Saturday, September 15, 2018

Heading to Silver Dollar City soon

Coming in just under two months will be my first ever visit to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri! The exact date will be November 10th, for the Coaster Christmas ACE Event.

An itinerary hasn't been released yet, but I'm hoping for special benefits, such as ERT, backstage tours, meals, etc. etc. The kind of thing you'd expect from enthusiast events! I trust the regional director Paul Drabek to do a fantastic job with planning and preparing it for everyone going to attend.

For additional information, HERE is the official link to the event!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Cedar Point COASTERMANIA! Trip Report - June 1, 2018 - Part Two

If you need to, click on each photo to see it in full size. It'll appear as a mini-window in the exact same tab, but with much better resolution!

Welcome back to the Cedar Point trip report! Back into the park we go.

A couple notes - yes, I did make the font size a bit bigger. I think it'll be easier to read this way.
Also, the guy in front of me with the Time Traveler shirt is, in fact, the ACE-famous Tim Baldwin. He was there taking photos for an upcoming ACE magazine (okay, that MIGHT not actually be what it is, but we can hope, right?)

Which coaster should we go to first?

How 'bout the new hotness right there? Sure!

You just can't pull me away from my camera when I'm being looked down upon by a photogenic coaster, can you?

Two years later, Valravn still running smooth as a B&M should be.

A picture may be worth a 1000 words as a professional artist, but as a trip report writer, a picture is at least a stupid caption! So I'll try to do so from now on.

Ahh, the kite-like heartline roll. You love hangtime? Cedar Point is your place!

I know most of my attempts failed, but I did try to get some reaction shots. If anyone has some pointers, they are more than welcome!

This one turned out a bit better.

Two very steep drops. Which do you prefer?

Are you a Fast Laner or Peasant? =)

Before we move on, how about an on-ride photo?

Ah, the first ever Inverted cobra roll. They started out STRONG!

Another shot of the glorious B&M inversions.

What's that classic back there?

The oldest coaster in the park and only wooden coaster here! (Steel Vengeance is NOT a wooden coaster)

Another trainload of coaster enthusiasts in training heads out for a very rough, but airtime filled ride!

Calling Blue Streak "overshadowed" would be an understatement. This photo is enough evidence why!

Is it just me, or does this look like what used to be the loading station? (I honestly have no idea. I'm not an expert in the field)

Seems like Blue Streak got a bit of paint over the off-season. It really gleams!

Talking about the ride itself, Blue Streak was extremely rough. One of the roughest wooden coasters I've experienced, easily, but it really does have a lot of fun airtime, so I'd say give it a try.

Old-school B&M helix at it's finest!

This looks like a pretty common angle among B&M Inverted Coasters, doesn't it?

No riding for us, right now, however. As a part of the COASTERMANIA! event, we were included a Q&A with Tony Clark, Jason McClure, and a couple other Cedar Point/Fair officials. It was a nice and lengthy, informational Q&A session! It was great to hear their thoughts on multiple questions!

Back on the midway, it was time to do some more riding!

With so many great coasters, how would we decide which to ride first?

How about Top Thrill Dragster? Sign me up!

Wait a minute, why is no one in the train? What's going on?

Downtime. That's what. Everyone jokes Top Thrill Dragster should be called Top Thrill Downtime, and in my experience, I unfortunately must agree with that. I still have yet to ride a Strata Coaster for this very reason. Both visits to Cedar Point I've taken (the first was in 2016), Top Thrill Dragster was just down too much, and when I was at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Superman was also down. So if we do an East Coast trip in 2019 (which is a possibility), maybe I'll ride my first strata coaster in Kingda Ka, but who knows? This is the only big coaster I have yet to ride at Cedar Point; the only other coaster period I have yet to ride is Wilderness Run, but that hardly counts.

Maybe one day I'll experience your sensational 120 mile per hour launch, Top Thrill Dragster, but not today.

Anyways, enough negativity. Let's actually ride something!

Like the brand new, record-breaking Steel Vengeance? Definitely! After only one ride during ERT due to the slower operations, I'm up for a second run!

The sun is setting! Maybe we'll get an evening ride?

Enough jibber jabber. Let's ride this beauty! (or at least wait in line for it)

Anyways, I hope you love Steel Vengeance (I'd imagine you do), because like I had a montage of photos from the cruise in the first part, I have a montage of Steel Vengeance photos in this update. So here we go!

This really is a freaking amazing first drop! It's bigger, but feels like Goliath at Six Flags Great America, where you get forcefully ejected into the lap bar, and the ejector air is sustained all around. Not to mention 90 degrees! I would have loved to see how it is in the front and back row, but thanks to the ride ops sorting rows (this was a damper on the experience) I only experienced it in Rows 7 and 9. Anyways, moving on.

Clearly the GP don't care about row sorting. They just love new hotness! Look at all those happy faces! (I know it's hard to see, but I'm working on reaction shots)

What a cool angle. I'm truly proud of this angle.

All right, enough hold-up. Let's get in line!

Here is the first example you'll see of the clever theming touches Cedar Point added during the queue line.

And here's another! This is one of my favorite signs you'll see, and it even has some mining tools and a bottle of freaking crystal rock on that mantle; what more could you want?

Here's another. The last one kind of told a "tale", but this one introduces the first character; Bellows! The image is even clear enough, you can read his story!

Theming in the foreground, coaster preview in the background!

All right, enough theming. Onto the coaster itself! (with captions talking about my camera experience here)

Just a quick note; a lot of the captions ahead are going to talk about my experience through Steel Vengeance's line as a photographer, but if you want to hear my full, concluding thoughts on the ride itself, head down further in this report. 

Here goes the train into one of the many double-ups, producing great ejector airtime!

Speaking of ejector airtime...

One of the main "gimmicks" of Steel Vengeance is that it holds the record for most airtime ever on a coaster, in terms of quantity. The press touted a total of 27.2 seconds of airtime, and that's not entirely media buzz. Obviously, having ridden the coaster, I can safely say it's all there, in terms of quantity AND in quality! Just soak in all the riders and how they react heading over this airtime hill right next to the queue line!

With the day starting to head into evening, the lightning got a bit tough, but I still like how this photo turned out. It shows a good "outline" of the train and a few hands of riders at the bottom of the first drop.

I really tried to get a good reaction shot here, but man, this coaster moves so fast, this is the best I could do!

Ah, here we go! The perfect representation of how insane those last few airtime hills of the ride are, shown through, RIDER REACTIONS! The finale of the ride, more than anything, reminded me of those last few hills of Lightning Run at Kentucky Kingdom. The enthusiasts reading this should know what I'm talking about.

Another gimmick of the ride was it's fantastic first drop; I already described what it felt like earlier in the report, but what I didn't mention about it was that the 90-degree angle was a first for coasters by Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC), the company that worked on this incredible ride from the original Mean Streak to this new beast. The steepest drop on an RMC coaster before this was 85 degrees, on Goliath at Six Flags Great America.

The only complaint I have for this hill is that it's banked the wrong way for photographers. It's banked outwards for an extra thrill, and all the way through, this hill provides some of the strongest sustained ejector airtime ever on a coaster. It's my favorite moment on the ride.

Here you can see RMC's restraint design. It technically is the "new" design, looking slightly different than the original, but while your on the ride, it feels the exact same as other RMCs, such as Lightning Rod at Dollywood, Storm Chaser at Kentucky Kingdom, etc.

Here's a better reaction shot of the first drop; now you can REALLY see the riders' faces! Just look at that poor girl in row 3; she looks like a combination of having her life flash before her eyes because of how intimidating that first drop is, and nausea, about to throw up.

Right here is when riders are confused, because the train is going through the turn after the Mid-Course Brake Run (MCBR). The GP usually think that right out of the MCBR, the train immediately drops, but to follow with Mean Streak's original structure, it had a quick little turn before the drop into the second half of this ride's insanity.

Here's the step-up into the airtime hill next to the line we've seen a few times previously. The whole sequence actually makes one of many double ups, and this is yet another successful reaction shot!

Here is possibly my favorite reaction shot of everything I took in line for Steel Vengeance. Almost every row except for the back few is featured, and the facial expressions are great and are a great visual for the sheer power of the airtime.

Oop, here's one last picture of the theming in line. It's a bit out of order, but I'm going in chronological order of how I took the pictures.

Here's the train heading over the first gargantuan airtime hill after the first drop. The height was extensively expanded upon from the first large banked turn of Mean Streak, and is far superior. Just look at all the hands (and hair, for that matter!) in the air! That's a sign of good airtime.

I might sound like a broken record, talking about "ejector air here, ejector air there, etc," but it is necessary to hype up the sheer power of this ride. The airtime on this ride is NOT overrated, overhyped, or overexaggerated in any way!

The last gimmick I'll talk about is the inversions. Steel Vengeance broke the record for most inversions on a hybrid coaster - four. While it is probably the least exciting of all the records, it's still a record. Who can complain?

One of the main "funny" things enthusiasts also like to talk about is the lift hill volume. And I honestly have to agree; Steel Vengeance has one hell of a loud lift hill. If Cedar Point could get some sound dampeners safely around the mechanics of the chain lift, it would be easier to talk to people in line and as you head up the record-breaking 205-foot lift hill, but that's a minor nitpick.

I can't imagine how many enthusiasts would like to be this bird, and literally live under Steel Vengeance's station! =)

Needless to say, Steel Vengeance's line was quite the experience, to take in the theming, take hundreds of pictures (it was hard to narrow it down to a few favorites for this trip report!), and anticipate how much closer you're getting to your ride!

One of the last things I'll talk about with the ride itself is the quirky little pre-lift section. In comparison to the pre-lift airtime hills on Twisted Colossus which are more oriented towards laterals, the pre-lift airtime hills on Steel Vengeance actually give you a couple decent airtime pops! Nice job with the design, Alan! (Note: Alan Schilke is the designer of the ride)

Of course, I'm not going to leave you without our other on-ride photo!

Remember earlier in the report when I said that I'd give you my concluding thoughts on the ride itself? Well here ya go!

From the record-breaking first hill to the final slide into the brakes, you'll fly out of your seat countless times, be thrown around in the seats, and get whipped through everything this ride throws at you.

Honestly, with so much airtime everywhere, you truly are out of your seat as much as you're in it. As I said earlier; the ride lives up to the airtime hype in both quantity AND quality!

Beyond it being a balls-to-the-walls airtime machine, calling Steel Vengeance full of surprises is an understatement. Some elements look so big they're unassumingly intense, and some moments just come out of nowhere because everything is squished together, especially in the second half but in a good way. You'll just be yelling out in surprise everywhere!

On top of my two favorite things in a coaster, airtime and surprises, I have to give Steel Vengeance props for having great theming in the queue line. There are character backstories, lots of little decorations, and the atmosphere of Frontiertown at Cedar Point just adds to it.

The only thing I'll say about this near perfect coaster is that the operators could be a little nicer. When I was there, the dispatches were fairly slow, and both times I rode, I asked for the front or back row, and I was forced to go into rows 7 and 9.

But that's just a small nitpick. Steel Vengeance still by far is one of my all time favorite coasters. Top 5, easily.

And if you want to hear my full thoughts on this coaster, here is my review.

After Steel Vengeance, my parents went to wait in line to buy us merchandise, so I grabbed a couple quick rides on Maverick.

 I know I talked about Maverick in the first part of this trip report, but that was before the park even opened and Maverick hadn't entirely warmed up yet. Later in the day, it held up, seeming to be even smoother, and two years and almost 100 coasters later, it's one of my all-time favorites, and will be until the day I die.

After that, I wanted to make for a memorable end to the day, so I was able to meet up with Logan from Koaster Kids for some final rides before heading back to Breakers Express, along with two other new coaster friends. Callie and Keith. All are coaster enthusiasts, and because I was busy talking the three of them up, I wasn't able to take any pictures, but here is our on-ride photo from Millennium Force.

After Millennium Force, I made my last ride of the night Valravn with all of them, and while it was just the kids riding, we weren't able to get the on-ride photo. But after I said my goodbyes to Logan, Callie and Keith, I took my camera back from my parents and took some photos.

I love Raptor so much. While after the 2018 coaster season it is no longer my favorite B&M, it's still by far my favorite B&M at this park.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, as we must exit the park.

GateKeeper's zero-g rolls look almost symmetrical, don't they?

Here's the lower zero-g roll...

...and the higher zero-g roll! I really want to photoshop these two photos together.

And unfortunately, with that, we headed back to Breakers Express for a good nights' rest.

COASTERMANIA! was one of the greatest days I've ever had as a coaster enthusiast. I've never made more friends in that time period, and there's no better place to do that than the one, the only, Cedar Point. With 17 roller coasters, some of them being totally fantastic, this is a park I wish I had closer to my house. 5 hours isn't bad, and actually one of the closer amusement parks to me, but it really is one of the greatest parks in the world.

Thanks for bearing with me in this trip report. It has been a while since the first trip report part, but better late than never, right?