Sandusky, Ohio, USA
“The planet’s most iconic roller coaster destination”
I’ve visited some amazing places during the last few years. I’ve been to every Disney resort, I enjoyed most major European amusement parks and I have visited every Universal park on the planet. However, the world’s most legendary roller coaster destination always remained uncharted territory for me. Of course I’m talking about the one and only Cedar Point. What happens if you put 18 roller coasters on an island in Lake Erie? People will start calling it America’s Roller Coast and it will appear on every coaster enthusiast’s bucket list. Cedar Point is without a doubt one of the world’s leading amusement parks. It’s a magical feeling to finally see the park’s iconic skyline with my own eyes.
As Cedar Fair Platinum Pass holders, the park invites us for Early Entry. This is a perfect moment to enjoy some of Cedar Point’s signature coasters without their usual queues. Our first stop of the day is Millennium Force, Intamin’s Giga Coaster which (obviously) opened in 2000. Although Millennium Force is often nicknamed Millennium Forceless, I really enjoy the ride. Everything about Millennium Force is huge. The ride towers 95 metres above Lake Erie, there are more than two kilometres of track and trains reach speeds of up to 150 km/h. Even the throughput is enormous: staff are delivering some very quick dispatches and they’re running three trains, even during the calm morning hours.
From one great ride to another one… riding Maverick was our main goal during Early Entry, so we quickly head to the back of the park after our two consecutive rides on Millennium Force. If you only take a look at the figures, Maverick may not seem overly extreme. The ride is 32 metres tall, it has two inversions and a top speed of just over 100 km/h. It’s no record-breaking coaster like Millennium Force or Top Thrill Dragster, but that doesn’t mean that it’s less fun. Quite the contrary: Maverick is one of the best roller coasters I’ve ever ridden. The first part of the ride, which is initiated by a super-fast lift hill and a 95° drop, is already pretty amazing. But most of the power and fun are saved for the second part, which starts with a very forceful indoor launch.
Some coasters may look insignificant in today’s Cedar Point’s, but most of them broke one or more world records at the time they opened. Magnum XL-200 is one of these rides. With a height of 62 metres, a total track length of more than 1.5 kilometres and a top speed of over 110 km/h, it’s still a very solid coaster. It’s definitely not the smoothest ride ever built, but its location at the beach makes it a true icon. Furthermore, we get to feel some fairly intense airtime. Don’t miss this legendary roller coaster.
Does Top Thrill Dragster need any introduction? Apart from the fact that it’s one of the world’s shortest experiences, it’s also one of the most breathtaking coasters. Just like Magnum XL-200, it was a record-breaking ride. At the time Dragster opened in 2003, it was the tallest (128 metres) and fastest (193 km/h) roller coaster on Earth. Both records have been broken since then, but Top Thrill Dragster has kept its fame as one of Cedar Point’s highlights. That’s why queues get rather lengthy and it certainly isn’t the most reliable ride at the park. I’d recommend to ride it as soon as it opens, because operations get ceased regularly.
Shuttle coasters… you like them or you hate them. I’m one of those haters, just because I don’t like to go backwards during a roller coaster ride. However, I decide to give Wicked Twister a chance and I have to admit that this coaster is quite fun. The launches are powerful and the ride lasts just long enough. Not my favourite coaster type in the world, but I consider it as an original take on a classic swinging ship.
Did I mention that Cedar Point likes to break records? When they designed GateKeeper, they opted for the tallest, longest and fastest Wing Rider and also the one with the most inversions. And if you ask me, it’s also one of the most photogenic rides in the entire park. Wing coasters usually aren’t the smoothest B&Ms and that isn’t any different here at Cedar Point. I wouldn’t describe GateKeeper as a rough experience, but the general flow just doesn’t feel completely natural. My advice: choose one of the seats on the inside, since the ride is a lot more enjoyable there.
More B&M goodness is provided by Raptor. I don’t know why, but this inverted coaster seems to have the longest queues of the park during the afternoon. Why is Raptor so unbelievably popular? It’s not the tallest, fastest or best themed inverted roller coaster on the planet, is it? I need just one single ride to solve this mystery. Because wow, what an amazing experience! Raptor is fast, smooth, super intense and the layout keeps surprising me until the final brake run. It may not be as tall as Katun or as well themed as Black Mamba, but it sure is a winner.
In contrast to Raptor, Rougarou‘s queue remains completely empty. This used to be a stand-up B&M called Mantis, but it was completely revamped in 2015. The trains got replaced by floorless trains and the colour scheme was changed. Unfortunately, these efforts didn’t make the ride more popular, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad roller coaster. It’s actually bizarre… Rougarou is awesome and it would be a highlight at any European theme park, but it feels like an infill attraction here at Cedar Point. That’s the strange consequence of having this many great coasters in one single amusement park.
One coaster is waiting for passengers, other coasters have 90-minute lines. Valravn seems to be one of Cedar Point’s most popular coasters. Does that automatically mean that Valravn is an incredibly awesome ride? Well… the first drop is fantastic, but the rest of the ride doesn’t impress me that much. Don’t get me wrong: B&M dive machines are always phenomenal and I like the fact that this version lasts longer than its competitors, but I don’t think I enjoy it better than its European siblings. Every dive machine starts with such an amazing element that every other part of the ride just feels somewhat unnecessary. That’s why Valravn is probably my least favourite big coaster here at Cedar Point.
Cedar Point could be described as some kind of Arrow Dynamics Capital. Gemini is one of the manufacturer’s biggest accomplishments: it’s a double hybrid roller coaster that opened in 1978. Gemini may seem a little bizarre at first and there are a few uncomfortable transitions, but this ride actually surprised me in a good way. I always have a thing for racing roller coasters and the experience was a lot smoother than I expected. I really enjoyed our rides on this gigantic coaster, which is packed with airtime. Talking about airtime… at the opposite side of the park you’ll find Blue Streak. This wooden coaster opened in 1964 and it looks rather tame, but don’t be fooled. It’s actually a great airtime machine.
I know I didn’t mention every Cedar Point coaster. Still, you get the gist: this park is home to a lot of incredible machines. It doesn’t matter if you love airtime, speed, inversions or heights… Cedar Point has got you covered anyway. By the way… things are about to get even better. The park has closed its notoriously rough wooden coaster Mean Streak and RMC is currently reworking the ride. Steel Vengeance will open in 2018 and it will undoubtedly become another mythical coaster.
Cedar Point is one of those very few parks which doesn’t need any non-coaster-related attractions. People visit this park to ride legendary roller coasters, so they know what to expect. Cedar Point has a fair amount of flat rides, though. My favourite attraction in this segment is Skyhawk. I’m usually not that fond of swinging attractions, but I gladly make an exception for this type. It’s called a Screaming Swing and it provides more airtime than some of Cedar Point’s famous coasters. The fact that there’s hardly any queue, makes it even better.
Beating the heat is easy at Cedar Point. It offers two water rides and there’s a water park adjacent to the park. I don’t consider myself as a huge water lover, so we stick to drier rides during our stay at Cedar Point. One of those dry, relaxing rides is Cedar Point’s old-fashioned Skyway. This may sound odd, but I always enjoy these kinds of attractions. They offer amazing views over the park and your feet get some well-deserved rest.
On Sunday morning, we’re participating in the Sunrise Thrills VIP Tour. The tour starts promptly at 6.30, so we arrive at the main entrance at approximately 6.15 AM. Too early for a person like me, that’s for sure. Still, this guided tour just seemed too interesting to be missed. One of my main reasons to book the Sunrise Thrills Tour, is the fact that participants get to climb the lift hill of Valravn. And believe me… that creates some extraordinary photo opportunities.
Our tour continues at Top Thrill Dragster and Millennium Force, where we get unique vantage points for pictures. If you’re interested in taking photos, this tour is definitely worth the price. These backstage routes provide some perfect photo opportunities that can never be reached by regular park guests. However, if you’re expecting lots of private coaster rides, I wouldn’t recommend to book the Sunrise Thrills Tour. Unlike the Coaster Insider Tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (where every major coaster could be ridden twice without waiting in line), you only get a few rides here at Cedar Point. That’s the first ride of the day on Valravn, one ride on Maverick (with access through the exit) and participants also get two additional Fastlane vouchers. That makes Busch Gardens’ value for money rate considerably better.
WORTH A VISIT?
We spent two full days on Sandusky’s coaster island, so we got plenty of time to ride every main roller coaster more than once. And believe me… I enjoyed it a lot. Some of my coaster-loving friends didn’t believe that Cedar Point would be my kind of amusement park. But dear friends, you were wrong. It’s true that I still have a thing for dark rides, fireworks and Disney magic, but I’m perfectly able to enjoy the thrilling and coaster-minded atmosphere here at Cedar Point as well. One thing that particularly amazed me, was the overall atmosphere and the kindness of the staff members. The park really does every possible effort to ensure that guests have a wonderful day. I’ve had the same experience at most other Cedar Fair parks (with Kings Dominion being the only exception), but Cedar Point really stands out from the rest. I’m glad that I finally got to see this legendary coaster heaven with my own eyes. And I’m definitely recommending this place to everyone who has a heart for coasters.
SUNRISE THRILLS TOUR
What is your favourite Cedar Point coaster? Would you be interested in attending the Sunrise Thrills Tour? And what could be the next big addition to the park? Share your opinion in the comments section at the bottom of this page.