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Andy's 2017 Coastermania Photo TR


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Andy's 2017 Coastermania Report -- aka "a whole bunch of long-zoom pictures with water in the foreground."

 

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Fully credentialed.

Decided to throw together a few more pictures from Coastermania, and ended up with a few too many, so I guess I'll do a trip report on the event. This was the first time I've ever attended Coastermania, and it won't be my last. It's an incredibly long day, but there's pretty much no question you'll have time to do everything you want to do in the park.

 

Scorecard:

Valravn (x2)

Millennium Force (x3)

GateKeeper

Raptor (x2)

Blue Streak (x2)

Millennium Force (x4)

-- Coastermania Cruise --

-- Lunch --

Top Thrill Dragster (x2)

Magnum XL-200

Gemini [Red]

Pipe Scream

-- BBQ --

Train [to front]

Rougarou

Iron Dragon

-- Q&A Session --

Windseeker

Wicked Twister (x2)

Valravn

Maverick (x3)

Top Thrill Dragster

 

So -- what were my main reasons for attending?

 

1) The cruise.

I like photography, and I really like zoom photography from a distance. A cruise around the peninsula was a picture-perfect opportunity for this! I'd crack a joke about how I'd probably wear out my camera doing something like this, but, uh, I actually did. Seriously. I'm gonna blame Tony or whoever came up with this way-too-awesome idea for that.

 

2) A very long day in the park.

That makes the travel worth it. Time to ride every coaster, time to enjoy the atmosphere, and time to not have to completely rush to do everything. I didn't get to do the photography I'd hoped for, but pretty much everything else was covered.

 

3) A night-time marathon on Top Thrill Dragster.

Sadly, the one goal left unachieved -- the infamous Intamin was being an infamous Intamin. This is unfinished business, and I will return to take care of it.

 

As weather forecasts changed from stormy to sunny, we were left with near-perfect weather and relatively light crowds (I'm gonna take credit for that one). In addition to the short waits during ERT sessions, most of the rest of the park had short lines as well -- even top-tier attractions for parts of the day. Millennium Force was a "through the gate shortcut" walk-on a half hour after the park opened, and Top Thrill Dragster was a few-train wait at 2PM. The second-tier rides spent most of the day with waits of 5 minutes or less. At their worst, the top tier attractions may have hit a half hour, but not consistently. It may be among the least crowded days I've ever seen at Cedar Point.

 

I enjoyed the Q&A session, which featured several Cedar Point dignitaries -- Tony Clark as MC, along with Jason McClure, Rob Decker, and three others. We got to hear about the issues in the back of the park ("that contractor just isn't getting the job done the way we'd expected"), why they've gone ahead with big investments in the hotel and water park (targeting families and multi-day stays), and why Pipe Scream is a roller coaster ("Marketing"). Also, while obviously no details were given, the park seems open to dark rides, log flumes, and Intamin -- perhaps as options to consider going into the future. Finally, for all the "parks don't care about anniversaries" people (which in large part I'll usually agree with) it's clear that Cedar Point is very invested in their upcoming 150th. The photo contest was also held at the end of this event. My GateKeeper long-exposure shot wasn't selected as a finalist, though someone else's near-identical shot was. Have to say I was glad that one didn't win! Nonetheless, I thought the winning photograph was worthy of the prize, even if (to the best of my knowledge) it wasn't a TPR member with the victory.

 

Sadly, it was a rough day for the big three Intamin coasters. Millennium Force seemed OK most of the time, but it was stopped on the lift shortly before close. Maverick was up and down for much of the day, and while it was up for evening ERT, there were some waits in the station (~10 minutes). TTD had the biggest problems all day, culminating in some significant issues during evening ERT. I ended up getting just one ride, and watched the trains both in front of me and behind me have rollbacks. I've still never had one. Good on the maintenance crew for keeping at it, because everyone who waited got on at least once, even if the ERT session didn't let out until 15 minutes after it was supposed to end.

 

Next, some thoughts on a few of the rides:

 

Millennium Force -- Still my favorite. It's been challenged in recent years, but it comes out on top. #1 on the list, period.

 

Valravn -- The only new coaster for me on this trip. It reminded me a lot of GateKeeper, and that's not really a good thing. Lots of big drawn-out elements, and even the first drop didn't have the same kick I felt from Sheikra a few months ago. It's probably a "ride once per visit" coaster for me going forward. Seems to be more of a crowd-pleaser than GateKeeper, though!

 

Maverick -- Wish I could do a marathon session on this one again. It feels short, but it's about as much fun as you can have on a coaster of this size.

 

Wicked Twister -- I walked-on to two rides, one in the very front, and one in the very back. Still amazed at how much fun the full launches up the spikes are in those two rows. I've been on a few other Intamin impulse coasters, but this one is far and away my favorite.

 

Raptor -- Probably slots in #3 behind Banshee and Montu, and it's close, though it'd be closer if it weren't for the cobra roll. Raptor was running really well on our morning rides.

 

Blue Streak -- Felt a little rougher than I'd remembered. No, I wasn't on a wheel seat.

 

Magnum XL-200 -- Felt a lot rougher than I'd remembered. Maybe my fault for riding in the far back row? My appreciation for this coaster is dropping.

 

Pipe Scream -- In case I ever go insane and decide to count these, there, I got the credit. Done.

 

Final random thoughts:

 

1) Believe it or not, this was my first-ever non-TPR enthusiast event. I had no issues at all with the crowd. Maybe a few excited adolescents, but that's hardly a crime. If there were annoying, over-obsessed, poorly-behaving adults around, I didn't see them. This seemed like a really good group of people.

 

2) Though admittedly I wasn't going through the gates during peak times, the extra security was essentially a non-issue.

 

3) One part of the Coastermania plan that might need a slight adjustment is to ensure shuttles running from Hotel Breakers in the morning are a little more frequent. Despite being on the second shuttle out, I got into the park a little late for the start of ERT.

 

4) Speaking of Breakers, it's stunning what Cedar Point has done to it. Any praise this place is receiving is worth it. It's fun, it's classy, it's clean, and it's got the best location of just about any hotel on the planet.

 

5) The BBQ event is a great idea! Cedar Point still lags behind top-end parks in terms of dining, but having an event like this is a big plus. My only wish is to be able to purchase a smaller number of tickets -- 15 is too many for a single person to go through, especially if they aren't drinking.

 

6) I'll discuss this more in the photo captions, but the coaster formerly known as Mean Streak looks insane. It's going to be worth every little piece of hype it gets.

 

7) Huge thanks to all the ride ops who worked long days (way to go Josh!) and to Tony, Jason, Kristy, and everyone else at Cedar Point for planning and operating such a fun event.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Thursday, June 1 -- The Day Before

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Headed to the Dockside Cafe when I got to Sandusky. Actually tried to go here in 2015 but it was closed. This time it was open!

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The rest of you can ramble on about your Parched Horse or whatever. I'll keep heading to this place. A simple order-at-the-counter operation with burgers and tacos, and a bar for those of you who are interested. As for the view?

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Pretty much fantastic.

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Of course I had to get a few better shots of the park from this place.

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Let's start in the back, where some changes are ongoing.

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Up front, there's a lot of blue and green.

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Valravn dives.

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Mantis climbs the lift.

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Totally not correcting the "Mantis" in the last caption, by the way. Anyway, here's Rougarou looping in front of Hotel Breakers.

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Finally, the big two Intamins. Since Dockside Cafe is a bit west on the bay, the photo angle is a little different than from, say, Battery Park.

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Plus, from here, you can get boats in the foreground more easily. That's a five-coaster, two-train, three-boat shot.

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Everyone's looking forward to construction photographs, but why not start with next year's /other/ new addition? Here's the progress on the new wing at Breakers.

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A decorative top to one of the hotel towers.

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Also, a great view along the beach.

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I didn't have admission to the park on Thursday, but that doesn't mean it can't be photographed.

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Magnum dives through the sun.

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Magnum on the return leg, with riders who are likely in some degree of thigh pain.

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Millennium Force has been framed.

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Valravn loops around.

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Raptor and the Sky Ride, two of the park's more popular attractions.

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Corkscrew, backed by a wall of Power Tower.

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Gemini, backed by a wall of Dragster.

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America's most beautiful summer pleasure health resort!

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Got some nice views of Maverick.

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The single best airtime hill at Cedar Point.

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I have a feeling there will be more airtime hills to come in the future.

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This is the construction you're probably looking for. A fresh batch of track in the foreground, ready to be installed.

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With this and the last picture, it appears there will be some low-to-the-ground twisted/tilted airtime hills through here.

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A side view of the structure.

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Tilted airtime is awesome.

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A straight bit near the old MCBR.

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TTD/RMC.

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This remains one of the craziest things I've seen in a while.

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Quite a twist as the track crosses back through the structure. I'll speculate more on what's going on here in the second half of the photo set.

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The turnaround after the first run around the Mean Streak structure.

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There are some interesting metal beams going across the structure here, but I'm not sure what they're for.

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Another wide view of this section. Other photographers at TPR and elsewhere have noted the apparent steepness of the first drop, and I'll note the remarkable geography of the lift's potential height.

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A flag at the top.

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A side view of the same. This is the ride's second big hill, after the lift.

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A wider view of the above.

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The whole turn-and-go-uphill segment into the second hill.

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So, after that round of photography, I headed to Battery Park for some night pictures. Good news and bad news.

Good news: the wind was calm, so my camera held steady on the tripod.

Bad news: the wind was calm, so the mayflies were /awful/.

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Reflections at sunset.

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It was a pretty stunning sunset.

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Headed down behind the Marblehead peninsula.

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Swimming in a lake of fire.

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OK, back to the other side, here's a dusk shot of Mean Whatever.

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MF/TTD. There are some bright lights just to their left, in the vicinity of the Frontier Fling.

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Coasters on the bay.

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Looking over at the front of the park, and the Giant Wheel really lights things up.

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Back to MF/TTD as the sky gets darker.

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More reflections, this time from Power Tower.

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Ferris Wheel laser beam.

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Colored LEDs make photography fun.

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Last time I was here, Valravn wasn't.

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MF looks best with the rainbow lights, in my opinion, so I had to be patient to time my photography for them.

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The blue looks good, too.

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A wide view of the park.

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Last shot of Millennium Force for the night!

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Back at Hotel Breakers, they were showing the NBA Finals game on the beach. Sadly, it wasn't going well for the hometown Cavs.

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Hotel Breakers is pretty awesome.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Friday, June 2 -- Coastermania!

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Started the day with my first-ever rides on Valravn! Josh's crew was dispatching trains in 40-50 seconds, meaning that any tiny line on the steps was gone by the time we got up to the platform.

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Then, headed to Millennium Force, with seven rides in two sessions -- never more than a couple trains for a wait, even just after the park had opened.

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Raptor was sending near-empty trains during ERT.

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Though my camera broke before I got to do any real serious in-park photography, I did get some shots of Valravn, which was kind of the highest priority anyway.

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Valravn at the top.

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Dropping in.

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Another view at the top.

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The 8x3 trains really fill a camera frame well.

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Valravn again.

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Twisting through the first inversion.

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More Valravn.

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Upside down.

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Next on the agenda was the Coastermania cruise, one of the things I was looking forward to the most!

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I took a GPS track of the cruise. Now everybody can see where we went.

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The Jet Express had mechanical problems the week of the event, but Cedar Point was able to book the Goodtime boat as a replacement. My friends (who had been in attendance last year) actually preferred this boat to the Jet Express!

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Starting the "scenes from the boat" tour with a shot of Millennium Force.

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A wider shot of Millennium Force on the way out of the marina.

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Because every one of my photo sets needs a well-posed bird.

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I love the views this cruise offered -- camera angles that would otherwise be impossible.

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Like this one, looking through the Blue Streak structure at Raptor and the Giant Wheel.

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Or, Millennium Force diving alongside regular vehicular traffic.

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RMC/MF.

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GateKeeper keyholes at the front of the park.

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A three-coaster juxtaposition, with two trains on their lifts.

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For some reason, people paid a lot of attention to the back of the park.

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Some analysis on this part of the RMC. There are some Iron Rattler elements here -- an uphill rise into a barrel roll, followed by a low-amplitude overbanked / wave turn.

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Also, though not really visible here, there's actually a double-up leading into the barrel roll, which is a bit different.

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OK, lots of well-posed birds.

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Are there really people who thought RMC might not be able to make something truly creative out of this structure?

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I do think it's funny how the first track to be installed /still/ hasn't been lengthened.

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Below: a straight-on airtime hill. Above: a really, really messed up airtime hill.

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Symmetry.

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Twisted horseshoeing.

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Backed by Millennium Force.

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The top of the uphill barrel roll, leading into the small overbank.

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Another look at how this part fits together. A little more interesting than Mean Streak's turn around the structure.

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The crazy twisted element through the structure, just after the small overbank. Honestly, it sort of looks like this heads into a smaller version of the Medusa / Storm Chaser inverted drop.

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RMC-seeker.

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TTD/RMC again.

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Magnum drops into the trees.

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Coming around the north end of the peninsula, a view down the beach.

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A long distance view of the park's southeastern corner.

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A view over the breakwater.

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Cedar Point Shores looks great. It's much more colorful, which helps for pictures.

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Hotel Breakers and some water towers.

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Another view of the water towers. They used a very similar design on the new one.

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200, 300, and 400 -- all in one shot.

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Cedar Point over the breakwater.

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The Sandusky Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse.

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Not ignoring the views in the opposite direction! Managed to get both the Marblehead Lighthouse (left) and Perry Memorial (right) in this shot.

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One of the best park skylines in the world. Might just be the very best.

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A whole lot of roller coaster in one picture.

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Magnum on the turn-around.

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Gemini was running both sides on Friday.

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Heading back around, with time for a few more shots of this monstrosity.

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The first drop ledgers, which are /remarkably/ steep. I guess I can't say for sure, but it does look like it's set up for 90 degrees.

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The left side of this picture proves why -- just another element to add to the insanity.

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Photobombed by a boat.

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Millennium Force again. Right here was about when my camera broke. I had just taken 587 pictures in 40 minutes, and honestly, my camera probably wasn't too happy with me.

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So, the last few pictures in this set are from my phone. Still a great view.

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The Coaster Cruise was worth the price of admission!

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Here's TTD's line at around 2PM -- a walk into the station. Sure, it had just come up from some downtime, but still. That's really short for an afternoon like this.

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Bluegrass covers of Guns 'N Roses!

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Got a few more views of the mystery RMC from the train. This shot shows the double-up into the uphill barrel roll...

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...but these last two pictures show that after the downhill barrel roll through the structure, the track flips around into a double down element -- roughly paralleling the inbound leg. From here, presumably, the track will rise up into the flat section at the old mid-course break.

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Didn't go to Melt, but thought it looked pretty cool at night!

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At 9PM, a completely empty Wicked Twister station. OK, actually, there's one person waiting for the front row behind a pillar.

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Evening ERT on Maverick (MaveShark?) was fun, even if the crowds seemed to have focused there. After that, it was off to TTD for (unfortunately) just one ride, and that ended the day and the event!

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On the way out the next morning, I saw this license plate in the Breakers parking lot. That's a little on-the-nose.

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Thank you for visiting -- and thank you for reading! And to Cedar Point, thank you for hosting the event! Hope I can return next year.

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As always, absolutely incredible photography, Andy. Thank you so much for sharing with us (and continuously supplying my desktops!)

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Great photos.

 

(Peeks outside) still looks very familiar. For another hour or so until we head to airport.

 

I have some comments on your comments. From my perspective as a first time visitor, but will do that when I'm home and on computer instead of phone. LOL

 

Great pics. I'm sure better than some of the ones I took on my iPhone. Heh

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I love this report. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos. I attended Coastermania! as well and had the time of my life. You did a great job capturing everything the boat cruise had to offer and more.

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3) One part of the Coastermania plan that might need a slight adjustment is to ensure shuttles running from Hotel Breakers in the morning are a little more frequent. Despite being on the second shuttle out, I got into the park a little late for the start of ERT.

 

 

Totally agree. We waited about 10 minutes and realized even when the shuttle arrived that there wouldn't be enough space for all those waiting. Either have buses in the morning or open the WindSeeker gate for entrance. We ended up driving around to the main parking lot, doing ERT, and then driving back to the Breakers.

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Awesome trip report per usual Andy! Ever since HWN and Coastermania weekends have aligned, I have chosen HWN over Coastermania. However, with CP capping the attendance (and the boat cruise!), I may have try to do the event again next year (especially with the rebirth of Mean Streak). I share your sentiments about MF. Despite having ridden many top-tier coasters, I still put ol' Millie at the top of my steel list.

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3) One part of the Coastermania plan that might need a slight adjustment is to ensure shuttles running from Hotel Breakers in the morning are a little more frequent. Despite being on the second shuttle out, I got into the park a little late for the start of ERT.

 

 

Totally agree. We waited about 10 minutes and realized even when the shuttle arrived that there wouldn't be enough space for all those waiting. Either have buses in the morning or open the WindSeeker gate for entrance. We ended up driving around to the main parking lot, doing ERT, and then driving back to the Breakers.

 

 

What time did y'all get up?

 

We were up at 5:45 and at front of breakers by 6. First shuttle was full when we got there but 2nd one was right behind it.

 

We were at front gate and lined up 10 minutes before they started letting folks check in

 

So weird to have folks at the same place w different experiences. I had a few issues with Breakers. But the shuttle for coastermania (and over to famous daves on Sunday) wasn't one of them

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Awesome job, Andy...thank you for sharing the great shots!

 

I really need to get over to that restaurant across Sandusky Bay to have a beer and just bask in the great view from that angle. We've been to Battery Park and Marblehead, but this looks like another great way to take it in one of the best skylines on the planet.

 

And I agree about your vote for the best airtime hill at CP, although I love the last two hills on MF too!

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Thanks for all the comments everybody.

 

Totally agree. We waited about 10 minutes and realized even when the shuttle arrived that there wouldn't be enough space for all those waiting. Either have buses in the morning or open the WindSeeker gate for entrance. We ended up driving around to the main parking lot, doing ERT, and then driving back to the Breakers.

 

What time did y'all get up?

 

We were up at 5:45 and at front of breakers by 6. First shuttle was full when we got there but 2nd one was right behind it.

 

We were at front gate and lined up 10 minutes before they started letting folks check in

 

Bert's info is interesting -- because I had no idea the shuttles were running that early. No one ever published when the shuttles would start (I probably should have asked) but based on Tony's response to a tweet, I had believed they weren't going to start running until 630 AM. I got to the hotel entrance at about 625 AM, the first shuttle I saw was at 635 AM (it filled up) and then I got on the next shuttle at about 650 AM.

 

It's far from a deal-breaking issue or anything. Just, maybe as plans are revised for next year, having the shuttle plan set/published in advance might make it a little easier for everyone.

 

Awesome trip report per usual Andy! Ever since HWN and Coastermania weekends have aligned, I have chosen HWN over Coastermania. However, with CP capping the attendance (and the boat cruise!), I may have try to do the event again next year (especially with the rebirth of Mean Streak). I share your sentiments about MF. Despite having ridden many top-tier coasters, I still put ol' Millie at the top of my steel list.

 

The attendance cap was a big thing that took Coastermania from "eh, maybe I'll eventually go" to something I really wanted to do. I couldn't make it last year but this year it worked out! Maybe next year will be a good year for you to attend, for reasons you've stated well.

 

Those were some really amazing photos! Glad you had a great time in the park!

 

And thank you again for being a great ride host. Glad we could chat for a few minutes, even if the circumstances on the TTD platform were less than ideal.

 

I really need to get over to that restaurant across Sandusky Bay to have a beer and just bask in the great view from that angle. We've been to Battery Park and Marblehead, but this looks like another great way to take it in one of the best skylines on the planet.

 

I thought about going to Marblehead, actually, but didn't feel like doing the half hour drive around the bay. It worked out because I got pretty much every shot I wanted from Battery Park this time, and now that I've been there twice for night shots, I'll probably make Marblehead the priority for next time.

 

And I agree about your vote for the best airtime hill at CP, although I love the last two hills on MF too!

 

As do I!

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Those are some seriously fantastic photos Andy! I can't believe you didn't reveal what your new camera is... so tell us, what did you get?! Everyone loves a new toy! I was at CP on Thursday and Friday but not partaking in the Coastermania events for various reasons - next year I will be, though. Still got to make a bunch of new friends who were attending the CM events (Bert, Bill, and some folks at MF on Fri night who I emailed ride photos to) which was nice. I've never been to any park anywhere that has walk-on or station only waits for basically the entire day. I thought the Thursday crowds were low but Friday it was a ghost town. Yippee! Can't believe you missed the best flat ride in the park though - SkyHawk. Next time you need to get on it!

 

ETA - It makes me super happy to hear that Millennium Force is still a favorite of so many other people. While other rides may be bigger, faster, newer, or have more maneuvers, there's just nothing else like it.

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Hey Andy, awesome photos it was great being able to hang out with you at Coastermania. Hopefully you can make it again next year and thanks for the info on that pier by Mean Streak you got some photos on I'll be checking that out as well.

 

I haven't even got a chance to look at the photos I got on the cruise yet haha I'm sure I'll sort through them this weekend and what not, maybe photo contest entry for next year? haha

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Oh and yes to second Andy's recommendation about Dockside Cafe yes please go! This is my home park and I didn't even know about the place haha We visited on Saturday and it was wonderful. Great atmosphere and great food, and who can resist fresh cut fries?

 

Also the prices were not bad either and nothing can beat the view.

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Those are some seriously fantastic photos Andy! I can't believe you didn't reveal what your new camera is... so tell us, what did you get?!

 

Went from T2i to T7i!

 

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Same product line, updated version. Thought about getting something fancier/bigger/etc, but this still fits everything I'm looking for.

I had plans to spend Saturday in Cleveland doing a bunch of photography, so I was really lucky to find a camera store near downtown with one available.

 

Can't believe you missed the best flat ride in the park though - SkyHawk. Next time you need to get on it!

 

ETA - It makes me super happy to hear that Millennium Force is still a favorite of so many other people. While other rides may be bigger, faster, newer, or have more maneuvers, there's just nothing else like it.

 

I really enjoy Screamin' Swings, but I always seem to find myself drawn to other rides at Cedar Point. I've been on the one at Dollywood the last couple years and probably will be again later this year.

 

As for MF, it's really been challenged -- Outlaw Run, El Toro, GeForce, Karnan, Wildfire, Skyrush, Medusa -- they all come really close, and some are better than MF in some ways. But overall the whole experience remains my favorite!

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