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Photo TR: The Kiwis Do Texas Midwest 2013


mattnz
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I remember the mouse made a horrendous banging sound on those last couple bunny hills, and the toboggan is an unforgettable experience. That vertical lift is crazy. I'm surprised we all made it out of Wisconsin alive.

 

I think the reason for that noise was the fact that the supports weren't connected to the foundations. They simply stood on the ground and were lifted and banged down when a car took one of the hills.

 

Yeah, that would probably be the case. It was a fun little stop for sure.

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Cheers for the link in the new Club TPR newsletter Robb and Elissa!

 

Our next stop on the Texas Midwest tour was a park that I'm more than a little obsessed with - Six Flags Great America. I've been a Great America fan for a long time. In fact in all honesty I'm a Great America nerd - I even recreated the park in RCT3 for God's sake, so bear with me as I show you lots and lots of photos of buildings and other miscellaneous things I find rather fascinating!

 

Six Flags Great America is the better Great America as everyone pretty much agrees. Paramount tore out so many great attractions from Santa Clara's park, which is a real shame. In Gurnee you'll find a lot of the old Marriott charm still very much alive and well, along with beloved rides such as Whizzer still thrilling guests after all these years. And Six Flags really helped us have a Sixtastic day at the park, with early morning ERT on Raging Bull, first rides of the day on X-Flight (along with a special pass to skip the queue later on), a buffet lunch, backstage tour, and late night ERT on Viper, which was running backwards and even more fun with a DJ who turned the station into a dance party. Awesome line-up for an awesome day!

 

The only disappointment really was X-Flight. This was my first B&M wing coaster and I have to say I thought it was a very tame ride with surprisingly uncomfortable restraints. It does 'funky' stuff, but without any excitement or forces to speak of. If I had to compare it to another coaster I'd put it alongside an S&S El Loco. It's crazy-looking but takes every element very, very slowly. The ride experience is not helped by bumpy outside seats and harnesses that seem to get tighter and tighter as the ride progresses - a particularly big surprise for me for a B&M coaster! We re-rode X-Flight at night to give it another chance but all got off with a similar consensus. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, Delicious Alcoholics.)

 

Nevermind, the park is packed with so much to do it hardly mattered, and while a lot of the coasters are clones (Batman, Dark Knight, Demon, Superman, Vertical Velocity, even Viper) they're pretty good clones and there's more than enough to do to keep you entertained. We made sure we rode both log flumes, took a spin on some of the myriad of flat rides the park has, and stopped for a beer here and there.

 

Six Flags Great America is a lovely park that seems as well run as it did during our first visit in 2010. Our visit in 2013 definitely redeemed Six Flags for us after a shaky start on the trip. I look forward to visiting again and hopefully getting on their new, utterly insane-looking RMC woodie!

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We're ready to have a Sixtastic day at Great America!

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You have to admit, the Great America parks know how to make a grand entrance.

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Fun fact #1: The Sky Tower didn't open with the park in 1976, but was added the following season and is a 285 foot tall Intamin Gyro tower. On clear days, the Chicago skyline is visible.

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We were here bright and early! (Theme Parks are one of the few things I like getting up early for. Scratch that, they're the only thing.)

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This was the old Hometown Grill. Still looks good. In Santa Clara, this has been turned into a Panda Express...

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This eatery was originally named in honour of the wife of David Brown, who headed up Marriott's theme park division, but seems to be under Aunt Martha's management now... Oh well, it still has a 'Hometown' ring to it.

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I love how Six Flags have themed their Southwest Territory. It was not an original area of Great America, so kudos!

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We were here for morning ERT on Raging Bull.

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Raging Bull was built in 1999, so that must make it an intense B&M, right?!

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B&M mega coasters probably have the most comfortable restraints of any coaster I've ridden, thanks to those wonderful clam shells.

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Raging Bull is definitely a great ride.

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But it's ruined by the strong trim brake on the second hill! I'd almost take a flag off for it, but it was the same in 2010. (When did they add this vile thing?!)

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The backside of American Eagle is HUGE!

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Next up we got to beat the crowds to ride X-Flight.

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It's a funky-looking coaster that seems to lack any intensity whatsoever.

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I wonder what the general public think of it?

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The 'before' shot.

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How did Arrow manage to make this concept work better than B&M?!

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The very first element LOOKS cool, but somehow just isn't all that thrilling.

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X-Flight is a New Romantic roller coaster. It's all about image!

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We got off hoping Cedar Point's GateKeeper ran a little more thrilling...

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Next up: Q-Bots! Definitely a must at a park like Great America if you're planning to have a Sixtastic day.

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We decided to hit up American Eagle next.

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The queue goes on and on...

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The coaster is here somewhere...

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"Are we there yet?"

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Almost...

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Yay! I really like American Eagle. The first half is excellent. The return journey is definitely a bit bumpy, but all in all it's a solid classic for the park. (Built by Intamin. In 1981.)

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R.I.P. Barney Oldfield Speedway. At least you're still operating in Santa Clara.

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Speaking of lost rides, Iron Wolf may not have been well-loved, but it's left a bit of a gaping hole in the park.

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I'm looking forward to Goliath taking it's spot in 2014!

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Onwards into Yukon Territory...

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There were some nice scenic spots. I think this might have been where we had our first beer.

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I spot another great ride...

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...Little Dipper!

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But Batman of course is a Great America classic.

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And a GOOD B&M.

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Some of the original buildings of Yankee Harbor still look great.

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Fun fact #2: Both Great America parks opened with a ride called The Lobster, but Santa Clara's Lobster was an Eyerly Monster while Gurnee's was a Schwarzkopf Polyp ride.

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2013 was the last season for Ragin' Cajun. While not a great ride, I liked how Six Flags themed it to fit the Madi Gras/Orleans Place area of the park.

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TPR are ready to spin!

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Six Flags also managed to get their Top Spin into the Mardi Gras spirit, naming it King Chaos.

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Orleans Place is a beautiful area of the park!

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Alright, I have to admit Superman doesn't fit the theme here, but neither does Top Gun/Flight Deck, so both Great Americas managed to mess that one up.

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Superman clones are a bit slow loading and always seem to attract long queues... Q-Bots to the rescue!

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The best part of these clones are always the lift, drop and pretzel inversion.

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The ride just seems to meander around the rest of the course, but I love the flying coaster concept and think Superman is a lot of fun.

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A Great America eatery that still operates under its original name - Pizza Orleans!

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Next door is another superhero coaster...

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The Dark Knight (or Mack mouse in a box as it's more popularly known among nerds).

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Don't expect too much, and it's not a bad ride!

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Rue Le Dodge has a great facade but I've never been inside for a ride. I'm not really a bumper car person...

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Most beautiful of all is Great America's amazing, ornate, double-decker carousel.

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It's absolutely gorgeous.

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At this point we went round the park for a second time!

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Another look at some Hometown themeing. While Coke's all over this building now, Great America have always had tie-ins and merchandising deals.

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Thank the Intamin gods Gurnee still have their Whizzer coaster alive and kicking!

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It lives in a really scenic corner of the park surrounded by trees, which adds to the sense of speed as you race around those low-lying turns.

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I love the spiral lift hill!

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It's such a good ride. What can I say, nice job, Mr. Schwarzkopf.

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For Ian, it was an excellent #200!

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Neil liked it too.

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A definite thumbs up ride. (Don't mind the surly girl in the row ahead of us.)

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Next up was Viper, a ride I loved in 2010 that was turned backwards for the 2013 season. Yikes!

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Viper has a pretty cool station.

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We're ready (and a little nervous) to ride...

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Backwards Viper was excellent. It probably helps that for some mysterious reason it's a very smooth wooden coaster.

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It was quite unnerving riding a Cyclone-style coaster backwards as you race through the structure of the ride.

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I see an Intamin drop tower!

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Not every coaster nerd is a fan of these, but I LOVE them.

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Random flat ride.

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Demon didn't have much of a queue today.

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It's another surprisingly smooth coaster. I do wish the airtime hills were still there instead of the loops, however.

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Another 'oldie but goodie' for Great America.

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Fun fact #3: Buccaneer Battle sits on the former site of Déjà Vu which now resides at Silverwood in Idaho. Before that, it was the site of the much-loved Sky Whirl, a unique Intamin triple Ferris Wheel-style ride. But you all know that, right?

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Buccaneer Battle is not a bad replacement for Déjà Vu. Having ridden the splash battle in Silver Dollar City, I have to admit it's a really fun ride concept.

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Six Flags have done a great job with the themeing too.

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We all wanted to give the park's interconnecting log flumes a ride. As with all water rides, the queues were long, but fortunately on Flash Pass.

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First up was Logger’s Run.

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I enjoy an old school Arrow flume.

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Logger’s Run has the double down drop.

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It's really fun, and very wet!

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Yankee Clipper still operates in Gurnee. Paramount got rid of theirs in 1998 for Stealth (later the water park expansion) - boo!

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At the time of opening, these flumes were among the grandest ever built!

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Yankee Clipper has a small jump at the bottom of the big drop.

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Great America has a lot of areas like this that are just so nice to hang out in.

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I do love an Intamin impluse coaster so had to give Vertical Velocity a spin.

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Still no holding brake on this installation, but it's still a great ride.

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We managed to get on just before thunderstorms (briefly) interrupted our day.

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I wanted to take the train, since we didn't get a chance in 2010.

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It's a good way to take a tour of the park.

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The backside of Roaring Rapids.

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One last random photo of a building: Sticky Fingers! (Love the name!)

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We ended up back in the Southwest Territory for a special treat...

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Hot wings and beer! Oh how I wish New Zealand knew how to make (or had even heard of) hot chicken wings. It's one of my favourite foods in the United States along with Tex-Mex cuisine, and these were pretty good. (Maybe I should open a Tex-Mex eatery downunder?)

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As night fell, the park lit up for IgNight. I LOVE how theme parks are turning into giant dance parties after dark this season. So simple but so much fun!

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We also re-rode X-Flight. Oh well. I know Six Flags Great America have a bright future and I wish them well with Goliath. I look forward to a return visit soon!

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It is sure to be my favorite Six Flags Park! And the coming of Goliath really filled the blank of intense coaster ever since 1992 which is even better!

 

Finally found someomne who thinks Demon is a smooth coaster woo hoo!

 

Look forward to see your comments about Gatekeeper Great TR so far, thank you for bringing back the memory!

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The only disappointment really was X-Flight. This was my first B&M wing coaster and I have to say I thought it was a very tame ride with surprisingly uncomfortable restraints. It does 'funky' stuff, but without any excitement or forces to speak of. If I had to compare it to another coaster I'd put it alongside an S&S El Loco. It's crazy-looking but takes every element very, very slowly. The ride experience is not helped by bumpy outside seats and harnesses that seem to get tighter and tighter as the ride progresses - a particularly big surprise for me for a B&M coaster! We re-rode X-Flight at night to give it another chance but all got off with a similar consensus. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, Delicious Alcoholics.)

 

This pretty much sums it up!

 

Great trip report as always. Six Flags Great America was a highlight of the trip for me. If only the other Six Flags parks had this kind atmosphere and charm.

 

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Alright, I have to admit Superman doesn't fit the theme here [in Orleans Place].

 

It's a little-known fact that Superman loves gumbo. He could never get it on Krypton or in Smallville.

Edited by cfc
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Another great update. Glad to see how much you love this park. Great America was my "home" park growing up. We lived about 3 hours away but went at least once each summer. It had been 13 years since I'd been there, so I was really excited to get back. It's definitely my favorite Six Flags park, even though Great Adventure has a better ride lineup. They've just kept that old school charm that a lot of the other Six Flags parks have lost over the years.

 

I can't wait to get back and ride Goliath next summer!

 

Are you only doing the parks on the Midwest Trip, or are you going to talk about the other parks you guys went to? Just curious.

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Alright, I have to admit Superman doesn't fit the theme here [in Orleans Place].

 

It's a little-known fact that Superman loves gumbo. He could never get it on Krypton or in Smallville.

 

Haha! That explains it.

 

^ Hey Thad I think I will keep on going through our Virginia/Florida/LA excursions. We absolutely loved some of the parks we visited, like Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Islands of Adventure while others were a bit disappointing due to closed rides.

 

Thanks for your comments everyone!

Edited by mattnz
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  • 2 weeks later...

This update brings us to the end of the Texas Midwest portion of our trip, but stay tuned for updates from Kings Dominion (without Intimidator 305...), beautiful Busch Gardens Williamsburg, all four Walt Disney World Resort parks, SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, the amazing Universal Orlando Resort parks, and finally Knott’s Berry Farm (without Xcelerator...the Intamin cable strikes again!).

 

When you're a roller coaster enthusiast from New Zealand, a country with precisely three credits, you tend to want to get to as many parks as you can when you travel, and this trip was no exception. And all three of our trips to the US have seen us stop by Cedar Point - always a natural destination for any coaster enthusiast.

 

Our three days at the park in 2013 were our favourites due to the wonderful, wonderful Fast Lane Plus. I prefer Cedar Fair's 'fastpass' system over any other - while I appreciate virtual queueing, I like the simplicity of a basic two-lane system and think Cedar Fair have, by and large, got it right (whereas other parks seem quite inconsistent from ride to ride). And when you're an international visitor, a fastpass system is absolutely essential at a park like Cedar Point! Our last two visits saw us waiting up to two hours for rides like Maverick, Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster (and even Raptor).

 

It was great to stay on site again at the historic Hotel Breakers, which allows not only early morning ERT but more of a relaxing day as you can come and go freely from the park. And as with our last visit with TPR, a lot of us rounded out our days at TGI Friday's...

 

I have to say my thanks again to Robb and Elissa for the entire trip and the awesome perks we got at Cedar Point, which was the icing on the cake. Aside from Fast Lane Plus, food vouchers and some lovely final trip meals, we got backstage tours of Millennium Force and GateKeeper, and incredible ERT sessions on Maverick (or Maveshark as the fabulous ride crew named it) and Millennium Force. These were absolutely epic!

 

Cedar Point, like many other parks from Texas to the Midwest, lit up at night for their giant dance party-style event called Luminosity – Ignite the Night (goodbye and good riddance to the awful American Portrait show!). It was a fun way to end some great summer days at one of my favourite parks in the world. There is just something about Cedar Point that I really love. Yes, the park is barren in spots, with generic or no themeing, and they have some of the worst (and overpriced) park food out there...but it's immense, has a stunning setting against Lake Erie, and everywhere you look is coaster after coaster after coaster, with the roar of the trains and screams of riders surrounding you.

 

The following are photos from front to back of the park (and back again) across all three of our thoroughly enjoyable days at Cedar Point in 2013.

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We stayed again at Hotel Breakers. Word on the trip had it that certain hallways were haunted...but we couldn't detect any bad vibes.

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How can you when you have a view like that?!

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For most visiting Cedar Point, this is their view nowadays.

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It's a pretty impressive entrance.

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But I'll just get this out of the way: I thought GateKeeper was so-so. Better than X-Flight, sure, but at least as uncomfotable to ride, distracting you from the amazing view the ride features alongside Lake Erie.

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And this hill...has no airtime. For something so impressive-looking, GateKeeper is pretty damn forceless.

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Look at that setting! How did B&M mess up the wing coaster concept so badly?! Ah, well, hats off to the crew who were excellent, really getting the trains pumping through. (Hey, DJ PJ!)

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Upon entering Cedar Point, most guests will also be accosted by one of those annoying park photographers.

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Hey, it's a free photo!

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The front of the park has its share of charm.

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Beautiful!

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This is another colourful corner of the park.

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MaXair doing its thing.

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The GateKeeper entrance is looking pretty generic. What can I say, I thought Disaster Transport was a really fun ride, and the 330-foot Space Spiral was good too.

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Can someone tell me why Wicked Twister never seems to get much of a queue? It is a complete and utter mystery to me. I think it's a great ride.

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WindSeeker was definitely worth a spin, especially to hear the terrified screams from Neil!

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It's the windest WindSeeker out there!

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Cedar Point has a lot of flat rides...

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The park also features an iconic midway that has been much-copied around the world, with Corkscrew in pride of place.

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I think I nailed this photo!

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Corkscrew is an OLD school Arrow ride.

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I love the retro station.

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So many of those early Arrow coasters feature a small drop out of the station.

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Corkscrew isn't very good, but I do love the airtime hill. I wonder how it compares to Marriott's original Turn of the Century coasters and their infamous airtime hills?

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But enough Arrow for now (this park has a LOT of Arrow by the way!), another giant blue coaster awaits...

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We got an awesome backstage tour of Millennium Force!

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We also got up close and personal to 'Bone Town' as seen on the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad.

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Yep, we all geeked out.

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It was great to snap these behind-the-scenes shots of Millennium Force.

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The ride is hands-down one of the best steel coasters in the world, if not my favourite.

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There is just something about it that's so much fun!

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It may not have the most airtime (it DOES have airtime, I will point out!), but it packs so much speedy, fun elements into its length you get a lot of bang for your buck.

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It's also very sexy-looking.

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"Nothing to see here, move along..."

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"Nothing to see here either, move along..."

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As Neil pointed out during our amazing ERT session, this coaster is SEX. I'm not quite sure what that means, but I'll have some!

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It was especially delightful to bypass much of the queue later in the day with Fast Lane. God bless you, Matt Ouimet!

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Nearby Millennium Force is another coaster I quite like (unlike a lot of other coaster enthusiasts).

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Andrew and I both love the standing coaster concept, and we've never found Mantis to be particularly rough.

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This trip was an exception to our past experience - we both got a bit of an ear bashing...

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It's still nice to ride an intense B&M coaster. And Mantis really roars!

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We encountered an immense queue, even with Fast Lane.

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Top Thrill Dragster is another top-notch coaster at the park.

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As per usual, we had to wait a pretty long time between break-downs to get on this contraption!

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But we made up for it a couple of times courtesy of Fast Lane Plus.

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Top Thrill Dragster lives up to its name.

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It's truly breaktaking each and every time you ride.

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I'm in the Magnum fan camp, and not just because of this sexy 80s station.

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When the queue for Magnum looks like this, you know it's a BUSY day at Cedar Point!

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Magnum was as great as ever. Painful airtime in the front (unless you really brace yourself), a bit smoother in the back. All in all, an absolute classic that I hope the park will keep around for a long, long time.

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I'm glad Cedar Point still have their Enterprise too.

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Gemini midway, soon to get a bit of a makeover.

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Speaking of Gemini, this remains one of my favourite rides at the park, even when it's not racing (as in this photo).

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We did get some racing rides in, and they're just hands-up fun. The ride also features its share of decent airtime.

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But for a lot of our visit, the ride looked like this - with the red train stuck on the brake run.

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At certain points, the ride also looked like this!

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There were quite a few break-downs on this visit. Here's Cedar Creek Mine Ride stuck on the second lift hill.

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It's a pretty bad mine train anyway - mostly just meandering around an unimaginative course.

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The very back of the park is quite pretty.

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Antique Cars...

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At some point we also rode Mean Streak...

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To me, it's not too bad in terms of roughness (due to heavy trims), but it's a pretty boring ride. It doesn't LOOK it, but somehow it's just not up to much at all, and I never seem to be able to remember very much about it.

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Maverick, on the other hand, could well be the best ride in the park!

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We had my favourite ERT session of the whole trip on Maverick (or should I say, Maveshark!). It helped that the ride is great, but also racing in the dark is an epic experience, helped by the absolutely awesome ride crew, who were pumped and just lots of fun the entire time. We really appreciated it - thanks guys!

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Just watch those 'neck choppers' and Maverick is as smooth as can be!

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Cedar Point has a few different museum-style attractions, and this was the best one.

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They had quite a few models.

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Mean Streak...

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Blue Streak...

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As a log flume enthusiast I should mourn the demise of White Water Landing, but Maverick is just too good.

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The museum had plenty of historic artefacts too...

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Like all this miscellanous stuff...

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Alas, Skyhawk was closed the entire duration of our visit. Bit of a shame - I love S&S Screamin' Swings.

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Chick-fil-A was new to us... Friends back home told us we weren't allowed to eat here, but I heard they'd reneged on all the anti-gay stuff?

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There was something quite unsettling about this! (Never in New Zealand!)

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Ah well, Mr. Cathy and his chicken lovin' bible bashers can have their money. The food was damn good!

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We didn't do the water rides on this visit, but it's a good idea to do all three in a row if you're staying on-site at the park. You can pop back to the hotel for a quick change, and they're all fun rides (even Shoot the Rapids).

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We explored the Frontier Trail...

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It's one of the few areas left at Cedar Point still covered in trees, which makes for a nice change of pace.

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We decided to pop inside all the little shops and stops along the way.

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The Grist Mill was pretty cute.

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The whole area has a very nice feel to it.

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A peek inside the Red Garter Saloon.

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This was something we were very surprised (and delighted) to see at more than one park on this trip...

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Same-sex hand-holding! Dan Cathy would NOT approve!

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On each of our trips to Cedar Point we've taken the Sky Ride for some scenic photos.

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One of the more historic buildings at the park...

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It's a beautiful-looking ride...

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Raptor still packs a punch after all these years.

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It's a very intense coaster.

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And for some reason, it always seems to have long, long queues. We've never been able to work out what's the best time to hit up the ride. Thank the Intamin gods for Fast Lane!

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I wish I could be riding Raptor right now...

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Your toes tingle after a ride on this thing!

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Still one of the best inverts out there.

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Blue Streak is not to be forgotten.

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It's honestly one of the best coasters at the park! Lots of fun-filled airtime, and a bona-fide classic.

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Cedar Point looks great at night.

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I loved the changing colour schemes on Power Tower.

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And this photo of Luminosity brings me to end of this segment and the end of the TPR portion of this trip report. Thank you to Robb, Elissa and all our fellow trip participants for making this such a great trip. We miss you guys!

Edited by mattnz
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There is just something about Cedar Point that I really love. Yes, the park is barren in spots, with generic or no themeing, and they have some of the worst (and overpriced) park food out there...but it's immense, has a stunning setting against Lake Erie, and everywhere you look is coaster after coaster after coaster, with the roar of the trains and screams of riders surrounding you.

All of this. Regardless of any criticism or issues I may encounter, I love the atmosphere at Cedar Point, and it's one of my top parks. It's not really "traditional" any more, but not as bland and corporate as I might've feared.

 

Great update, as always!

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