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Photo TR: VIP Tour at Cedar Point


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On Saturday, July 26th, my brother and I went to Cedar Point on a VIP tour. I have spent some time writing a fairly lengthy trip report that I will break down into several posts. So many of the members here have posted incredible pictures of the park, so taking pictures of coasters was not a priority, but we did take several pictures to help us remember our great day that I will post along with my trip report.

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Part 1:

 

First off, a little about me. I have always been a huge coaster enthusiast. Literally. At my heaviest weight, I topped off between 350 and 360 lbs on my 6’3” frame. This semi-photo trip report from my VIP Tour at Cedar Point started 4 years ago.

 

In the summer of 2010, my family went to Cedar Point as part of our family vacation. It was the first time I had been since 2003, when I had barely been able to fit on Millennium Force, and was unable to fit on Top Thrill Dragster, due to my size. In 2010, I knew that we were going to go to Cedar Point so I decided I would try to lose some weight with hopes to ride all of the coasters at CP and dropped from around 350 to 315. It was the least I had weighed in many years, and I was hopeful that I would get to ride Millennium Force again and ride Maverick and TTD for the first time. Near the beginning of the day, I sat down in the test seat at MF with cautious optimism and tried to buckle the seat belt...it was not anywhere close to buckling. Though I was not surprised, I was devastated. That day I did not even try to sit in TTD’s seat, however, I was able to fit into Maverick’s restraints and was very excited to be able to ride the newest coaster at Cedar Point. While in line for Maverick with my brother and his wife, my brother asked me what weight I thought that I would have to get down to, in order to ride all of the coasters at Cedar Point. I estimated that I would have to get down to 250 pounds to be small enough to get on all of the coasters in the park. After my answer, my brother somewhat flippantly said, “well...if you get down to 250 lbs and I’m employed (he was in law school at the time), I will bring you back here and we will do a VIP tour.” At the time, getting down to 250 lbs seemed like an impossible feat to both of us, which I’m pretty sure is why he said it in the first place.

 

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My brother (on the right) and I (on the left in the blue) watching his son on a ride at Cedar Point in 2010.

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Another picture of me at Cedar Point in 2010 with my nephew on my shoulders.

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One more picture from our 2010 Cedar Point trip.

 

Fast forward to May of 2013. I weighed 340 pounds. I decided that on May 6th, I would start cataloguing and counting calories using MyFitnessPal in effort to start losing weight. I ended up having great success and the pounds started to melt away. I hit a huge milestone when I went to Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America in October of 2013. I weighed 275 pounds and was able to ride all of the coasters in the park with a little push here and there from the ride operators. It was at that point that I realized that I was going to get to 250 pounds and started to put out some feelers on whether my brother’s VIP Tour offer was legitimate. Turns out it was. By Christmas of 2013, I had achieved my original goal weight of 250 pounds and still continue to lose weight and I am getting close to my ultimate goal weight of 185 pounds.

 

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A before and after pic of the first year of my weight loss journey.

 

Earlier this summer, my brother and I started to plan our trip. We wanted our VIP tour to be on a Saturday during peak season, partly because of both of our schedules so we would not have to take off much work; plus we wanted to get the most “value” out of the VIP tour and go when the lines would be long. In my opinion, a VIP tour sounds much more appealing when the lines are an hour or two than when the lines are under 30 minutes. Eventually we decided on July 26th and started hoping for good weather.

 

As time went on and we planned more and more, the more we got excited about the trip. As soon as July 26th was 10 days away, I started obsessing over the weather. The worst thing I could imagine is spending a lot of money on a VIP tour and having it rain all day making the rides inert. When the forecast first became available, the forecast looked optimistic, but as the date got closer, the forecast became much more ominous. I eventually became so obsessed with the weather that I downloaded 3 apps on my phone and checked them incessantly, comparing them and trying to figure out if we would be ok, or if our day would be ruined. July 25th came and my brother and his son flew from Kansas to Chicago, where I live. Our parents joined us for a quick trip to Great America so he could ride Goliath and experience his first Flyer and Wing coaster. The weather held out for that day and we had a great time, but the weather was still looking poor for the 26th. At that point, though, there was nothing we could do except hope for the best. We left Great America around 6, got dinner and headed to Sandusky. We arrived in Sandusky around 1:30 EST and tried to get to sleep…As you can imagine, sleep was difficult to come by. I think my brother and I ended up getting about 3 hours of restless sleep, burdened by the anticipation for the day. When we woke up, there was evidence of rain on the cars in the hotel parking lot, but the sky was bright and cloudless...I was beginning to be optimistic that all of the weather reports were being pessimistic and the weather would not affect us too much throughout the day.

 

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My brother and his son before their first ride on Goliath at Great America

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My nephew and I after our ride on Goliath.

 

After a quick breakfast we were off to the park to meet up with other enthusiasts for the Millennium Walkback, to open the park with early entry and get the first ride of the day on Millennium Force. On our short drive to the park, my brother read a tweet from Tony Clark reminding people about the walk back. We were stoked. We got to the park around 8:30 and parked in the Preferred Lot at the front of the lot, thanks to our VIP tour passes. As we pulled up, we noticed that there were people on Raptor, which was odd, but didn’t think too much of it. We walked back to the Marina Gate and waited with a handful of coaster enthusiasts ready to start our day. While we were waiting there, we noticed that there were already a lot of people walking in the park. Tony Clark made his way to the gate and seemed a bit off kilter and announced to us that there would not be a walkback today because the park was already open to a company that bought out the park from 8-9 and let us know that we were free to roam the park as we want. This was not the way I was expecting to start the day and was a bit worried that the cards might not fall our way.

 

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We are getting close!!!

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Getting closer!!!

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Closer!!!

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CLOSER!!!

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And here!!! Let the fun begin!

 

Regardless of that disappointment, my brother and I headed to Millennium Force for our first ride of the day. There were already quite a few people in the queue, and we ended up waiting about 20 minutes for our first ride of the day. We sat in the second to last row and had a blast. I knew that the lift was fast, but it was still surprising when the lift hit its second gear and got even faster. I sat on the left side of the train and it was neat to look down on the left and see the water, really far down. It was my second lap ever, first since 2003, and I was thrilled by the ride. It has great speed, a good mix of air, with some smaller hits and some extreme ejection. I also really liked how you got pulled down the over banked turns and pick up some great laterals and positive g’s. After Millennium we walked back to Maverick and got in line. The line wasn’t too long in length, but there was a short stoppage in operation that made the wait take longer than it should have been. We rode in the last car and it was as good as I remember. Maverick has been my favorite steel coaster since 2010, and it did not disappoint. I love the launched lift hill, the quick change of directions, the negative g’s in the Horseshoe Roll, and the Stengle Dives. The ride also has two extreme ejector air hills. I seriously love that ride.

 

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Here we are before our first ride of the day. One of our friends came up with the perfect caption: This photo is blurry because the camera had tears of happiness in its eye.

 

By the time we were off of Maverick it was almost time for the park to open. We decided to head back to the car to pick up my backpack with our rain gear and some other essentials, like Tylenol and a portable charger for our phones. It was kind of cool to walk towards the front of the park as a mass of people were rushing past. We ended up taking the Sky Ride to help save some walking, as we knew that there would be much walking throughout the tour. After we got my bag, we walked back into the park, opting to take a few pictures with Gatekeeper in the background.

 

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I look forward to reading the rest of this TR. Congratulations on the weight loss.

 

And Maverick is definitely the best in the park. Love that coaster.

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Thanks for the kind words thus far.

 

Part 2:

 

Once back in the park we decided to get one of the coaster credits out of the way before our tour started at 11 and headed to Blue Streak. The wait was less than 10 minutes and we opted for the back row. In retrospect, the back row was probably a mistake. That ride was rough back there. I’m used to old school woodies having a good bit of rattle, but this coaster just slammed us into our seats on several occasions and was really painful on our lower backs. That ride made me feel old, and not in a good way.

 

With the park filling up, and not really wanting to wait for much, we started to walk back to the Speedzone Gift shop next to Top Thrill Dragster to meet our VIP tour guide. While we were walking back, we passed Cedar Downs and there was no one in line, and they were still waiting a little bit for additional riders, so we decided to hop on. We both had really low expectations, thinking it was just another carousel. Once the ride started to pick up, we realized that we were very wrong in our assumptions and had a blast as the ride continued to pick up speed. We also loved how the horses continued to jockey back and forth until the ride comes to a stop, at which point my brother was the winner in our row. I’m so happy that we stumbled on that ride. It is really unique and quite fun.

 

At this point, we finished our walk back and waited for our tour guide. For some reason, I had been referring to our yet-unseen guide as her/she and so did my brother, although we had zero inkling that it would be a girl, it was just what we had envisioned in our heads. A little after 11, we met our tour guide Mackenzie. We made the necessary introductions and she went over what the tour entailed, making note that the tour ended at 8 and she needed an hour for lunch that we could take whenever we wanted, that we would have front of the line access on every ride and special seating to shows and the like. My brother and I let it be known, that if the weather cooperated, we would not be taking advantage of the shows and would be hitting up the coasters as much as possible. Once the greetings and brief “tutorial” were completed, she asked, “Do you know what you would like to ride first?” My brother and I just pointed at TTD with huge grins on our faces. She replied, “OK!” and we walked across the midway to the exit of TTD. She led the way up the ramp and told the ride operator at the unload station that she needed two seats in the front. After handing her my bag, we walked into our seats and buckled in with zero wait. Our train pulled ahead into the loading station where the ride op with the microphone let the queue know that if there was someone in your row, “please do not sit on guests in the seats as that would be uncomfortable for all involved.” Once the rest of the train was loaded we were on our way up and down the track. This was my first ever ride on TTD and I was amazed by the experience. I had a huge grin on my face the whole ride. The launch was intense and smooth. I started to get ejected from my seat before we crested the hill and stayed off my seat for the entire way down. It is such a different experience than any other coaster I had ridden, and I loved every second of the ride.

 

As part of the VIP tour, we also received one hard copy of an on-ride photo, so we looked at the picture. It turned out to be a really good photo, but we weren’t sure if that was “THE” picture of us that we wanted. We decided not to get that photo and started to leave. As we were leaving, I saw a little add for an All Day Photopass. For $30, you could get every on-ride photo emailed to you. Knowing that we would be riding a lot of coasters with on-ride photo opportunities, this seemed like a no-brainer and a really cool way to help us remember this experience for a long long time.

 

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Note the huge grin on my face in both pictures. I also love the pained/constipated look from my brother.

 

In our planning of our trip, my brother and I brainstormed different ways to make the most of our day on the VIP tour. We knew that we could not take consecutive rides on anything, so we thought about different strategies. One idea was to just make a lap around the park and ride everything once, then go back to our favorites. That had its appeal to both of us, but we had already been to the park and knew what rides we would likely want multiple rides. We decided to use 4 rides as a sort of home base and ride other rides around those foundational coasters to get a lot of laps on those rides. Since TTD was our first “home base,” after our first lap on TTD, we rode the Shot side of Power Tower, which was a lot of fun. I had been on a shorter version at Holiday World and liked the increased speed of the larger tower, but I didn’t get as much ejector air at the top of Power Tower as the Holiday World ride. Both my brother and I noticed how smooth it was; over all it was a great ride.

 

After Power Tower, we took another lap on TTD again in the front row. After our second lap on TTD, we headed over to Corkscrew. My brother has a soft spot for Arrow loopers, as Shockwave at Great America was one of his first mind-blowing coaster experiences. The beginning of Corkscrew wasn’t too bad, but from the bottom of the air time hill through the end of the corkscrews, there were 3 or 4 major painful moments that crushed our lower backs, similar to Blue Streak. Needless to say, it was our only lap on it all day. We then headed back to TTD for our 3rd lap of the day, this time in the back row. By this time, it was our 3rd lap in about 30 minutes and the ride operators noted our affection for the ride and were really friendly to us. It was a small gesture, but it really helped make my brother and I feel like special guests. We both liked the way the suspense built up, as you had no idea when the brake fins went down. The back row has a significant shutter at the end of the launch, which made the ride not as smooth, but it is still an incredible ride no matter where we sat. My brother appreciated that the back row was easier on his eyes and contacts with people breaking up the air in front of him.

 

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Again, more of the same looks on our faces on our second lap...we seriously loved this ride and I could not stop smiling.

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I didn't like the back as much as the front, but it did provide a bit of a different experience, especially with the type of air time experienced on the way down.

 

We were done with all of the surrounding rides we wanted to ride by TTD, so we decided to head up to the front of the park and ride Gatekeeper for the first time. On the way we stopped to redeem our drink wristbands at the snack shop under Sky Ride. This was the first situation where it was great to have a tour guide to be an advocate for us. We ordered our drinks and handed the worker our tickets so he could scan them and give us our wristbands. Something went weird, and the worker said he was unable to process the bands, and we would have to go to the front of the park. At this point Mackenzie intervened and basically told the worker that he was going to make this work and that we were not going to go anywhere else. Sure enough, things got sorted out, and we had cold and tasty beverages in our hands. When we got the VIP tour, I assumed that the all day drink plan was going to be the souvenir cups that everyone carries around. When we got our drinks and they were in the generic 20 oz. paper cups, I was a tad disappointed, but after a while, I really appreciated not having to lug around a souvenir cup the whole day. All we had to do if we wanted a drink was go to a kiosk or food stand, have them scan our bands, and we got a fresh cup of whatever drink we wanted. It was quick and easy. As we walked up to the front of the park, we started to get to know our guide Mackenzie more. She was very personable, knew the park very well, and fit into our group very well. We could not have asked for a better tour guide.

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Love this TR.

I'm really into these VIP experiences. I remember when we were going to visit CP, I was considering this too, but it was quite expensive and eventually we didn't do it, also because we were visiting on weekdays in May and didn't expect a packed park.

How much does it cost nowadays ?

Looking forward to the rest of your TR

Also congrats to reaching your goal.

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^ The VIP tour cost $425 a person and includes an 8 hour tour, preferred parking, all day drink wrist band, all day dining plan, and one on-ride photo per group. You can also get "special" seating at shows and reservations at the sit down restaurants on the peninsula, but we did not utilize any of those two perks.

 

Part 3:

 

We approached the front of the park, and we were in awe of how that corner of the park looks. Gatekeeper is visually stunning, and the way Windseeker, Wicked Twister, MaxAir, and the Ferris Wheel look together is quite impressive. We opted for the front row on the right side of Gatekeeper first, as my brother only rode the left side of X-Flight at Great America, and we wanted to experience the inverted drop on the right wing. We both enjoyed the ride very much. It was very smooth in the front, and we actually enjoyed the pacing. It is not the most thrilling or forceful ride, but it has some neat elements. We got a small pop of air on the air hill, and the keyholes through the entrance were fantastic on the right side of the train. Another thing that separates Gatekeeper from X-Flight is the unlocked vests. Both vests sit oddly on my collar bones, but the non-locking vests on Gatekeeper were significantly more comfortable than X-Flights. All in all, I actually prefer Gatekeeper to X-Flight and I believe my brother felt the same way. I can understand why some enthusiasts do not like wing coasters, but I appreciate the sensation of riding on the side of the track, and I think that they are a lot of fun.

 

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Our first lap on Gatekeeper. We both really liked the ride and did not feel much rattle at all.

 

After our first lap on Gatekeeper, we headed over to Wicked Twister. We had just been on V2 at Great America, and this ride is very similar. We rode in the front seat and loved going up the front spike with nothing but air in front of us. The only significant difference between Wicked Twister and V2 is the rear spike where V2’s is straight and Wicked Twister’s back spike is twisted, but because we were in the front seat, we did not feel much twisting. All in all, it is a fun ride, but nothing overly special.

 

The exit for Wicked Twister is right by the exit for Windseeker, so we headed over there before getting our second lap on Gatekeeper. I had been on Windseeker at Kings Island, but this was my brothers first experience on these really high swings. Regardless of my prior experience, I always have a moment of terror on any swing ride. I think it has something to do with there being nothing underneath me. Sure enough, when we got to the top of the tower and the speed picked up, I got these thoughts in my head, “What would happen if this fails?” “Yup, I’m pretty sure I’d die…” “That fall would suck.” “Please don’t break!” Those thoughts are fleeting, but I inevitably get them on any swing ride, regardless of height. Despite the momentary terror, Windseeker offers some fantastic views of the park and Lake Erie, and we both enjoyed our experience.

 

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I still get kind of freaked out on swing rides...no matter how tall.

 

Once back on Terra Firma, we headed back to Gatekeeper to ride in the front on the left side. The ride was obviously very similar. Personally I like being pulled up and over on the inverted drop on the left side as opposed to being dropped under on the right. The ride was just as smooth as the first lap. One area I really preferred the left side over the right, was the return over the entrance on the side of the key holes. You really get some great head and feet choppers on the left side that I did not get on the right side. The helix is also a bit more fun on the left side as you really hug the ground before the final brake run.

 

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Our second lap on Gatekeeper. In retrospect, I would not have mind a few more rides on Gatekeeper, but it was so far away from everything else we wanted to ride.

 

It was about 1 pm by the time we were done with our two laps on Gatekeeper, and we wanted a little snack as we had not eaten anything since 8 am. In reading the TPR forums, I had heard that we needed to try the Cheese-on-a-Stick, and lo and behold, there is a cheese-on-a-stick stand right next to the exit to Gatekeeper. Our meal plan got us 2 sticks and a bag of chips. We were not overly hungry so we decided to split the Sticks and ended up giving the bag of chips away to a stranger sitting in the midway. Oh, by the way, the cheese-on-a-stick were delicious. To me it tasted like a deep fried grilled cheese. One stick was more than enough for me, and my brother did not finish his. The other amusing thing to me was that the stick after being fried was essentially pointless. We both tried to pick up the tasty nugget by the stick and there was no rigidity to the nugget. It was just slish-sloshing around in the molten cheese.

 

In one of our less wise decisions of the day, we decided to hit up Max Air on our way over to Raptor after eating our little snack. I had been on Delirium at Kings Island and really enjoyed the experience. My brother had his reservations. His stomach had not been feeling great on Friday at Great America, and while his stomach was feeling better on Saturday, he really did not want to push his luck. Regardless, he put his big-boy pants on and strapped in. That ride really picks up speed quickly between the swinging and the rotation of the frisbee. There is some nice floating air and some nice positive g’s at the bottom of the arch. My brother survived without incident, but he had no desire to ride again. All in all a really good ride that I wish more parks would install.

 

We headed over to Raptor for my first ever ride on the classic. Raptor was my 3rd B&M inverted coaster after Batman: The Ride at Great America and Banshee at Kings Island. To me it felt like a much longer version of Batman. It had similar forces, but had a little more spacing in the pacing. I will say that I was not a huge fan of the cobra roll. Just a personal feeling. If I were to rank the three inverts it would be: Banshee, Raptor, and Batman with Raptor and Batman being pretty close to each other and Banshee pretty far ahead the other two. I prefered Banshee’s elements, speed, pacing, and comfort over the other two older inverted coasters. It ended up being our only lap on Raptor, not because we didn’t like the ride, but we just didn’t make it back to the front of the park, focusing on the the big three in the back of the park.

 

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Us on Raptor...doing it's thing. I hadn't noticed until I was just about to post this picture, but it kind of looks like my brother is sporting Raptor arms in this picture. Kinda makes me laugh a bit.

 

We continued our lap around the park and headed to the middle of the park using the Sky Ride. I really like the Sky Ride, not so much as a ride, but as a way to get good views of the front of the park and save some walking. Before we headed to Iron Dragon and the rest of the west side of the park, we got a quick lap on TTD. We sat in the back, and it was just as enjoyable as before. We saw many of the same employees as before, and they were just as friendly.

 

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I was laughing hysterically at the end of this ride. The woman right in front of us dropped about 30 F-bombs on the way down the tower, which was clearly humorous to me.

 

After our 4th lap on TTD, we walked over to Iron Dragon. I have always liked these Arrow Suspended coasters. Not the most thrilling, but I really enjoy the free swinging of the cars. The first half of the ride is fairly meandering, but the highlight of the ride is after the second lift. The helix over water and the tight-ish turns heading into the brake run really get the cars whipping back and forth. It is a great ride for the park as it offers some thrills for the younger riders. I only wish that they would lower the height requirements. There is no reason in my mind that Demon at Great America has a 42” minimum height and Corkscrew and Iron Dragon have 48” minimum heights.

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^ Yes it was just the two of us and we loved that we had a small group. Some parks, like Six Flags, make the VIP tours have at least 4 members, but Cedar Fair properties allow as few as 2 people per tour.

 

Part 4:

 

Using Millennium Force as our next foundational coaster, we bypassed Mantis to head to the 300+ ft. behemoth. We opted for the front seat this time, and boy was that great. I did not get a lot of air on the first hill, but did experience my first gray out on a coaster on the overbanked turn after the first drop. That was quite the odd sensation as my vision went really fuzzy and almost pixelated from the overbanked turn through the first part of the tunnel right after. I really liked the pretty good ejector air on the three airtime hills in the front seat.

 

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Our first lap in the front of Millennium Force. It was fantastic.

 

After riding MF, I prepared for the pain that was about to commence with the riding of Mantis. I had been one other stand up coaster: Iron Wolf at Great America. I had heard all of the stories about the roughness of Mantis, but I had never ridden it and wanted the credit. I knew from my experience on Iron Wolf that it is imperative to be proactive on the turns rather than reactive to help save your head from getting tossed around like a rag doll. We got locked in in the front row, and I was genuinely surprised at how little room there was left on the belt, but the restraints were as comfortable as a stand up coaster could be. I locked the seat in a little low, so I could stand up without feeling like my manhood would be obliterated. My brother unfortunately was not so lucky and the seat sat a little high for him, which caused a midicum of discomfort, and he complained about a lack of blood flow to his legs by the end of the ride...I’ll just say that I was glad that it wasn’t me. I was pleasantly surprised by Mantis and actually enjoyed it quite a bit and thought it was pretty smooth. I was able to keep my head forward and was able to push it against the restraints on the turns and did not have any head banging. I would have taken a re-ride if the opportunity presented itself, but we had bigger and better things to ride, so it ended up being our only lap on the ride. One last note about Mantis...I was shocked at how loud the ride was. That thing is the definition of B&M roar. It was difficult to carry on a conversation with anyone when Mantis was screaming through its course.

 

We went back to Millennium Force for another front row ride. Still grayed out in the over bank, and it was still freaky to me as I wasn’t sure if the first gray-out was a freak incident. Turns out, that I had a tendency to gray-out on the ride. After we got off the ride, we wanted another ride on MF, but there wasn’t much around there that we wanted to ride right away. We were thirsty, so we asked Mackenzie if we got a drink instead of going on a different ride, would we be able to ride MF again? She indicated that that was fine, so we went and got a beverage in the Red Garter Saloon and heard a little snippet of Rockin’ Country. The little bit we heard sounded good, but we weren’t there to listen to amusement park country, so we headed back to MF for a back row ride. We got much more air time in the back and loved the ride, but we both decided that we preferred the front row.

 

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Our second lap in the front, third total on the day. My brother wised up and put on sun glasses to help keep his eyes open throughout the course.

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For our fourth lap, we opted for the back row. We decided to have a little fun with the picture this time. Not our best effort, but still kind of fun.

 

We had thought that it would be a good time to take our hour break, but thought that we should check the weather forecast. It looked like there might be some rain coming our way around 5 or 6, so we decided to take advantage of the current cloudy, but dry weather and head to Maverick to tackle that ride and the surrounding credits. We had already ridden in the back of the train, and my brother had never ridden in the front seat, so that is where we headed. I’m usually a hands up coaster rider, but Maverick is not that type of ride for me. I eventually found a good brace position where I pushed my hands against the lower part of the over the shoulder restraints. My brother opted for a hands on the top of the restraints, which helped, but still threw him around a bit.

 

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First lap on Maverick in the front for my brother, but second lap on it for the day. I looooove this ride. The quick changes, the ejector air, the launch, the floating air in the horse shoe roll...All of it makes for an excellent ride.

 

After our second lap on Maverick for the day, we headed over to Skyhawk. I had been on one S&S Screamin’ Swing at Silver Dollar City and loved it, so I was excited for my brother to experience these swings on steroids. I’m not sure he really knew what to expect, but both of us loved the ride. You get some great negative g’s in the ride, and it is really freaky to go past horizontal and look straight down at the pavement below. Unfortunately, this ride was involved in an accident about 7 hours after we rode it, and this was the first time an amusement park ride had an issue so close to me riding it. It seems like Skyhawk has had several issues, so I hope they can get everything worked out, because these S&S Screamin’ Swings are a blast.

 

The exit/VIP entrance for Cedar Creek Mine ride is right next to the exit of Skyhawk, so we took that opportunity to get that coaster credit for the day. I had been on it in 2011 and remembered I thought it was awful then, but it was the first time my brother had ridden the coaster. Both of us hated the ride. It was rough, boring, and pretty much the worst coaster in the park. After the pain that was Cedar Creek Mine Ride, we headed to Maverick again. After riding in the front row, we established that we would only ride Maverick in the front row for the rest of the day.

 

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Very similar to our last picture...but we switched sides. For what it's worth, I did not notice much of a difference between sitting on the right or left side. It's a fantastic ride no matter where you sit.

 

In our post-Maverick high, we decided to get the last coaster credit in that part of the park and headed over to Mean Streak. The coaster looks really impressive. It’s huge, the track goes all over the place, and it’s tall. Unfortunately, the ride just sucks. If Cedar Creek Mine Ride is the worst coaster in the park, Mean Streak is the most disappointing. Mean Streak isn’t particularly rough due to the recent re-tracking, but it is just so boring. There are no pops of air, weak lateral forces, and the trim brakes on the first hill are just bland. There is so much promise for that ride with its size and height, but it doesn’t use any of that. Count my brother and I as enthusiasts that pray to the coaster gods that Mean Streak gets the RMC Iron Horse treatment. There truly is a lot of potential if the right hands get access to that ride.

 

Once we had our Mean Streak credit, it was time for another lap on Maverick, again in the front seat. By this time, I had showed my brother the correct way to ride Maverick and he had a better ride with much less head banging. It was about 4:30 after our 4th lap on Maverick, so we checked the weather, and there was a significant storm cell about 15-20 miles south of us. It looked like it should stay away so we decided that this would be as good of a time as any to take our hour break. We made arrangements to meet Mackenzie in front of Gemini to continue our tour at 5:30. At this point, my brother and I were pretty tired and were looking forward to a break. We were in the back by Maverick and pizza sounded good to both of us. We saw a sign for pizza at the Chuck Wagon restaurant, and we walked in. Unfortunately we were unable to eat there because it was not on the Dining Plan that came with our VIP tour. We asked where we could get pizza on the dining plan and were directed to the Grist Mill (unfortunately not the Grist Mill at Dollywood...mmmmm cinnamon bread). We got a couple pieces of greasy pepperoni pizza and a chicken fingers basket to split. The food was not great, but adequate.

 

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Notice my our hand positions...For us, this gave us the most comfortable ride on Maverick. We are both pretty tall, so our heads are mostly above the OTSR, so we never had much of an issue with head banging, but if you aren't braced, Maverick will still throw you around.

 

Using the time to relax a bit, I was able to get caught up on my Twitter feed. When I knew that I was going to visit Cedar Point this summer, I started to follow Tony Clark on Twitter. I watched almost daily as he held his surprise tweetups. Every time I saw a tweetup, I thought that it would be cool to be able to participate in one when my brother and I visited. After finishing our food, I scrolled through my twitter feed, and saw Tony Clark tweet about a tweetup at the petting zoo right by where we were eating, but it was 15 minutes before I read it, so I thought that we would be out of luck. I scrolled a bit further, and he sent out a tweet 5 minutes prior saying that he still had some prizes left, so my brother and I quickly threw away our garbage and walked briskly over to the petting zoo. It took us a bit of time to locate him, but we finally did and walked over and showed him his original tweet. Most of the prizes he had left did not appeal to us, but he mentioned that he had some of this year’s coins, and my brother and I knew that was what we wanted. Tony was also nice enough to give us some coupons left over from when Johnsonville visited the park for some tasty bratwursts. He also indulged us a bit and posed for a quick picture. I was really happy that we were able to participate in the tweet up. Another great surprise that helped make the day even more special.

 

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My brother was taking the picture and didn't realize that Tony was making a goofy face. I was able to adjust accordingly, but my brother was unaware and is the only "normal" one in this picture.

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Part 5:

 

After our impromptu and fortunate tweetup awesomeness, my brother and I headed over to the newly renovated Gemini midway to wait for Mackenzie. We both had fleeting thoughts of seeing if we could ride something in the 20 minutes we had left before Mackenzie was finished with her break, but we quickly decided that sitting felt great, and we did not want to stand in a line. So we sat down and watched several people ride Slingshot, which was enjoyable. Right at 5:30, Mackenzie strolled up the midway, and we walked right onto Gemini. I had fond memories of Gemini from my last two visits. I remembered it being really smooth and having some great air time. We got in the back seat of the Red Train, and we were off with a modicum of excitement...it is an Arrow after all. We had planned on riding both sides, but after the first couple hills we realized that once was going to be enough. It was another pretty rough and painful ride. It might have been better in the middle of the train, but we did not care enough to try it again. I was disappointed that Gemini did not live up to my expectations.

 

Once we were done with Gemini, we walked down the new midway to Pipe Scream. Like several rides at Cedar Point, I had ridden a similar ride, Surf Dog, at Kings Island and was underwhelmed by my experience. I was pleasantly surprised by Pipe Scream. We were in the back row all the way on the right side. Pipe Scream felt a lot faster and more forceful to me than Surf Dog. It’s a great addition to that part of the park. Once off the ride, we crossed the midway and hopped on Lake Erie Eagles. It was my brother’s first experience on flying scooters, and we both had a blast. It is really fun to be able to control your own vehicle and get it going as high as you can. One note about the Lake Erie Eagles: it has terrible capacity. The ride takes forever to slow down, and there are only 8 vehicles. I am kind of surprised that Cedar Point did not put two flying scooters next to each other to help with the capacity.

 

At this point, we had three coasters that we had not ridden on our big lap around the park. I asked at the beginning of the tour if being a VIP would help me get on Wilderness Run (formerly Jr. Gemini) although we did not have anyone between 36” and 54” to ride with me. Mackenzie said that she couldn’t help with that, so I knew that I would not be able to get on all 17 coasters in the park. Oh well. We had two coasters left that we could ride, so we walked back across the midway to Camp Snoopy to ride Woodstock Express. It is an average Vekoma roller skater, but it was a credit that I did not have, so we needed to ride it. We also decided that this would be a great coaster to get our hard copy photo that we get as part of the VIP tour. This picture would join two other pictures of my brother’s son on our previous trips to Cedar Point, so it will fit nicely in that regard. Apparently the ride ops at Woodstock Express were not used to VIP tours coming through, because they had this confused look when we walked up the exit and Mackenzie asked for one row on the next train. It ended up not being a problem, but it was kind of funny none the less. Because we wanted this to be our printed picture, we knew we had to be in the same car. We knew it was going to be a tight fit, but we were both very surprised at how tight the seat belts were on the ride. There were two groups of riders that had to get off the ride because the child was not tall enough to ride by themselves and their parent was too big for the safety belt. I’m surprised that Cedar Point had individual seat belts that were so small on a family coasters. Seems like a large oversight on their part that makes their park slightly less family friendly.

 

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Our "terrifying" ride on Woodstock Express. We had fun and got several chuckles from the people waiting in line as we were two grown men sitting in the same seat.

 

We survived our cramped ride on Woodstock Express and headed to our last credit for the day, Magnum XL-200. Both my brother and I have ridden it before, and it is not our favorite ride by any means. We pretty much tolerate it to get the ride credit on it each visit. Prior to our trip, I asked on the TPR boards for favorite seats on different rides and the overwhelming consensus was that we needed to ride Magnum in the “ejector seat” which is the 3rd row of the front car. We walked up to the station and Mackenzie instinctually asked for the front row, and I quickly interjected with the recommended seat. After hearing our seat request, the ride op on the station gave this nod of approval showing that we had either chosen really well...or really poorly depending on how you look at it. The ride was everything we were expecting. The first drop is fun, and that is about it. I absolutely loathe the beginning of the turnaround. Well before you start the turn, the track pitches hard to the left and it throws you out of your seats in the most uncomfortable manner. That was back in the era when it seemed like Arrow just sort of hoped they got the physics right. In this case, Arrow guessed wrong. The bunny hills on the return were equal parts fun and painful because of the ejector air you achieve. All in all it was what we expected.

 

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Oh, the pain...I do love how the on-ride photo is positioned to take a picture at one of Magnum's most painful moments.

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I had the exact same experience on Magnum, I was making the same face as that lady in the first row there. I also rode it at the end of a long day and Mean Streak had only 5 minutes earlier about given me a hernia so I was not in a good frame of mind going in. Next time I make my way out there I'm going to do Magnum early in the day.

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Part 6:

 

At this point, we had completed our lap around the park and it was time to ride TTD, Millennium Force, and Maverick as much as we could. We were already by TTD, so we decided to ride that, then make our way back to Maverick and stop by Millennium Force on the way. We got to the station of TTD and took our seats in the front row and pulled ahead into the loading station. As our train loaded, the train ahead of us on the track prepared to launch. The engine noise rumbled...the train shuffled back onto the launch cable...and then they waited…and waited. Eventually the engine noise shut off as well. Top Thrill Dragster was down. The ride ops on the microphone asked everyone at the air gates to move back two steps, then those of us on the train were instructed to to get off the train and move back into the air-gates.

 

Being on the VIP tour we weren’t entirely sure what to do, so we did as we were instructed and got behind the air gate. We asked the ride op by the front row and told her our situation, and she didn’t really know what to do. This was the second time it was nice to have Mackenzie be our advocate while we were on the tour. At this point my brother and I see Mackenzie walking up to the front of the station from the exit, and she talked to a few ride ops in effort to get us out of the air gates. The ride ops were in the process of moving all of the empty trains back a spot on the brake run to allow for the train ahead of us to come back to the station to unload. My brother and I really had no interest in waiting, as time stuck in the line was valuable time that we could be using to ride other rides. Thankfully, after talking to Mackenzie, the ride ops opened the air gates so my brother and I could exit the ride and continue our tour.

 

After our short and ineffective attempt to ride TTD, we headed over for another ride on Millennium Force. Again we chose to ride in the front seat. We definitely established a preference to the front seat on this ride. I still grayed out on the overbank, but still really enjoyed the ride. After the first hill after the overbank, both my brother and I felt a tiny pin smack against our hands. At first we thought it was just the gnats that we had heard about, but it was a little too frequent to be bugs. Unfortunately, we realized that rain had started to fall. We were disappointed as a few more drops hit us on the brake run waiting to unload. Maybe our luck had run out, and we were done riding for the day. While we would have been mildly disappointed if the rides closed due to rain, we had accomplished everything we wanted and knew we had already lucked out with the weather. By the way, while the rain was the cause for most of the pins we felt on the ride, we did hit quite a few bugs...that was a new experience for both of us. Oddly enough, not as gross as I thought it would have been.

 

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I finally jumped on the sunglasses bandwagon. They really do help keep your eyes from watering too much, plus they protect your eyes from the wonderful protein splatter of dead bugs. Win/win in my books.

 

By the time we got off Millennium Force, the precipitation had seemed to stop, so we headed back to Maverick to get on that a couple more times. This being our 5th lap on Maverick, we had both pretty much perfected our hand position for a painless ride on my favorite steel coaster I have ridden. We went to get our picture emailed to us, but there was a line so we opted to not get the picture. We knew we wanted to ride Maverick and Millennium Force again, so we thought about riding Skyhawk again, but decided to ride the Antique Cars in order to ride Maverick again with minimal walking. Whilst on the Antique Cars, I noticed that TTD was running again. I was excited that we might get one more lap on it before our tour was over.

 

By the time we got off the Antique Cars, the time was 7:30. We talked to Mackenzie and asked if she thought it would be possible to ride Maverick, Millennium Force, and TTD one more time before our tour ended at 8. She replied that even if we didn’t get over to TTD by 8, she would make sure that we got on it again because she was a bit late to begin the tour. This was another moment where we would have been fine with whatever she said, but it was really nice that she went past her time to make sure that we had a great experience.

 

Knowing that we had our last three rides lined up and a verbal confirmation that we would ride them, we were able to walk a little slower and be a little more leisurely at the end of the tour. We hit up Maverick one last time. And loved it yet again. After getting our last Maverick picture, we headed over to Millennium Force for our last lap on that. In effort to prevent the gray outs I had been experiencing, I tried a technique that I remembered hearing about from fighter pilots on TV shows when they fly with non-pilots to help not pass out. I remembered them telling the passengers to squeeze their butt cheeks to keep the blood from rushing out of the head. Apparently the technique worked well enough because I did not gray out on our last lap. However, the bugs had intensified since our last ride. In some weird way, the bug splatter on our shirts was kind of funny and almost like a badge of honor. I did not mind the bugs as much as I thought I would.

 

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I tried having a little fun with the on-ride photo. Not great, but not terrible either. I wish I would have tilted the other way for better viewing, but oh well...

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Our last lap on Millennium Force. We tried to go for the gusto and have another gimmicky picture...and it sort of worked. I think my brother was genuinely frightened that he might hit me, so he over compensated a bit. It's still a fun picture though.

 

Once we had wiped the bug remnants off our hands and shirts we made our way to TTD for our last ride of the tour. Yet again, we walked up the exit and sat right in the first row. I loved the ride the last time as much as the first time. It is such a great experience ride. It may be a one trick pony, but it performs that trick incredibly well. After we got off we said goodbye to our fantastic tour guide Mackenzie, took a picture with her and tipped her $100 for her fantastic service throughout the day. She really was an incredible asset for us throughout the day. Not only because of the front of line access, but also in the way she fit well with our group, went out of her way to make our day great, and answered our questions regardless.

 

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Our last ride on TTD and the day. Not sure we could have ended it better. I'm pretty sure I came out un-bugged, but my brother had at least 3 dead gnats on his face...Better him than me.

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Here's the three of us (left to right: My brother, Mackenzie, Me) after a long day of walking. My iPhone clocked us at over 32,000 steps throughout the day. We were all pretty tired, but still had enough energy to get one good last photo of us.

 

After we said goodbye to Mackenzie, my brother and I were quite tired. We really had zero interest in waiting in lines for any other rides so we decided to head up to the front of the park. We wanted something sweet to eat before we left the park, but did not want to pay for anything. The Midway Market buffet was part of our dining plan, and we knew it would have some dessert items, so we stopped there for dinner/dessert. The food wasn’t great, but certainly not terrible food, and it fit our needs well. I was happy to see the Coke Freestyle machines in the buffet and happily drank some Powerade to help replenish some nutrients. We were excited to see hand scooped ice cream on the dessert bar, but man the scoop was tiny, like the size of a gum ball, and the worker who was scooping had little desire to give a second scoop, even after asking politely. We did get a second scoop and while more ice cream would have been nice, it fit what we wanted.

 

After sitting a while in the buffet, we decided that we were done at the park. We were exhausted and had been spoiled so much on the VIP tour that standing in a line for a ride seemed ridiculously unappealing. We both wanted to get a souvenir on the way out so we stopped at the main gift shop at the front of the park. I picked up a t-shirt for myself and my brother got some stuff for his two kids. Exhausted from our day, we sauntered out to the car about 9:30 pm and as soon as we got to the car, the heavens opened up and the rain started to fall. We had made it through the day without having the weather affect us at all. The day went as well as I could have imagined. The most disappointing thing all day was that the Millennium Walkback got cancelled. In my opinion, if that is the worst thing that happened to us all day, we were incredibly fortunate. Once in the car, the rain started to fall significantly and we drove two hours to our parents house in Michigan to avoid another hotel and visit with them for a day.

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Congrats if you read all of the posts I've submitted thus far...it was a lot of words. I have one last little bit with a review of the VIP Tour and any changes I would recommend and such.

 

Part 7:

 

A bit about the actual VIP tour: it is not cheap. It is not designed to be cheap. It is a luxury service that the park offers, and for us in our situation, it was worth every penny. Our decision to take a VIP tour was mostly as a celebration but also to experience some of the best coasters in the world in a special way, and the VIP tour accomplished all of that. Neither my brother and I are rolling in money (he’s an associate attorney, and I am a public school teacher), but we made this a priority to do this summer, and the VIP tour was everything we hoped it would be. In my opinion, the tour is totally worth it if you are celebrating an occasion like we did, saved up for a very special event, or have a crap load of disposable income. This will not be an every year event for us, but we had such a great time that my brother, his wife, and I are already thinking about taking another tour in a couple years if we can make the timing and finances work.

 

In my opinion there are good ways to do a VIP tour and some bad ways. Mackenzie told us that before our group, only 2 of her 27 tours stayed until the end of the tour. Maybe we were naive and stupid, but there was no way that we were not going to take advantage of the full time that we were allowed. We were exhausted by the time the tour was done, but had a blast the whole time and could not imagine leaving early. She also mentioned one group that spent an hour and a half in Camp Snoopy. To me, that is a complete waste of what a VIP tour offers. I will also say that I would not want to take a tour with more than 4 people. My brother and I mentioned that 2 was a great number because our desires aligned almost every time, but with more people, you have more ideas of what everyone wants to do. Plus with 2, you never have to fight over who gets the front row every time.

 

I mentioned it before, but I’ll mention it again, Mackenzie was awesome. She was our advocate when we needed an advocate. She kept up with us all day and had a smile the entire time. Every time I handed her my bag to get on a ride, she would say “Enjoy your ride!” It is small stuff like that that makes an impact and makes you feel special. She was very personable, engaging, and a great fit for our group, which is not surprising given what her responsibilities are as a VIP tour guide, but it was still appreciated. She was a big part of why our day was so special and fantastic. One last thing about Mackenzie: On August 1st, 6 days after our tour, my brother received a handwritten thank you note from Mackenzie to both of us. We were both totally impressed that she would take the time to write a thank you note especially with such a personalized touch. In retrospect, I have a feeling that she does this for all of her tours, but it does not make it any less awesome. It was just another way that Mackenzie and Cedar Point got so many small details correct that made us feel so special throughout the day and after.

 

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This is the Thank You note that Mackenzie sent my brother and I about a week after our tour. I typically hate Thank You notes and think that they are unnecessary and archaic, but I actually was surprised by this one, and may help change my opinion on Thank You notes.

 

If I could change a couple things about the VIP tour, I would include the All Day Photopass instead of the singular hard copy on-ride photo, or at least offer the option to choose one or the other. I would also allow VIP tours to have any food item at any non-chain food establishment. I’m not asking for free Panda Express, TGI Fridays, or Famous Daves, but I think that any park-owned restaurant or food kiosk should be open to the VIP’s to use if they so choose. In some ways I also wish it was a bit longer, but with the knowledge that only a handful of groups make it the whole time, I can understand why they cap it at 8 total hours. Other small changes I might recommend: it would be nice if the VIP tours included a Fast Lane + for members if they wanted one after the tour was finished. A small discount on in-park merchandise would have also been appreciated. They also advertise special seating to shows in the park, but Luminosity is not included in that, so the inclusion of VIP seating for Luminosity would be nice as well. The lack of those things did not take away from our experience, but I think that including them would make the VIP tours even better.

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I'm guessing that the reason so many people don't finish the tour is because people who do the VIP tour are usually people who are "rolling in money" and don't really care about the time and money wasted. People who are watching their money carefully probably don't usually do the VIP tour except in special cases like yours.

 

That reminds me of a pretty good example, comedian Adam Carolla (who is rich & famous now but grew up poor) complains that when he does the VIP tour at Disneyland California, which is considerably more expensive - like $400/hr I think - he is always trying to be like you guys and go ride to ride and maximize his time while his family (who have never been poor like he used to be) are always wanting to stop and rest and take their time and stand in line for food meanwhile the cash register in his head just keeps on turning, thinking about how much he's spending while they're doing nothing. He can easily afford it, but coming from his background he still has the mindset not to waste any money.

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I have enjoyed your trip report. I have never had the pleasure of going to Cedar Point, but hope to do so in the future. Reading your escapades "almost" made me feel like I was there.

Thank you for posting it.

Peace!

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