Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point
One day, 18 roller coasters, four queasy stomachs, two cheeseburgers, one fried dough … whew.
photos by chuck beard
If it’s a registered trademark, it must be true.
Cedar Point is The Roller Coaster Capital of the World (sorry, Kennywood), and that’s that. The official count is 18 roller coasters — but three of those are for the young’uns (heck, you have to be only 3 feet tall to ride two of them).
Being twice that height and blessed with a stomach of iron, I laugh at motion sickness. I’ve been known to point and laugh.
This is my first trip to Cedar Point, so I’ll be smart about it. I have one day to ride as many coasters as I can, so I shell out a Ben Franklin to get the Fast Lane Plus to bypass all of the surly riffraff waiting in line. It’s well worth the money; you’ll save hours. My other half is cursed with a stomach of cold noodles, so I ride solo for most of the day.
To make this quick and easy, here are my coaster notes in alphabetical order, with ride times, top speed and my Thrills rating — from 1 (yawn) to 5 (OMG):
Blue Streak: A wooden roller coaster with the traditional “out and back” track layout, it’s classic and old-school. 1’45”, 40 mph. Thrills: 3.
Cedar Creek Mine Ride: Its claim to fame is a signature helix whirlwind finish. 2’0”, 40 mph. Thrills: 2.
Corkscrew: The first coaster in the world to invert riders three times over the course of its run. 2’0”, 48 mph. Thrills: 3.
Gatekeeper: Sleek and smooth, this wing coaster has set world records since being introduced in 2013: longest wing coaster (4,164 feet), fastest non-launched wing coaster (67 mph), tallest inversion on any roller coaster (170 feet), longest drop on a wing coaster (164 feet), most inversions on a wing coaster (6). It’s one of my top three rides of the day. 2’20”, 67 mph. Thrills: 4.
Gemini: This racing coaster broke height and speed records when introduced in 1978, but it now feels dated. We got stuck on the track 60 feet up on the initial climb and spent the next 30 minutes Instagramming our bird’s-eye view. 2’20”, 60 mph. Thrills: 2.
Iron Dragon: This suspended coaster swings and sways over Cedar Point Lagoon but rates low on thrills. 2’0”, 40 mph. Thrills: 2.
Magnum XL-200: This was the first coaster to top 200 feet in height, and it’s dizzying. A bit rough for my taste, but the signature “pretzel” turnaround is fantastic. 2’0”, 72 mph. Thrills: 4.
Maverick: My favorite ride of the day. What it lacks in height (105 feet) is made up for in tight twists and low-slung speed. Just when you think it’s over, you’re launched at super-speed through a 400-foot blacked-out tunnel. Awesome. (This was my first sighting of a bilious rider.) 2’30”, 70 mph. Thrills: 5.
Mean Streak: It’s 1.7 million board feet of Southern yellow pine with a bad attitude. It debuted in 1991 and had the tallest lift and longest drop on a wooden coaster at the time. It’s a long and rough ride, but it’s fun and gratifying. 2’45”, 65 mph. Thrills: 4.
Millennium Force: This coaster is so huge it was dubbed the first “giga-coaster.” At 310 feet high with an 80-degree drop at the start, it’s a monster. 2’0”, 93 mph. Thrills: 5.
Raptor: I was running out of time and doubled back to this coaster only on advice from another park guest. Afterward, in my shorthand coaster notes, I wrote “vomit 3x.” (Not me, but the proximity of the three sick riders was nauseatingly close.) This hanging ride is so tightly wound that you’re never aware of the horizon, made better/worse by six sudden upside-down turns. To a coaster fan, that’s quite something. To the three fellow riders with queasy stomachs, it was something else. 2’0”, 57 mph. Thrills: 5.
Rougarou: This was the first “floorless” coaster at Cedar Point, diving 137 feet with four inversions. 2’15”, 60 mph. Thrills: 2.
Top Thrill Dragster: In 17 seconds, the ride shoots you out and up the steep 42-story loop and back down to the station; it’s all about speed and height. 0’17”, 120 mph (in less than four seconds). Thrills: 5.
Valravn: Terrifying and fun (and in my top three of the day), this dive coaster starts high and teases with a four-second delay before dropping more than 200 feet at a 90-degree angle. A second dive ends with a 270-degree roll. The park’s newest coaster boasts its own set of records among dive coasters— tallest (223 feet), fastest (75 mph), longest (3,415 feet), most inversions (three), longest drop (214 feet) and highest inversion (165 feet). 2’23”, 75 mph. Thrills: 5.
Wicked Twister: Features two 450-foot vertical spirals at opposite ends of the track. Scary fun. 0’40”, 72 mph. Thrills: 5.
Let's go again.
• Cedar Point has the most steel roller-coaster track (9.9 miles) of any amusement park. When wooden track is added, the count jumps to 11.4 miles.
• Cedar Point is the second oldest continually operated amusement park (opening in 1870) in North America. (The oldest is Lake Compounce in Connecticut.)
• On a clear day, you can see Canada from the peak of the Magnum XL-200.
• Cedar Point’s free mobile app features ride wait times, your park photos, a GPS feature to navigate the park, a parking-lot car finder, ride height requirement, thrill ratings, show times and more.
Many smartphones meet their maker at amusement parks. To keep yours safe, wear shorts with a zip pocket and slip the phone into a
plastic baggie on water rides.
The Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad has been chugging around Cedar Point for almost 50 years. The authentic steam-powered train circles the park on more than 2 miles of tracks and gives a good look at popular spots and a behind-the-scenes ghost town. Catch it on the Iron Dragon Midway and in Frontiertown.