Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cedar Point Vacation, reviewed

Val and I just returned from a 4-day mini-vacation at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. We ended up staying at a Great Wolf Lodge ( ). There are 3 waterpark resorts in Sandusky (Great Wolf, Castaway Bay (a Cedar Fair property) and Kalahari (operated by another company). With so much competition in one small city - rates are very good. We paid $195/night for Saturday and $150/night for Sunday and Monday nights including all access to the water park from day of arrival to day we left. We might have gotten a better deal if we'd gone through a travel agent or AAA - we didn't bother for this time.

Sandusky is about 6 hours from Rochester. We left in time to get to GWL at about 2 in the afternoon on Saturday. We unpacked, and then spent most of the rest of the evening unwinding at the water park. It's small but has a number of fun things to do - big hot tubs, water slides, an excellent spray and dump playground area, etc. I wouldn't spend more than a day there if that was all I was doing. As a base for going to Cedar Point it was excellent in that it was less than 15 minutes from the park, offered rates that were literally 1/2 the price of CP properties rates, and was NOT booked any of the days we were going. We could unwind in the hot tub, or play in the water park till 10 each night (CP closes at 8 this late in the season).

We spent Sunday and Monday all day (last week in August 2007) at Cedar Point ( ). The park was definitely one of the best parks we've been to. Notes on the park (high points and things to know):

  1. Val and Lee love all kinds of coasters, Lee and Calvin enjoy spinning rides (Val does not), Calvin doesn't like coasters that are "too fast" or "go upside down" (yet). We all like rides that "drop" to one extent or another (think tower of terror in mgm).
  2. Cedar point has 17 (yes that's SEVENTEEN) roller coasters. Although they have a fair share of kiddie rides (no longer applicable to us) and amusement park standards (tilt-a-whirl, octopus, carrousels, etc.) it's really built for the coaster-holics, and the massive thrillseekers. And as such - it succeeds at addressing the entire range of that crowd - from monster rides all the way down to kiddie coasters.
  3. We did skip a couple key rides because either the lines were too long vs the perceived payoff of the ride, or because we just were rided out - we love our rides, but after 2 days of pumping the adrenal glands every hour or so it got to the point were we were just done.
  4. We picked up a book called "Experience Cedar Point" on Amazon. It's not a well-written book, but the kid that wrote it (in the first edition he was 17) obviously knows the park well and provided decent reviews of the rides that were for the most part spot-on. He also provided some tips that proved invaluable. You have to get by some serious spelling errors, grammar deficiencies and other issues (sort of like my posts here) - but all in all his earnestness did show.
  5. One tip that was worth the price of the book was to park at the back of the park by soak city. No line to get in and shorter walk to the key rides at the back of the park (that the "front of the park" entrance people are running their asses off to get to first. We walked leisurely not knowing quite where we were going the first day to the newest ride in the park and got there in front of two out of breath teenagers who had booked directly there from the front entrance.
  6. If you CAN afford it, like Disney, staying at an on-property hotel gets you early entrance - probably well worth it as you get to start riding an hour early for at least some of the rides. If we were to go back, we'd seriously consider staying on-property.

-------------- Rides -------------- In order of how much we liked them:

  1. Maverick ( ) - one of the most awesome coasters we've ever ridden. Rode 2x, waited about an hour and 10 each time to ride - would have waited longer it was DEFINITELY worth it. This ride is by no means the biggest hill. However it uses a launch system that gains speed as you go up the hill, then launches you at a 95% angle down the hill - that's right - MORE THAN VERTICAL! From there on it's just a series of insanely smooth and fast inversions (7-8 of them), curves, hills, airtime and more. About 1/2 way through the ride you enter a tunnel, stop and then are sent out like a pinball into the 2nd half of the ride, much closer to the ground but every bit as exciting as the first. This is the only time in the ride where you even have a chance to draw breath. Computer-designed it's amazingly smooth - never bashing your head against the seat, giving you whiplash, or moving your head side-to-side. Just amazingly fast and exciting. As Val describes it - one long scream.... Calvin chickened out on this one - too many inversions.
  2. Raptor ( ) Val and I love inverted coasters, and this one is right up there in the fun quotient. Similar to the inverted coaster at Darien Lake it will take you for an awesome ride that feels like flying. We ALWAYS wait the extra couple rounds to ride inverted coasters in the front cars - nothing in front of you makes it an ever so much better experience. We rode 2x. Val laughed through the whole thing (as opposed to screaming). Calvin (again) wasn't interested - too many inversions.
  3. Millenium force ( - Another one Calvin didn't ride that we loved, this new "Giga-coaster" has the tallest hill in the park of the traditional coasters, and the second tallest in the world at 310 feet. The first hill I couldn't keep my eyes open until we were 1/2 way down. Val just screamed all the way down. Like Maverick, this new, computer designed coaster is SMooooooth. It flies you around a corner and has airtime hills to die for. The ride is longer than most of the other rides, has no inversions, but stays interesting in a very fast and "Swoopy" way as it takes you back to the station. Again - not jarring, very smooth - a sweet ride. It took us till the second day and much "I'll ride it if you'll ride it" coaxing each other to try - but we wished we'd done it the first day and had time to do it again on day 2. Though it just had a lapbar - the lapbar was well fitted to your thighs, for each individual rider, and you were not going anywhere. There was adequate back and neck support.
  4. Twister ( Not a big coaster, but again, due to the height not one Calvin wanted to ride. This one uses an accelerator to drive you up one spike (while twisting, backwards through the station and up the other spike. It runs you through the station a total of 5 times accelerating you on your way through so you go higher and higher. Excellent hang time at the tops of the loops, and very smooth ride physics and acceleration make this a winner. If you can't visualize see the link and check out the picture. Short lines (no more than 15 minutes) meant a quick bit of fun any time of the day.
  5. Iron Dragon ( an inverted coaster with cars instead of t-bar seats. Very fun and swoopy. Much rougher than Raptor, but just bouncy - no whiplash. Calvin rode this and had fun - went back to ride 2x more. Val and I rode the first time with him - the other two times he rode while we rode other coasters.
  6. Gemini ( 2 coasters run side by side on metal tracks, though the structure is wooden. The second day they were only running one coaster (not as much fun). Smoother than most wood coasters, but rougher than most all-metal ones. We rode 2x, Calvin rode 4x.
  7. Blue Streak ( very reminiscent of the good old Jackrabbit for those seabreeze fans. A bit taller, but just as bouncy and fun. We all rode 1x. Traditional wooden coaster, out and back.
  8. MaxAir ( Only Lee rode this. Not a coaster. Imagine a huge wheel hanging like a pendulum. The seats all face out and have shoulder bars. The wheel turns. The pendulum rotates through about 270 degrees of arc. Spinning and swinging. The highest two swings had me almost not liking it, but the rest was very fun. Imagine a giant spinning pirate ship ride.
  9. Demon drop ( - imagine a drop ride like Tower of Terror, only not on bungies (totally free-fall drop) and at the bottom instead of easing you to a stop with brakes or bungies it has a track that curves and puts you feet-first onto your back, then decelerates you down a flat track on your back. You get a FULL DROP feeling followed by an interesting transition from looking straight out to looking straight up. We all 3 rode it and all 3 liked it.
  10. Cedar Creek mine ( - typical runaway mine train ride. Metal track, wooden supports. Rougher than disney's but about as fun. we all rode 1x
  11. Disaster Transport ( ripoff of space mountain, not as big, theming just ok, long wait. Calvin rode 1x and recommended we skip it.
  12. Wildcat ( - similar to the bobsleds at seabreeze - fun, not too zoomy, fine ride for all - 1x for all of us. Short lines. metal track, light metal support. Kind of jerky as it went around corners, not much back support, lapbar only.
  13. Magnum XL ( - Val and I rode this (Calvin skipped it) - Has the 2nd highest first hill in the park - but unlike the Millenium force, this ride was not computer designed. As a result it was much rougher than MF or Maverick. This was the first of the "Megacoasters" and as such it seems like it just was not as well designed. The airtime hills were quite abrupt, and the transitions caused you to SLAM into your seat, or shook you side to side. The ride had inadequate support behind your head and thus caused additional muscle back and shoulder strain as you accellerated or slowed. We vastly preferred MF - even though it was a much faster and bigger ride (or maybe because of it). Basic out and back - no inversions.

Rides we didn't ride and why:

  1. Top Thrill Dragster ( - this out and back coaster accelerates you from 0-125 MPH on a flat runway in 4 seconds using a wicked fast cable drag. It releases you and goes up and over a huge hill (With some twists on the way up and back) and runs you back down another flat runway into the braking area. The cars are rather sparse with good head and neck support and full over the shoulder restraints. The entire ride takes 17 seconds. It looked like fun - we might do it someday - but the wait (between 1.5 and 2 hours) for a 17 second ride seemed way out of proportion. The ride spent over 1/2 of the first day down due to some issue with the brakes - not reassuring when you're going 125mph....
  2. Corkscrew - a slow speed old-style inversion traditional metal coaster. We were warned that it was quite rough. We don't like rough so we skipped it.
  3. Woodstock express, Jr. Gemini - kiddie rides, skipped.
  4. Power tower - shoots you up and/or down a big stack. Very high. Looked like fun but we didn't have any more desire to ride more thrill rides by the time it came up on our list.
  5. Mean streak - a rough wooden coaster with a name like mean streak - we skipped it. Our backs weren't up for it.
  6. Mantis - a stand up full inversion coaster. Though this looked like fun, all the reviews etc. said that it was very hard on your legs, hips and knees. We are wimps. We decided we'd rather do other stuff that wouldn't potentially make us not be able to walk around the park. Maybe in our younger days....

We did do a few typical amusement park rides- not going to go into them. We also skipped a bunch of stuff that we could do anywhere.

In all - fun vacation - two days of delicous amusement park fun, with evenings spent soaking our sore feet in the hot tub and having fun with our son...