Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cedar Point Trip Report: The Good, The Bad and the Broken.

Cedar Point Trip Report
The Good, The Bad and the Broken


Day: Saturday. 
Date: May 11th, 2013


Wow, so much to say about Cedar Point for opening day. Within this post you'll find an unbiased report of Cedar Point and the hotel which we stayed in, the Knights in Sandusky. On this journey you'll find opinions of three different people, Myself and my Husband Kitsune Hazard of Kitsuneverse as well as a good friend Alex who (while not a park pro) has been going to CP since childhood. I've divide things up into sections to allow for quick viewing, so you may find the layout a bit odd!


Hotel Review: Knights Inn, Sandusky, Ohio
Address: 2450 Cleveland Road, West Sandusky, Ohio, 44870
Rate Paid: $67.70
Opinion: Very Good
Image from KnightsInn.com
We arrived around 10:30pm on Friday night after a very long and rainy drive from the Pittsburgh Area. This being a new hotel for us, we had no idea what to really expect from the online reviews (which I really don't trust). The front desk staff was nice and quick with check-in, making small talk about Cedar Point. Not only was this person knowledgeable about the hotel, they knew a lot about Cedar Point and I enjoyed gabbing about to torment of watching new rides being constructed while not being able to ride them!

Fast forward to the room. It was goodly sized with two queen size beds, non-smoking (as that was what was available). While perhaps showing a bit of age (slightly worn carpet, older A/C unit and a few paint scratches around the doorways), we found our room comfortable and as clean as possible. All the goodies inside worked perfectly, so while maybe older this room was surely worth the rate we paid! The rooms really are just as nice as what's seen on their website. Unlike most hotels in the Sandusky area, this one also had the train noise issue but we found it to be muted and distant, causing no interruption in our sleep.  We also where located right next to the Sandusky Airport but noticed ZERO airport noise even during the morning, so I wouldn't worry much about it personally unless it gets far busier in the summer. 

The biggest surprise was the continental breakfast. We didn't expect much more then juice, cereal, donuts and coffee. However, we all got a happy surprise. In their central "Florida Room" we found a wide collection of breakfast yummies including the expected but also finding goodies like Bagels, English Muffins, Sweet Rolls, Pop Tarts, Oatmeal and a variety of juices and coffees. It was a nice surprise and a step above your average "cheap hotel" offerings. Naturally we sampled a little bit of most things and found all of it fresh and tasty, so we saved a bit (and our stomachs being chewed up) by skipping fast-food fare.

Overall, this hotel is an excellent deal in my opinion. I'd happily stay here again on our next trip to Sandusky and Cedar Point. I wouldn't pay more then about $125 for it during the peak season but anything less then that and I believe you've got yourself a good deal!  


Cedar Point Park Review 

Admission Cost: $37.99 (Special online rate)
Opinion: Good but Problematic
Weather: Liquid Crap (Cold/Windy)

Part 1: Arrival

We arrived at Cedar Point about 9:36am to find massive crowds and abysmal weather. The crowds we expected but the weather was a bit of a surprise as the weatherman had predicted 67 degrees and partly cloudy all day until a chance of rain around 8pm, needless to say what we got was completely different. Gloomy overcast skies, windy and a high of 56 (all day) caused us some distress but we survived.

Our frustrations of the day begin as we approached the gate. We called Cedar Point no less then 4 times within 24 hours to check the time of gate opening, each time we where assured this would be at exactly 10am. With the weather we figured half an hour early would be plenty of time for us to get a good spot in line and enjoy the "running of the bulls" which is a CP tradition. Imagine our shock and anger when we finally managed to work our way through the massive Passholder Line to find that by 9:45am the gates where already open to general admission! Apparently the gates opened for general admission much earlier then the park advertised, we began our day by being very displeased. If we'd have known we'd have arrived MUCH earlier in the day!  After collecting our "Opening Day Gatekeeper and Coke Drink Huggie" gift from the park we were off, our beacons set for the last known home of Disaster Transport and Gatekeeper.

Part 2: Rides
Holy LINE, Batman! With the unknown early opening, the line for Gatekeeper was completely ridiculous 4.5-5 hours long by this point. After a quick conference with my cohorts, we decided we'd skip it for now and head deeper into the park. Our logic being that 80% of the people where taken up with this line, we'd go ride everything else THEN attempt to jump into line for Gatekeeper later in the afternoon. 
(To read the FULL Review on Gatekeeper please visit: Gatekeeper Review)

Our first stop of the day was predictably Blue Streak, which we where very pleased to find operating after it's close encounter with a dump truck over the closed season. Always a lovely ride, we got  good bit of amusement out of a school group in front of us who seemed to think this classic woodie was "terrifying". After our enjoyable, if half frozen, ride the coaster bug had bitten and all of us where chomping at the bit for our much needed adrenaline rush!


A quick side trip over to Cedar Downs, which is the last remaining Derby Racer left in the US. Think of a carousel that races, it's a flat ride but worth a stop! So, we stopped, we rode, we still love it even if not the most amazing ride in the park! After this we stopped and picked up the "Souvenir Bottle"for the 2013 season. Now if your not familiar with this, it's a good deal. For $12.99 plus tax you get a drink bottle which comes with free refills for the day of purchase and if your coming back to Cedar Point later in the season refills are only $.99 cents plus tax. Seeing as none of us mind sharing (we're all 90's kids, we're not scared of germs) it was an excellent deal considering the price of a single soda at the park!


Next Stop, Iron Dragon! Oh, Iron Dragon, how I love you and your swinging! Okay, so this isn't the biggest or best ride in the park either but all of us must confess, we love suspended swinging coasters. Not many of them are left and they seem to be disappearing quickly, so ride it and show it some love!  Now, Alex and I got the bright idea of "Let's sit in the front". Have I mentioned we're not too smart sometimes? Because this was NOT our best idea of the day. We enjoyed our ride around the random shouts of "I'm COLD! I can't feet my hands! Holy Shit, COLD!" which echoed around us, I'm fairly sure Kitsune was laughing his ass off behind us as we provided the wind block!  Thus the new rule of the day, No front row! 


Moving on we checked the line for Millennium Force and found it at an 1 hour and 45 minutes, Nope! We moved along heading towards Maverick and Mean Streak. We where rather surprised to find a 2 hour line for Maverick. While a good ride, none of us felt it was worth the time so we headed to Mean Streak, or as we call it "Our personal Chiropractor".  We where rather shocked to find it actually HAD a LINE! Granted, not much of one at 20 minutes but still surprising as I don't think any of us have seen such an event. So we jump in and quickly jump on, not in the front seat, we learned our lesson with Iron Dragon! We still froze our hands off as none of us can ride with them properly holding onto something and we got shook all to hell but we loved every damn moment of it. Another classic wooden coaster that lives up to it's name, Mean Streak. 



At this point it's now 11am and the Mine Ride was just opening. Seeing as how it had exactly a five minute wait time, we jumped in line. Seriously, who wouldn't with no line?! Anyway, we spent our massive five minutes of wait time trying to figure out how this tiny coaster got to 40 MPH. The best we can figure it's the helixes which produce the speed, we're still suspicious about this and will have to conduct some testing on our second trip!  This ride is so quiet we proceed to have an entire conversation during the lift hills and during most of the ride, which we found comical (have I mentioned we're a weird bunch yet?). So we ride and once again enjoy ourselves but we're still curious about this speed thing, so we head towards Gemini and Kitsune has a bright idea! He downloads "Ulysse Speedometer" and we decide we're going to test some coaster speeds while we're screwing around! 


A quick stop for a Corn-dog (more to come on the food later) and jump into line for Gemini. Now I admit, this is NOT one of my favorite rides at Cedar Point. Somehow it ALWAYS manages to beat me up in some way/shape/form yet I keep riding it. About 15 minutes later we're next in line when a collective groan goes through the crowd and an employee goes running towards the lift hill. We've found our first idiot of the day! Someone decided to take out a camera and stopped the Blue side, thus causing a delay. So we end up waiting an extra ten minutes because someone can't follow the rules before boarding out "Pain Express" train. Kitsune has his handy little App running and off we go, the entire time I'm wondering why they couldn't have made this ride less pain-inducing or banked the turns a little bit more? Augh! Upon exiting I chew down two advil and we discuses the speed on Gemini, which is apparently 64.7 when cold outside! 


Working our way around, we take a break over in the smoking area of kiddie land. In the process we notice just how creepy and giant this snoopy is. Then us, being us, noticed that it's sitting on top of the bouncy house.. kind of like a toilet.. because we notice things like this. Hey, I never said we where entirely mature either! Needless to say we decided the Snoopy must had have some seriously spicy chili because if the bounce house was the toilet then the kids are.... 
Yeah, Spicy Chili.

So as we're sitting down and relaxing for a few, plotting out next move we hear Top Thrill Dragster launch. This is surprising because it hasn't been running all day due to winds. When we turn around and look, it's full of people! Now we're been in the area a few minutes and din't once hear this thing testing. I can't honestly say if it did or not but we never saw it yet it launched with a full train, this made us seriously question Cedar Point and what the hell they might be thinking. More so when the first loaded launch of the day was a complete rollback, which we found comical as hell.  While laughing at Dragster, we decided our next move which would Mangun XL200 then finally heading over to Gatekeeper.  As we headed towards the Magnum line, it was closed, which was odd but we can roll with it and headed towards Gatekeeper early.

Now, I'm not going to talk about Gatekeeper in this post. Why? Because I've already covered that ride in deep detail in another post. If you'd like to read our adventure and opinion on the newest $30 Million addition to Cedar Point, Please visit: Gatekeeper Ride Review

However, while relaxing and discussing Gatekeeper (and how we'd like 3 hours of our lives back) amongst ourselves in the closest smoking area (directly next to Wicked Twister) and with other random folks who stopped by to relax, Alex notices something odd on the ground. Honestly, I'm not paying that much attention until I spot Alex picking something up. Looking over we found a cleanly sheered bolt laying right on the ground.  Well THAT isn't comforting! More so since we're sitting right next to a roller coaster with a semi-crappy history. Now it could have come from the awning but frankly we're still not comforted. So it was at this point we decided not only did we get a FREE souvenir but we'd be skipping Wicked Twister this time around, just in case! 



Now it's begining to get dark and we're heading towards Magnum XL200, which is by far one of my FAVORITE coasters at Cedar Point. Yeah, she's a little rough after all these years but the lady provides you great thrills! Also notice the picture, already on opening day a burned out light bulb. Little did we know that noticing this odd problem would lead into a massive chain reaction of "Broken Rides" for the remainder of our visit.  Magnum was running but as we jump in line we notice, their cycling empty cars. Listening to a few people we found out Magnum had gone down not only the first time when we headed to Gatekeeper but a second time just before we got into the line. This is weird, Magnum almost never goes down in our shared experience and it wasn't nearly as windy as it was earlier. We couldn't figure out what on earth was going on but we quickly got distracted by the fact Magnum is the only ride in the park that plays DECENT MUSIC in the queue line!  We work our way up and get to load, where we proceed to get a good laugh out of the ride crew. They where cracking jokes about getting people to hurry up in storing their personal items and getting on the ride. This is yet another ride which we have our "Lift Hill Conversation" and a chuckle at the kid who's riding beside Alex, he seemed a bit frightened!   We enjoy our ride and decide to purchase the picture because it was funny as hell (Alex apparently isn't good with On-Ride photos). Not wanting to carry both the photo from Gatekeeper and Magnum around, we run out to the car to stow our stuff and decide to grab dinner (Please see the Food Post). However we make a pit stop at the smoking area and notice another problem. Millennium Force is stuck near the top of the lift hill, with people on it. 


While sitting and enjoying our dinner (with beer!) we notice the weather getting more and more gloomy but Cedar Point seems to have a bigger problem at the moment, the fact Gatekeeper has gone down. Looking around we begin to notice the problems for Cedar Point are mounting, Sky Ride has stalled out, Mantis isn't running and Millennium Force is still stuck at the top of the lift hill. At first we wonder if this is due to weather? Nope! It couldn't be weather as Raptor was still running as was Top Thrill Dragster. We found this funny as all hell, Why? Easy! Top Thrill is entirely dependent on the weather, if the winds are too high it simply doesn't run, which leads to that coaster having a LOT of downtime. So Top Thrill is running while 3 coasters, including the newest addition are broken! That's funny as hell. We listen and people are starting to say that Cedar Point is blaming "High Winds" for Gatekeepers closure.  Now we just talked about winds and Dragster, which is running and is 420 feet tall. Gatekeeper is down and only 170 feet tall. Say it with me? BULLSHIT!  Cedar Point has broken their new toy already, on the frist day and it seems like everything else has suffered a serious lack of testing and maintenance over the winter months. 
Broken Coaster Count: 3


So we decide to head over towards Maverick, only to find it's also DOWN. Inquiring with the ride staff, they have no idea when or if the ride will even come back up today. We stop to figure out what to do next and end up chatting with several people, apparently Maverick has been down most of the day only having opened for about three hours in the beginning of the day when we passed by.
Broken Coaster Count: 4
While chatting for around 20 minutes we somehow got lucky, Maverick OPENED! Holy shit! I didn't notice this until Alex grabbed me and began hauling me backwards with a yelled "RUN" with me having no idea what I was running (stumbling) for. We managed to jump in the line quickly while they cycled cars. We raced though the queue line and up the stairs, giggling with glee. We managed a 5 minutes wait, getting on the second dispatch! Maverick is an awesome ride but I refer to it as another "Boob Squasher" due to the harnesses. Seriously, it hurts! Plus Maverick whips you around a decent bit, so if you don't brace your going to exit with a headache! Either way, squished boobs and all we enjoy our ride. As we're pulling into the station the very first drops of rain begin. Damn, we got lucky!

Using the magic of technology and cell phones, we check the radar and see a heavy patch heading right towards us. Quickly we take shelter and hope it will pass, after about 20 minutes this shows no signs of stopping although it has let up to a light sprinkle, the radar isn't looking to promising either. We decide to head over and see if Millennium Force is running yet. On our way we notice that Top Thrill is no longer running and Mantis still hasn't come back up. However, Maverick is chugging away at a now HUGE line. Not really surprised, we find that Millennium Force hasn't yet come back up either, Cedar Points excuse? Weather.  No, BROKEN COASTER! We're rather annoyed at how they are flat out lying to folks at this point. This isn't Disney World, if something is broken you should just tell people "Down for Maintenance" rather then giving them hope that a broken ride will re-open if only the weather will cooperate. Now some rides DID go down for the weather but we know for a fact that M. Force was down LONG before the weather began and had not re-opened at any point in between.  At this point it's around 9:30pm and we decide that with so many rides broken, we'll call it a night.

As we're exiting we take note that Iron Dragon has also gone down as has Raptor. We're not sure if this is really due to the weather or if Cedar Point somehow managed to break these rides also (as Maverick was running a short walk away). By this point we're not inclined to trust Cedar Point's answers very much. We also notice Gatekeeper is not running and by listening to folks chat as we're walking out we learned that Gatekeeper never came back up that evening. So it really was broken, which doesn't seem to bode well for this season.


Overall, we where rather disappointed in Cedar Point's opening day. They where plagued with problems and broken attractions, during the days it's taken me to write up this report we've heard many people saying this is a constant and on going problem this season. Coasters are breaking randomly all over the park, some rides are not opening at all and others are running very limited numbers. This leads me to believe that during the off season Cedar Point did something stupid. They put all their focus and attention on Gatekeeper in the hopes the other rides would simply take care of themselves. They didn't put in proper testing or maintenance time which is now biting them back. We're going back to Cedar Point on June 6th with friends on a Starlight pass. It's our hope that by then that we can give you a much better report, but right now things aren't looking very promising for the 2013 season at Cedar Point.

If you have addition information or if you've been to Cedar Point since then and have noticed rides being down or issues with rides, please comment! We'd like to hear your take on this matter as well as what excuses you may have been told!


Part 3: Food
Cedar Point is no Disney World and the food reflects that. However, during opening day the carnival-esque offerings where even more horrible then normal and the service was abysmal at best. While we understand it was opening day, the staff working food service seemed to have no real concept of customer service nor how to really prepare their offerings.

Lunch
Corn-dogs. Now it's rather hard to screw up a corn-dog but somehow they managed. The hotdog inside was cool to the touch and the crust was still uncooked on the inside. The service was comical in the sense of "are you kidding me?". The girl serving us had no idea how to use the two windows, so we moved to the "pick up" window and found that the people behind us where served before us. This went one twice before we looked at each other and spoke up, at this point we've waited nearly 10 minutes and ended up waiting another 5 for our lackluster food to be given to us. The price for lunch for 2? $10.58

Dinner
Pizza at Hurricane Hannah's.  Now the pizza was much better in quality to the point we thought it was good, it was at least fully cooked and served to us warm. The size was good for the price, $5.99 for pepperoni, and the crust was pleasant seasoned. Even better, this food joint offered beer! Now if you know anything about us crazies here at InSanity lurks Inside, we like to drink. The beer wasn't crap and was shockingly not hugely overpriced. Nearly a pint of beer for around $8 each.




We hope you enjoyed the review of Cedar Point's opening day and sincerely hope you have much better luck with your trip then we did. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and don't reflect the view of Cedar Point. All opinions are unbiased and all the snark is provided as a free service! Please keep watching InSanity lurks Inside for more Trip Reviews coming in the 2013 summer season, including another visit to Cedar Point in June!