Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Top 10 Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

If you live in the midwest, chances are you've been to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. High school reward field trips, youth group retreats, that first road trip with your new driver's license - a lot of avenues lead to America's Roller Coast (Ride On!). Whether its claim of having more rides than any other theme park (at 75) is true or not, Cedar Point does boast 17 roller coasters, which is the true draw in my eyes. Cedar Point is not about costumed characters or stage shows - it's about the thrills. Just removed from a sunny weekend at the park, here is a list of my favorite 10 roller coasters. (For the purposes of this list, I did not consider Wicked Twister to be a bonafide coaster)

10. Top Thrill Dragster - Watching the tree of lights and listening to the engine rev before you soar up 400 feet is great nerve-wracking anticipation. Wish it was more of a complete ride, though. The long lines for such a short experience is what hurts Top Thrill's ranking.

9. Disaster Transport - The first time I rode this, a lot of the special effects still worked. There were sound clips on the ride itself, and the queue made you feel as if you were taking a futuristic journey. But even then, you could tell it was quite dilapidated. Now, cheesy glow paint covers what used to be an interesting place to wait for the ride. And the coaster portion lacks life. I still like the unique "bobsled trains" that detach from the track.

8. Blue Streak - A quick, fun wooden coaster. In my most recent visit, it was a lot shakier than I remembered it. But it still has a lot more character than a certain other wooden coaster known for its teeth rattling.

7. Mantis - I think this ride highlights the wrong experience. You take on Mantis standing up - with a bike seat unceremoniously jammed in your crotch as part of the restraint system. I felt the first plunge, where you speed at the ground feeling helpless, was an awesome thrill. But then, it was loops and flips that did nothing for me. These coasters are built so well and smooth, going upside down is downright comfortable.

6. Iron Dragon - Sure, it's a wuss coaster, but there are a few times you get whipped around that I believe deliver just a hair more thrill than the Mantis.

5. Magnum - It's a bit rough, but I like my roller coasters classic - big hills, big drops. Magnum's one of the tallest, and it has some secondary dips that make it fun. Magnum's sprawl across the side of the park near Lake Erie is a great ride - and the best commercial for Soak City & Challenge Park they could have asked for. You get to really examine all the water slides over there before you take the first drop.

4. Raptor - The hanging aspect is a lot of fun, and delivers a lot of air - literally. The Raptor offers souvenir videos now, taken from a camera located in the next seat. The launch crew are among the funniest in the park on most days. Their spiels are delightfully sarcastic.

3. Gemini - Gemini is not a long ride, even by Cedar Point coaster standards. But the interaction racing with your "opponent" train helps you savor the ride and give you a fuller experience, especially when a playful rivalry develops. I don't think I've ever held my hands up over that drop with the precariously low hanging beam.

2. Millennium Force - I used to be a wuss when it came to the first hill on roller coasters. When my friend's dad gave me no choice but to ride The Force for the first time, I dove headfirst into it and threw my hands up on the first hill. Talk about helpless - when you look at the ground from 300 feet straight up, no lift hill can shock you after that. And after the first one, Millennium Force delivers a bunch more jumps for your airtime dollar. One of the longest rides in the park, and one of the most satisfying.

1. Maverick - I tried desperately to avoid letting the new guy edge out number one. I finally got a chance to ride it this summer, and man...does it deserve it. In a mere couple minutes, you get so many different experiences. When we left the station, I heard something about a "130 degree drop." Before I could figure out what that was, Maverick ZIPPED up the first hill and dropped me underneath where I started. After that it was a delightful whiplash effect, as turns and loops came at me left and right at perfect speed. The tunnel fake-out with another speed boost is also good fun. Maverick seems to be suffering from the same growing pains Top Thrill Dragster had (unsuccessful launches, frequent but brief closures), but hopefully I can hit it up again and again in the future.

And now real quick, a bonus bottom three list:

3. Mean Streak - A giant wooden coaster that you can't tell was only built in the 90s, Mean Streak is truly mean. People know it better for its tendency to make your back and neck hurt than anything else. I developed a strategy for it this summer - ride with your back away from the seat. With the rattling reduced, I noticed something - Mean Streak is pretty boring.

2. Cedar Creek Mine Ride - Nothing says dull like a roller coaster with two climactic lift hills...that clink up and up and up...slowly but surely to top height and THEN!! Don't drop you.

1. Corkscrew - My least favorite. It feels a lot shorter than its clocked 1 minute and 40 second run time. Over its life, Corkscrew has developed Mean Streak syndrome, bouncing your head around in painful fashion.

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