Just a cross-post with minor corrections if anyone from GT was interested:
I'm back from my epic trip, so here's the rundown! (Warning - this could get long!)
Intro: As some of you know, I got into roller coasters in a nerd fashion about a year ago and started listening to a lot of podcasts, etc. I've been on CoasterRadio a couple of times and my brother and I won a chance to go to the Fury 325 Media Day at Carowinds and report on it for them. They had their first ever meet-up in Cedar Point this weekend, so my brother and I decided to make the 12 hour drive up there and check it out. Here's what happened:
Thursday: The long drive. We decided to drive up to Mason, OH and hit King's Island first before continuing on to Cedar Point. The drive was relatively uneventful. We really enjoyed driving through West Virginia the most because of the beautiful mountain scenery. We stayed at a little crappy Super 8 to save money, and for the most part it was decent. We got up there a little early, so we hit a little Irish pub called "The Bag of Nails" that was really good. Had fish and chips and a couple of local beers I'd never had before.
Friday: King's Island day. We decided to forego the Fast Lane bands and were glad we did because the lines were short all day. The first thing we did when we got to the park was to head straight for The Beast. It was walk-on front row, and we did that a couple of times. Absolutely loved it. I love wooden coasters and this is one of - if not THE - best. After The Beast we hit Back Lot Stunt Coaster (short but fun), then headed over to Diamondback. Diamondback really surprised me - because it's a B&M airtime machine I thought it would be similar to Intimidator at Carowinds, but it's a hell of a lot better. I had some "oh shit!" moments going over a couple of the hills that I've never had on Intimidator. The splashdown at the end was a nice touch as well. I bought a Diamondback "Get Bit" coffee mug in the gift shop but broke it while I was unpacking at home.
After Diamondback we hit up some of the smaller coasters just to get credit - The Bat, Adventure Express, etc. Wasn't impressed with any of those, but didn't really expect to be as they're ancient. Then it was time for my most anticipated ride - BANSHEE! I told my brother I wanted to ride anywhere but the back row, because Afterburn's back row at Carowinds is borderline uncomfortable and I figured a similar inverted coaster would be the same. Of course, when we get to the top of the queue the operator sticks us in the very back.
I couldn't have been more wrong - this ride was smoother than Afterburn and the back row was a blast. I love everything about this ride - the theming, the Banshee shriek at the top of the lift hill, the insane inversions - I was in heaven. We rode it multiple times, and would scream NO BANSHEEE NOOOOOOOOOO at the top of the hill. I bought a Banshee shirt that is pretty cool that says SCREAM and has a silhouette of the ride on it. Easily my favorite coaster at KI, with no disrespect to Beast.
We left KI about 4:00 so we could get on the road to Cedar Point. The trip took another 3+ hours, so when we rolled into Breakers we were exhausted. The Breakers renovations were really nice, and the place smelled and looked brand new. We quickly unpacked our stuff and headed over to the park to take advantage of our twilight passes.
The first coaster we saw was Gemini so we got in line. There was a little girl of about 7 or 8 in front of us and she turns to us and says, "Are you guys scared?" I replied (playing along), "I don't know - should we be?" "No," she says. "This is the best ride ever!" She then proceeds to tell us all about the ride, when to put our hands up, etc. We had a blast. They were racing the trains properly so we were even able to high five the other train. This was my first steel on wood coaster and I really liked it. I also got my first taste of lake bug by stupidly opening my mouth during the ride.
After Gemini we hit the Cedar Creek Mine Train just to get it out of the way. At this point we were so exhausted we decided to just toodle around on the antique cars. We'd pretend we were from the 1920s and talk like they did in old movies, tipping our "hats" to people on the midway. The ride ops probably thought we were insane but they didn't show it. Went back to the hotel at close and crashed.
Saturday - Saturday was our first full day at Cedar Point and we were supposed to meet a fellow Coaster Radio member named Chris at noon by Top Thrill Dragster. Because we had two full days of coaster nerding ahead of us, we decided to spend the morning doing all the non-coaster stuff we wouldn't get a chance to do. We hit the arcade, rode the little train that goes around the park, walked through the museum, did a couple of little flat rides, etc. We then met up with Chris (super nice guy), and headed over to Maverick & Mean Streak. Top Thrill was closed, the beginning of a trend that would last the entire weekend. We got to Maverick and it was closed, so we got in line for Mean Streak. Got all the way to the top of the queue and you guessed it - Mean Streak was having issues as well so we had to leave.
Fortunately we all had Fast Lane passes so we wound up spending the rest of the day hitting stuff that wasn't down. We managed to do Rougarou (which I enjoyed more than I thought I would based on reviews), Blue Streak (classic woodie), and Raptor (not nearly as good as Banshee but still fun). At 5:00 we met up with another couple from the show and we all hung out together the rest of the night.
There was a Brews & BBQ festival going on that was an outstanding deal. For $15 you got 12 tickets. 1 ticket would get you a sample size beer or BBQ plate. 3 tickets would get you a full size beer or BBQ plate. So for $15 I got a plate of BBQ (with sides), and three full craft beers. Hells yes! We all took full advantage then hit some more rides. First up was Gatekeeper, another one of my most anticipated rides.
Gatekeeper was AWESOME! In terms of just overall "fun" it is probably my favorite ride at Cedar Point. I know some coaster nerds trash it because it's not super-intense, but I just loved that first upside down drop and flying through the keyholes. The front row was a vastly better experience than the rest of the train, though it was fun no matter where you sat. Rode this one multiple times - I couldn't get enough of it.
Chris suggested our last ride of the night be on Millennium Force, so that's where we headed next.
Looking out over the lake from on top of that monster at night was one of the highlight of the trips. A lot of people have asked which is better - Millennium Force or Fury 325 since they're both big giga-coasters. I have to be honest - I think Millennium Force is still the king. Fury might have the bigger drop, but MF's first airtime hill kicks Fury's ass, and the speed feels much more intense due to the tunnels and the long runs. Fury has some really cool elements that MF doesn't have, but MF feels a bit more relentless. While both rides are awesome, MF is just that touch more intense which gives it the edge.
Sunday - This was the day we got to meet Mike & EB (the podcast hosts), and all the other listeners. Had a meet-up in the parking lot and had a lot of fun talking to everyone. Everyone kind of dispersed and went their separate ways since we didn't have any CP sanctioned events, but we decided to just stick with Mike/EB, Brian, Chris, and formed a little entourage. It was EB's first visit to the park so we pretty much just let him lead the way.
Our first ride was Maverick (now working - yay!) and I was really impressed. I didn't know what to expect with this ride but it was a lot more intense than I had imagined. That first 95 degree drop, while short, was pretty terrifying, and that thing did not let up at all. I loved it enough we rode it twice in a row. We also hit up Mean Streak which was not as mean this time. I had heard horror stories of how rough it was but it was fairly smooth for us. (Later that evening I'd ride it again and realize where it got its name - OUCH).
At noon we met all the other listeners for a cookout at the picnic pavilion and watched Mike & EB record a live show. After that we hit some more rides (which are all a blur to me now), then had a Skee-Ball championship at 4:00 in the arcade. I lost.....BADLY. What's really sad is I lost to a British guy who had never played Skee-Ball. We then rolled over to Brews & BBQ Night 2 where we all got "likkered up" to ride Magnum XL-200.
I was really looking forward to Magnum because I'd heard it was an air time beast and because it's old and looks dangerous. All that is true. It's rough, lots of air time, the seats don't feel like they secure you enough, and I loved it. That thing is just crazy. At one point on the turnaround I had my hands up and thought, "This is it - this is how I die - by falling out of Magnum." My brother was crying he was laughing so hard. Great ride.
The absolute last ride of the night the group split. Half wanted to do Millennium Force, half wanted to do Windseeker. My brother and I decided to do Windseeker because we had already ridden MF at night, and didn't want to miss the chance to see the park lit up at night from those heights. I'm glad we went that direction, because spinning around over the park that night was the perfect end to a perfect trip.
Impressions: I told my brother that the only park I've ever been sad to leave was Magic Kingdom. That changed after Cedar Point. I was genuinely sad to go. The park was much more beautiful and themed than I expected. I thought with it being an old park that it would be this decaying jumble of rides that was just good because of its roller coasters. I was really surprised at how pretty the park was, and of course you can't beat the lake views from every direction. Awesome place and I would make that 12 hour drive again in a heart beat.
The most fun of the whole trip, however, was meeting new friends. In the coaster nerd community, nobody cares how old you are, your body size, your marital status. We hung out with people from 9 to 60, and we all spoke a common language of just loving theme parks and having fun. Some of the folks we met up there I have no doubt will be friends for years to come, and it was really sad to say goodbye. However, we've already made plans to reunite with a few of them at Carowinds this fall for the haunt season, so I'm really looking forward to that.
It was an epic journey, and I've never walked or ridden as much in that short a time span. However, I've never laughed and smiled as much either.