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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures


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Cedar Point

 

When Steel Vengeance was announced I, like most enthusiasts, knew I’d be making a pilgrimage to the coaster mecca of the world. I already though Cedar Point had the world’s best coaster collection (sorry Magic Mountain fanboys), so adding potentially the world’s best roller coaster is a display of riches beyond belief. I was fortunate enough to be in Pittsburgh for work and Cedar Point was *only* an extra 3 hours away so it was a no brainer for me.

 

I planned to be at Cedar Point Wednesday-Friday and was prepared to get FastLane Plus every day if need be to avoid that horrifyingly long Steel Vengeance line. Work finished up early on the Tuesday, so I was able to arrive in Sandusky 2.5 hours before Cedar Point closed. I made a pit stop at Target to get some light reading for the queue line (since my phone would be trapped in a locker) and checked into my luxurious accommodations for the next four nights.

 

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Look at those perks. Bing Bong stays free.

 

After making my way through the Magnum gate, I was drawn to Steel Vengeance like bugs to Cedar Point riders. Was there any doubt where I’d head first? The queue was only an hour, which seemed incredibly short based on the wait times I had seen all summer. I threw everything except my fantasy football prep magazine into a locker. The employees stopped me at the entrance and pointed to the massive bulge in my pocket, but they had no issues when I showed them it was a crumpled up Sports Illustrated.

 

The wait was painstakingly slow and my anticipation mounted as I’d see a train full of screaming riders speeding over the airtime buffet. It’s a shame I missed out on all the great photo opportunities, but it was for the benefit of my fantasy football team. The Brady Bunch are currently 1-2 thanks to all the sleepers I read up on busting. Or maybe it’s because I have a ton of Patriots but that's besides the point.

 

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There are many websites I trust over SI, but they don't go to print. SI can thank Cedar Point for my business.

 

They were assigning seats, but they were more than happy to grant me the back row. Of the almost 40 rides I had on Steel Vengeance, my seating requests were obliged all but twice. The loading procedure was significantly faster than what I had seen days prior at Twisted Cyclone or all summer at Wicked Cyclone. It’s almost as if they were preparing for the third train to be added the day after I left Cedar Point. Though despite a million warnings, there was always at least one yahoo who would pull down their restraint. Or even rarer, you’d have the following exchange:

 

Employee- “What’s that in your pocket?”

Guest- “Nothing.”

Employee- “Show me.”

Guest pulls out phone.

Employee- “No phones allowed. You cannot ride.”

Guest storms off angrily after blatantly lying to the employee.

 

The view up the lift was incredible. On one side you had the marina. On the other side, you had the most spectacular theme park skyline out there. Though it was admittedly hard to focus on because of the deafeningly loud lift hill and anticipation of awesomeness ahead. We crested the lift and it was pure coaster euphoria.

 

I had seen multiple reports calling the first drop the most forgettable part of the coaster. I call BS. Maybe the sheer length of this coaster causes you to forget the first drop is even part of the attraction, but it’s truly one of the best drops out there. The yank in the back is incredible and it’s complete ejector the whole way down. RMC drops are always awesome and this is an even longer version.

 

The following speed hill has a quick pop of air, but it’s easy to forget considering what follows. You have two massive camelbacks giving some El Toro level airtime. It’s massive sustained ejector. The second of the two is an outward banked camelback and the highlight of the ride. Getting that kind of airtime while being launched sideways is one of the most memorable coaster elements out there.

 

The hill leading into the first inversion gives another strong pop and that’s followed by an incredible zero-G roll. It’s extremely whippy, but the unique thing is that the pullout is a miniature drop that keeps riders out of their seat. Just picture being suspended upside down and still being firmly out of your seat when you’re eventually right-side up. That’s followed by an inversion that’s arguably even wilder. It’s one of RMC’s beloved zero-G stalls, but this one is different in that the train is barreling downwards during the element. The snap as it uncorks is absolutely vicious in the best way possible.

 

There’s a sudden drop with some powerful airtime and that’s followed by arguably the most intense part of the ride, the double up into the brake run. The pullouts on both hills are extremely tight and banked, resulting in a crazy combination of ejector air and side-splitting laterals. The MCBR did slow the train down a bit on each of my rides, but it wasn’t enough to thwart that second half.

 

The drop off the MCBR isn’t anything more than some mild floater, but it regains all your speed. It honestly may be as tall as the first drops on several of their other I-Box coasters. The double up provides two powerful pops of air and that’s followed by this slow, funky banked turn with some really awesome airtime. The train then dives back into the structure, whips around an overbank, and snaps riders through a speedy zero-G roll.

 

You reemerge outside the structure for two more airtime hills before charging back into the structure. The wave turn isn’t quite as good as the ones on other RMCs, but the amount of headchoppers is insane. That’s followed by a hangtime-filled zero-G roll that I think is most notable for the abrupt transition afterwards that leads into the homestretch- 6 tiny hills. Each hill tries to launch riders from the train and you barely return to the seat before you’re ejected again. The electricity as the train hits the brake run is palpable. Everyone knows they experienced a truly world-class coaster.

 

Steel Vengeance is an incredibly long and awesome experience. Just to put it into perspective, the first half alone is a top 5 ride in the world and the second half is probably a top 10-15 steel coaster. Each half could successfully exist as its own highly-ranked coaster, but Cedar Point went for the gold with Steel Vengeance. Was it the world’s best coaster? Maybe. I needed a night ride to confirm. 10 out of 10

 

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Was there any doubt where my first stop would be?

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I'm still trying to comprehend the airtime that occurs after the first barrel roll.

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This single hill is better than 99% of the airtime moments out there.

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This is the other 1%.

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It's impossible to fully comprehend all the chaos on your first ride.

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The MCBR slowed us down, but that second half still hauled.

 

I had every intention of getting back in line prior to close, so that left me with an hour to make a quick lap around the park. Maverick’s queue was too long, so I settled on Skyhawk. It definitely feels taller than the other screamin’ swings, particularly when you swing above the midway, but it still suffers from the painfully short cycle. There were only 4 max swings I believe. Each swing gave some great airtime and that’s the problem, I always want more. 8 out of 10

 

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If only this had a longer cycle, it'd be perfect.

 

Since Cedar Creek Mine Ride isn’t on FastLane, it was one of my priorities for the evening. The ride was a total walk-on and so deserted that they were roping off the back two cars. I waited an extra train for the front. It was predictably jerky like most of the older Arrow mine trains, but I do like the ride’s location around the pond. I was also caught off guard by a tiny pop of air on the second hill. While it’s a decent coaster, it’s really just a one-and-done at Cedar Point due to their collection’s quality. 5 out of 10

 

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Remember, Steel Vengeance isn't the park's only hybrid coaster.

 

I planned to hit Gemini, but I noticed something far more intriguing; Top Thrill Dragster was testing. The strata coaster had been still for my first hour in the park. That wasn’t a shock considering the ride has a 33% chance of being down for wind and a 33% chance of being down for mechanical issues. I booked it over to Top Thrill Dragster where a decent-sized queue had begun to form. No less than 5 minutes later, they let us into the queue and I was only four trains from the front.

 

I anxiously watched thinking each launch may be the last, but I boarded and rolled up to the launch track without incident. When the Christmas tree turned green, we shot off like a rocket. I could feel the lenses on my glasses warping backwards from the brute force of the launch. It’s absolutely breathtaking. The climb is always suspenseful. Would we make it over? It never feels like it will, but it made it. I guess the proper gauge is if I get that nice pop of air at the top. It’s over in a flash, but it delivers on its promise. You really do race for the sky and reach it. 9 out of 10

 

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When you see Dragster cycling empties, that's the queue to run on over.

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While I didn't experience a rollback, I did see a pretty bad one. After a rainstorm ended the following day, I saw Dragster only make it 2/3 of the way up the tower. Not surprisingly, it closed down for a bit afterwards.

 

Knowing it wouldn’t have a line, I had just enough time to squeeze in a quick ride on Magnum. Magnum is a polarizing coaster. It’s a borderline painful coaster experience. With B&Ms, every hill seems meticulously crafted down to the last tenth of a G. I feel like Ron Toomer just shrugged his shoulders, grabbed a coat-hanger, and bam, Magnum was created.

 

The lift provides some outstanding views of Lake Erie and the first half has some decent airtime, but the ride’s bread and butter is that return leg. It’s so wrong that it’s right. The pullout over each bunny hill is so abrupt that riders are violently launched skywards. I can’t emphasize how important it is to fully tighten down your seatbelt. Failure to do so may inhibit your ability to have kids. 9 out of 10

 

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Outside of the tower rides, Magnum probably has my favorite view of the park's coasters.

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With each hill, the airtime gets more and more intense. For some, it may even be too intense.

 

I returned to Steel Vengeance just in the nick of time and was surrounded by fellow coaster enthusiasts in line. They were quickly recognizable by their Knoebels, Coaster Studios, and ACE t-shirts. Further back, there was someone in a West Coast Bash t-shirt. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that at least half the train was populated with coaster enthusiasts.

 

While the coaster didn’t feel any faster at night (I mean it was absolutely hauling earlier anyway), weaving through the structure was absolutely mesmerizing. Being enveloped by structure while simultaneously barreling through a zero-G roll or wave turn made it impossible to tell which way was up and which way was down.

 

Steel Vengeance is without a doubt my number one steel coaster. I can’t quite give it the edge over Lightning Rod though. Steel Vengeance may be a significantly longer ride, but I think each of Lightning Rod’s pack a stronger punch and that setting (particularly at night) takes it over the edge. Lightning Rod really is my dream coaster, so it’d be hard for any coaster to top. Steel Vengeance came close though.

 

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Steel Vengeance tried it's hardest, but it couldn't quite top Lightning Rod for me.

 

Day 2 began with the Running of the Bulls. I knew I’d be fighting a mob going to Steel Vengeance first thing in the morning, but I was sort of intrigued by the challenge. I sort of wish the Magnum gage wasn’t available for early entry purely so I could watch all the sprinters collapse halfway through the park when they realize Steel Vengeance is a mile back.

 

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I did my dynamic stretching walking down the boardwalk.

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Everyone here was ready to run to Steel Vengeance. Amateurs. I was ready to run to a locker.

 

After everyone stood all patriotic during the national anthem, but once the word “brave” was said, it was like everyone awoke from a hypnotic trance and charged forwards. As a 7 letter varsity athlete in high school (chess and math team totally count ), I was towards the front of the crowd. I was the fourth to reach Steel Vengeance’s plaza and the first at the lockers. The employees were reminding everyone that no phones were allowed so I thought I would walk right onto the front row. Not so fast.

 

It probably took me a minute or two by the lockers, but that was enough time for the line to stretch back to the gift shop. I find it hard to believe all 100 people ahead of me all didn’t have a cell phone. Heck I saw the person ahead of me playing Pokemon Go before we were admitted into the queue. But no one was stopped. Not one person. I was a bit upset my athletic performance was put to waste (much like Tom Brady in the Super Bowl last year), but that’s the price of being an honest Boy Scout.

 

I probably had to wait 8-9 trains for the front, but it was worth it. While I preferred the back for full effect of that first drop and the extra snap in the inversions, it was another incredible experience. The visuals of Mean Streak’s former structure are breathtaking. I didn’t notice just how many headchoppers there were the day before. This ride would give a NBA player a heart attack.

 

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Do you think Mean Streak Henry likes this sight?

 

One of the best benefits of Steel Vengeance is that it has made every other attraction a ghost town for early entry. I was able to walk right onto Maverick twice, once in the front and once in the back. I’m very thankful for the soft straps, but does anyone else find the seats to be a pain in the butt (literally)? By the end of Maverick, I always seem to be sitting directly on the crotch nub. Nonetheless I still do really enjoy Maverick.

 

It’s an intense jack-of-all-trades that really does everything- drops, turns, airtime, inversions, and launches. And it does everything well. The airtime on that first drop is ridiculously powerful and the snappy turns are like a miniature Intimidator 305. Those turns are so intense that they always reset my watch. The photogenic camelback gives some epic ejector air and that’s followed by two inversions that were better and snappier than I remembered.

 

Then I was pleasantly surprised by the added theming in the launch track. It wasn’t much, but the added lights and sounds of the railroad crossing was a very nice touch. The launch is pretty strong, but I think that abrupt turn at the end of the tunnel is more intense. How many launches, especially at such a high speed, are followed by a turn rather than a hill? Not many.

 

The finale is bonkers. The post-launch hill maybe gives a hint of air, but the next two Stengel dives are out-of-control. I probably would have hated these with the hard restraints, but with the soft straps, I had no issue with Maverick trying to fling me sideways into Lake Erie. That’s followed by one more strong airtime hill for good measure and a run into the brake run.

 

Maverick could be the star attraction at most parks. Yet at Cedar Point, it’s three for me. That’s more a testament to the rest of the collection. It really is a perfect ride outside of the seat molds. 9.5 out of 10

 

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Maverick is a jack-of-all-trades.

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It has an awesome launch.

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It has a series of I305-esque turns.

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And airtime? You better believe it.

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Maverick hauls through the entire course.

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Honestly the tamest bit may be the inversions, but they're still pretty darn great.

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Meanwhile the almost inversion is probably the best part of the ride.

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The signature sunset shot that everyone has.

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White Water Landing just has some leftover signage. Shoot the Rapids one ups it by having its trough still in tact.

 

I had an interesting dilemma. Do I get FastLane Plus? On one hand, the park was as empty as it’d ever be. The last full week of operations and forecasted downpours kept crowds away. FastLane would only be necessary for Steel Vengeance. Even still, Steel Vengeance’s queue was only at the 45 minute mark. On the other hand, I had heard it wasn’t unheard of for Steel Vengeance’s FastLane queue to reach 30-45 minutes on busier days.

 

The rare opportunity to marathon Steel Vengeance won out and I caved for a FastLane. I have zero regrets. I was able to ride Steel Vengeance 30 times in one day. FastLane was a complete walk-on and I was often on every third train. In retrospect, I probably should have ridden it more considering the following two days were considerably busier, but I wanted to complete a full loop of the park.

 

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Was FastLane necessary? No. Was it worth the 30 walk-on rides? Heck yeah!

 

But there was one lengthy queue I couldn’t skip. And that was Chick-fil-a. I’m very fortunate I grabbed my delicious fried chicken sandwich before the lunch rush since the queue line often stretched back to the chairswings. Usually slow service would be to blame, but they were efficient. I think it’s the chain’s popularity and their affordability. While every other restaurant in the park has the typical amusement park prices, Chick-fil-a’s prices seemed no different than any of their outside locations.

 

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Chick-fil-a needs a FastLane line.

 

Usually I skip shoot-the-chutes unless they have gratuitous fire effects, but I decided to give Snake River Falls a spin since it was pretty humid out and the fact that it’s twice as tall as the others out there. Alas Snake River Falls proved bigger isn’t always better. The drop is severely trimmed. It’s like there’s a resistance band tugging on the boat the whole way down, which sapped out all of the thrills.

 

As a precaution, I avoided the front row in case the nose dipped below the water a la Escape from Pompeii. I fully expect to get drenched on these shoot the chutes, I just don’t want my sneakers to be swimming. But I was in for a very unpleasant surprise. I rode in the back and during the drop, a cascade of water entered through the bottom rear of the boat and flooded my sneakers. I’m not sure if there’s a hole or what, but the final splashdown was far less soaking than that. 4 out of 10

 

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Oddly enough, this is the most trimmed ride in the park.

 

90% of the time, I skip SkyCoasters. The exception is if I can ride one for $10 or less. My Fun Spot season pass grants me this opportunity on the two in Florida, but I’ve also been able to ride the ones at Lake Compounce and Six Flags Great Adventure during holiday events. I guess swinging from an exposed metal archway is the last thing people want to do when the temperature is at freezing.

 

Frontier Fling was moved to the plot where the ill-fated Shoot the Rapids once stood. I noticed single riders were only $10 as opposed to the usual $30-40. I figured others would be jumping at the bit as well, but the ride has two things working against it. One, it’s rare for a SkyCoaster to be dwarfed, but that happens at Cedar Point. Even Millennium Force’s 2nd or 3rd overbank stands taller in height. Second, it’s a bit recessed from the main pathway so I could see people breezing right by it on the way to Millennium or Maverick.

 

While it’s always gut-wrenching to pull that ripcord, the ones at Fun Spot have spoiled me. The drop on this one felt a whole lot shorter. It barely felt like I was traveling straight down before the pullout began. If you’ve never done a SkyCoaster, $10 is an awesome deal, but I can’t recommend this if you’ve been on any of the bigger models out there. 7 out of 10

 

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The name is a mouthful.

 

How have I written such a long report and not talked more about Millennium Force? I absolutely love that coaster, but unfortunately the maintenance staff probably weren’t as enamored with the blue beast as me. It was down the two days leading up to my visit. But then I saw a test train cycling. I high-tailed it over there and saw two more trains cycle through. Things were looking up, but then Millennium stalled at the base of the lift hill. Aw shucks.

 

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Finally signs of life! Millie wasn't ready to open, but at least it was progress.

 

Iron Dragon tried cheering me up. It’s hard not to smile when you see a rare Arrow suspended, but Iron Dragon probably has the worst layout among them. It simply doesn’t do much. It doesn’t go fast enough to induce the swinging that a Vortex or Bat can. The lone good swing comes as the ride enters into the brake run. Iron Dragon is scenic and a decent family coaster, but definitely a one-and-done at Cedar Point. 5 out of 10

 

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I can't tell if she's yawning or screaming.

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I'll go with yawning. This haunt display is scarier than Iron Dragon.

 

The skies were darkening as I entered into Rougarou’s queue. My front row ride went without a hitch, but I tried to reride in the back row when the heavens opened up. A complete deluge fell from the sky and Rougarou’s floating queue line started to flood. Needless to say the coaster closed. But at least there was some entertainment as a poor employee had to weather the storm to transfer off two trains.

 

I patiently played Roller Coaster Tycoon until the storm stopped. At that point, the employee transferred back on a second train and I was treated to a back row ride. The layout is undeniably unique for a floorless coaster. The tilted loop and Georgia Scorcher-esque twisty finale in particular stand-out, but it’s a coaster I need to ride defensively (i.e. lean forward) to fully enjoy. It’s a solid coaster but Cedar Point has better loopers towards the front of the park. 7 out of 10

 

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These skies should have warned me what was about to come.

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This poor employee drew the short straw and had to weather the storm.

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And then the skies cleared and so did the park.

 

While not a conventional looper, Valravn is technically one such coaster. I think Valravn tops all other dive coasters in terms of layout and that view is breathtaking, but those vest restraints prevent the copious floater air that a Griffon or SheiKra can provide. I love those vest restraints on inversion-centric coasters, but not rides centered around airtime.

 

You still can feel a bit of airtime though. I’m not saying the coaster goes all Great America’s Grizzly. The immelmanns are graceful, but not overly forceful. For forces, I know there’s a green bird right down the midway. The one inversion I really love is that super slow-mo zero-G roll. Time really does stand still as you crawl through it. Unfortunately it’s probably my least favorite dive coaster due to the restraints, but it’s still a fun coaster. 8 out of 10

 

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I like rides themed to murderous ravens.

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The Immelmanns are pretty forgettable.

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But they sure are pretty.

 

Blue Streak is my guilty pleasure ride at Cedar Point. I don’t hear many people singing the praises for this classic wooden coaster. Admittedly, you need to ride in either the very front or second row. Otherwise, you will get a spine adjustment. But in those two seats, you are treated to a smooth ride with some magical airtime.

 

Every single hill offers airtime. The larger hills offer small pops, but the smaller speed hills launch you right into that lap bar. I suspect this coaster had buzz bars at one point and I can only dream how awesome that airtime would have been. I think I probably rode Blue Streak more than anything not named Steel Vengeance, Millennium (spoiler alert- it reopened), and Maverick. It’s always a walk-on and I can’t help but come off smiling. 8.5 out of 10

 

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Usually I prefer my classic woodies to be white, but the blue really works here.

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I know a lot of people call Blue Streak rough. To those people I say, ride up front.

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It's endless airtime.

 

Raptor may have topped Top Thrill Dragster for downtime during my visit. When it wasn’t down for wind, Raptor was down for some technical issues. I don’t think it opened at all on my last day at the park. For that reason, I consider myself lucky to have snagged two rides on it since I now have a much more favorable opinion on this invert.

 

I never hated Raptor, but I found it to be one of B&M’s poorer inverts. I have to apologize and say I have no clue what I was smoking 2-3 years ago. This is one of the most forceful inverts out there. I was greying out on the loop, being flung like a ragdoll on the zero-G roll, and snapped through the cobra roll and corkscrew. The whole coaster is violent in the best way possible, except for that jolt into the brake run. That’s just violent. 9 out of 10

 

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I finally gained a better appreciation for the green bird.

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Raptor has quite the presence with its bright track and deafening roar.

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Raptor was not having a good week between mechanical troubles and wind-related closures.

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Kick the sky?

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Or kick the fry?

 

GateKeeper is the perfect foil to Raptor. Raptor offers 6 leg-numbingly intense inversions; Gatekeeper offers 6 floaty inversions. Actually I need to correct myself. GateKeeper has 4 floaty inversions. That wing-over drop actually caused me to see some grey and in some ways feels like a bizarro pretzel loop. The near-misses with the towered entrance are really convincing, especially since they seem to be taken in slow motion. Plus there’s that nice, air-time filled camelback straight out of one of their hyper coasters. I really do like GateKeeper, even if I now do prefer Raptor slightly. 8.5 out of 10

 

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Are we sure a bird isn't Cedar Fair's mascot? I count 3 bird themed coasters in the front half of the park.

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I love when loopers throw in random airtime hills.

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Raptor brings the Gs. GateKeeper brings the Whees.

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This is the perfect entrance for Cedar Point.

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I don't know which pair of shorts is the most awkward.

 

Wicked Twister is one of the forgotten children of Cedar Point. At a park like Dorney, their impulse is a star attraction. At Cedar Point, it’s no more popular than a flat ride. I don’t know why, but speeding towards the end of the tower freaks me out considerably more on Wicked Twister than the other impulse coasters. There’s no palpable air, but the uncork offers some wild laterals. 6 out of 10

 

Luck was on my side as Windseeker was actually operating. Say what you want about these Mondial reliability nightmares, but I find the ride experience superior to the star flyers. And Cedar Point’s is the crown jewel. Cedar Point’s skyline is mesmerizing in its own right, so adding in Lake Erie is just unfair. I don’t know if any large swing ride could ever top this one’s placement.

 

I like it a fair bit more than several of the park’s coasters and it’s my favorite flat there. It’s just cruel irony that a ride called Windseeker can’t operate in wind. 10 out of 10

 

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I still can't get over the fact that a ride called Windseeker can't work in the faintest of breezes.

 

I wasn’t sure if I’d even ride Corkscrew since I remember the ride doing a fair bit of screwing. I decided to ride up front this time and was treated to an ok ride. It’s far from great, but the corkscrews didn’t make me question why I ride these aging Arrow coasters. That airtime hill following the first drop has some sneaky awesome air and I’ve always found Arrow loops to be criminally underrated. 5 out of 10

 

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Corkscrew thankfully didn't do a lot of screwing this visit.

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Though I still think the ride's strength is the aesthetics over the midway.

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A train-full of (mostly) happy riders.

 

Gemini is another guilty pleasure of mine at Cedar Point. Like Blue Streak, it’s always a walk-on, has some good airtime, and is smooth if you avoid certain seats. This is one that you have to ride in the peak hours. If you ride early or late in the day, the park may only run one side. That takes away the rare opportunity to slap hands with follow riders as you speed around the turnarounds.

 

I can’t decide if I prefer Gemini in the front or back. The back’s airtime is stronger when it occurs, particularly on the first drop and drop before the final turnaround. Meanwhile the front’s air is more plentiful. Fortunately I could just keep riding both as the line was never more than 1-2 trains. 8 out of 10

 

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Be careful not to ride during a light period or else you don't get to race.

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Much better.

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Gemini has some really underrated airtime.

 

The crowds were already pretty light before the rainstorm, but the park seemed totally empty at close. Steel Vengeance was a walk-on. I’m not sure if that has happened at any other point this year, but my FastLane was comically unnecessary in the final hour. The empty queue was so unexpected that the wait time sign outside couldn’t accurately depict the wait time. I think 30 minutes is the smallest it went. I couldn't think of a better way to end the night.

 

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It would take an exceptional force to pry myself away from Steel Vengeance at the end of the day.

 

But then I saw something off in the distance. It was a mysterious force. It was a Millennium Force. And it had riders! There was only 15 minutes before closing, so I scurried down the Frontier Trail hoping my enthusiast eyes weren’t seeing a mirage.

 

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Must not get distracted by the animals.

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This guy was busy doing laps.

 

And then I found out why Steel Vengeance’s queue was empty. I think everyone in the park was waiting for Millennium Force. Apparently the coaster opened about an hour before closing and I must not have gotten the memo. The queue was through the entire first set of switchbacks. Millennium Force’s FastLane queue is one of the longest in the park because of how early the merge point is, but I can’t complain about skipping 2/3 of the wait. I had a dilemma as I approached the station. Would I play it safe and grab row 2 or the back? Or would I go for broke and try to get the front? I’m a high roller. I went for the front.

 

Unfortunately I realized I would be 3-4 trains short, so I moved towards the back before it was too late. The operators made the last train of the night announcement. The others in the front row were too busy whining that they didn’t move to another row. I couldn’t help but chuckle, but the operators caved into their complaining and ran one more train.

 

Millennium Force has one of the best drops out there. In the back row, the airtime is absolutely divine, especially at night when you plunge into a black hole. Then that first overbank should immediately discredit anyone who nicknames this coaster Millennium Forceless. I often lose my eyesight until we’re through the tunnel. The rest of the ride is noticeably less enjoyable without the rush of wind you get in the front, but it’s still a lightning fast thrill with another 3 airtime moments. 9 out of 10 (back row)

 

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The giant has finally awoken.

 

There was little doubt where I was going for early entry the next day. I was going straight to Millennium Force. I queued up by the Marina Gate. I knew there’d be less people compared to Magnum the day before, but I didn’t realize just how empty it’d be. There couldn’t have been more than 50 people there and I was comfortably able to be the first rider over at Millennium with nothing more than a gallop.

 

Millennium Force was finishing its morning testing as it had graduated to three trains (it was only running two the night prior), but about 20 minutes into early entry it opened and there was little doubt where I was heading. In the back, Millennium Force is a very good coaster probably on par with the B&M hypers. In the front row, Millennium Force is a borderline top 5 steel coaster for me.

 

There’s nothing quite like leaning forwards on that first drop. With those open trains, it feels like you’re skydiving. Then the rush of wind makes everything better. The speed feels twofold faster. The airtime feels stronger. And there’s just something undeniably awesome flying through Millennium Island as you murder bugs by the dozen. It was breathtaking and I needed more.

 

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Proof of the carnage.

 

Upon returning to the station, my eyes were opened to the wonders of the Magic Gate. What is the Magic Gate you may ask? When Millennium Force isn’t more than a station wait (something that can only happen at early entry or ERT), the operators pop open a gate that saves you the half mile walk down the exit ramp and back up the entrance. It’s glorious and everything that is right with America.

 

I’d like to thank Steel Vengeance for making this possible. But as Steel Vengeance gives, it also takes away. Steel Vengeance failed to open during Early Entry due to technical issues, so the crowd flocked on over. Still I was able to get five front row rides to start the day before the line reached the merge point. 10 out of 10 (front row)

 

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In a park with many great first drops, Millennium Force may have the best.

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Stop with the Millennium Forceless garbage. This turn had me seeing grey every single time.

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It's impossible not to get amped up with Millennium Force's raw speed.

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Millennium focuses more on speed, but it does offer some airtime too.

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This always startles everyone in line.

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You'd be hard pressed to name many coasters that hit the brake run with more speed than Millennium Force.

 

I considered FastLane Plus again, but Steel Vengeance’s FastLane queue was at the entrance for most of the day. I suspect people who were scared by the bad weather the day prior changed their plans to such a beautiful and sunny day. I caught the line when it was only an hour and hopped in line at closing when it was only a half hour, so I still got two rides on Cedar Point’s new marquee attraction.

 

I didn’t have too many issues riding anything else without FastLane. I did have to hit Maverick early, but other than that, I tacked up rerides on coasters and hit a few other rides I missed the day prior. These included:

 

Train- I had never ridden this before, but it is a pretty big timesaver going from Millennium to Maverick or Steel Vengeance. Plus it offers some rare views of the aforementioned coasters. 9 out of 10

 

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This was one heck of a time saver.

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And it offered some rare views of the coasters. Like Millennium Force's station during a breakdown.

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And on another day I saw Millennium Force operating.

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Millennium wasn't the only coaster showing off its drop.

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Maverick just narrowly missed that train. If only Digger could have done the same with Chess.

 

Pipe Scream- Cedar Fair may not consider super loops coasters, but they consider these Zamperla diskos/skaters coasters when Six Flags doesn’t. So I guess the chains are even. Call them what you want, but I find these flats enjoyable. The spinning is pretty disorienting and I even got a tiny bit of air on the speed bump. 8 out of 10

 

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The Gemini Midway looked electric at night.

 

Witches’ Wheel- I made sure to hit this enterprise in its final operating week. I was sliding around quite a bit in the car, but I still appreciate how intense these things are. 7 out of 10

 

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I paid my respects.

 

maXair- I forgot how bulky maXair’s restraints are, especially considering SFNE added their giant discovery this year, but the ride cycle is outstanding. It gives 7-8 max swings and each offers some nice airtime. 8.5 out of 10

 

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After missing the Huss giant frisbees in Japan, I redeemed myself with maXair.

 

Power Tower- This is another tricky one to ride due to the wind, but it's worth the hassle. On the drop side, you have plenty of time to fully appreciate the view and you get some nice air on the way down as well. 8 out of 10

 

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The drop side is the only way to go. It's more thrilling and it gives you more time to enjoy the breathtaking view.

 

I also made sure to visit the Cedar Point museum. I’ve always found this the perfect escape from the sun, but I was wowed in particular by the Steel Vengeance model. I heard they had one, but I figured it’d be a detailed tabletop model. I didn’t realize it was going to be twice my height! That thing is incredibly impressive and now the best thing in the entire museum.

 

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They should RMC this model.

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Ah much better.

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Pictures do not properly convey the scale of this. It's huge!

 

I also stuffed my face with food. Since Chick-fil-a’s line was out-the-door, I went with Chickie & Pete’s crabfries (they don’t taste like crab, but they’re delicious regardless), Cedar Point’s “famous” fresh cut fries (delicious, but small porition), and Pink’s. I got a cheesesteak hot dog at the latter. It was good, just very pricey.

 

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I love these fries, but I thought the price was a bit high.

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But then I had Cedar Point's fresh cut fries. Also good, but the portion was tiny considering it cost almost as much.

 

My final day began and ended with Millennium Force. I decided to repeat my early entry strategy, except I was in for a treat. Low and behold Single Rider Bob was there. He was an incredibly enthusiastic guy and clearly wanted you to know who he was. If the neon green t-shirt wasn’t enough, he also had “Single Rider Bob for President 2020” pens that he handed out.

 

Bob and I were in the front row of Millennium Force’s first train of the day. Sharing a ride with a Cedar Point legend was pretty cool to say the least. Bob prioritized getting as many rides as he could. I prioritized front row rides and probably got another 6 or so during early entry.

 

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I met the famous Single Rider Bob.

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And I got a free pen for saying hello.

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It may not be #1 anymore, but it's still an incredible coaster.

 

My final ride on Steel Vengeance at closing was a bitter-sweet ride. After several days at an awesome park like Cedar Point or Disneyland, you always feel a bit sad that it’ll be a while before you return. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the night, but Cedar Point said “hold my beer.”

 

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I thought Steel Vengeance was the perfect way to end the night...and then something magical happened.

 

I saw Magnum running on the way out. I was a bit puzzled since there was no conceivable way that coaster would have a longer queue than Steel Vengeance unless 100 enthusiasts were all in line waiting for the ejector seat. I asked the employee at the entrance what was going on and figured I’d be turned away, but surprise! It was Season Pass Holder Appreciation Weekend. Anyone with a Platinum Pass got an hour of ERT on Magnum.

 

As often as I’ve ridden Magnum, I don’t think I have ever ridden it at night. Millennium, Maverick, and now Steel Vengeance take priority at the end of the night. I went with the front row and the first half was its usual self. We careened into the pretzel turnaround and it was dead silent. Was it the closed water park? No it wasn’t that. Then it hit me. The trims were off. Holy guacamole. I was getting an untrimmed ride on Magnum! I was both excited and secretly terrified.

 

I was trying to fathom just how much more powerful those final bunny hills could get. Turns out the last 2-3 hills were no more powerful. But all of the hills leading up to it now offered comparably intense airtime. It was definitely an endurance test enduring such an aggressive barrage of airtime, but I loved every moment of it.

 

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I figured trimless rides were just a thing of legend. No, they're very real.

 

I would have been fine riding that the rest of the night, but out of curiosity I asked the operators if anything else was open. They informed me Top Thrill Dragster was supposed to open. “Supposed to” were the key words. Since that ride struggles to make it through a normal operating day, it wasn’t a surprise to see the coaster down for the count.

 

But the operators informed me Millennium Force was open as a replacement. Never have I been more thankful for Dragster’s reliability (or lack there of)! I made it on over and got an hour of ERT. Many riders took the Single Rider Bob approach and maximized their number of rides. I refused to sit anywhere but the front and got another 6-7 rides, never having to wait more than 2-3 trains. Now that was the perfect way to end my night!

 

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Thank you Top Thrill Dragster. Your unreliability has never been more appreciated!

 

Cedar Point is an absolute holy ground for coaster enthusiasts. I am hesitant to call it the best park since comparing it to theme parks like Disneyland is splitting hairs. Both excel where they want to. What I can say is that Cedar Point is one of the world’s best parks. No other park can match Cedar Point in terms of breadth and depth. That’s something that I could have said before Steel Vengeance, now I can say it with more conviction.

 

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Goodbye (for now) Cedar Point.

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great report with wonderful pictures.

 

brings back a flood of memories, from when I was just there ~7 weeks ago!

 

agree with you 100% on MF, it's my top coaster in the park (Maverick being #2).

 

sad to see no Cedar Downs love tho. . that one is my favorite flat there. no question.

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I was at Cedar Point that Thursday (8/30) and I managed to get on most of the major coasters in five hours. It took some luck (Raptor opening for early entry when it normally doesn't helped), but I managed to get Valravn, Raptor, Millennium (twice, the Magic Gate helped), and Maverick before public opening. After that, I did Steel Vengeance (only about a 45 minute wait in regular), Magnum, Dragster, Iron Dragon, Rougarou, and GateKeeper.

 

I had never seen Millie's Magic Gate open until this year. There was one day I went (late June) and it was open during the middle of the operating day because CP was super dead that day due to rain most of the day (it was so dead that Raptor was running one train)

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great report with wonderful pictures.

 

brings back a flood of memories, from when I was just there ~7 weeks ago!

 

agree with you 100% on MF, it's my top coaster in the park (Maverick being #2).

 

sad to see no Cedar Downs love tho. . that one is my favorite flat there. no question.

 

Thanks! I rode Cedar Downs on my last visit and enjoyed it. Thinking back to my most recent visit, I don't think I passed it. I think I always walked down the back alley with Blue Streak whenever I navigated that area of the park.

 

I was at Cedar Point that Thursday (8/30) and I managed to get on most of the major coasters in five hours. It took some luck (Raptor opening for early entry when it normally doesn't helped), but I managed to get Valravn, Raptor, Millennium (twice, the Magic Gate helped), and Maverick before public opening. After that, I did Steel Vengeance (only about a 45 minute wait in regular), Magnum, Dragster, Iron Dragon, Rougarou, and GateKeeper.

 

I had never seen Millie's Magic Gate open until this year. There was one day I went (late June) and it was open during the middle of the operating day because CP was super dead that day due to rain most of the day (it was so dead that Raptor was running one train)

 

Wednesday 8/29 is without a doubt the least busy I've ever seen Cedar Point. The combination of an already low crowd day plus a brutal forecast that never came to fruiton was the perfect storm.

 

I've seen walk-ons at Cedar Point before, but never where the park can get away with single train ops. I thought Thursday 8/30 was busier but still nothing compared to other days I've visited.

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Great report! Was that Econo Lodge North or the super weird one on Milan Rd. with cats sleeping on dryers in the "lobby".

 

It's interesting to hear your review of Raptor. I always loved the thing but it seems like I'm not alone in my opinion that it's running insane this season.

 

I'd say this is one of the best Cedar Point reports I've seen this year since it's ridiculously in-depth and has some awesome pictures but it needs more SKy Ride so 0/10. This is shit.

 

PS: Hopefully you don't have any Patriots wide receivers on your team. Holy f*ck...

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Thanks!

 

I believe it was the North one. It was the one right by the Causeway and the Thirsty Pony. It was exactly what you'd expect from an Econo Lodge.

 

The Sky Ride wasn't having it with the wind. So in the rare instances it did reopen, it had a line all the way down the ramp. I still considered riding it, but after being denied the Ferris Wheel as a solo rider, I suspected they may have a similar policy on the Sky Ride.

 

I have Gordon and Edelman, neither of whom helped me. But then again, their receivers last Sunday wouldn't have helped either. It's telling when the opposition can double and triple team one guy (Gronk) and no one else can get open.

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Columbus Zoo

 

After my last day at Cedar Point on a Friday, I considered trying to get to Kings Island for Saturday’s Early Entry. Cedar Point closed at 10, so it was theoretically possible. That would have been an absolute death march. Doing so would have resulted in something in the ballpark of 5 hours of sleep. But my surprise Platinum Pass ERT session that didn’t conclude until almost midnight put these plans to rest.

 

Along with getting a doctor recommended allotment of sleep, my revised plan also had the auxiliary benefit of passing right by the Columbus Zoo. I wasn’t going to say no to a wood coaster credit. I arrived 15 minutes after opening and was parked a solid 10 minutes from the gate. Turns out the zoo was far busier than I expected.

 

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Well this appears busier than I expected.

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At least I could look at this bird statue while I waited.

 

I neglected to research the zoo in advance. I didn’t realize just how large this zoo was! I’m used to the quaint little Roger Williams and Franklin Park zoos in New England. This zoo was massive. In retrospect, I should have realized this considering Six Flags used to own this property. Beyond the sizable zoo area, they also had a solid water park in Zoombezi Bay and modest amusement park in Jungle Jack’s Landing. Care to guess why I was there?

 

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This gives you an idea how much larger the zoo section is relative to the ride area.

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Zoombezi Bay looked like it had some nice slides.

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Most people head right for the zoo. Coaster enthusiasts are the few who go left.

 

I was intrigued to see how the zoo would handle admission across the three areas. Everyone is required to pay admission to the zoo. From there, you have additional options to purchase all-day wristbands for Zoombezi Bay and Jungle Jack’s Landing. The latter also offers individual ride tickets for the affordable price of $2. I went with the latter considering there were only two rides of interest.

 

I started with Jungle River Falls. This was a newer style flume located adjacent to the ticket booth. Two things immediately stood out. One, the whole ride was built over a pond. Two, I noticed a few logs floating in reverse. A flume with a backwards section? What a nice surprise! I was suddenly more excited for this flume. Too bad the logs weren’t supposed to travel that way

 

The flume had just broken down. Two logs were stopped on the lift. The other logs slowly drifted to the bottoms of the hills. I was hopeful it’d be a temporary breakdown, but after a few minutes water was shut off to the drops and riders were evacuated.

 

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I love the ride's placement on the water.

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And the drops looked solid too.

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But once I saw riders evacuated, I wasn't holding my breath that it'd reopen.

 

So I moved onto Sea Dragon. I absolutely love the classic curved station. What I didn’t love was the unintended moat surrounding the attraction. It almost looks as if there is an abandoned lazy river circling the coaster. Maybe someone else knows if it once was a lazy river or not, but it simply doesn’t look good with all the overgrown grass surrounding it.

 

I walked right on since I think 90% of the park’s guests were on the zoo side. The operator was a small female and she struggled quite a bit to push the train out of the station. If she struggled with a single 160 pound guy like me, I wonder what would happen with a trainload of ACErs.

 

If you’ve ridden any of the junior woodies at the Cedar Fair parks, you’ve basically ridden Sea Dragon. The coaster was a case of Jekyll and Hyde. Half was bumpy; half was smooth. Afterwards I discovered it was because they were in the process of retracking this classic coaster. I’m glad to see the park taking care of Sea Dragon since who knows what Six Flags did when they owned the park. Outside of maybe 1-2 tiny pops of air, it’s pretty unremarkable. But it sure beats your usually kiddie coaster. 3 out of 10

 

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If you've been on any of the Cedar Fair junior woodies, you'll know exactly what to expect.

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It's not exactly an airtime machine but it's a hit with families.

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Glad to see this classic coaster getting some TLC.

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While I love the curved station, I'm not sure how I feel about the landscaping around it.

 

I wandered through the rest of the ride area optimistic the flume would reopen. Beyond those two rides, they had several classic flats (wave swinger, scrambler, bumper cars, etc) loosely themed to random animals. I skipped all of these, but I did grab some photos for the park index.

 

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I love how all the flats have unique names.

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One of the oddest names out there for a swinging ship.

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Not sure why the bumper cars are themed to birds but they are.

 

Water was returned to the flume and logs were testing, so I patiently waited by the entrance. But after 15 minutes of non-stop testing, the operator kindly informed me that the flume wouldn’t be opening anytime soon. It was a bummer, but I had all of Kings Island to look forward to.

 

I visited Columbus Zoo with the intention of riding Sea Dragon and not much else. Animal fans could definitely make a day here considering the sheer size of the zoo. If you’re only there for the rides, I can’t see you needing more than an hour. And even that may be on the high side.

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Okay, so I have an answer for you on that moat question.

 

I haven't been to this place in years but at one point it was called Wyandot Lake which was across the street from the zoo and a totally separate entity run by (believe it or not), Six Flags. We have family near Columbus and we used to go there all the time since it was free with our Six Flags season passes. You used to enter from the area where the wave pool is now and there was a small crappy dry park on the left. You could walk around the far side of the SeaDragon station to get to the water park. The place where that midway used to be appears to be a backstage area now.

 

Basically, SeaDragon was sort of the dividing line and the dry park was on the left and water park was on the right (based on the old entrance that's no longer there... sorry, I apparently like to explain things in the most confusing and useless way possible). Now they decided to follow the path of most resistance and totally flip it so that the dry park is where the water park used to be and vice versa. I don't know...

 

So yes, that used to be a Lazy River (and a pretty cool one at that). I wish they would open it back up. If you look at it on Google Maps you can see two loading areas, one on each side. Obviously the last time I was there they loaded from the far side in what's now the dry park, but they could seemingly just flip it now that they switched everything.

 

Here are a few pictures from Negative G

 

The old lazy river from the old dry park side

 

The water park was on the left from this angle with the dry park on the right. By this point everyone would be walking around in bare feet so Six Flags provided us with this hot-as-the-surface-of-the-sun blacktop walkway because F*ck you, that's why.

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Thanks for the explanation! I thought it looked like a lazy river. Floating around Sea Dragon definitely would have been a cool experience.

 

That's really bizarre they flipped the location of the dry and water park. I can't think of another park that has ever done that. This park's history is even more bizarre now. I knew they were once owned by Six Flags and it was probably their oddest property compared to the rest of their parks.

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Kings Island

 

Sunny skies would be at premium during my visit at Kings Island. The weathermen seemed confident a thunderstorm was on the way. However, they weren’t quite sure when it would start. Well after parking my car, it was hard not to miss the grey clouds hovering above the park. They seemed to be near.

 

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I see some blue skies, but for how long would that last?

 

My first stop was the FastLane booth. With only 8 hours on a Labor Day weekend Saturday, I was strongly leaning towards FastLane. My one question was whether or not Flight of Fear would operate during a thunderstorm. After a quick phone call, the attendant confirmed the coaster would operate. That made the decision a no brainer. One oddity was that the park didn’t offer any sort of discount with the Platinum Pass. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever had that happen at a Cedar Fair park.

 

There was little doubt where my first stop would be- Mystic Timbers. I find many of the GCIs I’ve been on to be pretty interchangeable. Usually they follow a predictable flow- airtime hill, turn, airtime hill, turn, rinse and repeat. But 3 stood out. Gold Striker stood out for being an awesome and relentless coaster from start to finish. Apocalypse stood out for trying to break my back. And Prowler stood out for having the best layout of the GCIs.

 

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Was there any doubt what my first stop would be?

 

Riding Prowler earlier this year cemented a trip to Kings Island this year. I loved Prowler’s layout and setting. But it was quite rough. I could only dream of riding Prowler in its early days. Well Kings Island made that dream a reality. Mystic Timbers looked almost identical outside of the much publicized shed at the end.

 

And Mystic Timbers delivered the goods. The queue was posted at 30 minutes, but FastLane had me immediately boarding the front row. The coaster is a wonderful blitzkrieg of small hills and rapid directional changes. After the first two drops, I think the final drop may be the ride’s third largest. The coaster’s reliance on small hills is a positive as the coaster absolutely flies through the course delivering nice pops of air along the way. It’s also impressive how a coaster with a predominantly out-and-back layout manages to jam that many directional changes along the way. It really is one wild ride.

 

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What's in the shed? You probably know by now, but if you want to ride it spoiler free, just skip the next bit.

 

[spoilerS]

 

I totally understand why the park hyped up the shed. It’s something no other park has done. Usually the brake run is a boring bake in the hot, summer sun. But the shed fixed this problem. Yes it’s stupid, but that’s what makes it ingenious. The music is a complete WTF. You don’t know why, but everyone starts dancing awkwardly like they’re at their high school prom again. Then the little dance party ends with a brief jump scare. I was lucky enough to have gotten all 3 scenes. I ran into a local who runs the RMC Connoisseurs page on Facebook and he said the one with the tree was pretty rare.

 

[END SPOILERS]

 

I immediately rerode in the back and I thought it was a bit more intense back there. The directional changes had more snap to them. I really enjoyed Mystic Timbers. It took Prowler’s layout, removed all roughness, and added a funky shed in its place. This gave Kings Island the signature attraction I want to reride at the end of the night. Beast is the most iconic ride at the park without a doubt. And as much fun as it is to fly through the woods over straight track, I’d prefer to fly through the woods navigating an endless array of hills like Mystic Timbers. 9 out of 10

 

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Outside of the first drop, very little of the ride can be seen from the midway.

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It was exactly like Prowler except for the fact it didn't have me reaching for Advil after.

 

I was debating whether or not I should even ride the Beast during the day. Since I was passing by anyway, I gave it a whirl. The FastLane queue is a complete cluster as you have to navigate your way upstream through that narrow exit ramp, but I was rewarded with only a three train wait for the front. And I was lucky it was not a single train longer, as nearby thunderstorms then caused all outdoor coasters to close.

 

Beast’s first half is pretty lackluster in the day. There’s no airtime or really any hills for that matter. Worse, anytime you build up any appreciable speed, there’s a trim to slow you down. But the second half is always a thrill. That double helix is out-of-control. My day ride was really underwhelming other than that helix, but I think that’s a common consensus among coaster enthusiasts when it comes to the Beast.

 

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And I thought Mystic Timbers was hard to photograph...

 

Some of the flats were still open like the scrambler and the wave swinger, but it was quickly apparent none of the outdoor coasters were operational. Fortunately Kings Island has a solid indoor coaster in Flight of Fear. I wasn’t the only one with this thought and the queue line was spilling onto the midway. I shudder to think how long that wait would be, but with FastLane it was only 15 minutes.

 

As a whole Kings Island has fantastic operations. Flight of Fear is an outlier. Even Firehawk had faster dispatches, which shouldn’t even be possible when this coaster has just a lap bar. Yet 5 minute dispatches were the norm. Also does anyone else find the lap bars uncomfortable? While I imagine they’re better than the old OSTRs, especially considering how jerky the coaster is, my foot was painfully stapled between the floor and the lap bar on a few rides.

 

The ride itself is enjoyable, although I prefer the outdoor spaghetti bowls. The indoor lighting results in a superior first half as the first three inversions are extremely disorienting. But the second half is ruined by the MCBR. I think the second half is the highlight on Joker’s Jinx and Poltergeist. You are flung around like a ragdoll on each turn and that culminates in a snappy corkscrew. Meanwhile Flight of Fear crawled through each turn and didn’t regain its speed until the final corkscrew. I can only dream what an untrimmed Flight of Fear ride would be like, but until then it’s still a solid coaster. 7 out of 10

 

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Apparently I wasn't the only one seeking refuge in Hangar 18.

 

The thunderstorms must have drifted just outside the park’s range, as all the outdoor rides reopened for no more than 15 minutes. That gave me enough time to grab a ride on Firehawk. After a miserable and rattly ride on Batwing earlier this year, I was sort of dreading this coaster. But it was actually enjoyable and at the time, I had no idea it would be removed.

 

Firehawk has a really strong layout and was smooth for the most part. The inversions are really good with the vertical loop in particular standing out. I love how it rapidly transitions from being floaty atop the loop to pretzel loop intense at the bottom. I still prefer the seating arrangement on B&Ms since it’s incredibly awkward lying on your back, but at least the Flying Dutchmen are superior to Volares. It’s the small victories that count. 7 out of 10

 

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Sadly the best of the three Vekoma Dutchmen is the first to go.

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But I'm sure whatever Kings Island has up its sleeve is worth the loss.

 

With streaks of lightning visible in the distance, all outdoor attractions closed. Before returning to Flight of Fear, I decided to give Boo Blasters a whirl. The main queue was spilling out into Planet Snoopy, but I was able to walk right on.

 

Of the Boo Blasters rides, Kings Island’s is without a doubt the most technologically complex. Instead of using the individual ride vehicles like 90% of the Sally dark rides out there, this one has an Omnimover system complete with rotating vehicles. However, I shot worse than a Stormtrooper. There was no shot feedback and I could only seem to hit a quarter of the targets I took aim at. If a ride is difficult due to small or fast moving targets, that’s fine by me. I’m up for the challenge. But when I spend half the ride questioning if the gun even works, that’s not exactly a positive. 6 out of 10

 

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The ghosts tried, but they weren't as scary as the sky.

 

I’m sort of baffled why Kings Island did this on one of the busiest weekends of the year, but the park was celebrating Dollar Days. Various food items such as pizza, popcorn, and ice cream cost (you guessed it) one dollar. As you’d expect, concession lines were long, but the pizza line never took more than 5 minutes. Obviously it’s no Cesari’s, but for $1 I was very satisfied. And because of how busy the food stands were, it guaranteed the pizza would be fresh and piping hot.

 

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I'm stunned they did Dollar Days on a holiday weekend but I wasn't going to complain.

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Well worth the 28.

 

As the rain worsened, I scurried on back to Flight of Fear. I was prepared to marathon this coaster for 3 hours if needed until the outdoor attractions reopened. But after my third ride, the sky was starting to clear and I saw Racer cycling some empty trains. So that seemed like a good next stop.

 

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FastLane Plus was worth it alone for this ride until the storm passed.

 

FastLane wasn’t even necessary for Racer. I snatched two rides in a span of 15 minutes. I had no preference between the red and blue side, but I definitely had a preference for the front and the winning side. The victor is decided almost entirely by the dispatch (the exception being if you have a trainload of ACErs riding next to a train of girl scouts) and I lucked out both times. The coaster had some really solid airtime. Most hills gave nice little pops of air. It was a bit bumpy, so I can only dream of the coaster getting a restoration a la Rebel Yell (err Racer 75). 6 out of 10

 

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I think red has the advantage here.

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I got way more airtime than I remembered on Racer this time.

 

I bypassed a sizable queue for Adventure Express and walked onto the back. Seeing the individual lap bars was a welcome upgrade over the mine trains earlier on the trip. It was nice not having a junior rider constantly yanking down on the bar for the duration of the ride. Along with the superior restraints, it’s quickly apparent this was one of Arrow’s later mine train designs. The transitions are much smoother and this one holds its speed much better. Being located on a hill probably helps with the latter part. I even recall there being a surprise pop of air during a twisting transition.

 

When coasters finish with a lift hill, the ending is using anti-climactic. Not with Adventure Express. The lift hill is clearly the predecessor to the shed and the amount of WTF is off-the-charts. I thought this ending was a sausage tease the first time I rode, but now I revel in that level of trolling. It’s my favorite part of the ride. I think SLCs are the only other coaster where the lift is the best part. 6 out of 10

 

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Think Mystic Timbers was the first with a shed? Think again.

 

I remembered Banshee being one of the best inverts out there. But since I last rode Banshee, I have ridden some of B&M’s acclaimed older designs like Nemesis, Montu, and Pyrenees. While Banshee may arguably be the most imposing invert out there and is incredibly fun, it just can’t match those others in terms of intensity. I also found Banshee pretty rattly if you rode towards the back of the train. Fortunately those awesome B&M vest restraints prevented any headbanging.

 

Banshee is up there with Alpengeist for the best drop on an invert. I love how steep the drop is. Unfortunately the Immelmann and bowtie were taken so gracefully that they were lacking in the force department, but the other four inversions compensated. Both vertical loops had me seeing some grey and the two inline twists had some incredible hang-time, particularly on the final one which seemingly lasts forever. 8.5 out of 10

 

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There's no such thing as too much fog.

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I love how different Banshee's first drop is from the other inverts.

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And having an interlocking loop doesn't hurt either.

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Banshee does all sorts of tricks on the Son of Beast's old grave.

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She sure is one photogenic coaster.

 

American Eagle may have topped the Bat for the most ridiculous and unnecessary queue line out there, but the Bat still has a pretty freaking long queue line in terms of length. In terms of wait time, I’ve never seen this coaster with more than a 10-15 minute wait, which is awesome since it isn’t on FastLane. Bat is right up there with Vortex for the best suspended in my opinion.

 

The first drop supplies all the speed the Bat needs to deliver a wild ride through the woods. With each progressive turn, the swinging gets wilder and wilder until you go beyond horizontal entering the brake run. I sort of regret not getting a night ride on the Bat, but that’s something I can look forward to in a future visit as I suspect it’d be awesome. 8 out of 10

 

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This was definitely worth the long walk.

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I love how this one and Vortex hold their speed the whole way through the course.

 

Drop Tower seemed like the last ride to reopen after the storm. Once I saw the ride cycling, I immediately queued up in the event the ride were to suffer another breakdown. Drop Tower feels massive. I mean a 250ft plus tower alone will do that, but I just love how the tower dwarfs the adjacent Sky Coaster. That’s something not many rides can accomplish.

 

Even better, there’s no warning when the drop will occur. As much as I love Larson towers, there’s that tell right before they drop. Not on Drop Tower. The drop may not have been as intense as the Larsons, but the drop was longer and had good float the whole way down. This is definitely one of the better drop towers out there. 9 out of 10

 

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Drop Tower's name may be a joke, but the ride certainly isn't.

 

While I successfully made it on Drop Tower, I wasn’t so lucky with Invertigo. As I approached the coaster, I saw the queue line emptying. But there was no train in the station. Then I looked up and noticed the train was stuck on the lift. Being no stranger to unreliable Vekoma inverted boomerangs, it was no major loss for me.

 

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If you look closely, you can see the train stuck on the lift.

 

I only had another hour of light, so I returned to Rivertown to ride Diamondback. I had every intention of only riding in the back row, but I was assigned the front and wasn’t going to shoot a gift horse in the mouth. I immediately looped around for a second ride in back and it’s still unequivocally a back row ride.

 

I love Diamondback’s setting through the woods. Then the first half is outstanding. Those tall drops never end and you float the whole way down. However, the coaster does peter out in the second half due to the MCBR and trims. There’s still some airtime, but it lacks the strength of the first half. Ultimately I’d say Diamondback is firmly in the middle of the pack of B&M hypers. 8.5 out of 10

 

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I think this shot sums up the weather I was dealing with during my visit.

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Diamondback's first half is fantastic. I love all those large drops in the woods.

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Everyone has the shot of the splashdown. So I took one a second beforehand.

 

I missed Backlot at Kings Dominion earlier this year since it was only running one train, so I made sure to give it a ride at Kings Island. Most of the ride isn’t too fast, but that initial helix is one of the most sneakily intense elements out there. For the most part, all of the effects were working which was a major plus as well. This is the perfect family coaster. 6 out of 10

 

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Even though it has been stripped of the Italian Job IP, the theme is more impressive now that I've seen the movie.

 

I rode Vortex in 2016 fearing the worst. I expected for my skull to be beaten to a pulp. But then something miraculous happened; I enjoyed Vortex. Maybe it was a fluke, so I rerode it with some apprehension.

 

The first drop has some fantastic airtime and the two vertical loops are very forceful. I also love how the two corkscrews are different in that they’re placed in the middle of the ride and have some solid hangtime. But my favorite inversion is that batwing. It starts off with a bit of hangtime, but that rapidly transforms into positive Gs at the bottom of the element. Call me crazy, but I enjoy Vortex. 7 out of 10

 

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Am I the only one who doesn't hate Vortex?

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Arrow loops are criminally underrated in the force department.

 

Most parks have 1-2 coasters that give notoriously strong night rides. Take Prowler at Worlds of Fun or GhostRider at Knott’s Berry Farm. Kings Island is absolutely loaded in the night ride department. Because half their larger coasters are isolated in the woods, there is very little light out there. This turns great rides into excellent rides or in the case of Beast, a mediocre ride into a great ride.

 

Due to time constraints, I had to cut out Banshee and Bat at night. I remember both of these giving fantastic night rides back in 2016. I may have been able to cram them in, but I deemed the time I’d spend walking between Rivertown and the Action Zone too valuable to waste.

 

Because of the impending fireworks closure, I started with the Beast. Earlier in the day, my FastLane skipped a modest queue. This time I skipped a full queue. I guess the Beast’s legendary night rides are as well known among locals as they are among coaster enthusiasts. Even if I had to wait 10 extra trains, there was no doubt I was going to ride in the front. Luck was on my side, as there was another single-rider coaster enthusiast already waiting for row one. So we paired up and went off on our adventure.

 

I cannot think of a single coaster whose ride differs so much between day and night. Yes there are better night rides like Outlaw Run or Boulder Dash, but both of those coasters are also incredible during the day. Beast transforms from a forgettable wood coaster to one of the best experiences out there. The moon tried its best to illuminate our path, but for the most part, the first half was in total darkness. Yes it would be better with drops, but there’s something undeniably fun speeding about in total darkness.

 

And then the double helix happens. How Dinn managed to pull this element off without cracking our ribs is a mystery to this day. The plunge into the tunnel is climactic. You know that turn is coming, but you can’t see when. And then it hits and you’re slammed to the side of the train. This double helix at night is one of the most memorable coaster elements out there for me.

 

Beast is an incredibly challenging coaster to rate. In the absolute best conditions (front row, night), it’s a stand-out coaster. By day, it feels like a glorified mine train at best. But in the wrong seat, it could have you reaching for some Advil. No visit to Kings Island is complete without a night ride on the Beast. It may not be a top 10 coaster for many enthusiasts, but there’s a reason so many of us prioritize night rides on this coaster. 8 out of 10

 

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It may no longer be the park's best night ride, but it's still the one you can't miss if that makes sense.

 

But personally, I don’t think Beast is the best night ride at Kings Island anymore. That honor now goes to Mystic Timbers. It absolutely came alive at night. After that first drop and plunge past the river rapids, the rest of the layout is shrouded in darkness. It felt twofold faster. The airtime felt stronger. The laterals felt stronger. Everything about the coaster seemed better. I loved the coaster more with each ride. So much so that it came close to knocking Cornball Express out of my top 10. I thought about it, but I will amend the rating to a 9.5 out of 10 as a consolation.

 

I was also extremely grateful for FastLane. Mystic Timbers dropped down to two train operations in the late afternoon. This resulted in the posted wait eclipsing 90 minutes. Meanwhile I was able to rack up 6 rides with nothing more than a one train wait.

 

It was hard to pull myself away from Mystic Timbers, but I decided Diamondback warranted a night ride. I was so close to a fireworks ride, but I missed it by one train. While Mystic Timbers felt like an untamed beast, Diamondback felt fairly controlled. Still, it was an enjoyable way to end the night gracefully plunging through the woods.

 

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Mystic Timbers kicks it into turbo at night.

 

I returned two days later for Platinum Pass Early Entry. The plan was to get a few rides on Mystic Timbers, but I was thwarted by the admission process. I made it through the metal detectors just fine and the turnstiles opened early. The only problem was that the turnstiles opened for everyone and not just Platinum Pass holders.

 

This led to a terrible chokepoint on International Street. The 10 turnstiles were funneled down to one employee. Those who didn’t have Platinum Passes clogged the front of the line, refusing to yield their spot for rope drop. It was like having 10 highway lanes merge into 1 with an accident in that single merge lane. People were shoving their way to the front, indiscriminately pushing over adults and kids alike. This resulted in me spending 80% of Early Entry in the middle of an angry and disorderly mob.

 

Eventually I was freed and encountered a 10 minute wait for Mystic Timbers. I knew the ride wasn’t going to be as wild as my night rides, but it was still a rip-rollicking fun time through the woods. I tried to get back in line, but the park had already opened and the line was already snaking through quite a few switchbacks.

 

Fortunately Diamondback was nearby and an absolute people eater, so I was able to get a back seat ride with no more than a 15 minute wait. I then thought I could get one last ride on Beast, but the coaster had yet to open. And from posts on this forum, it doesn’t appear that the Beast opened at all that day. I then tried to hit the Eiffel Tower on the way out for some aerial pics, but that was also down. Admitting defeat, I decided to head out for Coney Island.

 

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Diamondback snaking its way back to the station.

 

Kings Island is an excellent park. It’s clean, well run, and has a very strong coaster collection. My gripe from my 2016 visit was that they lacked that signature attraction you wanted to reride at the end of the night. Mystic Timbers filled that void nicely, but it’s hard not to notice the 2020 permit with B&M’s name on it. I’m hoping for another Fury, but we’ll see what the future brings!

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Missed ya by a day! Agreed there are so many fun night rides at Kings Island. I can't figure out if it's just that MT is better at night or that I like it more each time I ride it. I'm in the minority that likes the front better, but no matter where you sit you're going to get taken for a wild ride.

 

Yeah, Diamondback doesn't really change much throughout the day. The only 'different' ride you're going to get is during Haunt when the fog settles into the valley/bottom of the drops which makes for temporary tunnels.

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I definitely found my night rides better and faster than the morning ride I took a few days later, but that could be said about a lot of coasters that need to warm up as the day progresses.

 

Riding through the fog sounds like a really cool experience on Diamondback. Wouldn't there be fog on Mystic Timbers and Beast as well?

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really nice report. . it's thrilling to see so many pics from a park I've not been to - tho I have been to King's Dominion twice, and it seems at least some of the park/layout is similar.

 

but yeah.. one day, I'll make it to the Beast. . always been on my wish list.

 

Did Flight of Fear use the MCB like Kings Dominions does? that almost brought us to a stop..it was 'weird'. .and kinda a rough ride on our trip.

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I definitely found my night rides better and faster than the morning ride I took a few days later, but that could be said about a lot of coasters that need to warm up as the day progresses.

 

Riding through the fog sounds like a really cool experience on Diamondback. Wouldn't there be fog on Mystic Timbers and Beast as well?

 

Beast not that I can remember it is too far away from it all. MT maybe but I don't have experience to speak to. I'd believe it would be too far away as well. Unless Tombstone Terrortory is still going? I think that's dead.

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I definitely found my night rides better and faster than the morning ride I took a few days later, but that could be said about a lot of coasters that need to warm up as the day progresses.

 

Riding through the fog sounds like a really cool experience on Diamondback. Wouldn't there be fog on Mystic Timbers and Beast as well?

 

Beast not that I can remember it is too far away from it all. MT maybe but I don't have experience to speak to. I'd believe it would be too far away as well. Unless Tombstone Terrortory is still going? I think that's dead.

 

Oh fog from the haunts! I was thinking the cooler weather was the cause of the fog. Should have known better.

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I definitely found my night rides better and faster than the morning ride I took a few days later, but that could be said about a lot of coasters that need to warm up as the day progresses.

 

Riding through the fog sounds like a really cool experience on Diamondback. Wouldn't there be fog on Mystic Timbers and Beast as well?

 

Beast not that I can remember it is too far away from it all. MT maybe but I don't have experience to speak to. I'd believe it would be too far away as well. Unless Tombstone Terrortory is still going? I think that's dead.

 

Oh fog from the haunts! I was thinking the cooler weather was the cause of the fog. Should have known better.

 

Comeeeeee onnnnnnn

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Kentucky Kingdom

 

Originally I was going to have a reasonably laid back day at Kentucky Kingdom and Beech Bend. I planned to spend most of the day at Kentucky Kingdom and leave in the mid-afternoon to get down to Beech Bend to try Kentucky Rumbler. However, one billboard threw all those plans out the window. It was a billboard for Holiday World.

 

I had forgotten Holiday World was just an hour from Kentucky Kingdom. It didn’t feel right to be that close to one of my favorite amusement parks and not visit. Since I already had pre-purchased Kentucky Kingdom tickets, I certainly wasn’t going to skip out on reriding Storm Chaser and Lightning Run. I also was hesitant to cutout Beech Bend as it would be a new park for me. So would I do the stupid thing and try and shoehorn all three parks in? You better believe I did.

 

I arrived at Kentucky Kingdom a few minutes before opening and was greeted with a sizable line. It was a sunny Sunday on a long weekend, so seeing a large crowd wasn’t totally unexpected. Fortunately the line moved quickly.

 

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I'm truly amazed how nice this park looks considering it was abandoned for several years.

 

Once inside the park, my first stop was undoubtedly Lightning Run. With the ride’s close proximity to the entrance, I figured it would quickly build up a queue. One train operations assured that. I only had to wait 10 minutes for my ride, but the queue was stretched back to the entrance by the time I got off. Since I only rode Lightning Run in the back in 2016, I decided to try it in the front for my single ride.

 

This coaster is a little airtime machine. The first camelback has some strong air and it’s the only sustained air on the ride. The rest of the coaster consists of a series of airtime pops, each one more intense than the last. This culminates with an incredible finale consisting of 4 tiny hills. It’s reminiscent of Steel Vengeance’s finale, except I think Lightning Run’s air may be even stronger. It’s one of the best finishes to any coaster. Plus it’s glass smooth.

 

Lightning Run’s height and speed are relatively modest to other airtime-centric steel coasters and I definitely felt it. For comparison, Wicked Cyclone and Twisted Cyclone are almost identical in these categories but they feel a heck of a lot faster. I don’t know if it’s just the odd squeaky sound or the pacing, but it’s the one thing that holds Lightning Rod back from being in my upper echelon of steel coasters. Still it’s a great little coaster and I’m stunned more of these Chance coasters haven’t popped up. 9 out of 10

 

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I'm glad I came here first.

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Lightning Run's finale is a great place for reaction shots. You can really feel the airtime.

 

I was worried Storm Chaser would have a delayed opening, but I decided to head back there anyway to beat the crowds. As I crossed the roadway and passed through the water park, I was reminded that Kentucky Kingdom may have the oddest layout of any park. Once I reached the dry section in the back of the park, it was a complete ghost town. But then I heard the familiar RMC roar in the distance.

 

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It pained me to skip such a good water park, but the thought of riding Voyage later in the day comforted me.

 

Storm Chaser is another example of a coaster with modest stats that absolutely hauls. After you float down that barrel roll drop, Storm Chaser is bonkers. The first half focuses on airtime. That first camelback is one of RMC’s best airtime moments even and the following overbank even manages to give some sideways airtime. The far turnaround offers strong pops of air entering and exiting. And then there’s another speedy bunny hill with some powerful ejector air.

 

Then the zero-G roll transitions into the ludicrous finale. While most zero-G rolls are floaty, the one on Storm Chaser is downright violent (in a good way). That’s followed by the trick track double up, double down thingy. This element is navigated so quickly that you don’t even have time to return to your seat in between airtime pops. I truly felt like a ragdoll here. There’s a quick turn and a surprise entering the brake run. There’s a strong pop of air and that’s followed by a perfectly flat turn that slams riders to the side of the car.

 

Storm Chaser simply does not let up. It has every type of airtime an enthusiast could want. It has hangtime, sustained ejector, ejector pops, and even sideways air. I was able to get several rides in a row without having to wait and it almost re-entered my top 10 steel coasters. 10 out of 10

 

Quick aside, but where exactly is Storm Chaser’s third inversion? I know there’s the barrel roll drop and the zero-G roll in the middle of the coaster. Is that first overbank considered the third inversion?

 

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I enjoyed my unofficial ERT session on Storm Chaser.

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Your butt is out of the seat more than it is in it.

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Is this what's considered the third inversion?

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I remember when people thought this looked like the worst RMC. Boy were we all wrong.

 

Having completed my two main objectives, I made my way back towards the main entrance with the intention of maximizing my Holiday World time. However, I noticed Thunder Run was a walk-on so I hopped aboard the park’s only wooden coaster (for now that is).

 

I made sure to ride towards the front in a non-wheel seat since it was pretty bumpy back in 2016. That was a wise decision judging by some of the expletives from the row behind me. The outward leg offers some nice airtime. However, the second half is a dud. The coaster is still going pretty fast, but the combination of straight track and gradual hills yield no airtime whatsoever. 5 out of 10

 

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Usually thunder comes before lightning, but I rode them in reverse.

 

I also couldn’t say no to Fearfall considering it was also a walk-on and right next to the exit. It doesn’t matter how many times I ride these Larson towers, but that drop is always a thrill. 9 out of 10

 

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I had a wonderful view of the infamous phallic shaped rock.

 

I also grabbed a snack on the way out. You could say I’m a pretzel aficionado. Since I don’t like sweets, this is my dessert of choice. In terms of pretzels, I’d be hard pressed to find something that can top the gooey, buttery goodness of the Busch parks (especially when bacon is involved), but Kentucky Kingdom had a worthy contender. It’s always a treat to find a park offering something other than the standard Super Pretzel.

 

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This was up there with Wetzel's in terms of quality.

 

I easily could have spent more time at Kentucky Kingdom. You would never know that the park had once been abandoned by Six Flags since it’s incredibly clean, well-kept, and busy. Beyond the excellent top two coasters, they have one of the best water parks in America and with the temperature in the 90s, most of the guests seemed to appreciate it. With the announcement of Kentucky Flyer and my desire to make it out to Holiwood Nights someday, a return visit will likely be in store soon.

 

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Kentucky Kingdom keeps adding new rides.

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Just popping in to say I've been totally into the last couple of updates. KK is very high on my list, and after riding Wacky Taxi and then hearing about the new woodie, I'm even more stoked to visit in the next year or two.

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