Cedar Point's Steel Vengeance reclaims the title while rewriting records

April 25, 2018, 4:14 AM · Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point — There has been so much anticipation for this new roller coaster, so much excitement, so much "hype" that I was worried that there would be no way it could live up to what was expected of it. Now we've had a chance to experience it first-hand, and my fears have been laid to rest.

I'm going to make a statement that some will dismiss as coming from a born-and-raised, Cedar Point coaster fanboy, a statement that a professional journalist like our own Robert Niles will probably cringe when he sees I wrote it.

Steel Vengeance is, right now, at this moment, THE BEST ROLLER COASTER IN THE WORLD.

Some might argue, and that's fine. The title of "the best" is a subjective one, especially in the roller coaster genre. Healthy, respectful disagreement is something that Theme Park Insiders do love to participate in. I make that statement based on a few subjective observations, on some solid facts, and on the history of this landmark coaster, originally named "Mean Streak" and originally built by the now-defunct Dinn Corporation.

Quick history lesson (quick for me): Mean Streak made its premiere in 1991, towering over the Frontier Town area of Cedar Point and setting it own list of world records ("tallest, fastest, steepest, etc.") It was magnificent, a wooden mountain so massive that the queue area was placed inside the infield... and only occupied a small part of it. Waits of two to three hours were not unusual, and it was worth it.

Whether it was the design, the weather-beaten location on the edge of the Cedar Point peninsula, or a combination of these and other factors, Mean Streak soon began to show its age. It began to lose its smoothness, and rides became less of a thrilling experience and more of an uncomfortable endurance race — a "one-and-done" tradition for Cedar Point visitors. Many refused to ride it — just too painful — and by the mid-2010s, Cedar Point's largest coaster was usually a walk-on even on the busiest days. There was even a small fire in 2010 that damaged a five-foot section, and many die-hard Cedar Point fans wished that they had just let it burn. There was little love left for the old Mean Streak — it had gotten too mean to continue taking up valuable real estate. Several attempts to retrack it and refurbish it did little to improve the riding experience.

Cedar Point (and I WISH I knew who actually made the decision so that I can thank them) decided to take the hard road, and instead of demolishing the still-beautiful old girl (the "Grizabella" of roller coasters for any theatre geeks out there), it decided to bring in the team from Rocky Mountain Construction and challenged them to work their legendary magic on Mean Streak. Disney isn't the only theme park business with some magic — RMC turned an intensively-rough, painful, almost embarrassing ride at America's self-titled "Rockin' Roller Coast" into what I declared earlier — the best roller coaster in the world.

I'm not going to go through the list of records that Steel Vengeance breaks. I'm not going to give you a turn-by-turn, hill-by-hill description of the ride. I hope you enjoy the video of Robert and I experiencing Steel Vengeance ourselves, and above all, I hope you get yourselves somehow, someday soon, to Cedar Point and ride Steel Vengeance. That is the ONLY way for you to truly discover just what an adrenalin-rushing adventure this new coaster is.

Update: Here is the front-facing POV.

The layout is similar to the old Mean Streak, with some major alterations. The lift hill is higher, the first drop is steeper, the hills have been changed — morphed so that you take turns on the OUTSIDE of the curve. There is air-time before you even reach the lift hill! Much of Steel Vengeance is experienced inside the superstructure, with the four inversions being buried deep in the massive wooden framework.

There is actually a bit of a backstory to Steel Vengeance (I know... "Gasp?! A theme on a Cedar Point coaster?") Like any roller coaster, it's really not all that important and like any good coaster geek, I feel if a ride is going so slow that you can enjoy the scenery, it's not really a coaster — it's a scenic railway. But I digress. It goes something like this:

"Years ago, Maverick came to Frontier Town and soon took over the town, tearing down White Water Landing and building his own world-class coaster named, appropriately, after himself. He also chased out of town three townsfolk who challenged him, and took over the place.

"They're back. Jackson 'Blackjack' Chamberlain, Wyatt 'Digger' Dempsey and Chess 'Wild One' Watkins have returned, and they want vengeance — not just any old vengeance, but 'Steel Vengeance.' Rumor has it that Maverick is updating his own coaster with new features in preparation for the challenge. Who will win?"

The answer is already known. The citizens of Frontier Town, and anyone who visits Cedar Point in the coming years will be the winners. Maverick and Steel Vengeance, two world-class coasters sitting side-by-side, are just two of the 18 coasters and nearly 100 rides and attractions that make Cedar Point a multi-day amusement park destination for millions of visitors every year.

Steel Vengeance has everything and does everything that The Best Roller Coaster in the World should do. It thrills. It entertains. It breaks record after record. The new RMC tracking makes it smooth as silk. It has amazing amounts of air-time throughout the ride. Its restraint-system is remarkably comfortable and lets you feel both safe and free to enjoy the kinetic energy of the coaster with remarkable freedom.

And it's beautiful. It's huge. It's now so tall that you can see it from the front gate of Cedar Point- over a mile away.

I won't say "if you get to Cedar Point," I will say WHEN you get to Cedar Point, get to Frontier Town and discover the newest, best roller coaster in the world, Steel Vengeance. Ride Maverick, right next door, and decide who won the battle for Frontier Town.

I think you'll agree — we all did.

Replies (24)

April 25, 2018 at 12:10 PM

Fantastic! I cannot wait to see the video. But your review confirms everything I already suspected: Steel Vengeance is so spectacular that not only will it win TPI’s award for Coaster of the Year in 2018, it will also win last year’s award retroactively and get revenge for TPI selecting a water slide instead of a real coaster!!! Steel Vengeance indeed!!

Watched the video - excellent commentary. I loved Robert’s line: “Why did they even spend money on seats?” Classic!

April 25, 2018 at 6:02 AM

amazing ride indeed, all star line up, this park is truly incredible with the rides

April 25, 2018 at 6:06 AM

So much airtime, it's basically a stand-up coaster. Sorry, LeBron. There's a new king in town.

And thanks for riding with me today, James!

April 25, 2018 at 6:50 AM

James, you're killing me! Seeing this thing get built last year, I could see it was gonna be a stunner, but... wow. My desire to get back to CP soon just turned into a need.

Incidentally, where can I sign the petition to have the two of you provide commentaries for every roller coaster everywhere?

April 25, 2018 at 7:16 AM

Really bummed that Cedar Point/State of Ohio put a 52" height requirement on this. All of the other RMCs are 48". My son, who just crossed @50" is going to be really upset if he can't grow another 2" by August.

I saw 2 additional trains on maintenance tracks past the station, does the coaster have 3 trains total, or is there a 4th train somewhere? With a MCBR, they could probably run 4 trains on this.

I think the unique elements on this RMC are the outside banked turns. RMC has done one or two of those on other installations, but they seem to really go crazy with them here. Cedar Point/RMC were smart to take their time with this, and having this up and running for the first day of the season is great planning on their part. Hopefully they'll manage the lines well for this coaster, and can keep throughput high - I have noticed that RMC trains can take a little longer to load/unload than B&Ms, especially if ops are doing a 2-phase restraint check (checking belts and then lowering/checking lap bars). Also, guests with larger waists/hips should remember to double check at the test seat, because there were a lot of larger guests at Twisted Timbers that had to do the "walk of shame". RMC trains are definitely more accommodating than TTD or MF, but guests that don't look particularly "fat" may still not be able to ride.

April 25, 2018 at 7:25 AM

CANT WAIT TO GO TO CEDAR POINT!!! Thanks for this. So excited!! Booked our trip this winter for end of August staying on the point. You just made me thrilled to have chosen this as our big destination for 2018: 2 planes and a trek from Cleveland to Sandusky. Haven’t done this trip in years - Mantis was new when we went last - and cannot day enough to have seen this today. Thanks again for this review and report!!

April 25, 2018 at 8:26 AM

Great review and awesome video guys .... If the Fastlane plus puts you at the front of the line it maybe worth the $80/90 ?? My 3 days at the park are Sun May 20th thru Tues May 22nd, so should get plenty of air time on (maybe ??) the world's best roller coaster !! I'll be riding Fury 325 before I go to CP, so it'll give me a good perspective of SV vrs MF vrs F325. MF is my favourite (for now ???)

April 25, 2018 at 8:43 AM

Fastlane never puts you at the "front of the line". Similar to FP+, there's a line merge that occurs before the station that makes the wait via FL about 15-20 minutes. Not sure where the merge is on SV, but it's probably not what I would call "front of the line". Plus, CP has already stated that FastLane Plus is required for SV, meaning it'll cost you $85 (Monday and Tuesday) or $98 (Sunday) for the days of your trip to bypass most of the SV line.

Personally, Fury325 is WAY better than MF, but the best Cedar Fair gigacoaster is I-305 at Kings Dominion. Don't get me wrong, MF is a great coaster, but I really hate the older Intamin train design with super-short seat belts and lots of obstructions to bang your knees into. I'm also pretty meh on MF's layout that has only 4 airtime moments and pretty force-less turns.

April 25, 2018 at 9:12 AM

Thanks Russell .... I seem to remember the Fastlane on the Maverick put you pretty close to the front of the wait line, but agree that most others drop you in close, but not that close. Although if it's a 3 hr queue, then close would be deemed well worth the money spent ? Tuesday will be my day to buy a Fastlane plus, and only then if I haven't done what I wanted to do the previous 2 days. I-305 is on my list of to-do's for next year, so plenty to look forward too over the next 12 months.

April 25, 2018 at 9:16 AM

Awesome! Hoping to get there sometime in June.
@Russell Meyer - Glad you mentioned I-305. Definitely the best Cedar Fair giga coaster and I think among the top 10 steel coasters in existence. It's really gratifying to see I-305 make 2 top ten lists in a new coaster poll. (No. 8 overall, No. 4 for steel coasters.) Its current ranking on a coaster chat website I frequent is 38 out of 100 - it tends to stay in that range - and I've never understood why some of the coasters on the list are ranked so much higher.

April 25, 2018 at 9:45 AM

I think I-305 gets a bad rep because it's located on a dead end way in the back of the park. It's also affected by the trimming that occurred in the first season, ultimately resulting in a full re-profile of the first turn due to g forces that were simply too high for too long. The slightly less intense turn and newer padded shoulder straps make this coaster nearly perfect.

I'm not complaining, but it's always confused me that I-305 never has more than a 15-20 minute wait, while vastly inferior coasters like Dominator, Rebel Yell (ahem, Racer '75), and Stunt Coaster have 45-60 minute lines on busy days.

April 25, 2018 at 11:33 AM

Outstanding review, James! As someone who currently ranks Lightning Rod and Twisted Colossus at the top of my wood and steel lists, respectively, I'm very excited to take on Steel Vengeance in June. It sounds like the ride not only didn't disappoint, it also exceeded expectations in the best way possible. 3 hour wait or not, this thing will be worth it.

April 25, 2018 at 11:46 AM

This is outstanding and as true as it gets - we rode this 7 times today and could not agree more - WAY TO GO !!!!

April 25, 2018 at 1:51 PM

Can I just point out how tough that kid behind Robert must be to be on that ride?! Smiles the entire time and his head is barely taller than the seat! Hahaha.

April 25, 2018 at 2:53 PM

Robert Niles, it was my honor and privilege to ride Steel Vengeance with you and spend a cold, damp Ohio morning watching how you create and maintain Theme Park Insider. To my fellow Insiders, Robert is just as fine a person as you can possibly imagine, and he spent much of our time at the media preview working on TPI while I was off riding SV or having lunch. TPI isn't a hobby for him- it's his career and he works hard at it for all of us. Thanks again, Robert!

April 25, 2018 at 4:33 PM

There were some questions about where Fast Lane Plus enters the ride queue. I don't know. They were using it for TV media only, and honestly I don't remember seeing where it merged. The regular queue is the same as for Mean Streak, with the long caged hallway under the superstructure. There are large posters along the queue explaining the backstory of Steel Vengeance and who the three "outlaws" are that came to town to take it back from Maverick. Kinda fun, not really important to know, but something to read while waiting in line.

April 25, 2018 at 5:14 PM

The star of this video (No offense to you James or Robert) is that grinning child in the seat behind Robert. That boy is having the time of his young life.

April 25, 2018 at 5:40 PM

No offense taken. We agree with you! I think someone on Facebook said that kid "owned the coaster!"

April 26, 2018 at 11:18 AM

Thank you for your kind works, James, as well as the great review!

And, yeah, show business rule #1 - you're always gonna get upstaged by the animal or the kid. LOL.

April 26, 2018 at 10:13 PM

Wow. I've always thought MF was the most overrated coaster but to hear someone say I-305 is better than Fury-325 is perplexing. I'd put Leviathan over I-305 and then Fury-325 personally.
Well I'll have the chance to conquer SV in June so I can't wait.

April 27, 2018 at 4:24 PM

I assume this coaster is very smooth?

April 27, 2018 at 6:10 PM

Very smooth, but it's extremely fast and the incredible amount of airtime means that you get a lot of impact on your thighs as they hit the lap restraint. It's not the bone-jarring, kidney-bruising ride of Mean Streak. Would I let my wife, who had back surgery, ride it? No, but look at the little kid behind Robert on the ride. He looks like he's riding a school bus- no fear!

April 27, 2018 at 11:49 PM

Sounds great. I've never been to Cedar Point, but I might just make the pilgrimage one of these years. I never thought an amusement park (as opposed to a theme park) could be a multi-day destination, but this one clearly is. And King's Island is nearby, right?

April 28, 2018 at 3:48 PM

Yes, Cedar Point is a multi-day destination, especially if you take your time and don't try to do everything in one day. Cedar Point is HUGE- it's literally a mile from the front gate to Steel Vengeance. We also have (I talk like I own the place- I wish!) have a terrific water park, Cedar Point Shores, that had a big expansion last year. If you really want to take some time to relax, Cedar Point has a mile-long beach, one of the biggest on Lake Erie, and the park premiered a big party on the beach every evening with bonfires, movies, dance parties and fireworks. Kings Island is about 4 hours away, just north of Cincinnati, and is also a terrific park, much more of a "theme" park than Cedar Point. Just because Cedar Point is not a true "theme" park doesn't mean that it doesn't have some large themed areas (Frontier Town, Frontier Trail, Camp Snoopy) and it's a visually beautiful park, with a completely unique location in Lake Erie (well, just above the water level). I've been going there since 1964, and the sight of it as I start across the causeway to the park never fails to inspire me. Seeing dozens of coasters and rides rising up from the lake is an amazing sight. Still a fan, I hope you make plans to get up here to America's North Coast soon.

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