Saturday, July 21, 2018

Cedar Point COASTERMANIA! Trip Report - June 1, 2018

This has been a moment that I've been waiting for for 2 years. A near perfect day to Cedar Point. Don't get me wrong; my first visit to the park, on June 3, 2016, was great, but I didn't feel like I had the full experience of the park. It was busy and had consistently hot weather. This time, I would be visiting with a huge enthusiast turnout that included free ERT, boat rides, and lunch. And a couple weeks later, I can safely say I got that full experience. Despite a couple disappointments which I'll talk about later, this will be the most fun I'll have writing a trip report. So I present to you; Coastermania. Kicking off the trip report with the lovely morning sunrise of Sandusky, Ohio.

We stayed at Cedar Point's Express Hotel, and it was a great place. Nice service, appealing colors, cleanliness, and cool photos of some of Cedar Point's coasters. I'd recommend it as it's a great place to stay and much cheaper than Hotel Breakers!

On a side note, on the bed there is my dad. He's working on drawing his #100 sign, as Steel Vengeance was his 100th credit! More on that later.

After a quick McDonalds breakfast and wonderful (as always) drive up the causeway and 2 years later, we returned to America's Roller Coast to a beautiful morning sky dominating Cedar Point's giants.

With a great backdrop and a super photogenic coaster, I, of course, had to take some shots of GateKeeper as we waited in line to enter the park.

Everyone loves to take photos of the keyholes, so of course you'd see it here. Is any Cedar Point trip report nowadays free of this iconic shot?

The dive loop shown here is a fun way to turn things around, literally and metaphorically.

Thank you, Cedar Point! I mean, why else would we be here at 6:20 in the morning?

Speaking of photogenic B&Ms, I can't deny that all 4 B&Ms look electrifying. It was early enough in the morning, we were even lucky enough to get some photos of Raptor while the lift hill LEDs were still on!

As showcased here, you can see several of Cedar Point's big coasters through most of the park.

Here's one more shot of GateKeeper's dive loop before we move on.

Looking down at the rest of the park from the midway really is an illusion in itself.

The first coaster you'll see when entering is Raptor, a dominating, old-school B&M Invert that truly does rule the sky, as the tagline suggests.

Here's a good view of the second half of Raptor. It looks so good; I'm seriously excited to ride it once it opens after ERT!

Here's a challenge; how many coasters can you count in this photo?

Nestled in between Raptor and Valravn is the 4x4s, a good family ride that shouldn't be overlooked if you're visiting with kids.

Raptor might be up front and center, but Valravn just towers over the midway.

Okay, one last photo of GateKeeper before moving on to the rest of the park. But who can blame me? It's arguably one of the most photogenic coasters out there.

Speaking of the rest of the park... what's peaking through the midway architecture?

It's Corkscrew, the first coaster in the world to have three inversions, but walk a little further up the midway and it's insanely overshadowed by Top Thrill Dragster and Power Tower.

Speaking of massive rides... would you believe that first inversion is taller than the first hill on Raptor? Just to give you a little visual of how large Valravn is.

I like this view of Valravn because it shows pretty much the entire layout. And it just looks cool!

Anyways, now we are definitely moving on. Here is the famous double corkscrew over the walkway!

Oh yeah, and on a different note, I didn't actually ride Corkscrew this visit. I didn't really like it at all in 2016, and I had a lot of better things to ride.

Okay, I lied. This is the last photo of Valravn, but I can actually promise that it is.

Iron Dragon was sporting some new paint. I never got a chance to ride it this visit, because it was down for part of the day for whatever reason.

Like GateKeeper's keyholes, this is another shot everyone seems to take when visiting the park.

I do have to say however that I like the color scheme. I like how it changed when it was converted from Mantis to Rougarou.

What's that peeking over the trees?

It's the world famous, world renowned, highly rated giga coaster, Millennium Force.

Ever since opening in 2000, when it crushed most of the records, it's absolutely been a fan favorite.

Even though all the records have been beaten since then, it's still appeared in the Top 3 of the Golden Ticket Awards every year.

A few years ago, a select coaster enthusiast figure called it "Millennium Forceless" and talked about how overrated it was, and I guess other people followed.

Of course I'm talking about the "lovely" Coaster Studios.

Once Coaster Studios really started to make a big show about his opinion on Millennium Force, it seemed as if Millennium Force started to lose it's popularity. Everyone looked more upon the newest giga coaster, Fury 325, and while I haven't ridden Fury yet, it seems perhaps that Fury 325 is now overrated.

I'll talk more about Millennium Force later. I just snapped a few quick photos on the walk back to Frontier Town for morning ERT, so it wasn't even operating yet.

The theming for Frontier Town actually starts nearby where the path goes under Millennium Force, and it's a good teaser of what's to come.

When walking back to Frontier Town, you get a nice view of some of the other rides across the park as shown here.

The main one you see in that last photo is the somewhat-new-for-2017 ride, Professor Dilbert's Frontier Fling. I say somewhat because it was formerly halfway across the park near Magnum XL-200 and Hotel Breakers, but after Shoot The Rapids was removed, it was moved to Shoot The Rapids' former location. In front of the ride is this funny animatronic.

Anyways, we're finally now in official Frontier Town for morning ERT!

Maverick was one of the rides open for the first ERT session. When I first rode this coaster in 2016, it became my new #1.

I was won over by it's unique layout, ejector airtime, crazy whip, and launch. It was my #1 for over 9 months, until I rode Lightning Rod at Dollywood. So did it still hold up?

We'll see. Maverick wasn't the only ride open for ERT; to reach the other, we had to walk further into Frontier Town.

Was it Cedar Creek Mine Ride? Nope!

It was the brand new, world's first hyper-hybrid coaster calling us ever since it was announced on August 16, 2017. As I mentioned very early in the trip report, it was to be my dad's 100th credit.

Sorry Maverick. We haven't forgotten about you, but we've waited too darn long for this insanely-hyped RMC.

I'm sure you'll deliver like you did 2 years ago, however!

If you're like me and you rode the original Mean Streak, it was quite a shock to see how much taller the ride had gotten!

Walking into the plaza and first laying eyes on the insanely cool sign sent shivers down my spine.

Before riding, we had to take our photo, so we did. Here's the crew and my dad's first ever coaster milestone!

With the photo taken, there was no time to lose; it's time to ride!!

I know that first photo wasn't the greatest, so here's a better view of the sign.

It makes for a great photo op for what is probably my favorite photo of Steel Vengeance. I don't know why, but I love this photo so much.

My big Steel Vengeance review and photo montage will come later; with fast moving lines for the enthusiasts and several people to talk to, I didn't feel like taking tons of photos. If you want to hear my full opinions on the ride, read on!

But, so you guys don't suffer too much, here's our on-ride photo.

Something else I have to mention is that while in line for Steel Vengeance, I met a giant blob of coaster celebrities. First was Taylor from Coaster Studios, then came Alec, his good friend, and lastly was Lucas from Ohio Valley Coasters and his personal YouTube channel, Ohiocolts.

After the anticipation was over and we got our glorious first Steel Vengeance ride, it was time to do business with my former #1 coaster.

This next part will seem like a bit of a long read, but that's because I completely forgot to take out my camera. So please just bear with me as I catch you up.

We rode Maverick in the back row for the first time, and it was fantastic. The first drop is nuts, because you really don't feel the vest part of the restraint, and everything delivered like I remembered. Soon enough, I remembered why this was formerly my #1 coaster, and I fell back in love with the first ever Intamin Blitz.

I will say the one photo I can provide amidst the lack of photos is my Maverick ORP.

After that, other rides started to open up for Morning ERT, so we moved onto Gemini and Wilderness Run. Wilderness Run actually broke down for ERT, because something was wrong with the phone with the control panel, so the ride ops actually asked us to leave the line, and unfortunately, I forgot to go back and pick up the credit so Wilderness Run is still a coaster I need to ride at Cedar Point.

We then moved across the walkway to Gemini, as while I had ridden blue side, I still needed my red side credit. Luckily, count on Cedar Point to run both sides of their racing coaster! Anyways, I did pick up the red side credit, and it was about the same as I remembered. A lot of fun floater air, but that final helix still tries to kill me. Either way, I do enjoy riding Gemini.

After riding Gemini, 9:00 AM rolled around, so not only did the hotel guests start rolling in, but Top Thrill Dragster and Magnum XL-200 opened up for ERT. Since we were in the area, we started out at Magnum. This was my first Magnum ride in the "magic seat" (Car 6, Row 1) so I was excited, as I already had a soft spot for this ride. And boy was it excellent. I experienced little-to-no-pain amidst all the rockin' ejector airtime the second half has to offer, and I think after that ride I like it even more now.

On-ride photo, of course! (the girl in the back row is hilarious)

After Gemini and Magnum, Top Thrill Dragster had a bit of downtime, and since my dad and I were the only two in the family that wanted to ride the coaster, we decided to move on, a decision I now regret because I still don't have that darn credit. The breakdowns didn't stop throughout the day.

Instead, we walked back to Frontier Town for some more rides before 10:00 AM rolled in and the GP started to invade. We started at Maverick, where I actually got a marathon thanks to Steel Vengeance eating up the lines. Unfortunately, while Maverick is a fantastic coaster on its own, it's hard to marathon it. It's not what I'd call a smooth ride by any means, and after just three consecutive rides, I had a headache, and it started to rain, so our family took a break.

During that break, we got a chance to re-hydrate and just wait for the rain to pass. It was hard to believe we packed so much in before the park even opened to the GP! We were on track with getting that full Cedar Point experience already. While we were taking a break, I actually saw Shawn from Theme Park Worldwide walking by, so I caught up with him and had a nice chat with him about coasters and his visit so far! Awesome guy!

Once the rain finished, we decided to hit up the rest of the credits in a counter-clockwise fashion, heading back towards Millennium Force and Rougarou. On the way back, I met another coaster YouTuber/Instagrammer, Coaster Watch. He's closer to my age, but still very nice. Shoutout to you!

We then took a re-ride on Rougarou, in the front row, and unfortunately, to be blunt, it was not good. It started out fine, with a good first drop and good first couple inversions, but once we hit the incline loop, all hell broke loose. The rest of the ride was rattly the entire way through, along with some nasty headbanging in the corkscrew and a couple of turns post-MCBR. Honestly, with this and Scream, I'd say my current least favorite B&M model is the Floorless. I did get a Rougarou ORP, but for some reason the lightning was terrible and you can barely see us.

At least Millennium Force is ten times better and just across the path!

After the rain, the colors of Valravn really started to stand out and look better. Nice!

If only it was maintained as well as it looked... oh well.

Quick storytime; after my sister and I came off Rougarou (my dad was smart and decided not to ride) a few workers came by our parents and an ACE friend on a bench, and they nominated me to answer some Cedar Point trivia questions. Because I was able to answer most of the questions correctly, we each got an exit pass to use on any ride except Steel Vengeance! Thanks Cedar Point. You have some of the coolest workers of any park I've been to. Anyways, the rain picked up again and I got a headache from the headbanging and rattliness, so we just sat out a little bit and I took some photos.

I love this shot. The angle is really cool, showing the sign and a train heading down the drop, plus Iron Dragon and Power Tower are in the background. Awesome!

The loop is one of the only smooth parts of the ride.

But while relaxing, of course I had to take another new photo of Millennium Force with it being right darn there!

Once the rain loosened up, we started to move again to ride some more coasters.

Valravn's photogenicness really does tempt you to ride it next, huh?

Looks like Iron Dragon is one of the coasters people talk about that can't even run in a little bit of rain. That's a shame; it would have been fun to ride it this time around, even though it's probably the tamest of the Arrow Suspended coasters!

Here's another photo of Corkscrew. It looks really cool, but manufacturers really have come a long way in smoothness since the 70s!

Let's be real here - is there any coaster at Cedar Point that doesn't look good?

A decision I now regret a couple weeks after visiting is forgetting to ride Power Tower. I'm a big fan of Drop Towers, but with so many great coasters in a park, it's unfortunately easy to forget about it.

Some people think Valravn is one of the least photogenic coasters in the park, because of a supposedly ugly color scheme, but I've seen worse and have to disagree. Just watching the coaster swoop over the park is eye-catching!

Just a split-second later, riders will experience another fun drop!

Back on the midway, you can't expect me to not take photos of GateKeeper's large first hill!

While the sign was a bit of a photobomb, I do like this photo of the train during the holding brake.

The immelmann after the first drop is one of the tallest inversions in the world, reaching a height of 165 feet!

It seems that whenever I visit a Cedar Fair park, there's a marching band, and this visit was no exception once the rain let up!

Since the rain had briefly let up, Top Thrill Dragster was running, but I was still recovering from my Rougarou headache, and we figured by the time we got in line, the rain would have started again...

... and it was time for the complimentary COASTERMANIA! lunch! Lunch was great, and I had a long, lengthy conversation with an enthusiast friend, Dewey! (He's Dewey B. on Facebook; give him a follow if you have an account) Lots of topics were discussed, and it felt like an enthusiast event should. It was also a nice break because it was raining a good bit during lunch, and we had it in the Lakeside Pavilion.

Once we all finished lunch, the clouds were starting to get darker again, so we headed over to Wicked Twister to pick up another credit I didn't get in 2016.

Windseeker was running test trains as it actually got stuck during the rain!

Needless to say, it was nice to get the credit, and like V2 at my home park, Wicked Twister was a super fun ride.

After picking up a new credit, GateKeeper was calling us.

I was excited to ride GateKeeper because in 2016, I wasn't a fan of the ride at all. It was rattly as ever, and the restraints tightened more on me than X-Flight ever did.

Unfortunately, the rain picked up again, but at least I got the opportunity to take some photos of Raptor from afar.

The first drop only has an angle of descent of 45 degrees, but it's still a great way to kick off an awesome B&M Invert.

It seems like every enthusiast loves to photograph B&M Invert vertical loops at this angle. Who can blame them? It looks really cool, and with fairly new paint, it really stands out!

Raptor just shreds through every element, making it arguably the most forceful B&M coaster I've ridden to date!

Also, remember how I mentioned this is an old-school B&M coaster? It opened in 1994, and has the mark of every old-school B&M coaster - it has a roar! This is one loud coaster; you can hear Raptor from several points around the park.

Many enthusiasts consider Banshee the superior ride because it's bigger, newer, and is just overall an easier coaster to enjoy, but I love my B&M Inverted coasters ballsy, so for that reason, I actually prefer Raptor to Banshee! (I have ridden both)

I mean, yes, Banshee is a very fun ride and has an awesome first drop, but Raptor takes the inversions with so much more force, and with the older, 1st generation B&M Inverted coaster restraints, you can feel the forces more.

To finish out the Raptor vs. Banshee debate, after riding Banshee a few times, it started to feel the same to me, but every time I rode Raptor, there was always an element that just got me every time.

At this point in time, the rain spurt let up, so the coasters started opening up. You know what that means!

It's time for GateKeeper!

I love this photo so much. The clouds create an excellent backdrop, and post-rain, the blue color stands out!

And GateKeeper delivered like it was intended to. The rattle was minimal, and I could enjoy the super fun, gliding inversions. It's not the type of ride that will rank extremely high for me, but I had a lot of fun.

Speaking of ride photos... here's mine from GateKeeper.

One of the benefits of going to Cedar Point on a rainy day are that crowds are at a minimal. I don't think I ever saw GateKeeper's line get longer than this.

With myself becoming more of a coaster photographer and my mother not being much of a coaster person, we took Giant Wheel for a stroll.

Once we got into our gondola, we had this cool view of Wicked Twister's sign.

With the rain passed and the clouds clearing up, Valravn looked absolutely great, and from this angle it kind of looks like how it did in the animation.

Said it before, I'll say it again. Raptor is old-school B&M at it's finest.

Cedar Point arguably has one of the best coaster skylines of any park in the world!

And here's the other part of the skyline. I would have friggin' loved to get a panorama of the skyline, but Giant Wheel never stopped at a good position to do so.

Let's play another game of, "How many coasters can you count in this picture?"

Once all the clouds cleared up, Valravn looked even better than it did a few photos back!

This photo is a good visual of the main part of Cedar Point's midway.

Of course, with being right next to Giant Wheel, I had to take a photo or two of GateKeeper!

Now THIS is Cedar Point's skyline at it's finest! Dang!

Unfortunately, even on the Giant Wheel, Magnum is still kinda hard to photograph.

Another trainload of happy riders snaps through Raptor's zero-g roll!

I was all grins during the entire Giant Wheel experience as I photographed America's Roller Coast.

Rougarou was bound to take center stage in one of these photos, right? (Uh oh, the clouds are back!)

Although not mentioned as much, one of my favorite things about Cedar Point is how colorful it is. I mean, how many different colors do you see in this photo alone? The park has such an electric atmosphere, and I think that's one of the main reasons it's ranked so highly among enthusiasts.

Which do you prefer; MaxAir or Raptor?

Another trainload of riders on Valravn goes into the MCBR.

The old, the new, the big, the small.

This would have been a kickbutt photo if the Immelmann wasn't in the way. Oh well!

Another trainload of riders on Rougarou about to plunge into mediocrity... (I know this caption style is getting a little repetitive. I had a minor writers block here)

Will you dare to dive?

The first banked turn on Millennium Force really is an intense moment.

Hairtime through the fog!

If you're getting tired of the photos taken from Giant Wheel, don't worry; this is the last one!

Looks like Wicked Twister isn't feeling so good right now. Oh well; all Intamin Impulses need a bit of cooldown time. They're Intamin coasters, after all! =)

GateKeeper's lift hill looks cool (more writer's block)

While some people really like them, I have to admit that with being used to X-Flight at my home park, the dive drops don't do a whole lot for me.

If you love GateKeeper, savor this photo, because now we're moving onto...

...Raptor, my favorite B&M coaster period!

I talked about my opinions on Raptor earlier, but I have to say that I actually think this is one of the more photogenic coasters in the park.

Yeah it's nowhere near the level of GateKeeper photogenicness, but it still looks really good.

Ah, Raptor. I have to admit that my first ride in 2016 was in Row 3 and not very good. It wasn't very memorable, and I wasn't huge on it until I rode it in the back row for the first time at COASTERMANIA!

I'm going to Alton Towers later this month, and maybe Nemesis will beat it, but as of right now, Raptor is my #1 ranked B&M coaster.

Do you prefer vertical loops?

Or are zero-g rolls more your cup of tea?

I know I like corkscrews!

The cobra roll is probably my favorite however!

On-ride photo! Who loves on-ride photos?

Now that we got in an excellent ride on Raptor, let's move onto the B&M next door.

I know tons of people con Valravn for being the weakest B&M Dive Coaster in North America because of the new vest restraints, and I will say that on the lift hill it felt a little tough, but whenever we dropped such as on the first drop, I did actually get some airtime, so I think it gets a little too much hate for that reason.

At the very least, the lift hill has one of the best views on a coaster at Cedar Point.

Ooh! Valravn train through the tree!

The sign is pretty sweet too.

Valravn's heartline roll is probably the most fun element of the ride due to having awesome hangtime! You aren't going to find hangtime as good as this on many other coasters.

Speaking of airtime... the rise into the MCBR has a bit of floater air too, as show by all the feet!

The ride may have broken factual world records, but I don't think it broke any opinion records among enthusiasts. =)

Yeah that dark brown color scheme might look a little like mud (or something worse) but Valravn doesn't look bad at all in my view.

Yeah, I got a little artsy here.

Hope you love hangtime; Valravn's got a good share of it!

Up, up and away, Valravn goes swooping through another big turn.

Can you spot the train here?

Instead of an immelmann, the second inversion after a steep drop is a dive loop!

As I said earlier, Valravn's barrel roll is taken with such grace, many people consider it the best part of the ride.

One more little hill with a bit of a lift is the last element of the ride.

Because what follows is the final brake run. This might sound a little weird, but Valravn might have one of the most bizarre final brake runs. Each individual brake aggressively stops the train, before letting it go, where it gains more speed because the final brake run is at an incline, then aggressively stops the train again. It's very strange, and kind of reminiscent of the MCBR on Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Don't worry Rougarou, we haven't forgotten about your rattly ride.

Finally, it was time to exit out the Cedar Point Marina exit, and walk out to the dock for our COASTERMANIA! cruise.

Farther, farther, farther away from the park... us opportunities to take some good zoomed-in shots!

Dangling over the edge of death; another great Cedar Point moment!

Another train full of riders halfway done with Valravn.

Side view of the second steep drop... not sure what else to say here... weather was nice for the cruise!

Some people describe this as trippy, I describe it as an illusion.

Flying over the hill, another train full of riders is almost done with the ride!

You can easily spot the angles of the last four pictures here! Isn't it just so purty from a distance?

Is the train on the track, or a support?

In case you forgot which park we're at...

Four coasters are in this picture! Which is your favorite?

Here we go!

The first hill and overbank of Millennium Force in all their glory!

"Welcome to Jet Express; this will be your home for the next 45 minutes or so!"

Top Thrill Dragster... so large... so fast... so unreliable...

Here's a quick review of everything we've seen in the past few photos!

Now we're officially in the boat! So prepare for the next 100 photos or so to be from the cruise!

Being the photographer I am, I had to take the top floor to get the best quality.

Do you prefer Rougarou's Dive Loop?

Or Rougarou's banked turn?

Which coaster in this photo is your favorite? Mine personally is the one way in the back!

I know, I know... more Valravn. It may not be the greatest B&M, but it's very photogenic.

Does it have airtime? Who cares? It looks electrifying!

Anyways, here's Millennium Force. The original giga coaster!

Contrary to what people say, Millennium Force does have airtime!

Alright, one last photo of Valravn before the cruise starts.

Here we go! Time to get some rare photos!

Another attempt at a cool "illusion" angle.

Yes, Valravn, but hey. It's from the cruise, and not while we're waiting for it to start!

Another trainload of Raptor riders head into the forceful second half!

I'm not going to caption my photos; instead, I'll just let them sink in, and if you want them captioned, just ask me!

That's all for Part 1! I hope you enjoyed the hundreds of photos I took so far!

Part 2 will come very soon! It will be from entering the park back from the cruise to the end of the day!