USA 06/22 – Cedar Point + Waldameer

Forgot to end day 13 on some hotel comedy, so I’ll fill the gap now. We arrived, wrecked from 14 hours of Cedar Point to a man at the reception desk who was barely functioning himself. He was staring into the middle distance at all times and taking long pauses between the most basic of tasks. While vaguely going on about the fact that they didn’t have any rooms left, he kept muttering “house full”, without ever directly asking us to leave. Well that’s no use to us, we’ve been booked for months. Suddenly a radical idea came to him. “I have one room!” Not liking where this is headed, but go on…

For some reason this room came with the feature that we were not allowed to keep the key, but we could lock it from the inside. He assured us that “no crime happens in this area” and bade us good night. The room wasn’t exactly clean, in fact the indentations in the pillows and bedsheets made it look like they had been recently slept on and not changed since. Half a box of fancy chocolates from the 1980s was abandoned on a table and the bathroom was, in a word, compromised. Had there been an ounce of energy left in us, particularly when it came to our ongoing fight with hotels, we probably would have bailed at this point, but dare I say it wasn’t the worst place we stayed during the trip.

Having cleaned up the best we could and barricaded the door from the inside with a combination of luggage and tables, to give us the longest possible reaction time should the area experience its first crime, sleep came all too easily and that’s all you really need from a place. He was still there the following morning, and in no better state. At least we were.

Day 14 – Cedar Point

Day 2 here began much the same. Coaster con was still a thing and ACE were getting their fill of Maverick, which was unfortunate as it provided more opportunities for it to break down. As we had once again failed to complete another mega park in a single day, the absent #1 Valravn was the first target for our platinum pass early ride time, as originally planned.

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So we joined the other early risers in a small line outside the entrance and then proceeded to walk the queue and straight onto it.

Oh dear. I was slightly more optimistic about this one, realising that it has less substantial trains and expecting something a bit more whippy like my preferred dive coasters. Instead it had the worst combination of all. The sluggishness of the biggest of these and the roughness of I don’t know what, an early ‘90s B&M mixed with the wobble in the outside row of a wing coaster. Whatever it was it wasn’t pleasant and turned the ride into nothing more than an endurance, which to be fair to the rest of these, they’re usually a good little sit down. Worst dive in the world then, Rougarou has company.

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To make the most of the ERT we fancied one more lap on Millennium Force, more out of respect than anything else. It didn’t want our respect however as the train two before we were due to board shut itself down at the bottom of the cable lift.

They were pulling the same Maverick nonsense straight away though, pressing two sequential breakdown announcement buttons that said to the station ‘shouldn’t be too long folks, hang on tight’ and to the train on the lift ‘an attendant will be with you shortly, hang on tight’.

Fun fact, this ride doesn’t have the traditional stairs of a lift hill and instead has a little purpose built stair lift, so evacuation/assistance is decidedly not quick. So, which of those two is it? The actual staff advice was just as general and misleading, so we ended up bailing through the secret stairs at the other end of the station. From here we got to witness an engineer staring at an Intamin cable, cursing their very name and the early beginnings of a 36 person, 1 at a time, fully harnessed evacuation. Spoiler – it didn’t reopen for several hours, not that they thought that this would be useful information for their guests.

Oh, and we then got shouted at by more staff saying we shouldn’t be where we were, having just been told to be where we were by the ride staff. Back to this vibe then are we?

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Following that failure it was time to line up outside Maverick as it clearly needed some more of our attention. It had built up quite a bit by this point, but any queue was going to be better than what we had experienced before. Even first thing in the morning, without the cover of darkness, it confirmed my suspicions. It kicks ass.

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Speaking of which, Steel Vengeance. It’s so good, but I promised some further thoughts so I’ll see if I can make sense of it in this format.

Pros:
Goes on for days
Great variety of elements
Layout is hard to read
Full of surprises

Cons:
Lacks a real good standout moment
None of the inversions are particularly special
Never overly intense

It’s that last one that really seals the deal for me in terms of this not being my favourite RMC to date. The best of what I like in those that I prefer offer some moments of ridiculous intensity to the point of discomfort, and that’s one of the things I personally look for in my RMCs. It’s especially prominent in the mornings but even on those nighttime rides the airtime moments have this consistent joyous level of impact that never quite border on the absurd.

All the big boys are easily amongst the best in the world however, with basically nothing between them. Steel Vengeance will be landing comfortably in amongst the pack.

On the subject of comfort, there was nothing comfortable about having to walk all the way back through the concrete and rides over to #4 Raptor in order to finish the park, even with Maverick and Magnum earning another courtesy lap to break up the flow.

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But at least it was running. How was the ride? Meh. Walygator was always going to win this one. Park complete.

Perhaps in knowing that we had to leave at some point, the magic of Cedar Point was lost again on the second day. When everything is said and done I can boil the place down to 2 rides I really care about, and as they’re the ones that consistently attract a 90 minute queue it’s a struggle for me to stick that out for too long without some sort of end game in sight. The lack of variety in the lineup really hurts this as well. The setting had less of an impact on me than I had expected to, all the rides are just a bit plonked apart from each other so there’s not much in the way of notable interaction going on and I figure I’ll take a magic mountain over a lake any day.

Time to hit the road.

Waldameer

For some reason this place doesn’t appear to push the fact that it’s anything more than a water park on arrival. I was expecting #3 Ravine Flyer II + some other things and instead couldn’t even tell if we were in the right place had we not accidentally driven under the legendary rollercoaster bridge.

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There it is. We jumped straight on the main event in the hopes that it could finally break the Gravity based curse of this trip. Well it was the strongest yet, a finer balance of intensity, aggression and pacing, but not quite the gamechanger I was looking for.

The first drop had a great kick, at last, along with some accompanying twist and surprising positives, making it a much stronger start than we had grown accustomed to. This is backed up immediately by the first hill over the bridge, which gives some serious and sustained airtime. We’re out of the gate hot.

Things stay pretty wild into the turnaround, which gives you another quick view of the madness before chucking you back over the bridge with equally amazing force. Two more hills hit hard immediately after, bouncing in and out of tunnels with all the bluster I wanted out of the Voyage.

Sadly from here it again becomes a victim of it’s own terrain and enters a sequence that’s simply good, not great, and never lives up to that which came before. I like the fast laterals in the turn as it drops off the side of the hill one more time, but the remaining airtime moments just don’t land the same. I’m a fan but, already being a fan, I wanted more.

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Creds. I haven’t talked about the weather for a long time. It was too hot for this sort of thing, especially riding #4 Whirlwind.

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And #5 Steel Dragon, complete with dreaded Adventureland flashbacks.

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Finally got our fill of E&F Miler on #6 Ravine Flyer 3 though, been turned down for far too long.

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The wrong #7 Comet was a fun little thing. I tried the Zach’s Zoomer side saddle technique again, with entertaining results. Better than the Boss.

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Time to see how long we can last on Ravine Flyer II. Well, thanks to slow, one train operations and a certain ‘incident’, not long enough. The staffing here was at times questionable and stories need to be told.
While standing at the station turnstyle prior to our third lap, a child decided to push past in an attempt to not throw up over anyone and then proceeded to make said mess just off to the side of the platform. The near-side attendant reacted with huge incredulity, apparently this had already happened once today and there was no way they were dealing with it again, threatening to walk out on the job. After making a right hash of not checking whether the child was ok, failing to then let him out of the station in the quickest way possible and subsequently not unloading the train properly, this overplayed work attitude led to both fits of laughter from the other attendant and stark silence from the operator.

All guest presence was entirely ignored for the following 10-15 minutes while the drama played out and it was decided amongst themselves that they would call for backup. A lone recorded announcement was initiated at this point, the standard ‘stand back from the air gates’ spiel. Hearing this, having not been told a thing, with the mess not being in the ride area, us being at the very front of the queue and seeing that only 1 of the 12 air gates were filled by a man and his daughter, who were also being ignored, I figured it was fine to take matters into my own hands and fill some air gates.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! YOU CAN’T DO THAT”, the aggressive screams come from the guy who wants to quit his job. It appeared that the turnstyle should have been locked at this point in the procedure, but wasn’t, and I had just highlighted that fact. As the cleanup team arrived (it was literally written on their shirts), he attempted to discretely wander over and lock the turnstyle again without anyone noticing. The cleanup team weren’t impressed at the various protests of this particular job not being in the attendant’s job description, as no doubt it was.

Well they were here now, and rather than soak this up, they were just going to jet wash it into the rest of the queue below, so they indicated that he’d better evacuate the line for us. The attendant comes over to the front of the queue and starts shouting again that we all need to leave, with no explanation. This was hilariously met with overwhelming defiance and/or confusion. Only the first half dozen of us had even seen what was going on in the first place, after half an hour of not moving, so a scattering of simple ‘why?’s and ‘no’s were of course the only appropriate response. No one wanted to leave.

Eventually word got around by means of the guests themselves, not the staff, and we all shuffled out in despair at the situation, with many a colourful phrase being thrown back at the station by some older gentlemen. The poor man and his daughter were still in the station, being ignored, of course. Not wanting to fully leave the queue and lose our place for when they inevitably reopened, we camped out in a safe spot far from the impending jet wash and waited it out.

Some time later, with the only announcement being the guy and his daughter waving at us to indicate that all was well, we finally made it into those air gates. The legendary attendant was gone, I assume never to be seen again, and we were collectively called heroes for ‘putting up with that’, as we boarded.

And you’ve probably put up with enough tales for one day.

Day 15

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