I entered the Season Pass Processing Center promptly at 9 a.m., just as the park was broadcasting the National Anthem as they do every morning. Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing, stood and respectfully faced the American flag outside the building in the entrance plaza. I was quite impressed.
My card was processed quickly, I entered the park and walked to the "new" coaster this year — Rougarou. I used quotation marks because it is sort of a new coaster. Built in 1996 as Mantis, a B&M stand-up coaster, the ride was converted over the winter into a floorless coaster using the same track (repainted a bright orange) and renamed Rougarou, which I understand is Creole for werewolf. The ride takes its name and theming (I use the term loosely) from the swampy, murky, stagnant waters of the lagoons over which most of the ride races, and that visitors must cross (via a floating bridge from Celebration Plaza) to the loading station.
Rougarou was not cooperating with ride operators this morning, and it was nearly 1 p.m. before it actually started carrying riders. I was fortunate and was on the second train of the day with people on it. I was also fortunate in that they stopped loading trains after my ride and I don't know if they ever started running it again that day.
How is the ride, especially compared to Mantis? Well it is surprisingly different despite the fact that the track layout is unchanged. Rougarou seems faster than Mantis and physically rougher. It used to be a nut-crusher, and now it is a head-banger. It uses over-the-shoulder restraints, and the seats were very comfortable, but during the ride my head was slammed back-and-forth into the restraints. So much so that despite copious amounts of padding I still felt like my ears had been in a boxing match. Interestingly enough, everyone in my row (I was about half-way back on the train) said the exact same thing.
Rougarou is not a bad coaster but is not worth a special trip to Sandusky, Ohio, just to ride it. However, if you are in the neighborhood and haven't been to Cedar Point in a few years, a visit is always fun. Just don’t expect Rougarou to be the exclamation point of your trip.
Is Rougarou a "new coaster"? IMHO, yes, it is. Simply because the ride uses the same track as Mantis, the ride experience is totally different now that riders are sitting down rather than standing up. It is also a floorless coaster, but that fact was a small feature of the ride, and to be honest I never bothered to look down anyway, just straight ahead, and the seats appear to be elevated slightly as they progress to the back of the train so that everyone seemed to have a good view ahead. Anyway, if you count your coasters and have already ridden Mantis, you can ride Rougarou and increment your count with a clear conscience — just in case there is actually someone who cares about your coaster count.
The other major changes at Cedar Point this year involved opening up a huge area of land for future development. The Good Time Theater (formerly the Cedar Point Cinema) was torn down with no fanfare or advance notice, and several other adjacent rides were either moved elsewhere in the park or sent packing (probably to some lesser Cedar Fair Park like James Rao’s infamous Worlds of Fun ). The Calypso (a flat spinner) and the Dodgems (bumper cars) were moved to the Wicked Twister Midway, and the Turnpike Cars and Sir-Rub-a-Dub's Tubs were eradicated so completely it was like Cedar Fair was trying to hide the fact that they were ever in the park at all. This area of the park now stands completely fenced off, leaving lots of room for rumors to run wild about what is going into that space next year. Cedar Point has always been pretty good at keeping secrets, so I will just wait and resist the urge to add fuel to the rumor mill. (*cough cough* dive coaster *cough cough*)
The addition of Calypso (now renamed the Tiki Twirl in homage to a similar ride from Cedar Point's past) and Dodgems to the Wicked Twister Midway, and the moving of the kiddie dodgems from Kiddie Kingdom to Planet Snoopy, made me wonder if Cedar Point was attempting to reinvigorate this Midway the same way they breathed new life into the Gemini Midway last year with the introduction of Pipe Scream. If that was their intent, it didn't work. The location of Tiki Twirl next to the Giant Wheel balances the location of Troika on the other side of the Wheel nicely, but it also destroyed the entrance plaza to Wicked Twister and makes this area of the park look like Cedar Point's Attic, where they store rides that they don't know where else to put. It comes perilously close to looking cluttered, especially with several temporary food service wagons, the omnipresent basketball hoop games, and other pathetic cash grab sites.
The two-year renovation project on the Breakers Hotel was also completed this year, and the structures have been completely remodeled and much of the public areas (lobby, rotunda, and entrance) have been restored to their former glory. It looks amazing, but is a renewed Breakers Hotel and a floorless conversion worth a making special trip to the area in 2015? Maybe not, especially with that big new project — whatever it is — on its way.
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