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30 for 30

A coaster goal for my 30th birthday takes me to 4 different Cedar Fair Parks (Knotts, Kings Island, Cedar Point, and California's Great America)

From M. Ryan Traylor
Posted September 25, 2011 at 9:04 PM
As I turned 30 this year, I made a goal for myself, to ride 30 coasters that I have never been on. This challenge was mainly set to force myself into going to parks that I’ve always wanted to visit, Kings Island and Cedar Point. Although they have many coasters, they don’t have a full 30 between them so part one of this journey begins at one of my home parks, Knott’s Berry Farm.

PART 1 – Knott’s Berry Farm

A group of friends gathered on my birthday weekend to kick off the festivities. I had purchased a Platinum Pass with the intention of using it at other Cedar Fair parks across the country.

While nearly every coaster was ridden this day at Knotts with the exception of Boomerang only three could be counted; Pony Express, Sierra Sidewinder, and Montezuma’s Revenge.

Pony Express was mediocre, basically a kids launch coaster. Although the novelty of riding a horse was fun, the positioning of the body was not comfortable.

Sierra Sidewinder was the one that worried me the most. I can’t do flat rides that spin in circles. I will get sick AND have before, on the ride. Not fun. The forward motion on the track overtook any spinning motion that occurred, which was very little on my trip.

Montezuma was nothing spectacular. Loop. Loop backwards. Thanks. See you later.

The day ended with high spirits and most people saying that they enjoyed either Silverbullet or Xcelerator the best.

Total new coasters: 3

PART 2 – Kings Island

The list of new coasters is as follows. (Please note, although I’ve ridden versions at Kings Dominion, I counted them as new here because they are in a different park.)

The Beast, Diamonback, Vortex, The Racer, Adventure Express, Flight Deck, Backlot Stunt Coaster, Flight of Fear, Woodstock Express, and Flying Ace. Invertigo and Firehawk were missed.

Now we skip ahead 3 months to the end of the summer. Work prevented me from traveling, but finally a call to go work in Atlanta for a week provided a great excuse to add a week of vacation afterwards.

I got a late start out of Atlanta on a Tuesday, not leaving until around 230pm which put me into Mason, Ohio around 11pm that evening. No rides would happen that evening. Not to worry, the last week of operation at the park didn’t show heavy crowds. I arrived for the ½ hour early ride time on Diamondback and The Beast. Did two rides on Diamondback and one on Beast before the park was officially opened.

Backlot Stunt Coaster and Flight of Fear were nothing entirely new to me as they are copies of Kings Dominion attractions. Also, Woodstock Express is a copy and I remember it as the Scooby Doo Coaster from KD. I don’t quite fit in the seats anymore.

Disappointment was found in Flight Deck (too short and lacking elements) and The Racer.

Enjoyment found in Adventure Express and Flying Ace, a great kids suspended coaster.

Surprise was found with Vortex, and great blend of elements that made me long for my first looping coaster, Loch Ness.

Total new coasters: 13

PART 3 – Cedar Point

The list of new coasters is:

Milennium Force, Mantis, Maverick, Cedar Creek Mine Ride, Mean Streak, Raptor, Blue Streak, Wild Cat, Iron Dragon, Top Thrill Dragster, Magnum XL-200, Gemini, Corkscrew, Wicked Twister, and Disaster Transport.

Reaching Cedar Point took about 4.5 hours from Mason. Mainly on a two lane road through the rural countryside of Ohio, passing through Main Street towns and having to wait for the occasional train to pass. Best drive of the trip.

I arrived at Cedar Point around 1pm and started small, Disaster Transport. What’s the point of the theme?

From there I knocked out Blue Streak, Wild Cat, Iron Dragon, Magnum, Gemini, Cedar Creek, Maverick, Top Thrill, Mean Streak and Milennium Force.

Wow wow wow. Okay, well Blue Streak, nothing spectacular. Wild Cat reminded me of the traveling fair coasters that would be stopped with hand brakes by the not so sober attendant.

Iron Dragon provided more entertainment than Flight Deck at KI, but it’s no Ninja or BBW (RIP).

Magnum XL-200, although with some great airtime, was a bit a rough. This coaster is nearly on par with the Desperado at Buffalo Bills Casino in Primm, NV.

Gemini provided a racing wooden coaster experience with a steel track. Why weren’t more of these built?

Cedar Creek is classy, but you may want to clean up the water some. Algae is starting to take over.

Maverick!!!! The only downside is you must keep your head back or you will feel the restraint too much as you slap into it. That first drop is great, track is smooth except for the whipovers. Second launch is great. And the efficiency of the staff loading and unloading and the design and timing of this ride is perfect.

Top Thrill. First ride, front row of course. Had to close my eyes because the wind at 120mph is just too strong and dried out my eyes. If you ride at night, be sure to keep your mouth shut or you will be collecting bugs.

Mean Streak is a glorious wooden coaster, but like The Beast, trims have been placed on the ride to slow the train down. Why are parks doing this?

Milennium Force packs it all in. Speed, airtime, and sweeping overbanked turns. Although when I learned that this drop is barely over that of Intimidator 305 I wasn’t that impressed.

That ended the first night.

Day two consisted of Mantis, Raptor, Wicked Twister and Corkscrew, plus re-rides on some of my favorites.

Raptor is my number two coaster of this style. First place is held by Alpengeist. Raptor has all the elements; loop, cobra roll, zero g, corkscrew all built into a nice tight footprint.

Mantis felt like the precursor to SFMM Riddler. The perfect standup coaster would be the first half of Riddler and the 2nd half of Mantis.

Wicked Twister I was not a fan of. This is probably related to the fact that I cannot do flat rides that spin in a constant circular motion. No teacups, scramblers, or merry-go-rounds for me.

Corkscrew was a classic and I’m sure The Pavilion that in Myrtle Beach stole the idea of looping over the crowd from this park.

Rerides included Maverick, Millenium Force, Mean Streak, Top Thrill, Wild Cat.

Other elements of the park I enjoyed was the Skyride although it was such a short distance. I hopped over the Soak City for a few slides and lazy river journey. But if you want a water ride (and a soaking) without leaving Cedar Point, check out Thunder Canyon or Snake River Falls. The first water fall on Thunder Canyon drenched me completely and somehow on Snake River Falls I was hit with three, yes THREE, walls of water. I followed this up with Shoot the Rapids. Coming off the ride, I confused guests, because the rest of the boat was misted and I was soaked.

There is one thing I haven’t seen in any other park that I’ve visited, changing area in the restroom nearest water rides. Cedar Point has an abundance of lockers available to store belongings on the wettest and thrillest of rides, for a nominal fee. I rode all 3 water rides back to back to back, keeping my stuff in a locker the whole time. Then when I went to change, it was nice to see that I could use a designated room instead of a toilet stall.

Total new coasters: 28

PART 4 – California Great America

The list of new coasters is: Flight Deck, Psycho Mouse, Vortex, Demon, Grizzly.

If you read the recent news about Cedar Fair selling this park, then you have a good idea of where this review is heading.

This tiny regional park cannot compare to the three previous parks attended, but it holds that family appeal and feeling that the other parks are starting to lack. CA Great America still retains elements of a park that are from my earlier years, mainly the Skyride. It takes guests from one end of the park to the other, just like my home park used to do, Kings Dominion.

Its rides are lacking in thrill. Flight Deck, an inverted coaster, is short and contains few elements. However, I did enjoy the helix over the water. Adding some scenery never hurts.

Psycho Mouse, which was the 30th coaster, is standard like the others.

Vortex, a small and quick standup.

Demon, four inversions makes it one inversion longer than Corkscrew.

Grizzly is much tamer than it’s Kings Dominion version.

The main thing I noticed about this small park is small coasters. Not a single coaster has a mid coaster break section, thus less blocks. And yet the staff seemed to keep the queues and loading platforms moving rather efficiently without guests having to wait on the coaster too long at the end of the ride.

Furthermore, this is the only park outside of Disney property that I’ve seen carry Dole Whip, and that’s worth about 10 points in my book.

From James Rao
Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:50 AM
Nice report, M. Ryan, with nice details. Thanks for sharing.

Incidentally, the Demon at Great America was one of my first looping coaster rides. Rode it back when the Marriott folks owned that park a loooooong time ago.

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