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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Looking back on 2013: Cedar Point Opening Day and Gatekeeper

More pictures are coming, for some reason I cannot get any more photos to show.

Last look back we looked at the Kennywood opening day and the wonderful retrack work they did on their wooden coasters. Today we will look at Cedar Point's opening day in which, in the style of B&M coasters, it was ready for day 1.

Despite the cloudy, dreary day, that actually stayed rain free until the last two hours of the day, people showed up in droves to ride the new ride and tons of other offerings the park has. A band was even there, it was great! There were many improvements all around in the park as well. The front entrance plaza was completely rebuilt from the ground up. The entire front midway area that Gateway occupies, all the way to Wicked Twister, were completely changed around/ reconfigured with the games midway that was newly built a few years ago now being in place with a totally new looking midway. I would imagine they had a project similar to this in mind when they undertook that project. This was likely the long term plan to have something fill the front of the park like this once they removed the old favorite Demon Drop a few years ago and built the new and improved games. Sadly this also involved the removal of old favorites Avalanche Run/Disaster Transport Intamin Bobsled Coaster and Space Spiral Intamin Observation Tower. They were removed to create the highest capacity roller coaster in the park, something desperately needed after the addition of the thrilling, yet inefficient Maverick. Here you can see some of the differences from pre-removal of Demon Drop, Space Spiral and Disaster Transport.

Not a perfect match, but you get the idea. This one came out after and before, my mistake.
No, Space Spiral was not tipping over (poor shot on a beautiful day) as it did in the following video. Which would you take, better photo quality on a poor weather day for photo taking, or not so good leveling on a photo on a really great weather day?


Trade offs, trade offs. It would have been cool to see Gatekeeper circle around both Demon Drop and Space Spiral similar to Gold Striker at Great America or Tatsu at Magic Mountain. Both Demon Drop would have either needed removal or major refurbishment done to them. Demon Drop was easily a better candidate for the latter and Space Spiral for the former, but hey, it is probably a part of that Chevy Cruze that you drive that is made nearby. Always sad to see classics go, but that is progress. If you loved Demon Drop, or any of those wonderful first generation Intamin drop towers, get to Dorney Park. I feel this is the best feeling of true free fall, true zero gravity. The view from the top of it at Dorney is also spectacular. 

Dorney Demon Drop view thanks to our friend David Lejr
Keeper of the gate, beautiful!
Back to the Point, as soon as you enter the park you are greeted by screaming riders in a zero g roll right over your head, creating one of the most dramatic entrances into any park. Anticipating capacity needs and also with new CEO Ouimet and Decker playing a pivotal role in this project, along with the highly anticipated Banshee project, they are working to improve areas they felt needed attention across the park. They are also awesome guys I had the opportunity to talk with on the midway that day in the midst of watching the fruit of their and their team's efforts on the massive undertaking. They are great guys and under their leadership the parks should continue to improve and flourish.
Mean Streak was actually pretty solid this year
Among these areas they have worked to improve are the midways, doing major retracking and improvement projects on Blue Streak and also Mean Streak. My first visit to the park was in 2003, and I always tolerated Mean Streak, but it was by no means a comfy ride. When we visited the park in 2010 (I believe) the ride was really bad, to the point that opted not to ride it. The ride was smooth as butter this season, and was even better on our second visit to the park in June. It rode perfectly and was an enjoyable ride for the first time ever for me. That week I had also tweaked my back and I think it tweaked it back into place on that curve heading towards the MCBR.

Blue Streak was boss this year!

Blue Streak was the real star of the show though, with so much work done on it in the offseason, it really shined. This is one of those rides that every time seems different on it. On opening day, the air was extreme ejector, which is always fantastic with those wonderful PTC buzzbars, the best lapbars ever made. There was even more new track on this classic due to a crane falling on it about a week or two before opening. The trains were also new as of last year I believe. Rebbie and PTC never fail to bring a great product with their trains and Blue Streak's trains are no exception to this. Cedar Fair and Cedar Point's leadership have made sure this coaster is well taken care of.

In addition to this, they undertook a massive project to repaint Millennium Force and as always, they delivered. The original paint was extremely faded and looked pretty bad, but thanks the great company wide repainting plan, the best in the industry, the track looks fantastic now, just as they did a wonderful job on Magnum and Corkscrew along with Talon and Steel Force at Dorney. Two years out on Steel Force and it still looks the paint is brand new. Almost all parks in the industry collectively need to follow suit, especially Six Flags. The SF plan to create New Paint: The Ride with the Bizzaros was nice, but they need to keep up on paint all around. Look to the Cedar Fair parks for a nice example.


As always, Millennium, Dragster, Magnum, Raptor and others delivered, no need to talk about that. Cedar Point is a fantastic park with fantastic rides and more. The CP&LE Railroad is a relaxing break from coasters while also providing for a nice buffer between a Famous Dave's BBQ Lunch, although watching Millennium eating is lots of fun!
The view from our lunch place at Famous Dave's! (I just realized my name was used twice in this, not relating to me)
Overall, the opening day was lots of fun, even with getting rained out at the end. We rode the Cedar Downs, the wonderful classic, one of only two remaining racing carousels, with the other remaining at Rye Playland and then we played some games in the classic ballroom arcade. The end result was getting two cool Coaster Dynamics models, one of a Dragster train and another of a Maverick train.

Getting two opening days, two weeks in a row, was lots of fun. There is a special energy in a park on opening day. Ride ops are getting some of their first laps in, rides are breaking in and everyone is excited for the upcoming summer. It was especially exciting to see a great new ride in Gatekeeper open up with the park. Gatekeeper welcomes you with a real cool energy as soon as you enter. It really sets the tone.

You can see the rest of the photos from the trip in these two albums, my album and Brit's album.
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.306473922815942.1073741834.200128360117166&type=3
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.306802142783120.1073741836.200128360117166&type=3

Also, do not forget, we have a 2014 Roller Coaster Calendar available. Help support us and have something pleasant to look out while you look at the date or put appointments on your calendar. http://www.lulu.com/shop/my-calendar/calendar/product-21243899.html

2 comments:

  1. I think that Gatekeeper, and the new gate plaza area, is a strong and heartening signal that Cedar Point is going to devote more attention to aesthetics. I hated losing Disaster Transport as it was an important part of my youth -- I made a special unplanned trip to Cedar Point for final rides on short notice when I heard it was coming down, and I expected to hold a grudge against whatever replaced it. But I have to admit that Gatekeeper is spectacularly beautiful. Nevermind the ride experience: it enriches the park for both riders and nonriders alike. It was clearly built just as much to provide symmetry to the eye with its arc over the gate as to excite the rider on board. And the gates themselves are a great improvement and will age well. I see many people making use of the scenic little Lake Erie-view plaza inside the park by Gatekeeper every time I go, and I often take my lunch over there to eat and watch the waves and gulls.

    I cannot say enough good about Gatekeeper's appearance and the related improvements, overall. I just wish they could keep its lights working.

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  2. I agree! I would be devastated if they took away my favorite rides as a child including, Sky Princess at Dutch Wonderland, Hershey Comet, Dorney Thunderhawk and Steel Force. I would love to see them utilize the shoreline more like that with expansions out into the shoreline being wasted with just parking lot on it. Put parking on the mainland. Run a tram across the causeway and ferries across the bay. They should acquire some of that brownfield land on the waterfront across the bay. I would imagine it would be pretty cheap to get. Put the bulk of the parking there and then run ferries from that point. Use the entrance area as the dump off point and then utilize the parking lot. I would love to see a boardwalk area on the lake side, with a nice wood coaster and some classic rides and a B&M giga (or taller if they would do that) running on the bay. That is just my imagination running wild, but we'll see.

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