewhat slept, and Joshua was too squished to sleep.

Fortunately, we encountered minimal traffic and Douglas drives a bit faster than most Midwesterners, so we arrived a little faster than expected. As we turned the corner out onto the causeway, the excitement built as I got my first look in four years at my favorite amusement park in the world.

The Keystone, Timbers, and Vengeance Tour
Part 2: Cedar Point

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Rising out of Lake Erie on a peninsula extending from the shores of Sandusky, Cedar Point proclaims itself as America's Roller Coast. Here stands 17 roller coasters (the park counts 18, which is arguably true as well), many of which are either the best of their type or among the best in their world. The only true destination park in the US not operated by Disney or Universal, Cedar Point draws visitors from throughout the Midwest and beyond, with a trip to the park acting as a rite of passage for any who call themselves a coaster enthusiast.

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I have visited the Point a total of three times. My first visit was in 2008 as part of a family trip, but due to our schedule we only had one day at the park. While sufficient for a highlights tour, it wasn't quite enough to fully experience the park. On my second trip in 2014 (which you can read about here), my group allotted one and two-thirds days for the park, which was just about the right amount of time. For this trip, we spent about the same amount of time at the park, though it was spread over three separate days, reducing exhaustion a bit and ensuring that a bad weather day wouldn't ruin it all (spoiler: Cedar Point had perfect weather throughout).

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As we approached the front gate, I checked the wait times on my phone and saw that Steel Vengeance was posting a 120 minute wait. Despite the fact that all of us wanted to ride that, we opted to hold off and focus on the front of the park this evening. After all, everyone in the group except Douglas had other coaster they needed to ride, with Evan, Kevin, and Joshua's most recent visits falling in 2007/2008/2008, respectively. So, in we went, made a quick stop at the rest room, and then turned right to our first ride of the tour.

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GateKeeper, the largest of B&M's wing coasters, greets all who enter Cedar Point's main gate. Towering 170 feet above the shore, the coaster flies through 4,164 ft. of track and 6 inversions, including the signature keyholes above the entrance. While not the most extreme coaster, it is a fun ride and the prefect start to the tour. This was a new ride for three of us...Kevin and Joshua both declared it the best of the wing coasters, while Evan preferred Dollywood's Wild Eagle (I tend to side with the latter).

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Following our ride, we stopped for a quick spin at Wicked Twister, an Intamin Impulse Coaster that falls into the category of good but not great, then made our way to the classic Cedar Point Corkscrew.

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An extremely photogenic ride, the Corkscrew is an old Arrow looper that provides only a short and uncomfortable ride by today's standards. I'm not a huge fan of the ride, but I'm willing to do most coasters once per visit and Kevin needed the credit, so we took this oldie out for a spin.

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After Corkscrew, we tackled the remaining rides on the Gemini Midway: Magnum XL-200, the world's first Hypercoaster and a much better Arrow creation (though one that is starting to show its age); Gemini, a racing coaster that provides more of a thrill than it looks like it would, as well as a hybrid that predates RMC over 30 years; and Top Thrill Dragster, the best one-trick pony in the coaster world, with a 120 MPH launch and a 420 ft. tall top hat making up the entirety of the 17 second ride. Despite short lines throughout (our longest wait was 30 minutes for Dragster), Cedar Point is a sizable park, so with the sun getting low we decided it was time to grab dinner. By a 4 to 1 vote (Joshua being the lone dissenter), we opted to leave the park and head out to Famous Dave's on the Cedar Point marina.

I've often heard Famous Dave's referred to as one of Cedar Point's better food options, though I never managed to get out there on my previous two visits. As it turns out, the place is a popular Midwestern barbeque chain, making it less than ideal given the plans for tomorrow. However, the food was good (I got some form of a BBQ chicken sandwich) and the prices were not too much different than what we would have spent inside the park.

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Full from dinner, we ventured back inside the gates and headed up to the front of the park to tackle Cedar Point's remaining B&M creations. First up, Raptor, an older inverted coaster that was the largest of its type upon opening.

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Among inverts, this one ranks somewhere in the middle for me...it's not as good as others we'd ride later in the trip, but it's better than those local to me (Silver Bullet and Batman the Ride).

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However, the ride I was really looking forward to was just next door. Valravn, the longest, the tallest, the fastest dive coaster in the world, towers above Cedar Point's marina gate and completely changes the look of the park's main midway. As a big fan of the B&M dive coasters, I was really looking forward to trying this one. I have to say, the views from the top are absolutely spectacular, and I really like the layout of this coaster, but sadly the ride experience left a bit to be desired. Using the same vest restraints that B&M uses on their wing coasters, this ride just didn't have the same hanging feel found on SheiKra or Griffon. It's still a great coaster (my favorite of Cedar Point's B&Ms), but on my coaster list this one lands more around 50 than around 30 like the other dive coasters.

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With time running short, we took a quick ride on the classic Blue Streak, then headed back to our final B&M...Rougarou. I'd ridden this coaster before as Mantis, and have found it to fall into the "just ok" category. As Rougarou, the ride now runs floorless trains rather than the former stand-up carriages, but the rest of the ride remains the same. It runs a little on the rough side by B&M standards, though nothing too terrible, and due to the train design some of the transitions feel a little off. Unlike some, I don't dislike the ride, but it also wasn't something I felt the need to ride again during the trip.

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At this point, less than 30 minutes remained until closing. Douglas was out for the day (he had passed on Rougarou and Valravn), but the rest of us opted to end the night with a ride on Millennium Force. The first giga coaster ever built, Millennium Force has been consistently declared one of the best coasters in the world. I've never ranked it quite that high, but it does slip in right at the bottom of my top ten list (just behind its twin Intimidator 305). A long ride all about speed, it is more of a fun coaster than an extreme one, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Even better still, on this fine June evening, we were greeted with just a station wait for the coaster. If it wasn't for the long walk around, I would have gladly gone for two or three rides, but after one ride everyone was a bit worn out.

With ten coasters conquered in a bit over five hours, we headed off the peninsula and to our hotel for the night, an Econo Lodge on the far side of Sandusky. The worst hotel of the trip, it was functional for our needs. After getting checked in (which was a bit of a process due to the Wi-Fi being down), we retreated to our rooms (Douglas and I to one, Evan and Kevin to another, and Joshua to solitary confinement). Needless to say, it wasn't too long before I passed out.

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At 8:30 A.M. the next morning, somewhat refreshed from about 7 hours of sleep and slightly energized by a weak hotel breakfast, we found ourselves standing at Cedar Point's resort gate as we awaited a new set of companions. Joining us once again was James Koehl, but this time he was accompanied by another well known TPI figure: Jeff Elliott, along with his wife (Evonne) and kids (names forgotten...sorry!). Hailing from Colorado, they had trekked back to Cedar Point to seek Vengeance, and by coincidence our trips had aligned perfectly. Since the Elliotts had only a single day at the park, we opted to splurge on Fast Lane Plus for the day, hoping it would get us numerous rides on the park's latest RMC creation and make the day a whole lot more enjoyable. It didn't quite work for the first, but absolutely succeeded for the second.

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At 9 A.M., the gates were thrown open and everyone gathered at the resort entrance proceed directly to Steel Vengeance. With the kids too short to ride, Jeff took parenting duties while the rest of us joined the rapidly growing queue. About 40 minutes later, we were in the station of the ride when this Rocky Mountain Construction monstrosity showed us why it Requires Maintenance Constantly. Another 45 minutes pass while a couple mechanics head out onto the track and (my guess here) replace a bad sensor. Once they're done, the ride sends a couple test trains, and then it is time to board.

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Unless you've isolated yourself from the theme park community for the past 18 months (in which case you're probably not reading this report), you have undoubtedly heard about Steel Vengeance. Built on the remains of Mean Streak using RMC's patented IBox track, Cedar Point has transformed a mediocre wood coaster into arguably the greatest thrill ride ever built.

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Towering 205 feet into the sky, the coaster begins with a 200 foot drop at a completely vertical angle. From here, the ride features non-stop airtime hills, overbanked turns, inversions, and enough changes in direction that the relatively simple layout still caught me off guard on subsequent rides.

Just how insane is Steel Vengeance? Watch the video above to see for yourself.

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This is an extreme coaster...the airtime feels strong enough to rip you from the train and hurl you into the lake (not to mention remove your phone from your pocket), and the transitions are so quick that I accidentally elbowed Kevin in the head at one point (sorry!). It is an amazing coaster that makes all others feel tame by comparison.

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It is also, in my 100% honest opinion, just a tad too much. I love RMC's creations, but most of them last 30-40 seconds from lift to brakes. This one, lasting over a minute and with no break in the intensity, started to go from extremely fun to a little uncomfortable after being tossed up and down for the 20th time.

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Not helping this fact is that the coaster starts to feel repetitive toward the tail end, repeating the same three elements in different sequence as it races through the lower level of wood structure. After getting off the ride, I thought about it and came to a conclusion: For me, Twisted Timbers is better. Lightning Rod is better. Twisted Colossus, when it is racing as designed, is better. That's not to say that Steel Vengeance is a bad ride...it's easily a top ten coaster on my list, it just doesn't quite make it to the top. In fact, it fell just shy of my favorite coaster that the point.

That honor, as it has since my first visit, remains with Maverick (which I neglected to photograph on this visit). An Intamin Blitz coaster, Maverick is small in stature but very high in thrills, with a twisted layout enhanced by some theming and just the right combination of elements. A lengthy ride for a launch coaster, Maverick is one of only a few coasters I would consider a perfect ride. It is a coaster that I could ride all day long and still be satisfied with the day. But one ride was it for now, as we had other plans and the delay at Steel Vengeance had put us behind schedule.

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The morning was largely spent touring the park to hit the rides Evonne had yet to experience or had a strong desire to ride. Millennium Force, Valravn, and GateKeeper, each with only a 10 minute or so wait due to Fast Lane, filled up our morning. It was then time to meet Jeff and kids for lunch at Cedar Point's newest full-service restaurant, The Melt. Best described as a fancy grilled cheese restaurant, The Melt features all sorts of cheesy sandwich goodness, all with the proper accompaniment. I opted for a Monte Cristo, the same as the famous sandwich served at Cafe Orleans and the Blue Bayou at Disneyland. Truth be told, I can't remember the last time I got one at that park (I've only eaten at each restaurant once or twice ever), but the one I had at Cedar Point was spectacular. This was the best in-park meal of the entire trip, and well worth the experience.

With lunch complete, the group decided it was best to split off and reunite later in the day. James and Jeff headed off to get a ride on Steel Vengeance, Evonne took the kids back to Camp Snoopy, and Douglas opted to wander on his own for a bit. Kevin, Evan, Joshua, and I decided to spend the afternoon doing some of the non-coaster rides of interest, as well as picking up a couple re-rides and missed coasters from the previous day. Like most pure amusement parks, Cedar Point's non-coasters are largely somewhat standard flat rides, but they do have two in particular that stand out:

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-The Cedar Downs Racing Derby, which at first glance looks like a carousel, is truly anything but. The ride is gigantic and rotates at around 15 MPH, which feels far faster than it is when perched upon a wooden horse with nothing holding you in. As you circle the ring, the horses more not only up and down, but also forward and backward, simulating an actual horse race that lasts for 3-4 minutes. It may be small, but it is an absolute must ride for any who visit the park.

-The Power Tower, a 24 story tower ride with the option to be either launched to the top or slowly lifted and then dropped back to Earth. While not the most unique attraction, the views from the tower are fantastic due to its location on the peninsula, and the ride is plenty thrilling without being overly extreme.

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Eventually, our group of four split ways as Kevin and Evan went to grab their kiddie credit on Woodstock Express while I went off toward Valravn to meet Jeff and James (Joshua took a break from rides and then headed for Frontiertown).

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Together, we rode Valravn, GateKeeper, and Magnum, then headed to join the rest of the gang in Frontiertown. With the others tangled up in the 45 minute Fast Lane queue for Steel Vengeance (regular line was well over two hours), we decided to get a head start on Cedar Point's food festival: Brew & BBQ.

To be completely honest, I was pretty neutral on this event from the start. I'm not a huge beer drinker and the food options were somewhat limited, so I considered not purchasing a ticket. However, 15 samples for $22 is a pretty good deal (even though I only used 10 of them), so I decided to indulge and join the others. The food itself was good (my favorite was probably the ribs, though the brisket was also up there) and the beer was acceptable (though I really liked Cedar Point's Rougabrew), so it made for a fun evening. Not wanting to get my phone saucy, I opted out of taking pictures during the event, so head over to James's excellent overview of the event for some of those (this is also the only time you're free to give me flak for omitting these, though to be fair I didn't wan't BBQ sauce on my iPhone).

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The remainder of the evening was spent in Frontiertown, where we alternated between drinking beer, eating BBQ, and riding rides. At one point, we also wandered into the Cedar Point history museum, which was extremely neat to see (and something I'd forgotten existed). Eventually, Jeff and James were worn out and departed, while the rest of us wrapped up the evening with one last ride on Steel Vengeance.

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The next day, we arrived to find that Steel Vengeance would have a delayed opening, so we opted to use early entry to grab a ride on Millennium Force and then head back to Frontiertown. This ended up being a bit of a mistake, as we were greeted by a sizable line for the RMC creation. Having ridden four times the day before, Douglas bailed. Joshua, who wasn't feeling up to rides this morning, also opted out. Kevin, Evan, and I waited it out and ended up getting on the coaster at about 11:30. With a planned departure at 2, I split off after the ride to go get another spin on Top Thrill Dragster while they opted instead for Maverick. As it turned out, I was not too far behind Douglas, but I didn't realize that until later.

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One front-row Dragster ride later, I reunited with Kevin, Evan, and Joshua (who was not feeling too well), and we did a couple last rides before reuniting with Douglas near the exit. As it turned out, he had met up with James (who returned to the park on this day...it was a bit iffy if he was going to make it before we departed) and his son Anton after experiencing Dragster and they had spent the early afternoon together. We all said our goodbyes to James, then headed out to the car and put Sandusky in the rearview mirror as we headed out for our next destination (this time with me at the wheel).

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As I mentioned above, Cedar Point is my favorite amusement park. The park has one of the best coaster collections on Earth, second only to Six Flags Magic Mountain in my opinion (though I will concede that Cedar Point has individual coasters better than anything at SFMM), and an excellent supporting line up of rides for all members of the family (though they are conspicuously lacking a dark ride). The park is clean but unthemed, and the operations are among the best you'll see at any park in the world. It is the best amusement park out there.

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That said, it is extremely difficult to compare the experience of Cedar Point to a proper theme park, like Disneyland or Universal Orlando. Cedar Point generates its excitement solely from physical stimulation, not from creating an emotional connection or immersing you in a different world. It is a different breed of entertainment, yet one that is equally as valid. So, is Cedar Point the best overall park out there? That depends on your preferences, but unless you simply don't do thrill rides it is somewhere that every enthusiast needs to check out at least once.

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Cedar Point Coaster Rankings:

For the entirety of this trip report, I will use the following classifications to rank coasters:

A Tier: A top coaster, one of the best I've been on and something that is travel-worthy on its own. Coasters generally need to make my top 30 or so in order to qualify for this tier.

B Tier: A very good coaster, one that is a must ride if you find yourself at the park. Most good coasters of a fairly standard design fall into this category, as do more unique rides that just fall short of the A category.

C Tier: A decent coaster that is worth checking out if the line is short, but is okay to miss. C tier coasters are usually older rides that don't hold the appeal they once did or rides that are just unremarkable compared to other similar rides.

D Tier: A mediocre coaster that is rideable but skippable. These are rides I'll generally ride once per visit if others would like to do so but would usually skip if visiting on my own.

F Tier: A truly bad ride that should be removed. I rarely use this rating as it is reserved only for rides I refuse to ride again.

Lastly, if you see a multiplier by the ride that is the number of times I rode it on this visit.

A Tier:

1. Maverick x3
2. Steel Vengeance x3
3. Millennium Force x3
4. Top Thrill Dragster x3

B Tier:

5. Valravn x3
6. GateKeeper x3
7. Raptor x3
8. Magnum XL-200 x3
9. Wicked Twister x2

C Tier:

10. Rougarou
11. Gemini
12. Blue Streak

D Tier:

13. Iron Dragon
14. Corkscrew
15. Cedar Creek Mine Ride

Next Week: Two Parks in One Day

To read Douglas's report from Cedar Point, follow this link. Note that his trip report is moving faster than mine, so you will be spoiled if you read beyond page 3. To see Kevin's photo report from this park, head over here.

Replies (10)

July 23, 2018, 5:34 AM

Great stuff, AJ. Totally agree with your assessment of both Maverick and Melt. The former is my favorite coaster anywhere, and the latter, while I have not visited the in park destination, is one of those, "why didn't I think of that great idea" kind of food joints. There are Melt restaurants all over Ohio, and adding one to CP was a stroke of genius.

Still can't believe you only opted to ride Force once with just a station wait, and at night. Crazy talk.

Econo Lodge? Really? Have you seen Hotel Breakers? My goodness, how could anyone stay anywhere else when visiting CP????

And lastly, a little BBQ sauce never hurt anyone or anything - especially an iPhone! ;)

Edited: July 23, 2018, 7:27 AM

Great report! Every time I see you guys post about Cedar Point now, I have such a desire to return. Absolutely a world-class destination, probably ranking about 7th on my list of parks worldwide.

I really wish I understood the extent of the love Maverick gets though... I enjoyed it, but wouldn't rank it a top 10 coaster. I guess we're spoiled for launched coasters over here though. (On the flip side of that, my enthusiasm for Millennium Force was unparalleled - probably because it was more of a novelty for a European.) Clearly I need to return for more rides...

July 23, 2018, 8:06 AM

As always …. great report AJ, and some really good photos. Interesting to read you also felt SV was a little repetitive, but with a ride that long, what else are they going to do ? The 3 bunny hops down the final run-in were the worst thing for me … why – why – why ?? Just to get another 3 air times into the record book seems to be the only reason ? Agree with James …. Why not stay at the Breakers ?? It’s so nice since the refurb, I wouldn’t stay anywhere else. Even the Breakers express at the start of the causeway would have been a better option ?
Good to see you also enjoyed the Monte Cristo at Melt. What an awesome addition to the CP eatery choices. I have to say though, for my first visit I had the vegetarian sandwich and that was really good also. For people who haven’t been as yet, Melt is a bit more expensive than the usual run-of-the-mill park restaurants, but well worth a visit.
Despite the criticism, I still put SV just ahead of Maverick, but only by a whisker. The Force drops to a lowly 3rd on my CP list, with TTD and Raptor in the chasing pack. Magnum is a poor shadow of its former self, and Gemini is an absolute body beater, so I’ve done my last rides on those 2. New seats on the Magnum would help return it to its former glory, but I fear for Gemini’s life in the future. Being on the outside of the park, it’s an easy target for replacement and the parking lot across the road could be swallowed up as well, with a brand new ride ?? We’re going to find out soon enough.
I think my May trip was the 11th or 12th visit to CP, and I never get tired of going. To spend 3 days wandering around in relative peace and quiet (compared to Orlando parks) is pure bliss, and the option to wander along the ‘beach’ is also an added attraction. The one thing I really missed this year was the bridge/tunnel at the Magnum entrance. How could they take that away !!! …. It was an iconic part of the park, and a place where I, and I’m sure many 1000’s of people, have taken their favourite photos. Shame on you Cedar Point.

Edited: July 23, 2018, 10:05 AM

We'll be at the Point next Friday, though my son is going to be just shy of 52" (he's pretty bummed, especially since Steel Vengeance is 52" instead of the expected 48" for every other RMC), so he'll still be limited in what he can ride. I was concerned about the repetition at the end of Steel Vengeance, but I hope maybe when I ride it next week (probably will only ride it once), it won't be too bad. Hotel Breakers is nice, but it's incredibly expensive compared to other hotels in the area, and if you already have Cedar Fair Platinum Passes, then staying at Breakers doesn't give you any more advantage than you can get with your pass.

I'd like to try Melt, but because we typically only visit for a single day each year, we always opt for the All-Day Dining Pass to avoid having to leave the park to eat. Melt is not part of the pass, so until we plan a multi-day trip to Cedar Point, we probably won't ever eat there. FWIW, there'a also another grilled cheese franchise in Ohio called Tom and Chee, which was featured on Shark Tank, that tends to have more locations in the southern part of the state (started in Cincinnati) with the closest being in Cleveland and Akron.

I'm right there with you on Millennium Force. It's my son's favorite coaster, because he's not tall enough yet to right I-305, but Kings Dominion's creation beats the world's first giga-coaster hands down. I've always found the Intamin t-bar trains uncomfortable (not to mention restrictive to larger guests), and surprisingly rough. Perhaps it's the metal floor boards, but you get a lot of vibration through your feet on those type of trains. However, with just a station wait, we would have re-ridden MF at night until they kicked us out.

July 23, 2018, 10:38 PM

Glad you all enjoyed my report. As far as comments and/or questions go...

James, If it wasn't for the fact that Douglas and Joshua were both out for the night and the rest of us were on about hour 40 without significant sleep (I'd essentially been awake since 8 A.M. the previous day), I absolutely would have gone around for one or two Millennium Force rides. However, as it was our first day at the park, I figured there'd be plenty of time for more rides the next day. Had I known how the next day was going to go, I probably would have fought the tiredness, but at least we managed three rides on it during the trip.

I was originally looking at Hotel Breakers, and if I were traveling on my own I probably would have splurged and stayed there. However, as most of us were on a fairly tight budget and a busy schedule that meant we'd pretty much just be at the hotel to sleep, it just wasn't a feasible option this time. We did look at the Express Hotel (which I stayed at in 2014), but with Platinum Passes that was essentially little more than a slightly nicer budget hotel with 10 minutes less driving for twice the price.

Ben, I'd say that Cedar Point is worth about one trip every three years for US enthusiasts and about every six for international enthusiasts. If it's been longer than that, you absolutely should make a return trip a priority. Perhaps aim for 2020 to get in on the big anniversary celebration. As for Maverick, I can't speak to the quality of Europe's launched coasters, but it is the best of the type I've ridden anywhere. The ride got new restraints a couple years ago that are far more comfortable and it was running in top form this year. It's not for everyone, but I'd say there are very few I know that don't consider it a top ten coaster.

Makorider, Melt is a bit pricier, but still nowhere near a full service meal at other destination parks (I think it wound up being around $20 each). Still, I would absolutely include a meal there in every future Cedar Point trip because it is so much better than any other in-park options that I know of.

I initially ranked Steel Vengeance the best at Cedar Point, but after several rides on each I decided that I preferred Maverick. However, it's really splitting hairs...both are right next to each other on my top coasters list. The way I see it is this...If I were to pick one coaster to ride one time, I'd probably opt for Steel Vengeance. If I were to pick a coaster to ride all day, I'd definitely go Maverick. Steel Vengeance is great for one or two rides, but after that it just starts to be too extreme, while Maverick is just the right intensity level IMO. I'm actually surprised you find Gemini rough...I've never had a problem with that one before. Magnum, however...that's definitely showing its age.

I'd absolutely take a visit to Cedar Point over a visit to any single Florida park. Despite the high quality of theming found in Orlando, I personally find the experience of somewhere like Cedar Point more enjoyable, especially for a return visit. Other than Islands of Adventure, pretty much all the Florida parks had a feel of "I've seen it and I'm really glad to have done so, but I don't have a strong desire to return." Cedar Point, on the other hand, I usually start craving another visit after a couple years.

Russell, if you can time it for a late-ish lunch (around 2 P.M.), the sandwiches at Melt are easily enough to fill you up for a full day and are probably cheaper than all day dining (unless you just share one). Not saying you should necessarily opt for that, just something worth considering.

I've actually never had an issue with Intamin's T-Bar trains. No, they don't track as well as some other train designs, but the rides that use them are mostly 15+ years old, so I've attributed that mostly to aging. I also agree with you on Intimidator 305 after riding it in April...that ride redefines intensity yet is super re-rideable as well (though Twisted Timbers is still my favorite at Kings Dominion).

July 24, 2018, 6:53 AM

AJ ... I think it's my age as much as Gemini's, that makes it feel worse for me ... LOL ... :) But I think we all agree that Magnum could do with a face lift. Good point on the Melt sandwich .... it's huge, and I will admit I had 1/2 for lunch, took the other 1/2 back to the hotel, and had that when I returned from the park. I had the kettle chips, and they were just as good as the sandwich. Awesome place. I don't know of anything like it in Orlando ??, so a revisit to Melt when I go back will be close to the top of my list of must-dos.
Good to hear your, and Russell's, view on the 2 signature rides at Kings Dominion. I'm planning a visit next year, so I'm already up for the trip and it's still 10 months away !!!!

July 24, 2018, 9:25 AM

I hear you AJ, and if I was by myself, I could probably get away with just a midday meal, especially if Melt is as filling and delicious as advertised. We'd probably do that if we were at Cedar Point for more than just a day and either eat at some of the sit down places or venture off-site in the middle of the day, but we're typically just there for a day, so there's rarely time to sit down and eat if we want to get to all of the coasters.

We usually get one All-Day Dining Pass and share throughout the day for the three of us. It's far more economical than getting 3 or 4 individual meals, plus Cedar Point has expanded the options on the plan to include pretty much everything in the park, including Pink's, Panda Express, Chickie's and Pete's, and Johnny Rockets. You can even pay an upcharge to eat at the all you can eat buffet at Midway Market, though doing so doesn't really make much sense IMHO. We've found the All-Day Dining an exceptional value whenever we venture to other Cedar Fair parks, and just recently used it on our visit a few weeks ago to Valleyfair. If you're spending a full day at the parks and don't want to leave (there was nothing within 10 minutes of Valleyfair, so leaving for lunch/dinner and coming back would have been well over an hour), the All-Day Dining cannot be beat, and there's usually plenty of variety to keep even the pickiest eaters happy. At Valleyfair we had a savory ham and cheese waffle, pulled pork cheeseburger, cheese steak, burrito bowl, orange chicken, curds and fries basket, and chicken strips, all for $30.

July 25, 2018, 5:15 PM

Great report, AJ! I was at Cedar Point 2 days ago and had only 7 hours to spend at the park which isn't enough to accomplish what I had hoped to accomplish. My intention was to pick up 6 coaster credits but due to time constraints I managed to pick up only 4. I'm frankly surprised that you were able to get on Gatekeeper so quickly. I had to pass it by - ridden it on a previous visit anyway - b/c even with Fast Lane Plus there was a lengthy wait because the Fast Lane queue merges with the regular queue and it was barely moving. As to other rides, after riding Steel Vengeance I would probably say move over El Toro (my all time favorite) were it not for the fact that 2 days later I still have a sore elbow on one side and a bruise on the other elbow. My 1st ride on it was totally insane and really bizarre b/c as soon as the train was dispatched it began to pour. Heavy rain was pelting me in the eyes so forcefully that it was painful and almost blinding so I closed my eyes for the remainder of the ride and had no idea where we were going or what was coming up next. Guy sitting next to me put his head down to dodge the rain. Next 4 rides were very cool but after 5 I'd been knocked around enough to call it quits.

I did most of the same rides - such as Raptor - that I'd ridden before but this was my first time on Valravn and I thought it was pretty good, especially the view from the top although I don't get all that excited about dive machines. Guess I'm becoming jaded. As to Maverick, it's the only coaster in the park on which I absolutely must hold on in order to avoid being slammed against the sides of the car. A highlight was a night ride on Millennium Force although at my advanced age of 66 I'm finding it impossible to marathon it b/c it offers no neck support and the combination of speed and height just about takes my head off.

Finding a place to eat was a challenge; wish I'd known about Melt. As a vegetarian I always find it a challenge to eat at parks. I didn't actually get a chance to have dinner until 10pm and ended up at a smokehouse whose specialty was brisket with a side, lol. Well, I ended up getting a plate of potato wedges, mac & cheese and corn muffin - carb overload but tasty. On the way out I grabbed another ride on Valravn and wanted to ride Corkscrew just to get the credit but it didn't appear to be operating. Anyway, as I was finishing the ride on Valravn I began to feel dizzy and nauseated, a sign that I'd overdone it. 13 coaster rides total in one day is a lot for a senior citizen. I was tempted to try to grab a ride on Gatekeeper on the way out but was too exhausted to make the effort and anyway that didn't exactly thrill me when I rode it the year it opened. I found X-Flight and The Swarm to be much more satisfying.

July 27, 2018, 7:11 PM

Bobby, I was stunned how much we were able to do on our first evening there. GateKeeper was running three trains fairly efficiently, so the line was only about 20 minutes, and that was our longest wait other than Dragster (which was about 30). I've heard multiple places that Cedar Point has been having unusual crowd patterns this year, with weekends less busy than weekdays. This certainly seemed to be the case for us...Tuesday was the most crowded of the three days we were at the park. Also, minor spoiler, but El Toro was still the best coaster I rode on this entire trip (Steel Vengeance ranks 4th among the trip's coasters).

The Melt is definitely a good option for a vegetarian. My brother just got a basic grilled cheese and tomato soup, but it looked really good. They had other vegetarian-friendly options as well. If you want to try it next time, it's located across from Planet Snoopy and is really easy to miss if you don't know it's there. It can definitely be tricky to find vegetarian options among standard theme park fare...other than pizza there isn't too much at most parks.

For everyone else, the next portion of this trip report is going to be delayed a couple days to a very busy work week and an equally busy weekend. I'll try to have it up by Wednesday. In the meantime, go check out Douglas's report, which is about four installments ahead of mine (and will probably be finished by the end of next week).

August 13, 2018, 8:51 AM

You guys sure did squeeze in a lot of riding even with it being spread out over a few days. Glad you all had fun! It’s also good to see that things were running smoothly at Cedar Point that whole week. We had rain on and off that Wednesday, but seeing as how that kept a lot of guests away and didn’t really hamper our riding that much, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Over the course of both days, Gatekeeper seemed like it was running better than everything else at the park, as I don’t think I waited more than 15 minutes (with posted waits of 30) any time I rode it.

As far as SV goes, the repetitiveness toward the end didn’t bother me because it was so wild of a ride that I wasn’t really thinking about it at the time haha. I think my cousin and I were both a little surprised about the intensity of it (even though it looked like a wild ride based off of the on-ride video), but we both liked it a lot. He preferred Millenium Force, whose smoothness also surprised us both, over them all, and I’m still torn between Millenium, Maverick, and SV. They all offer such a different experience from the other, so it’s a difficult choice for my indecisive mind.

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