Wednesday 7 December 2011

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Cedar Point Ohio - lt Makes Me Nervous

There's a whole bunch of places that I want to go in the world, but there's a significantly smaller number of places that I should have been. Cedar Point is someplace I should have been by now. The Ohio theme park is a collection of the biggest, fastest, and steepest roller coasters in the world, and in an attempt to drive myself insane with jealousy, I've asked my friend Deej from The World of Deej to come by and tell us a little about his experiences at Cedar Point. 

Many of the great memories of my childhood center around theme parks, and as an adult my love for them has only grown stronger. As a kid, I absolutely loved roller coasters, and could ride over and over again until my parents finally made me leave, or I passed out, whichever came first. For years I considered myself to be a “coaster enthusiast,” and I was fortunate to visit on several occasions the Mecca for coaster lovers, Cedar Point. On our last visit to this holiest of sites, however, something just didn’t seem quite right. After a great deal of contemplation, I realized that something had changed….me.

What makes Cedar Point so special is not just the shear number of roller coasters, but rather the number of truly great coasters. There is the Mean Streak which is one of the longest and fastest wooden coasters in the world, with great appeal to coaster purists. The Gemini, which is a dual track racing coaster, has always been one of my favorites simply because I can slap hands with the guy in the train next to me. Then there’s Top Thrill Dragster, a ride for only the strong of heart which takes you higher and faster than all but one other coaster in the world. Finally, the granddaddy of them all, Millennium Force sets the bar at what every great coaster should be…high, steep, fast, and long.

On our way up the first hill on Millennium Force
The first few times I visited Cedar Point I was like a kid on Christmas morning. Actually, I was like a kid on Christmas morning that had also just visited a candy store. I rode the Gemini about a half dozen times in a row. We hit Millennium Force three times and would have done more had it not broken. We rode Top Thrill Dragster twice, and were in line for a third when it also went down. I even did the Mean Streak twice, which is about like going 8 rounds with Mike Tyson in his pre-bite Evander Holyfield’s ear off days.

You know its an awesome coaster when these are like hills 4 & 5.
Fast forward a half dozen years and my entire family made a trip to Cedar Point, where I looked forward to reconnecting with that kid in the candy store on Christmas day. The problem was, he was no where to be found. That inner giddiness had been replaced with an unfamiliar feeling; one that I’d imagine is similar to the experience of finding a letter from the IRS in the mailbox. The roller coaster loving kid inside me was dead, and had been replaced with the risk adverse nature of an adult.

The experience just wasn’t the same. Sure, I rode the Gemini a couple times, and the hand slapping was just as awesome as ever. The same couldn’t be said for the more intense rides, however. My head could only handle one ride on the Mean Streak, we avoided the inverted track Raptor all together, and even my beloved Millennium Force sapped every ounce of my will power to enjoy. As we approached Top Thrill Dragster, the mental image of being launched off the top of the hill would simply not allow me to set foot in line, much less on the ride itself. To my dismay, my wife and Dad insisted on riding, and I watched in horror as their car was propelled 120mph down the track, and straight up 420 feet. At this point I came to grips with my new persona…I was a chicken.

The wife and Dad ready for launch…Literally.
In the weeks and months that followed, I attempted to come to grips with my new roller coaster identity, and also find an explanation for my transformation. The first reason for the change was clear…I got older and it seemed there was an inversely proportional relationship between my age and my appetite for runaway trains. In addition, I came to realize that my identity as a “roller coaster enthusiast” was a bit overblown, because 90% of my experience came at theme parks with the words “Disney” in the name. As much as I love the Mouse, his coasters would have been removed from Cedar Point two decades ago, and my actual love for real coasters was considerably lower. To put it in golf terms, I was a 3 handicap on my local pitch-n-putt.

All in all, I still love Cedar Point, and can’t wait to return one day. I’m sure in the coming years they will unveil an 800 foot tall coaster which reaches speeds of 200mph, and I’ll be perfectly content keeping my feet on the ground, and reading about it here on More Kids Than Suitcases.

Thanks Deej, now you've made me nervous about going to a place I've always wanted to go. Fortunately, I have a secret weapon to ensure I don't back out - kids who are merciless when it comes to teasing their Dad.
I want to thank Deej for giving me the scoop on Cedar Point. If you'd like to read about a few more of his adventures (I wonder if he's figured out how to work pay phones in South Korea yet?) then head on over to The World of Deej and dive in.