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Cedar Point - Sunday 8/9 TR


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Overview:

I was surfing Cedar Point's website last June and noticed that they were having a 3 Point shooting contest. We don't normally think these type of promotions are noteworthy, but this one was much, much different. The top prize included:

* a suite to a Cleveland Cavaliers game for 18 people

* a Cedar Point VIP tour for four people

The promotion lasted for about three weeks. The qualifiers were announced and culminated with the shootout this time last August. As it turned out, I ended up winning the contest after my opponent in the finals rimmed out his last shot. We took the first part of the prize in December as we saw a game between the Cavs and Jazz. We scheduled the second prize, the Cedar Point VIP tour, for August 9.

The Crew: My brother, my friends Cheryl and Dave, and yours truly

On the Way There:

As many of you know it is peak season up in the Sandusky area, and as such it is very difficult to find any decent hotel rooms for under $100 this time of year, even on discount sites or through AAA. We reasoned that if we're going to pay $200 for two rooms that we'd rather pay a little extra for a room at the Kalahari. We booked a King Lodge room at the Kalahari, and ended up paying $260.

The Kalahari in Sandusky is more like a complex than a hotel. It would probably take you a good 10 minutes to walk from one end of the facility to the other! The room also included tickets to both the indoor and outdoor waterparks. The indoor waterpark is billed as America's largest, and the park truly is immense. You could easily spend a half day at the park and not get bored. The room itself was really nice. The room came equipped with a kitchen (stove, microwave, refrigerator, sink) and had a separate bedroom along with a sofa sleeper that could easily sleep two. There was a nice size living room style space, and we had a balcony that overlooked the outdoor waterpark, a nice touch. The room, from the beds to the living space to the bathrooms were all very clean, and I'd give it an A on that basis alone. The waterparks were just icing on the cake, and I wish we had more time here to explore both waterparks. I would have a harder time paying for a room here with only one or two people, but it's PERFECT for groups traveling in group of three or four, particularly families with small kids who need something to occupy their time in a fun way. Overall grade: A

The Trip:

We arrived at the Cedar Point front gates around 9:55. We stopped in Guest Services and explained we were there for the VIP Tour. Debra from Guest Services explained that we needed to meet our tour guide at the Speed Zone by Top Thrill Dragster. She escorted us to the early entry gate, and we were just getting past the Raptor entrance when they let the GP go at 10. MASSES of people flooded to Raptor and towards Millennium Force and TTD. It was then I truly appreciated the power of early entry every other time I go up there.

We made it back to the Speed Zone around 10:05. We noticed our tour guide, Lena, standing at the front entrance. After we made our introductions we decided the first stop would be Millennium Force.

The VIP Tour comes with three wonderful benefits: front-of-the-line access to all rides, 2 free on-ride photos per person, and reservations for both meals and shows. The only catch to the front-of-the-line access is that once you ride you have to go ride something else before you go back for a re-ride, but I thought this was a more than fair policy.

We made our way past the Millennium Force entrance and noticed the line 15 minutes after park opening was already an hour. I will say that it was very strange to simply walk past the entrance and not get in line. I also realized that we didn't have to wait in that hour long line, so that more than made up for it! We walked up the exit ramp and took the front two rows.

WOW.

MF was absolutely FLYING around the course yesterday. The first drop isn't quite as good from those first two rows but you get the airtime on the two other big hills and that, IMO, is well worth the tradeoff of riding in the back. The first big hill after the overbank we got nice floater air on for the first time since our first ride in 2001. The second big hill, on the return, was just insane. Usually you can get some good floater air on that hill, but the air on the hill today was ejecting you out of your seat. Yes, I said it, ejector air on MF! (KI Man, yes, I can vouch that this is true now!) I still can't believe it a day later. These were, by far, the best MF rides any of us had ever enjoyed. I haven't ridden Bizarro @ SFNE, but that's the only ride I can visualize taking the #1 steel spot away from this ride.

Maverick was running true to form today. I know some people on the boards have mentioned it may have been a little slower in the launch tunnel recently, but we didn't get that today. Dave rode this for the first time today and absolutely loved it, as we all did. The ride is craziness from start to finish, and that first airtime hill is one of the best moments on any ride, anywhere. I have to agree with The Interpreter that the difference between the front and backseat of this ride is gigantic. The ride is world class in the front. It's an average steel coaster in the back. You don't get nearly the amount of air, nor do you get the visuals like you do in the front. Because of that it becomes a much more difficult task to lean into the turns (thus, avoiding headbanging). This is a such a special ride.

Other quick news and notes from the trip:

TTD was up and down all day, so we only got one ride in. I don't think the ride stayed open yesterday for more than 2 hours at a time while were there, and went down three separate times. Lena, our tour guide, said that most of the folks who come on the tour want to ride TTD more than anything else (no surprise), but because of its high profile nature everyone also knows that it's prone to being down a bunch. I wonder if that fact elevates how good this ride is in some people's minds. I will say that our one ride was really, really good.

Magnum was rougher than normal. I must say a big thank you to Tigellinus for the tip to simply tighten your seat belt hard and keep the lap bar relatively loose. It helped IMMENSELY in handling those bunny hills!

We finally got on Iron Dragon, Blue Streak, Disaster Transport and Wildcat for the first time. The first three weren't noteworthy, but Wildcat was a much more fun coaster than it looked! I can only imagine how awesome it would be if the cars were able to run full speed into those drops!

I am probably the biggest fan of Famous Dave's Rich and Sassy sauce out there, so we decided to eat there for lunch. I thought the food here, particularly with what they were charging, was average at best. The best way I can sum this up was to say that the food didn't have nearly as much flavor as I was expecting, and even the sauce couldn't cover that up all the way. The service was OK, the food was OK, and as a whole the restaurant, despite the charming decor, was just OK. Definitely not what I was expecting going in.

The show Signed, Sealed, Delivered was terrific. The girls as a whole sounded more together than the guys, but there was one male performer who had a recording studio quality voice. I can't remember his name offhand, but if you see the show you'll immediately know who it is. I highly recommend this show, and I'm usually not much of a show guy!

Summary:

The VIP tour was truly awesome. Lena was terrific as a tour guide and really let us control the show, making recommendations when requested of her and simply leading us to the rides when we were in full ride mode. The time went by really, really quickly, but at the end of the day I think we all agreed we had gotten a ton out of the day and had more than our fill of rides.

We were talking about whether or not we'd actually pony up the $375 per person ourselves and do the trip. Everyone is different, but we probably wouldn't do it again simply because (1) we live close enough here in Cincinnati where we can go enough during the season, and more importantly, (2) we know that we can go during times of the year when crowds will be much more manageable. The main perk of the VIP tour is the front-of-the-line access, but when you can get on MF and TTD early and late in the season with 15 minute waits or less it really doesn't make too much of a difference in terms of how many rides you can get in doing it yourself during those deader times vs. the VIP tour, thereby negating the VIP tours main benefit. The VIP tour is useful if (1) you live far enough away that you can't get to CP on a regular basis, (2) if you only have one day to do the park and absolutely want to make sure you can hit everything you want to hit, (3) if you have to do the park during peak season and most importantly, (4) if you have $375 per person in discretionary income. It looks like the price point wasn't discouraging too many people, because they had booked their allotment of 5 VIP tours per day for the last few weeks leading up to yesterday.

Thanks for reading!

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Way to go shooter.

Sounds like you had a great day. I am doing the Coasting for kids event with a first prize of 4 VIP tickets. Unfortunately I am currently in 2nd place as to fund raising.

BTW the link for pledges is in my sig.

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Great trip report, as per usual. And, in fairness to Cedar Fair, I feel I must add it has been my recent experience that Famous Dave's quality has slipped of late in their establishments outside the park. What once was at least average has now declined to mediocre, and I spend my nickels elsewhere. . .

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The VIP tour is useful if (1) you live far enough away that you can't get to CP on a regular basis, (2) if you only have one day to do the park and absolutely want to make sure you can hit everything you want to hit, (3) if you have to do the park during peak season and most importantly, (4) if you have $375 per person in discretionary income.

Or you have a "celebrity" girlfriend who refuses to wait in a line. (not that I do) I did the VIP in 07 and again this year and was really disappointed!! KI's VIP was fabulous, but at CP I didn't get my way like I did in 07...and still no executive bathrooms either!! ;)

Magnum was rougher than normal. I must say a big thank you to Tigellinus for the tip to simply tighten your seat belt hard and keep the lap bar relatively loose. It helped IMMENSELY in handling those bunny hills!

Haha! That's option A.! Option B. is keep both the lap bar and seat belt loose and hold the lap bar palms up to use the back of your hands as shock absorbers. To this day I've never had any leg bruising or pain, and I virtually fly out of the train on the bunny hills! Of course, Magnum opened when I was 7 years old, so who really knows the "right way" to ride! :lol:

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Great TR except I must respectfully disagree with you about Blue Streak not being a noteworthy coaster. In my opinion, one of the most under-rated woodies with great airtime. Just my opinion.

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WHAT! LOL. I'm gonna have to head up there again! Gary, sounds like you had the perfect day to skip lines; as even the Wednesday I went...yeah, 100-120 minute waits for nearly everything. Seven rides in Nine hours isn't good. But it's not bad. Blah.

Great report, I've always wondered how nice those VIP tours are.

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Great TR except I must respectfully disagree with you about Blue Streak not being a noteworthy coaster. In my opinion, one of the most under-rated woodies with great airtime. Just my opinion.

I agree. I always say that a coaster doesn't have to be the tallest or the fastest to be great. I always get air on that thing, it's in my top 5 woodies. So many people walk right by Old Blue because it sits in Raptor's shadow.. it's sad.

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WHAT! LOL. I'm gonna have to head up there again! Gary, sounds like you had the perfect day to skip lines; as even the Wednesday I went...yeah, 100-120 minute waits for nearly everything. Seven rides in Nine hours isn't good. But it's not bad. Blah.

Great report, I've always wondered how nice those VIP tours are.

Yeah, crowd levels were right around where this would have been the case on Sunday as well. Maverick was 1 1/2 hours every time we walked by, MF was around 75 minutes and TTD was right around an hour, when it was operating. Raptor was 1 1/2 hours around 1 but was around 20 minutes by the time we left the park at 7. If attendance is down at the park you definitely wouldn't know it from the crowds recently!

Great TR except I must respectfully disagree with you about Blue Streak not being a noteworthy coaster. In my opinion, one of the most under-rated woodies with great airtime. Just my opinion.

I agree. I always say that a coaster doesn't have to be the tallest or the fastest to be great. I always get air on that thing, it's in my top 5 woodies. So many people walk right by Old Blue because it sits in Raptor's shadow.. it's sad.

I'm guessing this is more of a front seat ride? We rode in the back seat and got one pop of air on the way out and nothing on the way back. It looked like there might be some opportunity for air up front, but based on our ride trying that front seat would be the only reason I'd get on it again.

On a sidenote, I really think a good wooden coaster by GCI or Gravity Group would do the park wonders. My only issue with a GCI would be capacity, but a GCI twister, particularly near the beach, would be terrific. It seems as though most folks in the GP who've only been to KI and CP aren't big fans of the wooden coasters because of the reputation they have (Mean Streak and SOB come immediately to mind). I know I didn't particularly "get" why enthusiasts loved a good wooden coaster until I stepped foot on Thunderhead, Voyage, Raven, Legend and El Toro. I get it now, and I'm betting the GP would too if they installed a good one.

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We did ride front seat on TTD. I've generally found that Intamin coasters tend to be front seat rides, and TTD is no exception. There is NOTHING like riding in the front seat of this ride and having the wind hit you in the face at 120 mph. I generally won't wait for the front seat on normal visits, but the rush I get on that ride, and in the front seat in particular, is without equal.

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Great TR except I must respectfully disagree with you about Blue Streak not being a noteworthy coaster. In my opinion, one of the most under-rated woodies with great airtime. Just my opinion.

I agree. I always say that a coaster doesn't have to be the tallest or the fastest to be great. I always get air on that thing, it's in my top 5 woodies. So many people walk right by Old Blue because it sits in Raptor's shadow.. it's sad.

I'm guessing this is more of a front seat ride? We rode in the back seat and got one pop of air on the way out and nothing on the way back. It looked like there might be some opportunity for air up front, but based on our ride trying that front seat would be the only reason I'd get on it again.

I disagree with you on that statement, you must have had a slow track on your ride. The back is where one gets the most airtime on Blue Streak IMO, try riding it at night when the track has cooled off, or after a rain shower. You will be flying out of your seat.

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Nice TR. You've made me want to pony up the $375 for the VIP tour, lol. I can dream can't I? When I was at CP on July 15th, I walked right past Tony Stewart as I was walking down the exit of Magnum and he was walking towards the ride. I beleive he had the VIP tour lol.

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We did ride front seat on TTD. I've generally found that Intamin coasters tend to be front seat rides, and TTD is no exception. There is NOTHING like riding in the front seat of this ride and having the wind hit you in the face at 120 mph. I generally won't wait for the front seat on normal visits, but the rush I get on that ride, and in the front seat in particular, is without equal.
yeah,and nothing beats bugs in your face at 120 mph.That was crazy but well worth the wait for a front seat ride.
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^Count me as someone who's never gotten hit by a bug on TTD on over 100 rides...of course, the number of night time rides is probably barely double-digits, so maybe that's why, BUT I do have a lot of Kingda Ka night rides with 0 bug encounters (of course, maybe it's the Lake that's causing the bugs!, haha)

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