Once Yukon Striker was announced, I long targeted Memorial Day weekend for a trip to Niagara Falls. My girlfriend and I planned a weekend of Canada’s Wonderland, waterfalls, gloriously tacky tourist traps, Tim Horton’s, and (at my request) the last of its kind Bailey Auto Sled.
I was intrigued by Pipeline Express at Wild Water and Wheels. It looked like a death trap bred from the illegitimate relationship between a mountain coaster and an alpine slide. It looked too screwed up to skip. I figured time was running out for the coaster, so it was time to make it a priority…until the park announced its closure one week before our trip.
But don’t worry, we made a last second fallback plan. The smart decision would have been to just spend an extra day at Niagara Falls. The stupid and fun decision was to drive an extra four hours to America’s Roller Coast. Care to guess what we picked?
With each visit to Cedar Point, I've downgraded my hotel. First it was Castaway. Next it was Breakers Express. Last year, I had a luxurious four night stay at the most Econo Lodge of Econo Lodges. But this time, I used rewards points on Hotels.com for Hotel Breakers.
I figured the convenience would be unmatched. And I was correct. What I wasn't expecting was for my “basic room” to be a four room suite with a beach view and a jacuzzi.
However, I realized I made a mistake. The room was so nice my girlfriend wanted to stay there for the day.
But eventually we made it to the park for the second half of early entry.
Steel Vengeance decided to sleep in, so we went to Maverick for early entry. I commonly refer to Mack launch coasters as jacks-of-all trades. Maverick was the original jack-of-all trades. It's a relentless smorgasbord of forces- crazy ejector air, wild laterals, graceful inversions, and one heck of a launch.
I was shocked and slightly disappointed my girlfriend didn't get the full Cedar Point experience where your face turns into a human fly swatter, but that happened later. Maverick does a little of everything and it does everything well. 9.5 out of 10[/]
We made it to Millennium just before park opening and cruised through the queue to find only a 4 train wait for the front. That’s the only place to ride this if you ask me. The sense of speed whooshing through Millennium Island is incredible.
I know this ride is often called overrated, but it’s perfect to me. You have an epic drop, a very forceful overbank, and 3-4 good moments of very un-Intamin like floater air. And this is without losing an ounce of speed. I always hit the brake run with a big bug-eaging grin over my face. [B]10 out of 10
I gave my token ride to Rougarou on the way by. At any other park, this would be a standout ride. At Cedar Point, it's just another coaster I hit about once a trip.
Rougarou is a decently forceful floorless with an odd layout, particularly the inclined loop and the second half. However, my girlfriend hated everything about it. I found the ride smooth outside of 1-2 transitions, but she was on the shorter side and lost a battle with the OSTR. 7 out of 10
My girlfriend was both excited and terrified to try Top Thrill Dragster. She likes coasters, but her greatest fear is being evacuated from one. So like any good boyfriend I assured her that wouldn't happen here. I mean the worst that could happen was a rollback or that we get stuck atop the tower and some maintenance guy will push us over.
I don't usually buy on-ride photos, but this one was too good to pass up. We took our first ride in row one and the launch is lunacy. It styled my hair like Elvis and as for my girlfriend's reaction, I'll let the photo speak for itself.
Much to my surprise, she loved it! In fact, it was her favorite ride of the trip. Top Thrill Dragster may be short, but it's a true adrenaline rush. You have that incredible launch, a breathtaking view plus airtime at the top, and crazy laterals on the drop. 8.5 out of 10
Usually Dragster is a one and done for me. I love the ride. I really do. But I stop trying after my first ride considering all the reasons it can go down- rain, wind, mechanical, curse of the Intamin cable, etc. This time that wasn't an option since it was her favorite ride. However, we hit the coaster jackpot. Dragster refused to go down all day.
I had a suspicion Emily wouldn't appreciate the triangular airtime hills of Magnum and I was correct. I heard Magnum added some padding to the lap bars, but it had barely any effect. The airtime on the return leg is simply too strong and cannot be contained. I personally love the insanity of this airtime.
Magnum is a stark contrast to the other hypers out there. The transitions are rough around the edges, but the brute force of the airtime keeps me coming back for more. Just make sure you keep that seatbelt tight! 8.5 out of 10
By this point, we saw Steel Vengeance cycling. And I'm guessing the rest of the park did too since the FastLane queue was about 40 minutes. The smart thing would have been to come back later, but I couldn't hold off riding my favorite steel coaster any longer.
I was intrigued to see how the metal detectors would impact dispatches. The good news is that they do not! They set the metal detectors up at the base of the stairs in both the regular and FastLane queues. Guests with no metal are given a green stamp. Guests with metal (phone, keys, etc) get a red stamp and need to place those items in a zippered pouch by their feet during the ride. I commend Cedar Point for testing an alternative where I can keep my phone in line.
The bad news is that dispatches are still glacial. Yes they have the third train now, they were double stacking most of the day. The hang-up wasn’t the pouches. It just seems the process to lift the heavy RMC restraints and check the belts/restraints is quite tedious. The employees got into a rythym at night and got the regular queue under 30 minutes, so I hope that's a sign of good things to come.
In terms of the coaster, it was running even better than my rides in 2018. The first half was the same, a blitzkrieg of ejector pops, sustained ejector airtime, and hangtime. It's everything RMC does well on a much larger and grander scale. Those two camelbacks in particular are the standouts to me. The power and duration of the airtime is only matched by coasters like El Toro and Expedition GeForce.
Since it was a cooler day, the MCBR was off. This meant the train absolutely hauled through the second half. Not that Steel Vengeance doesn't already haul, but some elements felt distinctly different. The drop off the MCBR now offered powerful ejector air. And the barrell rolls transformed into whippy, lateral-heavy elements. The rest of the airtime felt no different- aka it felt like I was riding a bull hell bent on launching me into orbit. 10 out of 10
By this point, we realized we hadn't set foot in the front of the park. You know a park is stacked when you could ignore half the park and still have enough for an entire day. I wasn't sure which B&M we'd start with, so my girlfriend made it easy and picked the Monster Jam Thunder Alley attraction.
The capacity of this temporary attraction was dreadful. The main queue hovered around 60-90 minutes all day. It did have a single rider line and we were seated together after the grouper couldn’t find a party of two in the regular line.
Now I’m going to be frank, we hated this ride. Car geeks will have an orgy riding a monster truck and the kids were cheering the entire ride. But both my girlfriend and I found it to be a the perfect recipe for car sickness- a slow, bumpy ride in a piping hot vehicle. 2 out of 10
We then rewarded ourselves with a graceful and glass smooth flight on Valravn. I noticed on this visit that Cedar Point was assigning rows on most of their major coasters. And most rides honored seating requests. The lone exception was Valravn, as we were directed to the back row.
The popular opinion seems to be to bash the B&M vest restraints on dive coasters. While I do prefer the old restraints on this type of coaster, the difference isn't so severe that it completely ruins a coaster. You still get plenty of airtime on both major drops. And until Yukon Striker opened, I think Valravn had the best layout of the dive coasters. The hangtime in that zero-G roll is pure bliss. 8 out of 10
Up next was Blue Streak, one of my guilty pleasures at Cedar Point. Why is it that no one talks about this coaster? Yes it's dwarfed by everything else in this park, but it has great pops of air on every single hill. I feel like if Blue Streak were at a smaller park, it would receive a lot more attention. 8 out of 10
Emily decided to sit Raptor out (Afterburn made her queasy and she was still recovering from Monster Jam), so I took a quick lap on the green bird. Last year, Raptor ran amazingly well. I had never gotten rides as forceful as I did last year. Maybe it was the cooler day, but Raptor's first half seemed to lagging a bit.
The second half was snappy though. I love the final sequence with the leg-numbing with the corkscrews, helix, and snap into the brake run. I enjoyed Raptor and it's about an average invert with how it was running, but it has the potential to be in the upper echelon. 8 out of 10
Our last major coaster was GateKeeper. I know people bash this ride for being too slow and graceful, but I love the camelback, ginormous corkscrew, and inline twists. But it does show some balls at the beginning with that wingover drop. The Gs on the pullout are no joke. 8 out of 10
I was bummed to discover the GateKeeper booty shorts were no longer offered in the ride's gift shop. But crisis averted! I found them in the main gift shop later in the day. I really want to know who buys these things. Someone must if they keep stocking them.
Since it was dinner time, we opted for a sit-down meal at the Melt. I have heard nothing but good things about this place and it exceeded my lofty expectations. If you can finish an entire sandwich from this place, you deserve to call yourself an American.
We ended the night with rerides on Maverick, Dragster, and Steel Vengeance. We did want to get a night ride on Millennium Force, but the walk-on FastLane queue at Steel Vengeance was too rare an opportunity to pass up. Steel Vengeance's superstructure combined with the speed and lighting is a serious mindbender. I don't even think a compass could tell you which way is which.
Oh and we also took our time strolling down the Frontier Trail earlier in the day. We both loved seeing the goats, but the highlight was undoubtedly watching the tortoises stuffing their face with strawberries. I never knew I needed to see that until now.
To fully experience Cedar Point, you really need two days. With just one day, we had to cutout the great flats and old Arrows (my girlfriend breathed a sigh of relief here after Magnum). But we had enough time to get multiple rides on all the standouts.
Cedar Point is just far enough from me that it makes more sense to fly...assuming you book your trip in advance. However, when life gave me lemons (a closed, janky credit at an obscure park in Canada) I made lemonade (visiting arguably the world’s best park). I’d say we did ok.