Ohio - Cedar Point

Cedar Point

All photos were taken in 2013.

Cedar Point has been an amusement park for far longer than it's been coaster paradise. It is now both.

A look back across the arm of Sandusky Bay at the city of Sandusky, which I'm technically still in here.

The first coaster I'll show you, I'm not actually going to show you. There are so many newer, faster, better coasters in the park that Magnum XL just isn't as groundbreaking as when it was featured in Car and Driver magazine in the 1990s. It will always be known as the first coaster over 200 feet, as well as the fastest and steepest in the world when it debuted.

In no particular order, let's jump to Magnum's spiritual successor, Millennium Force. You can guess what year that opened, and just like Magnum, it broke ground by being the first coaster over 300 feet, as well as once again being the fastest in the world. Like Magnum, there are no loops, though some of the turns approach horizontality.

It only makes sense to come next to Top Thrill Dragster, which opened in 2003 and became the first coaster over 400 feet, and yet again fastest in the world. It's hydraulically launched instead of being traditionally chain-driven (Magnum) or the faster cable lift (Millennium). The now-more famous Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure is very similar, slightly taller but having opened slightly later (2005).

Now that we've gotten the height chasing out of the way, let's get into the rest of the pack. The entrance to the park is now marked by GateKeeper, which features riders flayed out on wings instead of over the track. At its opening, it actually set a record for highest inversion, with the main drop itself being inverted. Other than that feature, its main claim is being the first coaster you see in the park.

It's not much now from a ride standpoint, but the Corkscrew is similar to GateKeeper in being a visual stunner. It dates way back to 1976 and set the record, at the time, with 3 inversions. It is virtually tied for the first vertical loop with Six Flags Magic Mountain (The Great American Revolution opened 1 week earlier).

Maverick clearly looks different by virtue of having a post-vertical, 95° drop. It doesn't set any records, though, and the bold-looking drop is more for show, only taking you 100 feet. The 70 mph speed is all generated by magnets, no lift hill.

Getting a little bolder, this is Mantis, in front of Millennium Force. It opened in 1996 as the tallest, fastest, and longest stand-up coaster, but was completely redone in the 2014 offseason to become a seated, floorless experience.

Want bolder? Try Wicked Twister, just in front of Gemini. It's one of those "up and back and forth" type coasters, with the added twist of being inverted. When it opened in 2002, it was the tallest and fastest of its very specific kind - launched by magnetic induction impulse motors and with the twisty towers on either side. Its full height is over 200 feet, but you have to be in one of the end cars to experience that.

Let's take a quick break from all that steel. This is the back curve of Gemini, the dueling wooden coaster in town. It's so old (1978) that its 118-foot drop was the tallest in the world at the time, and its surprising 60 mph speed for such a relatively short fall was very close to the top.

My favorite wooden coaster, the lamentably departed Mean Streak, was the tallest and fastest wooden coaster in the world when it opened in 1991. It had the same drop (155 feet) as the Great American Scream Machine and a length of over a mile. Besides the height, 65 mph speed, and length, the best part of Mean Streak was how it dipped and dived into itself over and over, generating screams to the very end. Fortunately, the experience is still largely there with the new Steel Vengeance, which was rebuilt to be taller and faster, even longer, still with the wooden structure and the weaving track, and now with a 90-degree, 200-foot drop to start. There are also 4 inversions, which really breaks with Mean Streak's spirit of being a classic but extreme woodie.

The closest I'll get to roads-related content on this page is railroads: a signal from the train that circles the park, near where it meets Mean Streak.

I wanted to save my favorite for last. It was the tallest, fastest, steepest, and longest inverted roller coaster when it opened in 1994, and the first to feature a cobra roll. Now, it's not the tallest, fastest, steepest, etc. anymore, but it's one of the only coasters I recognize on sight, and has been my favorite since my first ride as a child. Meet Raptor. Long may it prey.

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