On CP’s opening weekend I made a small recap of the day on these forums but wasn’t happy with it and deleted it a few days later with the intent on doing a full TR later. Well it only took six months, but I finally decided to put finger to keyboard and knock it out.
We got to the park pretty early, easily went through the causeway main toll plaza with no traffic, and parked in the main lot where there were only a couple other cars parked. We then walked down the new path that runs parallel to the park and the beach which was really nice, it provides some great views of Gatekeeper and Wicked Twister as well as the recently renovated beachfront hotel. At the end of the path near the gate you get a great view of Magnum and Dragster.
I was absolutely shocked to see maybe 15 people waiting at the entrance turnstile. First off it wasn’t that early, the park opened at 9 for early entry and it was maybe like 7:30 and knowing how big CP’s fanbase is I was expecting there to be a much bigger crowd. Being from Orlando when a big new ride like that opens here there would already be a line of people at 3am. Even when Busch Gardens opens a new coaster it gets way bigger crowds earlier in the morning.
Anyway that was a pleasant surprise so we waited around until 9 and got to see many of the old fogie ACERs I haven’t seen in years which was cool. They let people in at 8:30 and enough did not check our resort pass, they just scanned our tickets and let us in. I guess the park was either doing the honor system or the employee at our turnstile didn’t care. Naturally everyone started running just to be greeted with a chain like 50 feet later which was to be expected. It seemed really strange that other than Steel Vengeance we literally saw no other ride cycle, not even once, so it was concerning but SV was running so I didn’t think much of it.
At 9 the national anthem played (funny enough everyone turned and looked at Dragster for the national anthem which as far as I know doesn’t have an American flag on it, but it’s by the biggest structure so I guess it made sense at the time haha). The chain was removed and everyone started running to Steel Vengeance. We made it there pretty quickly and got on one of the first trains (waited at the entrance for my wife who was little further back).
Steel Vengeance opened on time with two trains and wow…this was my first RMC so I didn’t really have any experience to draw from. Now I’ve been on a bunch of them I can put it in better perspective but it was definitely an experience. The airtime was much more substantial than I was expecting, the ride was more intense than I was expecting, butter smooth, and what really got me was the ride was the duration. It just didn’t stop, hill after hill inversion after inversion, by the end I was actually getting kind of dizzy and was hoping it would end.
It’s an absolutely amazing ride and because I only rode it once not quite sure where to place it. I think I may like Twisted Timbers and Wicked Cyclone a little bit more just because SV is so long that it’s nauseating, imagine a ride with the intensity of Batman being like 3 minutes long. I can definitely say after my last ride on El Toro I like it better than that and Voyage. It’s absolutely amazing how much of a game changer RMC is: I have ridden Mean Streak, Hurler, New England Cyclone, Georgia Cyclone, and Colossus. If you were to tell me they would be modified into the best rides in their respective parks I would’ve laughed in your face.
As we were walking away from SV we saw the line wrapping all the way around gods creation and they were wheeling the sign out that posted it at a 4 hour wait and thought now this is more like what I was expecting. At this point I want to say that the rides scheduled to be open for early entry were SV, Skyhawk, Maverick, MF, Valravn, and Gatekeeper.
We made our way over to Maverick (stopping for pizza since we had bought the dining pass upsell) and it was closed. I figured well its an Intamin launched coaster and it constantly breaks down every time I go to CP anyway so it doesn’t surprise me, so rode Skyhawk and walked over to MF. We walked all the way there to see (shocked) it was closed and didn’t even have trains on, so we stood there confused for a bit since we also saw that Valravn was closed. We stood in front of MF for a bit in the line now forming and at this point the park opened.
So let’s recap this early entry: Steel Vengeance and Skyhawk were open. Millennium Force, Valravn, and Gatekeeper were closed…so 2/5 rides were open and one was Skyhawk (and who really cares about that?) So basically one major ride open. When I was younger I used to work in management at a seasonal park, I know its tough, but you got to do better than that. I was really starting to get boiled at this point because whenever I go to CP this always happens, many of the major rides don’t open on time and even when they are open they are tough to get on because of downtimes.
Since the park was now open to the day guests we decided to ride Rougaru which was felt really bizarre. When you go on lots of these coasters you get used to the dimensions of the inversions and to me I could clearly tell by the elongated inversions that this was definitely a standup, but it was a cool experience. Honestly I don’t think the new trains did anything to improve the ride as it still rattled, and IDK why the hell they have that kind of paint scheme when its so close to Valravn, Iron Dragon, and Dragster, but it’s not really a major coaster in the park anymore so it’s nice they gave it some attention.
We then walked by Dragster which [shock] closed and no sign of any life. The guy sitting in the chair at the entrance had a microphone and would say “Dragster is closed and it won’t open anytime soon” to anyone that walked near the entrance. Dragster being closed once again didn’t surprise me because it’s Dragster, I wasn’t happy about it but wasn’t about to let it ruin my day.
We then walked by Corkscrew, closed. Walked over to Power Tower, closed. Ok now I am really concerned, WTF kind of operation is this? This is worse than Magic Mountain in its worst days circa 2003.
We finally got to Magnum and it was open and my friends rode it while I gladly waited for them, let’s just say I’m not an Arrow hyper guy. We then went and rode Gemini which was running one side with about a 15 minute wait. We were stuck in the brake run for a while while they cleaned puke on the train in front of us (why they don’t just cycle the train to get us off like most other parks do, IDK, but considering how the day was going so far so this just seemed fitting).
We then used our dining pass to get some chicken sandwiches and rode the Cedar Creek Mine Ride which was about a 10 minute wait. I like these old school Arrow Mine Train rides for nostalgic reasons, sure its design isn’t great or anything (these rides are notorious for their badly designed transitions) but I’m glad parks have kept them around. CP, SFMM, and SFSTL’s are not too bad, the one at SFOG is pretty sad though.
We then walked by the Antique Cars (closed) and after that we got in line for Maverick which was now open and had a full queue. It was an hour wait or so but what a great ride. I love how the first half is leads you to believe “wow, that was a really great coaster” but it doesn’t really grab you by the horns until you launch into that second half. My wife had never been on it before and I didn’t tell her anything about it, so she thought the ride was over then BAM. I absolutely love how the train stops then does that second launch. After TTD the park had kind of a daunting task trying to build another coaster but they were really clever making a small ride but one that packs just as much of a punch.
While we were in line for Maverick I noticed Steel Vengeance hadn’t cycled a train in a long time and my friend looked on his phone to see there was some sort of collision in the station, so they not only had to go down but also dump the queue (Ouch, that had to be a brutal situation with that massive line on opening day).
We then walked by the wave swinger (closed) and decided to use our dining pass at Panda Express. The line was really long but moved relatively fast (I mean its Panda Express so you can’t really mess that up). We took our food in line with us at for MF which finally had opened. It was about a 45 minute wait and only had two trains running but we figured it wasn’t getting any shorter so we waited in it. MF was MF…it was nice to get back on it, certainly not as good as of a ride as many of the shorter Intamin hypers that opened around that time but still a fun ride.
We then walked by Valravn which still hadn’t opened and decided to ride Iron Dragon while we were there. It was about a 20 minute wait and was fun, I like the arrow suspended coasters for what they are and glad the park has kept it around. We then waited in what felt like the slowest line ever at Coasters Drive In, it had to be about an hour wait but I had bought the dining pass and had this ridiculous intent on getting my money’s worth, but yea sadly our longest wait of the day was unquestionably for mediocre burgers and fries (for what it’s worth I absolutely love mediocre food it just sucked that it took an hour of our day to get it).
Then we rode the Skyride down to the front and got in line for Raptor which had about 1/3 of the massive queue house open. Raptor was awesome, I love the old school B&Ms like Batman, Raptor, Kumba, and Alpengeist. They take no prisoners and kick your a** while so many of the modern inverts, floorless, and wing coasters are so much slower.
So by this time it’s like 6:30pm and Valravn still isn’t open but there was a long line forming outside the entrance so we decided to get in line. There were still no signs of any kind of cycling, I think people were kind of fed up at that point and were like “eh whatever, its late in the day and we’ve been on a few rides so we may as well wait for it” which was basically the same mentality we had so we joined in. About 20 minutes later it did start cycling and maybe 20 minutes after that it opened. Once it did open the operations were atrocious, they had plenty of staff with one person assigned to check each row but for some reason they were still triple stacking. We rode in the back and ugh I really did not like it, it jerks you back and forth quite a bit for some reason I can’t explain and I’d say it’s my least favorite of the three American dive machines. You do get an absolutely amazing view of the park with the lake from the top though. It is probably tied with Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion for “best coaster view from the top” (the mine train at Ocean Park has a great view too but the ride is so painful you can’t enjoy it).
After that we used the dining pass again at Chickie and Pete’s (I usually don’t eat at parks, but this is the only time I’ve ever bought a dining pass at a park and I wanted to get my moneys worth, plus I have always been able to eat a lot if I wanted to) and then rode Gatekeeper which amazingly was basically a walk on. I really liked Gatekeeper, I know I praised Raptor earlier for being an old school kick a** B&M, but I think the slower pace works really well for Gatekeeper. Its nice and smooth, goes along the beach, and is just fun. This is one of those rides I probably would’ve found disappointing when I was younger but now that I’m old it’s nice to have around haha.
We then walked by Wicked Twister which was closed and hadn’t been open all day (and wouldn’t be open all day the next day either), which was really disappointing because Wicked Twister is the only impulse that I really like. While walking through this section of the park the haunting memories from earlier in the day came back: the Troika was closed, Ferris Wheel closed, Windseeker closed, Tiki Twirl closed, Dodgem closed, Maxair closed. I was seriously confused on how the heck this could be considered one of the best parks in the world…this was a huge embarrassment.
So the next day we realized that what happened was a bunch of rides (including most of the flats) were actually open from 10AM-3PM, while the other half of the parks flats were closed. Then at 3 they would close down all of those rides and move the staff to operate the flats on the other side of the park and operate those from 4-10PM.
I guess this is one creative way of dealing with understaffing but there wasn’t really any communication of this, so if you happened to be on the wrong side of the park at the wrong time you were basically just walking past a bunch of closed rides. Sadly Wicked Twister, Windseeker, and Maxair were closed all weekend.
So after that bout of disappointment we finally saw Dragster was getting ready to open (keep in mind this is like 8:30 at night) and got in line for it. Luckily it opened, we waited maybe 40 minutes or so in the queue, got on, and right after we got off it went down and was down for the rest of the weekend. Other than the ridiculous downtime the ride itself was awesome. While it’s not smooth it is still bearable if you ride near the front, and its still MUCH smoother and more enjoyable than Kingda Ka. People ask how I can love Dragster and Xcelerator and hate Kingda Ka and the reason is because there really is a big difference in the maintenance. Kingda Ka is rough as hell and just not enjoyable at all to me.
Anyway after that we decided to leave but I wanted to use my dining pass one more time to get the most out of it and Coasters Drive In seemed like the convenient place to do it at, after all its like 9:30 at night who is going to eat a meal then? Bad idea again… another 45 minute wait for a burger and fries. At one point the line just stopped moving for like 20 minutes. Before buying the dining pass I was scared this might happen based off always seeing huge lines for food at SF parks because of the dining pass, plus with it being the opening day of the season the food staff wouldn’t know what they’re doing, but thought since it’s CF they would be better at managing the demand. CP really does have a lot of food places and I definitely ate a lot of food over those two days, but that particular restaurant was just a really negative experience on that day.
Steel Vengeance re-opened late that night with 1 train so the next day we went to the park again for early entry and ran to Steel Vengeance. Unfortunately it was closed and we were only there for ½ day and I wanted to actually enjoy it, so my wife and I went and enjoyed the park while my friends waited at SV’s entrance. We got on MF and Valravn (in the front row) during early entry, as well as having pizza and Subway with the dining pass, then rode Cedar Downs and Dodgems. Sadly Wicked Twister, Maxair, and Windseeker were closed and Raptor and TTD never opened that morning either. SV finally opened and they got on it once then met up with us and we used the dining pass at Pinks and we decided to leave.
CP is one of those parks I want to really like but every time I go there they have major problems with the big rides opening late and constantly going down. This being opening weekend they were having major staffing issues, much more so than normal (I knew something was up when a month prior to opening they decided to allow people to have tattoo's) but the problem was much worse than I anticipated.
To their credit from what I heard they did open up their dorms for free to anyone willing to work during the month of May and gave meal vouchers, so they were trying, but being such a big park in such a small job market really makes things difficult while the kids are in school. I can totally let the slow food service lines slide as I know food service is notoriously tough to staff at these seasonal parks and they have so many food places at CP it's pretty much an impossible task. So many of the rides being closed at once was a tough one to swollow, IMO that could've been handled better. Maybe CP should look at doing something like promoting pre-season, regular season, and Halloweekends, where pre-season and Halloweekends they post on their website what attractions and food places will be open and not advertise it as the full park. It's not ideal but better than walking through the park and just seeing closed ride after closed ride after closed ride with no prior warning.
Opening day was very crowded and expected but the Sunday was relatively dead so we did have a good time that day even with all the closed rides.
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