Cedar Point's Valravn sets records as it thrills riders

May 4, 2016, 9:53 PM · Every year there is big talk and bigger expectations in the amusement park world about the new batch of roller coasters coming on-line (well, may on-track). Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio has a long history of bringing the biggest, fastest, tallest, fill-in-the-blank-est roller coasters to its huge and uniquely-located resort on the shore of Lake Erie, and this year it has outdone itself. Valravn opens this weekend to the public, and in one fell swoop (like how I brought a diving bird image into this?), it breaks all sorts of records for dive coasters and amusement parks in general.

Today my friend and videographer Scott E. and I were invited with other members of the media to ride Valravn a few days before its official opening on Friday, May 6th. This is Cedar Point’s first major coaster addition since 2013, when Gatekeeper opened. (I don’t count Pipe Scream as a major coaster, and last year’s Rougarou was the old Mantis with new trains and a nice new paint job.) The wait was worth it — Valravn is a great ride, smooth, fast, and wow! It is a visually beautiful coaster — the huge curves of its 165-foot-tall Immelmann and 131-foot-tall second hill, its dive loop, the 270-degree roll that brings you to its air-time hill make it look, as I overheard someone say, less like a coaster and more like a sculpture.

It’s also fast, reaching speeds of 75 mph, and tall, towering 223 feet into the sky between the Marina and the Midway. Two attractions, the Dodgems and the Calypso, were moved last year to make room for its huge footprint, and two others, the Good Times Theater (formerly the Cedar Point Theater) and the Turnpike Cars were demolished. A new Marina Gate was constructed to provide access to the park from the marina, and this new entrance to the park brings guests directly under the coaster.

Here's our on-ride video:

Valravn is the 100th Bolliger & Mabillard roller coaster, and certainly is worth that honor. (The Cedar Point website has everything you might want to know about Valravn's track layout and technical specs and the 10 world records that the coaster and Cedar Point broke with its opening.)

What did I think of Valravn? I loved it! It was smooth to ride, quick and comfortable to load and unload, and a great addition to the Cedar Point skyline. If I had any complaint, it was that it almost seemed too short. It's hard to imagine with it having well over a half a mile of track, but the lift hill is so fast and the fact that it hits speeds of 75 mph make the ride over too soon. They say "leave them wanting more," and I did. I guess I'll just have to go back and ride it again... and again.

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Replies (13)

May 4, 2016 at 10:17 PM · Wow the ride looks amazing, but I still don't think it beats out Gatekeeper as my favorite roller coaster in the world. Cedar Point keeps making the best new roller coasters, and I have to go ride this next time I'm in Ohio to watch the Warriors beat the Cavs.
May 4, 2016 at 11:28 PM · Valravn indeed looks spectacular! In the video, it actually seems fairly long (though time always slows down when James is taking). ;)

I cannot wait for my first visit to Cedar Point this coming July, to try out all these coaster beasts at last.

May 5, 2016 at 3:47 AM · The Rao Family approves of both the ride and the review - good job, Jim! Very professionally done! Valravn passes with flying colors. We are counting the minutes until our triumphant return to Cedar Point in July! VALRAVN FTW, baby!!!
May 5, 2016 at 2:52 PM · Never been on a dive but I think Griffon looks better. Valravn just has the stats.
May 5, 2016 at 5:17 AM · Valravn. No "e".


May 5, 2016 at 7:01 AM · There were rumors over the past couple of months that Cedar Point was going to add some tunnels or other themeing to the coaster, but I suppose those were unfounded. It's disappointing that Cedar Point couldn't do something to take advantage of the best elements of this type of coaster. Sheikra has the second tower dive, Oblivion dives into a pit, and Griffon's first drop dives under a bridge. Valravn takes the old Six Flags, "coaster in a parking lot" approach here when it looked like the chain was at least trying to give their new coasters at least some level of theme.

I'll reserve judgement on the coaster experience until after I ride later this month, but I think Cedar Point is missing an opportunity here, especially after their last two big coasters (Gatekeeper and Maverick) attempted to utilize at least some level of minimal themeing and elements that enhance the coaster experience beyond the track.

It will be interesting to ride a dive coaster with the new B&M OTSRs. I know a lot of people were upset when Banshee utilized the new style restraints (I actually really like them, but can understand some complaining when the vest ratchets in tight in the middle of the ride), so I'm curious to see how the new restraints change the dive coaster experience. Also, I'm a bit surprised Cedar Point did not go for the larger 10-across trains...Perhaps with the new restraints, 10-across is no longer an option because of the wider OTSRs.

May 5, 2016 at 11:01 AM · Well done, Jim! This looks awesome although after Griffon and Sheikra I won't be rushing out to CP to ride it.
May 5, 2016 at 11:51 AM · Excellent review, Jim! Valravn looks like a top tier coaster and definitely appears to provide an experience different from anything else at the park. I've ridden Griffon and thought that was a really good ride, but this one looks even better. While it may be short for Cedar Point standards, it does appear average length for all major coasters, and dive coasters have so much drag that longer rides are nearly impossible. Shame they couldn't give it more theming, but that's not what Cedar Point is about and a solid roller coaster is a fun ride either way. I'm not going to be able to make it this year, but I've tentatively got Cedar Point scheduled for 2017 (and, if the mystery Kings Island project does wind up being a coaster, a Cedar Point/Kings Island/Kennywood/Waldameer trip is looking likely next summer).
May 5, 2016 at 10:54 PM · After the first drop and MCBR, Sheikra loses its gas pretty fast . Would you say the same happens for Valravn James?
May 6, 2016 at 3:35 AM · No- the brake run after the Immelmann really slows down the trains a lot, then the second dive give you great speed for the dive loop and 270 degree roll. The airtime loop was not a lose-your-lunch airtime like a bunny hill, but was a more gentle floating airtime. I never felt like it was going too slow through the loops or 270 degree section (unlike I feel on Magnum at the turn-around pretzel where I feel like gravity is going to win every time). It really is a fast coaster, smooth and surprisingly quiet- except for the screaming from the TV reporters.
May 6, 2016 at 8:22 AM · Cedar Point has been on my bucket list for quite some time, and this coaster is now giving me yet another reason for me to keep it there. Oh God I can't wait!
May 8, 2016 at 10:43 AM · Rode it twice yesterday. All-in-all, a great addition. One thing Griffon does that Valravn doesn't is the hang-time at the beginning - it's too short. Also - we are all wondering why the coaster wasn't taller - breaking world records on the margin is... well it's a world record but it's a cheap way to do it. However, it's a good ride and a great addition to the park. The view from up top prior to hang and drop was spectacular.
May 9, 2016 at 6:13 AM · @

B&M dive machines don't actually "hang" at the top. They lock into a slow moving chain that gradually tips the train over the edge until the chain dogs on the train let go. To riders, it feels like the train is being dangled over the edge, but the reality is that the train never stops moving once it locks into the drop chain drive.

There's actually very little control over when the coaster lets go since it's driven by the tightness of the chain dogs and overall weight of the train. You may experience slightly different "hang times" between the different trains, and full trains versus empty trains. The "hang time" may also change over time as the coaster breaks in.

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