If you can’t find a way to go to Cedar Point during dead week, Memorial Day Weekend has proven to be a great time to head to Cedar Point and find moderate attendance and lighter lines. In the past four years I’ve spent 3 Memorial Day weekends at the park, and have had a great time on each visit. Even with the long drive from North Carolina to Sandusky, the trip is worth it to visit America’s Roller Coast, and having followed the transformation of Mean Streak into Steel Vengeance over the last 2 years, I was determined to get to the park this year to ride. My friends Isaac and Blake joined in, and on Friday morning we headed north.
Isaac found a nice AirBnB about 30 minutes south of the park and, after stopping off there to drop off our stuff and freshen up, we made our way onto the peninsula. We parked in the Cedar Point Shores parking lot since the Magnum lot was closed, and headed in to meet up with Bryan Bird. After introductions and salutations, we walked towards Dragster, which was testing after being closed. The line opened as we walked by, so we quickly got into the queue as the wait wouldn’t be this short all weekend most likely.
Dragster is always a great experience, even if it isn’t a great coaster. We waited about 35 minutes or so to ride near the back of the train. Dragster always makes me anxious because of that launch. This was Blake’s first time at the park and first time on anything like this. As always, the launch was super fast and intense and I really still like Dragster as a ride. This was our only ride all weekend because it was being cranky both days.
Sunday morning I woke up to breakfast at the Kern’s home in Hudson, OH. And it was really great. I sat and talked to Isaac and his parents for a bit. His mom loves coasters and loved Kennywood so she was excited for our trip. Around 11 AM we headed a couple hours north to Erie, PA for Waldameer which is one of my favorite smaller parks and, surprisingly, one I’ve visited several times in the last few years since my first visit in 2013.
Arriving around 1 PM we were there just after the park finished it’s rolling opening where the rides open in phases about every 30 minutes or so. And our first stop, if I recall correctly, was Ravine Flyer II. I cannot say enough good things about RF2. The line wasn’t long and it was running great. This coaster is near perfection and the reason I keep getting called back to Erie. This coaster is in my top 10 for wooden coasters. The airtime! The view at the top! The first drop! The hills over the road!
Next we headed over to the Wacky Shack then to Pirate’s Cove. As we were heading over to ride Steel Dragon, my friend Bryan sent a text to let me know that Kennywood, which was to be our second destination for the day, had closed due to weather. Bummer. So we had to discuss what we wanted to do and regroup. Part of this trip was going to be my first trip to Idlewild the next day, which I was really looking forward to, but they closed at 8 PM, and we wouldn’t get there in time to really enjoy the park. We decided, since Isaac hadn’t been to Kennywood in forever and my time the previous year there was cut short, that we would instead stay at Waldameer for most of the day before heading out to Pittsburgh, and then doing Kennywood on Monday before heading home, forgoing Idlewild and not visiting Kennywood at nite.
This was good in that I never get to spend a lot of time at Waldameer, so we headed to Steel Dragon for a spin. Then we rode the drop tower before heading out of the park for lunch. Bryan had recommended Sarah’s, a burger joint just down the road from Waldameer. I’m glad he did. Isaac had eaten there before but forgot about it. The burgers were really good and worth the trip. Then we headed over on to Presque Isle for a bit before returning to the park. We rode Comet again, then Steel Dragon with the second time way better and way spinnier. Then we rode the the Mega Vortex (Disk-O), the Train, the Ferris Wheel, the Sky Ride, the Log flume for my first time, and I REALLY loved the log flume! Finally we headed back to ride Ravine Flyer several more times. I even ate most of a whoopee pie.
There’s so much to do at the park and we really enjoyed ourselves. I like Waldameer and wish there was a similar park closer to me. In fact, I wish someone would turn Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, NC in to a park like this, but alas that will likely never happen. We headed out and stopped at some meh ‘pub’ on the way to Pittsburg before checking in to our hotel and out in the city for the night.
Another year, another Memorial Day trip to Cedar Point. I’m not quite sure how this became an annual thing, and I hadn’t planned on going in 2017, but here it was. My friend Isaac and I left North Carolina on Friday and headed Sandusky, OH. He hadn’t been in many years, but used to work at the park and was excited to return. We arrived in Huron and checked into our room around 7:30 PM, then headed over to the park. Our first stop was Magnum.
Magnum is still one of my favorite coasters. On my previous visit the year before, at the end of the nite I finally got Magnum rides in the dark with the trims off. I’d never experienced that before. But…our first ride of this trip was fairly dark and trimless in the infamous seat 1-3. The ride is brutal, but so much fun. I don’t expect trimless rides, but I’m glad when I get them. We met up with Josh Wozny at the exit and made our way over towards Valravn. After a really great ride on Blue Streak near the back we met up with his girls and got in line for Valravn.
Valravn–This ended up being our only ride on the coaster for the whole weekend, and it was only a 30 minute wait. I was somewhat vocal on how ‘meh’ I felt about this addition. Honestly, I was more excited about the fact that the park was revamping the entrance and area around the ride. I’d ridden Griffon a few weeks prior. So how was Valravn? It was fun. We sat in the second row and I can say that it is probably the most forceful of the 3 US dive coasters I’d ridden. The zero G roll was really good, and you get great views of the park from the top of the lift. Its the best layout for a dive coaster I’d ridden, and its obviously a great addition to the park. But for me, I’m still ‘meh’ about the coaster. I think the renovation of the area around it looks great.
After Valravn we headed back to the hotel. The next morning we woke up and headed to the park, arriving as they were letting in Season Pass holders. After the National Anthem we headed in to Gatekeeper first. I’m not sure why people don’t care for that ride. I think it’s a fun coaster. It was a one train wait for the front on the right side. Isaac really liked it. So then we went and rode towards the middle of the left side. We actually stopped about half way up the lift on our first ride.
Next up we walked back to see what else had opened and rode Millennium Force, which was Isaac’s 3rd giga coaster in about a month. We got the second row with minimal wait. The ride was running slightly rougher than I’d seen in the past, but still very fun.
Cedar Point was really fairly dead. We wanted to ride Gemini but it hadn’t open yet. Actually, most of the rides in the park were up and down all day. I will say, I loved the new app with waiting times. Very useful. We ended up riding Maverick instead. I always like Maverick. The ride is almost perfect.
Up next we rode Mean Streak, then Sky Hawk which I had not ridden in a few years as it was down every time I was there. Then we headed to a short wait for Dragster. I’d never seen such a short wait for this ride outside of ERT before, but TTD never had more than about a 30 minute wait all day. Next we rode the shot side of Power tower, then over to Rougaru. It is actually one of the better floorless coasters, which is funny since it was such a terrible stand-up coaster. Isaac was excited about this one because he hadn’t liked Mantis very much.
Heading out of the park for lunch, we walked over to Breakers to search for a place to eat which we readily found at TGIFridays. My burger and drink were good and it was nice to take a break and hang out for a bit outside of the park. I really do need to head up to CP for a weekend at the Breakers in the next couple of years, as what they’ve done with it is just amazing.
We walked along the beach and went over to the shore for a bit before heading in to ride Windseeker. Next up was Wicked Twister, which, while I was able to ride this time last year, I was denied on this year. Hey, that’s what happens when you sit around post surgery and eat. Following Isaac’s ride we headed to MaxAir which, up until this trip, had been my favorite swinging pendulum ride. It is still amazing, and placed wonderfully in the park. We headed back out of the park for a while again for some downtime which was a nice chance to chill, and before long a storm rolled in off the lake. After the storm passed we headed back into the park for more riding.
Raptor was up next but then the rain came back. We headed to my car and drove back around to Breakers again where we went and had some drinks until the downpour finally stopped and we went back into the park. We found out that the Brews & BBQ event was cancelled, which was a bummer because that was going to be our dinner. Oh well. We did eventually get to ride Raptor, and had dinner at Famous Daves before going back in and hitting up Gemini, Iron Dragon, and then TTD again.
It was getting late, so we were trying to decide on a last ride. But every time we chose something, it seemed to close. Valravn had another short wait, but the ride went down just as we got in line. We opted for a night ride on Millennium Force instead. Once the park was closed we headed back out and left Sandusky for Isaac’s parent’s house for the night.
Sunday morning we woke up, quickly got ready, and left the motel in Sandusky as soon as we could. It was really terrible. So we headed off on a trip I felt I’d just made not long before to Waldameer, thru Cleveland and back up to Lake Erie. Waldameer was going thru a transformation, and had a new front gate and they were also beefing up their already quaint looking (and popular, it would seem) water park. The new front entrance was nice. I wish there was something like Waldameer somewhere in North Carolina. It’s charming, it has lots of quirky stuff. It’s affordable family fun, and it’s just a great little park.
Heading over to see what was already open as the park does a rolling opening we rode the drop tower first. I actually like the fact that you drop as soon as you hit the top, and you don’t know when that will be. Plus you get amazing views, and the last time I was there it was gloomy and overcast. After that we went through the haunted house, Wacky Shack. I had done this last time, so I knew what it was all about, but it was neat to see the look on Doug’s face when it was all over. I wasn’t going to miss doing Pirate’s Cove this time, since it came so highly recommended by EVERYBODY last time. I just thought it was a small kiddy funhouse and didn’t bother; it hadn’t opened yet so we went over to our first coaster of the day, Ravine Flyer II.
Ravine Flyer II–I absolutely love Ravine Flyer and it was moving faster than the last time I was there. I don’t quite know why they weren’t filling both trains, they most definitely had enough in line to do so, but whatever. We rode near the front of the train for the first ride. I love the first drop, and man, those hills over the road kill it for me. They have amazing airtime and I love them. Hopping around on the other side of the road and back is a lot of fun and this time there was sustained speed even thru to the end. This ride really ranks high for me, and I didn’t expect to be back so soon to ride it, but again, I’m so grateful to have been able to make the trip. Over the course of the day we rode at least 2 or 3 more times.
I woke up early on Saturday morning. It was still very overcast and misty. I left Cleveland going north east, and after less than 90 minutes I was at Waldameer. That Sirius XM had a Daft Punk special on made the drive go by even faster. I got to the park and it immediately reminded me of a nicer Camden Park. It was very quaint. I got there around 11:00 AM, but the park didn’t actually ‘open’ until noon, and then they do the rolling open where rides open in phases through 1 PM. After buying my wrist band the lady at the gate noticed my nifty Gatekeeper jacket and asked how I liked it. I ran in to some other coaster geeks in the park throughout the morning, all very nice.
The first hour I spent wandering around the park, taking some bad photos since the lighting was terrible, and sat down for a bit. The park was very quaint, and the employees were very friendly. I’d love to have a park this size close to me for convenient evening coaster riding. And right at noon, the National Anthem played and some rides opened. My first ride was the Wacky Shack dark ride. It was really a lot of fun. Again, it reminded me a lot of Camden Park There were some decent flat rides, but I didn’t feel like spinning a lot during the day. I rode the chair lift across the park and took more pictures. I wanted to ride the Mega Disc-O, but decided to skip it. Besides, there was one at my next destination, Kennywood, right? (Insert ominous tone here) So after getting back around to the end of the ride I headed to the Comet, the park’s smaller wooden coaster.
Comet–This was a lot of fun. I was in the 2 row. There was nice light floater air over the various hills. You turn and go up the lift hill and the first drop, while not very large, was fun. And there were plenty of hills. Plus the setting is very nice running thru the trees.
I went and got in line for the drop tower next, which was very good. It drops you as soon as you hit the top, and you don’t stop till very near the bottom. Then, finally, I walked over and waited till Ravine Flyer 2’s queue opened. There was about a train’s worth of people in front of me. When I did finally get in the station, I opted for the front.
Ravine Flyer 2–This coaster was really amazing and packed such a punch for a smaller wooden coaster. The first drop had beautiful views of Lake Erie, and then it’s airtime over the bridge, amazing airtime on the turnaround section, more airtime back over the bridge, airtime up and down, then a slower 90 degree turn that was odd, and then you dive back in the ravine, then up and into the brake run. It was non-stop. I immediately got on closer to the back and it was even more insane.
After riding RF2 a couple of times I went over to Steel Dragon. It spins, so I didn’t know how I’d like it. I was in line for a bit, but the park just wasn’t that crowded, so it was ok.
Steel Dragon–I set on one side while 2 smaller adult brothers were on the other side. I went up the hill backwards. The first drop was really amazing. We got some decent spinnage when we hit the release for the car. This was my first of this type of spinner, and it was definitely better than the Gerstlauer spinners and the spinning mice I’d ridden. Highly enjoyable. I’m not sure why more parks, big and small, don’t have one of these.
I went back over to Ravine Flyer 2 for some more backseat rides. This was going to rank highly for me. It was smooth, fast, and chock full of airtime. I toyed with another Comet ride, but I wanted to get to Pittsburgh. I was going to stop by Conneaut on the way, but I didn’t have cell service, so I couldn’t call to see if Blue Streak had opened, as they were re-tracking it. I probably should have just stopped. I did get to my hotel near Pittsburgh around 4:30. Craig and kids were at Kennywood and they said it was packed, Phantom was down, and so I decided to wait till Sunday morning to go instead. I went to bed around 5 PM and didn’t wake up till the next morning. Side note, the Sheraton in Coraopolis was very nice for $53 a nite.
On Sunday I wanted to go to Kennywood a couple of hours and the head home, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. When I went to get gas, my debit card wouldn’t allow me to make any purchases. I had moved money from my checking to my savings. Nothing recognized the savings account. No ATM, no store, no nothing. And the stupid number on the card was all automated and there was no one to talk to.
Eventually, I had to drive all the way to WV, about 70 miles, to a BB&T ATM, as there were none in Pennsylvania, just to get the correct number to call and get it straightened out. Apparently at some point, BB&T didn’t have my savings account attached to my debit card. I toyed with going back to Kennywood, but I was about 90 minutes away at this point, and I was on my way home. And I really needed some quality Phantom time.
So that was that. I arrived home around 7:30 and uploaded my pictures. I missed out on 2 parks during the weekend, but in the end, I still had a great get away.
John decided to go in to work late Tuesday morning. After I woke up I got ready and headed out, thanking him for putting me up for the nite. It was about a 50 minute drive to Cedar Point and I needed to stop by a store to get some ginger pills and more disposable cameras, since I didn’t have a digital camera on this trip. I arrived at Cedar Point around 11 AM and headed back to the Gemini parking lot and thru the Magnum gate. Upon getting into Sandusky, though, it had started to sprinkle a bit, and there were calls for a 70% chance of thunder storms all day.
I looked at the Dragster line and decided to skip since it was just a bit longer than I’d wanted to wait. I instead went to Power Tower to ride the Power Drop side. As I’d said previously, I wasn’t overly impressed the nite before with the Power Shot side, so how would this one be?
Power Tower-Wow! The drop side had a longer line because its better! I wasn’t expecting much. I don’t know why the S&S Towers don’t scare me like the Intamin towers. And that drop was really good. Not better than an Intamin, but just as good as Supreme Scream at Knott’s. I liked it. Plus there is some decent airtime on the bouncing after the drop.
My drive from Geauga Lake to Cedar Point was much easier than 2004. I didn’t get lost and was more familiar with the route. Cedar Point came in to view in the distance when I wasn’t expecting it, and I got excited. I passed by my turn not realizing it, turned around, and and headed to the causeway. Driving down the causeway, I always have a National Lampoons moment seeing the exaggerated skyline. Oh, and that hump on the causeway over the water still provides some great air. I missed that.
I made sure to get a park map, unlike on my previous visit. I skipped parking in the main parking lot and went around to the Gemini lot. I wish I’d known about on my previous visit as it is close to a back entrance. I parked, got my stuff, and headed for the Magnum Gate. I’d heard recently that having another park pass causes issues at this gate, but I didn’t have any problems. I just went inside at the ticket booth, they looked at the pass, typed in the number, had me sign and mark which park it was from, and then let me in. No worries & no wait.
After I made it inside I decided to check the line for Top Thrill Dragster. This was my first ride on my last trip, and I know how lines for it can be, so I wanted to ride it early if I got the chance. I stopped by the gift shop and purchased a $2 strap for my glasses as I couldn’t find the one I’d purchased on my last visit. Dragster was launching consistently and the line looked to be an hour or less, so I got in line.