This past weekend I got to head down to Sandusky to help celebrate Gwen and Rob’s impending nuptials by spending the day at Cedar Point. For those of you who don’t know about Cedar Point (all 1 of you), it’s a little piece of awesome stuck in northern Ohio where the world’s greatest roller-coasters all get together and hang out all summer. I’m a roller-coaster fan, so me and Cedar Point get along quite well. I used to go pretty much every year, but I hadn’t been there in a few years, and thus there were a number of rides I was looking forward to trying for the first time: Millennium Force, the Wicked Twister, and the Top Thrill Dragster.
Rachel and I headed down early Saturday morning, and made it to the park just in time to arrive in the middle of a nasty, cold, drizzly, gray, ugly day. We met up with Randy, Erin, and David, and got in line for the Raptor, just in time for it to break down, stranding passengers at the top of the first hill. Those poor souls stayed stuck for at least 15 minutes while getting rained on and frostbitten by some bitter winds. We left that line and headed out to the Blue Streak. Rachel and I were both fairly tired, and as such the disorienting nature of the roller-coasters were somewhat amplified. It was kinda kewl. After that, Rachel and I headed back to the Raptor, which was back up and running. All these rides I had done before.. and while I’m a fan (of the Raptor in particular) I was looking for those new rides… so we headed to the Millennium Force.
The Millennium Force is taller than the Statue of Liberty. That’s really tall. After about an hour long wait in line (we passed the time by playing the alphabet game, and I totally wasted her.. though she may claim differently. [She’s a liar]… (Totally Wasted Her –> I was able to pull out a cheap, self-declared victory based on a technicality and some clever word play.). Eventually we make it to the front of the line… and I was jazzed.
I’ve talked about “The Fear” a few times before, and it can be applied to the whole roller-coaster world fairly easily. It’s that feeling you get before getting on a ride for the first time… That cold line that runs throughout your body telling you that what you are about to do is foolish, and will result either in your own death, or [perhaps more likely] in you soiling yourself. It’s this kind of fear that I like. (the fear part, not the possible result… there’s got to be a pretty clear distinction between the two) As such, once you’ve been on a ride, that fear goes away. The second time you ride a ride, that fear is pretty much gone, I’d say. The problem comes when you no longer get that fear at all… and I was a bit afraid that for me, a Roller-coaster related fear was forever dead. As we approached the Millennium Force, I felt nothing but the giddy joy of knowing that I would soon get to sit down after standing for a long, long time, and the usual joy in what would surely be a fun ride, but there was no fear. We decided to sit at the very back, as it goes the fastest, and there’s no pause at the top of the hill. Here’s where the ride’s major flaw became instantly apparent.
First, a little background information. This represents your typical male human:
Now, note the section within the red circle. Throughout a man’s life, the number one priority is to protect that region there. Areas outside of this circle, while important, are ultimately expendable in comparison to the red circle region. There is no calling higher than to protect the red circle region. This can not be stressed enough.
With this in mind, I give to you the restraint system employed by the Millennium Force:
A quick check will point out a serious problem:
As you can see, this restraint system violated the red circle area quite egregiously. Then stop to ponder the thought that this bar, slammed firmly into place by the sadistic staff of this particular ride and consequently pinning your prized possessions squarely beneath its unforgiving steel, is now the force holding your entire body inside the car as it speeds along at more than 90 Miles and hour and drops from 310 feet at an 80 degree angle. As the ride ended, the two guys behind me and I, through high pitched sobs, shared the names we’d have given our children if fate hadn’t so mercilessly robbed us of any reproductive ability just seconds earlier.
So besides the castration, that ride was a-w-e-s-o-m-e!
After that, Rachel and I rode the Mean Streak, the Gemini, and the Magnum XL200 (which continues to be one of my favorites). Throughout this whole time, neither the Dragster nor the Wicked Twister was running at all. The rain had stopped, and occasionally the sun even peaked its head out to say hello. After some time, and a few more rides, Rachel had to take off, and I went to meet up with Lindsay, Josh, Randy, Erin, and David. On the way, I noticed that there was a long line leading to the Dragster. Rachel and I had seen them testing it a bit earlier, but when a person asked, they said they didn’t know how long it’d be before they let people on it, if they would at all that day. [The Wicked Twister stayed unattended all day, and never ran.] I found the group at the Mean Streak [well, truth be told, I fell asleep at the exit to the Mean Streak, and when they were done with the ride,they found me.] From there we rode the Gemini, then the Iron Dragon, then decided to head off to the Dragster.
The wait was said to be about 2 hours. I did not have a problem with that. I was very excited. The ride itself was only about 30 seconds long, but it just looked so impressive, and so sweet, that I was quite eager to give it a go. Seriously, just look at this thing:
So we got in line… and it was a long line..We passed the time by playing the alphabet game, and then 20 questions… an it was a lot of fun. I really like playing games, as anyone whose spent any time with me (particularly when traveling or forced to wait) will attest to. I had them pretty well stumped with “Santa Claus”, but out of the blue, David guessed it. So slowly we made it through the line, and all was well. Then, out of the blue, the cars didn’t make the hill… From what I have heard and read, they’ve been having all sorts of problems with the ride, and often it won’t make it all the way over (so they have to pull it back, and try again.. which is time consuming..) So when this one didn’t make it over, the crowd let out a collective groan, and then came the announcement: They’d be shutting down the ride for an unknown length of time to fix mechanical problems.
They were doing a haunted house type thing in part of the park, and many in our company wanted to see that, so we had established a time limit for this ride. Now thus far we were making good time through the line, but the decision was made that if the ride didn’t start up in time for us to reach the end by the time we were originally quoted (around 2 hours) we’d leave the line and go to the haunted house. I did not want to leave the line, and I knew Randy didn’t want to either. So I was greatly relieved when they eventually launched a car up, and over the hill without difficulty. A loud cheer rose up from the entire line, and they began loading up cars again… At this point we were near the platform, so very, very close to getting on. From this point on, every car that went up and over received a roaring ovation… and it was wonderful. Finally, we reached the front of the line, and once again, we got to the back of the platform to get the back cars. I was with David, with Randy and Erin just behind us, and Lindsay and Josh a few cars ahead. As the train we were slated to get on approached our position, the announcer’s voice again appeared: They’d be shutting down the ride for a while to get a new car onto the tracks. Another groan rose from the crowd… but as we waited impatiently at the front of the line, something funny happened… I began to feel it: The Fear! This ride was launching people from 0 to 120 MPH in 4 seconds! This ride was catapulting people straight up 420 feet, then dropping them straight down again. That was kinda frightening. Exciting, but a bit frightening. And then it was time. We got in, and I looked down at the same crotch destroying restraint bars that had caused such misery on the Millennium Force. With no regard to any hopeful future activity, I slammed that thing into place, and made sure nothing was going to be moving anywhere. The guy directly in front of us, who had apparently not been in a car since 1965, was having quite a problem with the seat belt… and required a fair bit of assistance, but eventually all was set. They moved us forward, and there we sat, facing the Christmas tree lights of your traditional drag-strip. As the lights flashed to life, I went for one more deep breath, but never got the chance. BAM! we were off! For about 4 seconds my entire body below my neck ceased to function… I was stuck, breathless, being shot forward with amazing force… and it felt incredible. Before I knew it, we were at the top of the giant hill, and my body became usable just in time to throw my hands into the air, as we began to shoot straight down. In what felt like the flash of a few seconds, it was all over. All in all, the experience felt like this:
The moral of the story: if Mark Hoolsema tells you to do something, do it. He won’t steer you wrong.
After the dragster, we headed off to the haunted area.. It seemed set up for little kids, and much of it was a waste, but we had a good time in the haunted house.. Watching your friends get scared by the tiniest things is funny indeed. Also, they had black lights, and we investigated the security features of paper money and credit cards.. Michigan Drivers Licenses are pretty kewl… After all that, we headed out, but stopped off to ride the Raptor one more time… Awesome… Then it was the long ride home.
A great time, and a great idea Rob and Gwen. Thanks for inviting me.