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Photo TR: Adam tackles Cedar Point, Kennywood and Hersheypark

P. 2: Hershey Day One - Chocolate World, Hersheypark and lots of food!

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Updates:

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Cedar Point Day One - Coasters, coasters and more coasters

Cedar Point Day Two - Snake River Expedition, coasters & merch

Kennywood - Coasters, classic rides and lots of history

Hershey Day One - Chocolate World, Hersheypark and lots of food!

 

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Original Post:

 

After 14 months of no travel as a result of COVID-19's impact around the world, it was finally time a few weeks ago to get back out there and leave Orlando for a spell. My last trip was in April of 2020 and consisted of a cold birthday weekend in New York City. I planned a long weekend with a few friends, neither of which had been to Cedar Point before (my first visit was three years ago for the opening of Steel Vengeance)--and we figured since we were already making the trek, we'd visit a few more parks along the way, adding Kennywood and Hersheypark to our itinerary.

For our first day we had the Fast Lane Plus as well as the All Day Dining and All Day Drink packages. Compared to my last visit where Steel Vengeance was running one train, during this visit we had all three trains running. With the Fast Lane Plus access, we never waited more than a half hour to ride--and at opening we waited only 10 minutes from entering the queue to when we were seated. Fast Lane was more effective with some coasters (Steel Vengeance, Top Thrill Dragster, Maverick and Magnum) than it was for others (Millennium Force, Wicked Twister and Rougarou) but still absolutely worth the money. We visited on a Thursday and Friday and both days were very busy--I could only imagine what Saturday or Sunday would have been like.

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It was nice to be on a plane again...

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Our first day at Cedar Point started with early access thanks to our stay at the Express Hotel at Cedar Point.

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The morning fog eerily masked several of the rides for the first few hours of the park operation.

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Raptor is still a ridiculously good B&M inverted coaster!

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Slurm or Fanta Lime? Either way, it was delicious and I could have as much as I wanted of it thanks to the All Day Drink Package that came with our hotel package. The package works on any open location that has a soda fountain (including Coca-Cola Freestyle machines).

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What a roll!

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Valravn diving from the fog...

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In case you were wondering about the legend of Valravn...

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Of the three B&M dive machines I've been on, Valravn continues to be my least favorite. Despite the extra height and inversions, I think Sheikra has the best layout and Griffon has the best (wide) trains.

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"Do a Cobra Roll!"

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Looking down the midway...

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Dive! Dive! Dive!

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The fog certainly adds something to the visual buildup of Millennium Force as you approach.

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Honestly didn't surprise me as much this time around but still a very fun coaster.

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Lots going on in this view...

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I love that you can walk under Corkscrew with no nets!

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As the fog cleared, Top Thrill Dragster revealed its massive height.

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I'd love to experience a rollback...

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Gemini was running really well during our visit!

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Time for the good stuff!

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What an absolute beast!

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The money shot!

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This outward-banked airtime hill always gets me!

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Steel Vengeance is an absolutely relentless coaster. Not a single moment to breath throughout. And the second half inside of the coaster's wooden structure gives you moments where you can barely tell what is the right side up.

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The initial 90 degree drop is unreal.

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We rode twice during this day but we would be back for more the next day.

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Amazing!

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Time for the truly wildest ride in the wilderness!

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I adore everything about Maverick.

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If it weren't for Steel Vengeance, Maverick would be my favorite coaster in the park.

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Such a unique layout and the way the trains move across it... I'm always amazed at how much this ride throws you around.

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Heading into one of my favorite elements...

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Living it up!

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We hopped over to Top Thrill Dragster to have our wind-blown faces launched into the sky.

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Millennium Force towers over the Frontier section of the park.

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We had lunch at the new BackBeatQue venue using our All Day Dining plan...

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The brisket looked amazing!

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Sadly the portion size for the brisket platter was underwhelming, but the food itself was really good for quick service dining plan food!

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The half chicken platter was a more hearty portion...

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As was the pulled pork platter...

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The back patio for BackBeatQue provided outdoor seating with a live band performing folksy versions of classic rock songs.

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Back to the coasters...

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Ready to race!

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We ran out of time to experience the Cedar Creek Mine Ride during this trip...

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Sadly the Town Hall Museum was closed during our visit (likely due to COVID) but Pig-Pen was out front taking distanced photos with guests.

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Another ride on Maverick? Don't mind if I do!

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Skyhawk is so fun!

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There was additional entertainment in the Frontier section of the park for the Cedar Point Frontier Festival, which was the park's food and wine festival-style event.

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Corkscrew is a pretty solid, classic Arrow coaster.

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It doesn't get a lot of recognition compared to the newer coasters that surround it, but Corkscrew is a really fun, well maintained ride. And again, nothing beats the unique experience of walking under this element as the train works through the namesake maneuver.

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Magnum was way better than I remembered from my last trip... And yes, that is a tube of sunscreen flying at me from someone's pocket on the train sitting ahead of me.

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Blue Streak is a classic wooden coaster.... And a pretty wild ride at that.

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I'm always surprised by just how much you feel the PTCs bending around you as they move along the track.

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Iron Dragon exists... It is a fun ride but definitely the most tame of the Arrow suspended coasters I've experienced.

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In my opinion, Millennium Force's speed is its greatest element.

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Zoom, zoom, zoom!

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I do like how this overbanked turn traces the queue...

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Millennium Force does has some really solid airtime too.

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I never had the chance to experience this coaster when it was Mantis... But this is not a regret of mine.

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This is an underated B&M maneuver right here.

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I do love the visual layering of coasters you find at different angles throughout the park.

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Since my last visit, dual sided lockers have been added to the Steel Vengeance queue... You can pay to use the lockers outside of the queue opposite the entrance of the attraction, or you can stand in line (standby or Fast Lane) towards the end of the queue, you'll reach a set of metal detectors and ride attendants who ask you to empty your pockets to put your belongings in these free lockers. You step out of the line to put your things in a locker, and then you wait in a small line to re-enter the main line to go through the metal detectors and up towards the station. Once you exit the ride, you go back through the entrance of the attraction to access the opposite side of these lockers to unlock yours and collect your belongings. It is a messy process, but it gets the job done I guess.

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Glorious.

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Oh-hi-yo-Millennium Force!

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Wicked Twister was a pleasant surprise for me to experience during my last visit so I made sure to try it again this time around.

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Gatekeeper is still one of my favorite coasters in the park.

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For Larry.

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Loving every second of this fantastic ride!

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I'm so glad I rode Wicked Twister again during this visit--it was even better than I remembered!

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Back for more!

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With the 150th anniversary celebration going on, there was a lot of neat park merchandise available to purchase.

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Ride themed Squishmallows. Kind of brilliant.

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I think it is pretty neat that CoasterDynamix is selling nanocasters versions of classic/extinct coasters from parks' past.

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These Coaster Cutouts were a newer concept to me but pretty cool.

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The French Quarter Confections is a newer addition to the entrance plaza in Cedar Point.

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...Or at least my life does.

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All too easy.

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Artsy fartsy.

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What a skyline!

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We ended our evening at Twin Oast Brewing about 20 minutes away from the park...

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Great food and fantastic beer...

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With a truly picturesque setting to enjoy while you're eating and drinking...

Next up: Day 2 at Cedar Point!

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I it weren't for Maverick, Steel Vengeance would be my favorite coaster in the park.

Fixed that for you. 😉 That being said, I love Steel Vengeance, too.

Great report, Adam. 

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So nice to see someone else that enjoys Gatekeeper.  I absolutely love the ride.  As an old man now, I really appreciate the smoother rides, and I think that is why I am a fan of B&M hypers/gigas and rides like GK and Valravn.  To me, any seat is good, it feels like I am in a flying chair, and the inversions offer some unique visuals and even some hangtime.  I hope they can fix the chain soon as I haven't yet been on it this season.  

Loved your TR.  Those are some great pics.  And I need to go eat at that Twin Oast Brewing.  Those hand-cut fries look absolutely amazing!  

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3 hours ago, prozach626 said:

Thanks for the TR. That brewery looks incredible.

I can second what was said about Twin Oast. We always try to find new breweries / local craft beer when we hit the road for coasters, and we stumbled upon that place 2 years ago. Unreal location, and solid brews. If I remember correctly they had cornhole, chess, a few other games set up out in that yard where those tables are. We will definitely be going back there during our trip this summer.

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22 hours ago, BitterOldHag said:

As an old man now, I really appreciate the smoother rides, and I think that is why I am a fan of B&M hypers/gigas and rides like GK and Valravn.  To me, any seat is good, it feels like I am in a flying chair, and the inversions offer some unique visuals and even some hangtime.

As someone who is rapidly approaching middle-aged, I find myself in this category more and more.

With the initial issues with SV and the locker headache, I wonder how much CF will continue to work with RMC. Consider how stress free B&M's and GCI's are to operate instead of RMC's. B&M's are almost always successful big crowd pleasers, capacity monsters, and reliable. That has to be incredibly enticing for parks.

KI's most recent progression was Diamondback, Banshee, Mystic Timbers, and Orion. All of them are huge hits, and even enthusiasts rate them well. All four coasters operate consistently, and I've never seen them closed for the day. The contrast is SV, which is an absolutely kickass coaster, if you're into that kind of thing, but it's also been a pain in the ass.

I still think CP made a good decision by doing the conversion, but now I wonder how many aged, rough, and unpopular coasters will be demolished instead of reimagined. Again, think KI. SOB and Vortex. There were no attempts to make them 'better.' They just shit canned them, instead. They avoided a lot of potential headaches and it seems to have paid off.

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Rock & Roller.  I was the dude that met you (Friend of your co-worker).  Great Beautiful days to be at CP.

Kennywood was great too.  Although we got trapped in the heat.  I was really blown away by Steel Curtain.  I guess my expectations going in were pretty low.  It looks like an SLC... but it rode like an RMC.  Smooth as glass, air or hang time on every element.

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Just getting caught up on everything since being away and this is a great TR! The sunscreen flying at you is hilarious but also terrifying.  I think you got very lucky with crowds, weather, and operations!  Happy to see them still trying for food options inside the park. 

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After a successful first day at Cedar Point, it was time for our second and final day at the park before moving on. This time around, we were parked over by the Hotel Breakers (for some reason) and ended up doing Early Entry from that side of the park. We used being on that side of the park to our advantage and while we missed out on the early rides on Gatekeeper, Raptor and Valravn (all of which we had done the day prior), it positioned us well to hit Maverick and Steel Vengeance first thing in the morning.

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Our view from the parking lot this time around...

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We were pleasantly surprised to find that Maverick was operating with the Early Entry attractions during this morning. We used the standby queue (since Fast Lane doesn't work during the Early Entry time) as a way to kill time while we waited for the park and Steel Vengeance to officially open.

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The beauty of this plan was that we were able to wait for Steel Vengeance's line to open right after the park officially opened to all Guests, and still having Fast Lane Plus, we were among the first people in the Fast Lane queue to ride. We waited ten minutes from the time we entered the queue to the time we rode for the first time. And since the queue was so short because we got off of the ride so early, we got right back in line and waited only 15 minutes in the Fast Lane line to ride again!

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I have no doubt that there are actually enthusiasts that see these life size Coaster Cutouts that are available to purchase at Cedar Point, that buy them to bring them home. I am not one of them.

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Genuine thrills.

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Back to back morning rides!

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It isn't a visit to Cedar Point without a trip to see the Happy Friar.

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They were out of buffalo sauce (how, I don't know) so I went with garlic parmesan fries with corn dog nuggets.

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Snake River Expedition is the new attraction addition for the park's 150th anniversary celebration... A family ride somewhat like Jungle Cruise in terms of it being a guided boat tour around the park's waterway with live performers along the way.

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You get pre-grouped into parties of two once you've completed your journey through the slow-moving queue.

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I avoided spoilers to experience this attraction fresh for myself, so I was surprised at the number of performers and pre-shows included in the total experience.

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Ride vehicles in theme...

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There's a neat little indoor pre-show that sets the story for your expedition.

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The gist of it? You're taking gold down river to another frontiersman on the team. But beware of opposing cowboys trying to steal your gold.

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There aren't too many boats and seating is limited, so this attraction can get a lengthy queue. If this kind of attraction is the kind of thing that "floats your boat," it is best to get in line as early as possible to minimize your wait time.

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Each keelboat features a driver and a frontiersman guide, both of which have speaking roles throughout the experience.

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You pass show scenes along the river with some interesting "animated figures."

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Temper your expectations... Disney or Universal animatronics, these are not.

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But the show scenes are cute for what they are.

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The backside of the former Shoot the Rapids station is now a show scene.

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After a bandit boards and hijacks your boat, you float down river and get caught in the middle of a (high quality) shootout scene.

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During the pre-show and during the ride spiel riders are warned about the infamous basilisk that the Snake River gets its name from... You end up seeing it (or getting shot with its venom) at the end of the ride. Overall a cute experience. Solid for what was surely a limited budget. This is a decent addition for families with younger kids not old enough to tackle the bigger thrills the park has to offer. Be mindful of how badly you want to experience this though and weigh how long you're willing to wait. If it is important for you to experience, get in line earlier, because this isn't high capacity.

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After the prior day's fun on Magnum, we had to go back for more.

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Thankfully this time I didn't get attacked by any flying objects.

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What's not to love about Top Thrill Dragster?

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I will never not love that something like this can exist without nets.

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Rougarou was better than I remembered from my prior trip. Still far from the best coaster in the park, but certainly not the worst.

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Sadly I didn't get a chance to ride Windseeker this time around.

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This is one Great view of the Lake.

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Wicked Twister doesn't get the love it deserves.

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Forceful as heck and those launches are so surprisingly powerful. Plus you get some great airtime in each direction coming down the spikes.

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Without the All Day Dining Plan for our second day, we were free to try some different culinary options including Melt.

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The inside of the restaurant is filled with old signs and memorabilia from the park's history.

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Plus it is a full service restaurant and bar... So if you need some liquid courage or some hearty food, you're covered.

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So much history in view.

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There's no shortage of themed merchandise to be found in the park.

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Lots of retro items too... I have that Raptor CoasterDynamix Nanocoaster model from my last trip.

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So many Nanocoaster options to choose from! I also have the Steel Vengeance model.

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A look at the BackBeatQue - BBQ Smokehouse venue that we ate at the day before.

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These were new to me... Not my style but I do think there's an audience for these.

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I always love walking through the park's arcade building...

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There's so much history in this structure.

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ZOLTAR!!!

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I didn't get to ride Cedar Downs this time around either.

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Special 150th anniversary merch...

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Nifty.

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A neat concept from CoasterDynamix.

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Back for more Rougarou...

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I don't want to think about this as a standup coaster.

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Artsy fartsy.

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We love theme parks, roller coasters AND donkeys!

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Llama... Llama llama llama.

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The Frontier Festival, the park's food & wine festival was running during our visit but other than a few drinks, we didn't partake.

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Have I mentioned how much I love Maverick?

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One more neat Coaster Cutout!

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As we left Cedar Point to make our way to West Mifflin, we passed Castaway Bay which was closed for refurbishment.

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But it looks like it'll be in pristine condition when it reopens.

So marked the end of our time at Cedar Point. Overall we were very lucky between the weather, the crowds and the staffing. The park really has a top-notch collection of coasters and is well worth visiting every few years or so.

 

Next up is Kennywood!

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Great report as always Adam, nice to see a review of the Snake River Expedition ride. Seems like I'd heard very little since that opened and most of it was somewhat negative, so nice to something positive about it for what's it is. My only wish is that it was a little bit higher capacity, I love these type of attractions at thrill ride heavy parks but I'm not going to wait as long for that as I could for a major coaster.

 

Looking forward to Kennywood.

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Thanks for the look at Cedar Point's Snake River Expedition. It seems like a nice addition to the park (something different from the big thrill rides they're known for).  

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I love the report, and thanks for sharing. . .

 

but I must *tsk tsk* about:   No time for Cedar Downs, yet Rougarou TWICE ???

 

 

Seinfeld Soup GIF

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In my defense, we only rode Rougarou once this trip. I just had photos from earlier because we queued for it, boarded the train and then the ride broke down before dispatch. So the additional photos are when we came back later to actually get to ride it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The next morning we got to Kennywood early just to make sure we could tackle as much as possible for a busy Saturday. Unlike Cedar Point or Hersheypark, Kennywood was a totally new park for me (my first new park in several years). Kennywood definitely has that charming feel that you don't find in the bigger parks. I especially love how the park has gone out of their way to highlight historical structures and attractions--embracing the value of their history as something that sets the park apart.

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Kennywood was put on my radar years ago thanks to the TPR Coaster Expedition videos, which did an amazing job of highlighting Phantom's Revenge.

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The entrance plaza is simple and charming.

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An hour before park opening, this is what the park entrance looked like. It is interesting that this park intentionally opens its gates to guests at a time significantly before the rides open.

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Steel Curtain towers over most of the park's structures.

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This thing is absolutely imposing in person.

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Somebody must've had a lot of fun designing Steel Curtain!

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While I didn't get to ride Aero 360, I couldn't help but admire its design.

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Our first stop in the morning was Thuderbolt, as the coaster is running a one-train operation and waits can get lengthy.

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Only closed because the rides are not operational yet.

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Thunderbolt's entrance is also a nice vantage point to watch Phantom's Revenge and the Turtle operate.

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It should be noted that Thunderbolt has a strict no-single riders policy... Meaning that if you're riding alone or in an odd numbered party, be prepared to be paired with or wait for an additional single rider to even it up.

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These classic trains on Thunderbolt are awesome (and mildly terrifying)!

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I hope these trains continue to run for a long time!

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Almost time to ride this beauty...

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We hopped over to Noah's Ark while it had no line.

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This unique walk-through attraction just had reopened a few days before our visit, so I was excited to experience it firsthand.

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The attraction is definitely interesting...

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It lasts a lot longer than you'd expect.

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The namesake element for this attraction and one of the last of its kind in existence (and the last in operation, I believe).

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Noah's looking a little rough...

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Educational...

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And entertaining!

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Sometimes outright trippy.

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Thunderbolt definitely has a unique layout... I think it was a little overhyped for me but I'm still glad I experienced it once.

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Now here is something I was especially curious about...

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As of a few weeks before our visit, The Turtle ended up being the last of its kind in operation in the world.

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The ride's location is pretty fantastic.

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I love how Phantom's Revenge trace's The Turtle's edges.

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I couldn't help but admire...

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What a fun maneuver!

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Ok, back to The Turtle...

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The ride is super unique and throws you around a lot more than I expected. I was super glad I was able to experience this, knowing it is such a rare experience now.

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Time to head into Lost Kennywood...

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Hello beautiful!

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Long have I waited for this moment...

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Ooogah boogah boogah...

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Phantom's Revenge has a lot of things going for it. It is ridiculously smooth and it has a very unique layout (and history). And it has some fantastic airtime.

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Black Widow wasn't operating during our visit but it looked fun.

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I'm probably gonna get some flack for saying this...

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But The Exterminator was really, really fun! The combination of the (very standard) Reverchon spinning mouse coaster with a fairly solidly themed dark ride experience made this a pleasant surprise.

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A really charming corner of the park.

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SKLOOSH!

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Ghostwood Estate was operating without its Ghost Blasters... I should've brought my Turkey Caller.

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The interior is full of animated figures..

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There are some projection effects as well.

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We noticed from across the way that Steel Curtain was finally operating...

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Sadly the coaster was only running one train, so wait times were abnormally high.

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We paid for the VIP Coaster Tour access (one time use per ride) and it allowed us to bypass a 120 minute standby queue in favor of being loaded two trains away from boarding in the station. We waited about 20 minutes when all was said and done.

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Steel Curtain is a really fun coaster for sure. Ridiculously smooth and fun of some maneuvers I'd only expect on an RMC coaster.

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The trains are themed to sportsball.

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Other than the themed trains, the color scheme and the venue next door, I don't get what makes it a Steelers coaster... But maybe I just don't care enough about the NFL to find out.

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All rides must end at the gift shop...

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The structure itself is pretty impressive.

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I love that these inverted stalls are finding their way into more coasters.

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Time for a classic...

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Really classic.

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Very, very classic.

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My first ever "mobius loop" coaster!

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It was quite fun!

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This thing is a sight to be seen.

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100 years eh?

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I can see why! Jack Rabbit ended up being my favorite wooden coaster in the park!

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More history...

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More awesome trains.

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Looking back across the midway...

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Going out...

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Going over...

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They have their own Laffin' Sal!

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I found a model of Steel Curtain in the arcade!

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If ever you wondered how a family coaster could be if it had two launches and a 90 degree drop, you've been wondering about  Sky Rocket.

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It is a fun little ride.

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The launches are "cute."

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Sky Rocket VR wasn't running during our visit but signage was still up for the experience...

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The hardware was charging and ready to go from what I could tell.

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Elissa had told me that Auto Race was amongst the park's unique attractions worth visiting for someone as interested in park history as me.

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More history.

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I was surprised by the wooden track and the powered rail combo.

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15 years ago I might have considered trying to ride this... I've grown up quite a bit.

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Another unique experience I'm glad I had the chance to ride.

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This is about as close as I ever got to Thomas Town, but it looked nice.

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No one told me that Elton John was going to be playing at the park!!!

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Another recommendation from Elissa...

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And a delicious recommendation at that!

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Very RCT3.

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Turns out there's history here too!

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Time to take the tunnel to head out.

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I really enjoyed Kennywood and would definitely come back for another visit at some point in the future.

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great report, and glad you had fun.

was Turtle running the speaker effects? 

we last went in 2016, and even tho 5 years later. . we still occasionally will look at each other across the room and yell out:

"TURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRTLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE"



(it makes it hella fun while watching nature shows in our house) . . . :)

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Glad to see you had a nice day at the park. I visited this past week and did have a nice time. The four missing flats left a pretty decent gap in the day for me. The Kangaroo and Bayern Kurve were my two favorite flats in the park. Dip Cone is the way to go, for sure!

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I'm not sure if they've ever actually run the VR on Sky Rocket since they announced it in 2017, LOL.

Thanks for the report! I liked the wide angle photos and hearing a first timer's perspective.

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Quote

Ghostwood Estate was operating without its Ghost Blasters... I should've brought my Turkey Caller.

Only a total coaster nerd could appreciate this, and I certainly did.

Great TR.

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