5.23.2015

The First of Two Days in Paradise: May 23rd, 2015




The alarm was set for 7:30am on Saturday so we could be up, showered, out of our room and at the resort gate, just a 5 minute walk from our room, in time for 9am early entry. Tom and I were up and awake before the alarm went off. Why? Because we are waking up inside of the Roller Coaster Capitol of the World!


The park doesn't open to the general public until 10am so we had an hour of (hopefully) little-to-no lines and wanted to take advantage of that to try out some of the heavy hitters this park has to offer. We still hadn't committed to purchasing Fast Lane, but it was in the budget for the weekend and with the predicted GORGEOUS weather on Saturday (high of 70 degrees and sunny), combined with free entry for military personnel all weekend, we had a feeling the park would be packed.



 

Tom was ready to roll before the rest of us and was kind enough to run down to the hotel's fancy new Starbucks and grab some coffee for the group. I popped out onto our balcony early in the morning and discovered the outside of our screen was covered in spider webs and dead mayflies/muffleheads/whatever those bugs are that are everywhere. We had a great view as mentioned - the lake, beach, and Soak City and Magnum to our left. We just had to look at it through insect carnage lol. Gross.



 


By the time we were all ready to go, it was few minutes before 9. The early entry rides for this year are: Rougarou, Millennium Force, Maverick, Gatekeeper, Iron Dragon, Raptor, Planet Snoopy, Ocean Motion and the Midway Carousel. Maverick and Millennium are without a doubt my top two 'must rides' for this weekend and knowing how temperamental Intamin hotness can be, we needed to head in the direction of one of those two and get them out of the way.



 



We decided today would be Maverick day, and Millennium would be Sunday (that would change but I'll get to that). From the Marina entrance it was closer to get to Maverick anyway. 



As we approached the gate we were greeted by a substantial line of other hotel guests and season pass holders eager to get in and get on some great rides. The employees at the gate chewed through the line in just a few minutes, and finally, at long last, I was inside paradise!


 

We hoofed it over to Maverick and were greeted by the bright eyed crew cycling some empty trains. Seeing that it was running, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Through the queue we hustled and up into an almost empty station. 




Let's do this! The missus sat this one out as she afraid of hurting her neck, as I warned her it was known as very intense and twisty. Just looking at the POVs you can get a sense of that.

 


Of course we went right for the back row of the next train to pull into the station and we were off. This coaster is absolute bliss. After the first ride I was sitting on the break run in completely heaven, wondering if this is my new #1. 



Save for a giant first drop, this machine has everything I could possibly want in a roller coaster. The slow launch up the lift, the beyond vertical first drop (insane air in the back seat), the ludicrously tight turns right after the drop, glorious airtime hills, a few perfectly executed inversions. 

 

And if that wasn't enough - the launch out of the tunnel! OMFG. The second half of the ride just doesn't let up. It is just amazing element after amazing element, glass smooth throughout, and not once did I even get banged around, thanks to those cushy new shoulder restraints they recently installed. I'd love to see them installed on Kingda Ka or even Storm Runner/Fahrenheit/other Intamins w/ these restraints. They made me stoked to do I305. Hands up all the way. Total freedom but totally secure.


 Of course upon exiting the ride and quickly checking out our on-ride photos we ran around to the entrance for a second lap. By now we had a station wait but that's nothing compared to the lines we'd see for this throughout the weekend. The missus had watched a few cycles while waiting for us to take the first ride and upon seeing us re-entering the queue said she was going to join us. I stopped her as I did not want the tight twists to hurt her and leave her unable to ride anything else.


After all, we had two full days of riding. This bummed her out, but the last thing I wanted was for her to spend the weekend nursing an injury on the sidelines, and I assured her later in the day after we'd all gotten loosened up from some day drinking, she could take a shot at this amazing steel beast. Our second ride was even better than the first. It was after that I thought to myself "that is the greatest roller coaster I have ever ridden, no question". Perfection. Why aren't there more of these!?!?


By this point the queue had started filling up and since we had not yet pulled the trigger on Fast Lane passes, we decided to walk toward the parks "new" hotness, Rougarou, and see how crowds were toward the middle of the park. As I mentioned earlier, the missus is usually more comfortable on coasters with OTSRs so this was something she could ride, and we figured being "new" and all, this ride would get long lines all weekend, so we wanted to get it out of the way.


 

It was just before 10am park opening, and we hopped in line. Honestly, it made me happy there were no stand-up coasters to be ridden this weekend. I hate every one of them that I've ridden. Obviously I had not ridden this when it was Mantis, and I'm not the biggest fan of floorless coaster. I don't mind them, Bizarro at my home park is my fave I've ridden so far, and after this it still is. But they did a great job with this. 


It was butter smooth and hauls through the course. Nice first drop and incredible speed through the dive and inclined loops. The only moment all of us experienced any headbanging from the hard OTSRs was one quick shot when snapping into the MCBR. Even without FL, we only waited about 15 minutes for this.

And who did we spot in line? None other than Coasterbill! It's always very cool to meet with someone from TPR, and we chatted for a sec, and agreed to meet up later in the day to share a ride on something.


By now it was past 10am, and it was clear the general public had invaded the park. The midways were quickly starting to fill up and the park had marching bands parading through with celebratory tunes. We decided it was time to find somewhere to purchase Fast Lane bracelets. Who knows when we will be back to this park, so we wanted to make the most out of our day. 


This was one of the best decisions we made all weekend. Since Dragster, Gatekeeper, Rougarou and most notably Maverick are only on the Fast Lane Plus, we went ahead and spent the extra money. Once the park filled up we realized this was worth every freaking penny.



We were all very much interested in trying out Gatekeeper as none of us have ridden a wing coaster, unless you count Skyrush, so after grabbing a little breakfast (read: corndogs and soda) we headed in that direction. The FL line for this merges right at the bottom of the station stairs so even though the park was open and the regular line was already healthy, we got on in less than 15 minutes. 



I know a lot of people complain this ride is forceless and I can see that but we all loved it, and walked around to try the other side. We all agreed its better on the left. The first drop is pretty great, and the rest of the ride is smooth and offers some great floaty hang time in spots. The ladies of our group loved this ride in particular. 


On our second lap on this I popped our Cedar Point cherry by eating a mayfly/mufflehead whatever those bugs are that are everywhere.

 


From here we spotted MaXair with an empty FL line so we jumped in. I've never done one of these giant frisbees and I'm not a fan of spinning things so I was reluctant but since we skipped Black Widow I knew I wanted to try this at least once, and I'm glad I did. This ride surprised the hell out of me, I really enjoyed it and can't wait to do another one of these. The spinning is barely noticeable, if anything it just made it feel like we were going to hit the supports which was kind of cool lol. Nice hangtime and incredible speed on the full swings. We didn't ride this again at all over the weekend but overall it was one of my favorite flats of the trip.



After this we made our first mistake by trying to get on Raptor, where the FL line was out of the queue and along the gate. We waited easily the longest we waited for anything all weekend, almost 30 minutes when it broke down as we were halfway up the steps. 







Once that happened we jumped right out of line so we didn't waste any more time. We headed towards Dragster to see if that was running but they were testing. We asked one of the ops in the station if he had any idea of when it would be up but he said they had to test it a bunch and were trying to get it up ASAP.


We all wanted to try Power Tower, and the FL line was again empty so we did the drop side. My 2nd favorite drop tower so far is Dominator @ Dorney and this was similar, just taller. We got a great view of the front of the park, and as expected, the drop is very forceful. Gave us all a good jolt. 


 

I love the lighting package they have on this ride, it looks so good at night. We were getting hungry so we decided to head back to the hotel (did I mention it is a quick 5 minute walk from the resort entrance by Magnum?) and have snacks.











On the way back into the park we decided to hop on Gemini and this was one of the surprises of the entire trip. This thing is awesome! We all loved it much more than we expected. 



Nice little bits of airtime and some great drops. The FL line allowed us to walk right onto this, just a one cycle wait, and like we did with Racer @ Kennywood we split up on opposite trains in the same row so we could race. We wound up going back to this later because we liked it so much.









Throughout all of this riding I had been thinking of somehow convincing the group to head back towards Maverick to see what the line situation would look like middle of the day on Saturday. By this time the regular lines for pretty much everything were looooong, the park was packed. This had a little over a 25 minute wait for us, one of the longer waits of the weekend. 


The missus was ready to ride, so we rehearsed the ride while waiting so it wouldn't really take her by surprise: "OK after the drop its a right turn, then hard left, then hard right", "out of the tunnel its a hard turn to the left", etc. Not much I can say that I haven't already about this ride. And it turned out she loved it. We all did. Perfection. We bought the on-ride for this since it turned out so great. We also ran into Coasterbill once again in the Maverick gift shop.



Since the wait for Maverick wasn't so bad we decided it was time to head towards Millennium Force. On our way we stopped by the Barnyard and checked out some of the animals.


 



I don't think I mentioned that we unsuccessfully tried to get Rougabrew @ TGIFri's last night (our hotel bar had it but they were closed at that time), but after we passed the barnyard we saw that the Trail Tavern had sign outside saying they had it so we ducked in. It's pretty good, tastes like Blue Moon. 




Here we learned Cedar Point's alcohol policy is pretty relaxed. At Great Adventure I'm used to not being able to leave the establishment we bought it in. Here we were able to get our beers to go and continue walking to Millennium. They also don't seem to mind you bringing beers into lines with you (we did this after we saw many others doing it), and numerous times we walked out of the park with beer when going back to the hotel.


Alright so... Millennium Force. Ahhh where do I begin. Well, we didn't wait long at all for this first ride, maybe 15 minutes with only a few people ahead of us in the FL line. I loved this ride, but it didn't blow me away. The drop was great, the speed of the ride is heartstopping, the ride felt very long but so much of it is spent on high speed turns. 


I also felt like a lot of energy is wasted at the end as it hauls right into the breaks. But I can totally see why some people say its forceless or doesn't have a ton of airtime. It definitely does have a few moments of decent airtime, but its generally all about the height and the speed. 



I had a lot of expectations for this and I'm not sure it completely lived up to them, at least on this first lap. Not to say its a bad ride - if Maverick didn't exist, Millennium would definitely be my favorite at this park.

Upon exiting Millennium we stopped in the Red Garter Saloon and while grab another beer, this band started playing country tunes out of nowhere, with this whole dance routine. I'm personally not a fan of country music but the performers here were pretty great and kept our attention for a good 20-30 minutes. We had no plans to see any shows we just happened upon this and I'm glad we did because it was something different, we had a good laugh and it was a nice break from the sun.





Heading back toward the front of the park the missus and I noticed Cedar Downs Racing Derby with basically no wait and had to give this unique classic 'fast carousel' a shot. Not much to say other than this was a fun break from the thrill rides and we were surprised there is no kind of belt or restraint on this ride. 



Not that we needed it but lots of small kids on this thing, we were waiting for one of them to go flying off lol. Lots of laughing on this one.

To keep the partytrain going we stopped at our hometown staple Chickie & Pete's. I love that these are at Cedar Fair parks because the chain started in Philly and the four of us all know and love their food - especially those crab fries (finally some REAL fries!). 




Of course we all grabbed a bucket of them and had another round or two of beers. Our bartender (Ryan?) was totally awesome and when he found out where are from asked us a million questions about the original location. It was weird to sit in a C&Ps with no Philadelphia or Philly sports team related memorabilia on the walls.

I will say we were feeling pretty great at this point, and what's right next to C&P's? Blue Streak!!! We had zero wait for this and jumped in the back car, and we all loved it so much that we immediately agreed on the break run we would run right around and do it again toward the front of the train. Great coaster, definitely one of the best here. A solid old school woodie with a classic out and back layout. Rough but it a good way. I'm thankful they have this because that other woodie I don't even think is worth mentioning (we'll get to that). So far we are having a great day of quality riding.


We decided to give Raptor another shot and discovered the FL line was only halfway down the steps. With about a 5 minute wait we were on the 2nd row, which made up for a our long-wait-for-nothin' earlier in the day. 




I haven't ridden a B&M invert I don't like and this coaster is no exception. Really smooth, appropriately snappy (great zero-g roll) and felt long. The helix at the end is very forceful. This is easily my 2nd favorite invert (I still love you the most, Talon!).


At this point we got text from Coasterbill to let us know he was at Wicked Twister and it had no line, so we headed that way. We shared an awesome ride near the back of the train, but I don't think I like this as much as Possessed, the only other Intamin impulse coaster I've ridden.



I like the straight back spike with the holding break. Without it, even though this is taller, I feel its missing something. Still not a bad ride. We hyped this up since Tom and I both like Possessed but the missus was nonplussed. 



By this point it was starting to get dark, and since we were in the area we figured we would give Gatekeeper another spin, since we all liked it so much. This time we all went for the left (our preferred side) and had a great evening ride. 


Smooth, floaty. You feel like a bird on this thing. I want to ride more of these B&M wing riders as it seems like so many people think this is the worst/most boring of its kind.


Upon exiting Tom and I noticed Top Thrill Dragster was running so we decided to check the line. It was almost dark now and we were all getting tired. 


 

The missus sat this one out, hanging out on the bleachers, and the other three of us wound up waiting about 20 minutes, and made this our last ride of the day. 


As we got to the top of the ramp and entered the station we noticed folks in front of us stepping over something, when we had our first encounter with a protein spill - an obvious attempt at making it to the trashcan, apparently not in time. 


We sat toward the front, and I have to say I liked this a lot better than Kingda Ka. It was a noticeably smoother launch and the lapbars provide a much freer, comfortable ride. Other than that, its kind of the same thing (read: one trick pony). But these rides are crazytown. My eyes watered, and somehow while I kept my mouth closed (bugs!), I drooled on myself. But I enjoyed it as a bonkers way to end an amazing day. Race for the sky!


We headed back to the hotel to relax for a while before we turned in. We did pop out to the firepits and a late night stroll along the boardwalk again. We also checked out the hotels' arcade where we tackled the crane games (my personal expertise) and found a Dippin Dots vending machine. Score! 




All in all we spent our first day tackling the "must dos" of the park and basically had a perfect first day, even though we still had quite a bit to get to on day 2. We got a ton in, especially when considering just how packed the park got today.



Ride totals

Maverick 3x 
Millennium Force 1x
Gemini 1x 

Blue Streak 2x 
Gatekeeper 3x 
Raptor 1x 
MaXair 1x 
Power Tower - drop side 1x
Rougarou 1x 
Top Thrill Dragster 1x
Wicked Twister 1x
Cedar Downs Derby 1x

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