The past two weeks crawled by. I’ve spent my days with family and friends in Colorado and Michigan, so I’ve kept busy, but my brain wandered every time I had a spare minute, and it always ended in the same place: Cedar Point. I’m not exaggerating: I feel asleep thinking about roller coasters, woke up thinking about roller coasters, drove around town thinking about roller coasters, worked out thinking about… you guessed it… roller coasters. I couldn’t wait to get to Cedar Point, and the day never seemed to get any closer!
Finally, on Saturday, it was time. It was CEDAR POINT DAY! And it didn’t start off well. I checked and rechecked weather forecasts all week (and posted them, too!), watching the chance of rain fluctuate between 40% and 60%, and I was nervous that we’d show up and it would rain all day long. My sister Laura emailed me Cedar Point’s Weather Policies (at the bottom of this page), and basically, once rain starts falling steadily, most of the good rides close. What a bummer that’d be!
It rained all night before we left in the morning. Laura and I picked up my friends Molly and Dan, and it rained the entire 2.5 hour drive to Sandusky, Ohio. Sometimes the rain was a mere sprinkle, sometimes it was a pounding, torrential downpour that drowned out all other noise. It didn’t look good for a fun-filled, rain-free day in the park.
But on our final approach, with the roller coasters in sight, it got quiet. No more raindrops on the windshield! The timing was perfect – we stepped out of the car in the parking lot, and the skies, while overcast, were free of rain clouds. It was our lucky day.
We had prepared and had a game plan in place: head to the back of the park first, and work our way around in a clockwise manner (see the map I made to aid in our strategy sessions here). We were in line for our first roller coaster 20 minutes after the park had opened. Let the pictures begin!
Here’s Laura and me getting ready to ride Maverick:
Maverick is the park’s newest coaster, and while it’s not the highest, it’s one of the best. It’s fast, smooth, and has great twists and turns (watch a video here). I ended up riding it three times – twice in the morning, and once at night, when much of the track isn’t lit, so you’re flying around at 70 mph in darkness. Very cool.
All of us by the Gemini station, the classic dueling wooden roller coaster:
Because there’s two trains that race, we split up into boys vs. girls. Laura took this photo of me looking backward with her cell phone from her train:
Taking that picture was a big no-no. As we climbed the lift hill, the ride operator’s voice boomed from some speakers: “Put the cell phone away! Put the cell phone away! Put the cell phone away!” She did was she was told, and after the ride, she was pulled aside by the ride operator, who told her that having a phone out on a ride is a misdemeanor under Ohio law. (!) BUSTED! Laura could have gone to Cedar Point jail!
Now some of the biggest, most insane rides. Here’s Molly and Laura in line for Millenium Force:
That lift hill in the background is 310 feet high, and by the time you reach the bottom of it, you’re going 93 mph! This was another coaster we rode twice, once during the day, and once at night, and interesting things happened both times: On our first outing, coins fell out of another rider’s pocket while going over a big hill, levitated in front of us, then flew past at speeds at which no coins should ever travel. During the nighttime ride, Molly and I sat towards the back, which was smart, as the riders in front ended the ride peeling dead bugs off their arms and faces. Gross. Gnats should learn to stay away from roller coasters.
Here’s Molly and me waiting for Top Thrill Dragster to start. I love how Molly leaned out to get her face in the shot! This ride is the tallest and fastest in the park, at 420 feet high and 120 mph. It’s basically the same height as a 40-story building!
Once you board the train, it moves out to the launch pad. There are motor revving sound effects, and 30 seconds later, you’re rocketed forward at 120 mph (see video here). The picture above was taken at the launch pad, and this next picture was taken one second before launch (there’s a lighting display, similar to those at drag races, that counts down the final seconds):
Molly and I on the ride – WHEEEEEEEEE!
We planned our day so we went on many of the coasters before tackling the one I was most excited to ride: Raptor. Raptor is the ride that I got kicked off of ten years ago (it was one of the most humiliating experiences in my life, and one that I recall moment by moment in this post), and I was ready to go back and show it who’s boss. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long, long time.
I was ready to ride the Raptor.
I was ready to replace a horrible weight-related memory with a wonderful one.
I’M GONNA RIDE THE RAPTOR, GODDAMMIT!
We headed up to the station platform. There was no one in line, and we were able to get on the train that was boarding right then – NO WAIT AT ALL! Within seconds, I was in the seat, and the over-the-shoulder harness and seat belt were securely locked into place. It all happened so quickly! There was no time for me to get emotional or reflective, because before we knew it, we were click-click-clacking up the lift hill and then flying through 6 inversions at nearly 60 mph.
Raptor is an amazing ride. Your feet dangle, and there’s so many twists and turns that it’s completely disorienting (watch a video here). We got off and immediately got back in line for a second ride. Within minutes, we were boarding the train again, and Molly and Dan hung back for the next train, so they could take this next picture. This, folks, is the picture I’ve waited ten years to share. Here’s I am, comfortably fitting within the Raptor’s restraints:
That’s a ride operator giving the thumbs up, which tells the guy in the booth that everything’s set and the ride can start. It’s my favorite thumbs up ever.
It wasn’t until the end of the second ride on Raptor that I was struck a little bit with the magnitude of what this ride represented to me. I didn’t become an emotional wreck – I just felt proud. Proud of the weight that I’ve lost, proud that I made it back to Cedar Point to experience something I wasn’t able to experience before. There wasn’t tons of time for me to revel in the pride, either – there were more coasters to ride!
Later, it occurred to me how little I had been thinking about my weight at all that day. It had barely ever crossed my mind! This wasn’t my first roller coaster outing since losing the weight – I’ve been to Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm in the past year (click on the names to read my posts about them) – but on both of those outings, every time I stepped onto a coaster platform, there was a moment where I held my breath and hoped that I’d fit. At Cedar Point, that thought never crossed my mind. My weight had become a non-issue in my own head. That’s a feeling I can get used to!
Not all the coasters at Cedar Point were awesome. Blue Streak, the park’s oldest coaster (built in 1964), was so rough it was almost violent, and so creaky that it sounded like the supports were collapsing as we rode over them. Disaster Transport, the indoor coaster, was lame, and the park has abandoned all the story-based elements (the ride was originally themed to be a futuristic journey to Alaska that goes haywire), which made it even lamer.
Their new ride this year, WindSeeker, is pretty cool – it’s a standard swing ride, except that it takes you up 300 feet! Here it is (next to another coaster, Wicked Twister):
WindSeeker is next to the beach, and there’s great views. Call me immature, but I was laughing because someone had drawn a giant, 60-foot-long dick and balls in the sand. If only my camera wasn’t in my zippered pocket, under a lap bar!
All in all, it was an amazing day – the best day I’ve ever had at Cedar Point. More often than not, we waited ten minutes or less, and our longest line was 20 minutes (for Mantis, and they had closed it for a few minutes because someone puked on a train). We went back to ride Mantis (Laura’s favorite ride) a second time, and in the course of the 15 minutes we were in line, two people puked, one on each train, and they had some mechanical problems. The ride closed, and we moved on to something else.
In total, I went on 15 different coasters, a total of 21 times:
Maverick (3 times), Raptor (3 times), Top Thrill Dragster (2 times), Millenium Force (2 times), Mean Streak, Cedar Creek Mine Ride, Gemini, Magnum XL200, Corkscrew, Iron Dragon, Wildcat, Mantis, Blue Streak, Disaster Transport, Wicked Twister.
We also went on 6 non-coaster rides, including Skyhawk and Power Tower, a freefall ride where you get dropped 240 feet straight down. My cousin Macrae is obsessed with Power Tower, because she loves Supreme Scream, a similar ride at Knott’s Berry Farm. She hasn’t been on Power Tower, and wanted me to take a picture from the top of it, which I couldn’t do, because 1) my camera was inaccessible under my harness, and 2) I was too scared. Here I am with Power Tower (you can see riders at the very top of one of the towers):
Cedar Point is incredible, and I went with a great group of people. Molly and Dan are funny, easy-going, and they happily put up with all my nerdy coaster strategizing. Here’s the three of us at Iron Dragon:
And I’m so grateful that Laura was able to come. She drove 5 hours from Chicago on Friday night, just to get in a car for another 2.5 hours the next morning to get to the park. That’s 15 hours in a car over one weekend, just to come to Cedar Point. She’s a trooper!
Laura took one of my favorite pictures of the day, when we were on Sky Ride, the gondola that runs down the length of the park’s main midway:
OH! FOOD! The lunch I packed for all of us (read about it here) went over swimmingly, and there was plenty of food, so it also provided a nice dinner and snacking for the drive home. I didn’t buy any food in the park whatsoever (which my wallet loved), and the only non-packed food I ate was a couple handfuls of popcorn that Laura bought, about 6 pistachios, and 1/2 a bottle of Diet Coke (for some caffeine, since I drove most of the way home).
You know I end all my posts with the same 4 words, and for this post, those 4 words represent so much: planning and eating healthy food in a place that’s filled with tempting unhealthy options, getting tons of exercise (I can’t even guess how many miles we walked), but, most of all, for all the hard work over the past year and a half that’s led to me being able to fully enjoy, without an ounce of worry, all the thrills that a place like Cedar Point has to offer. Thanks for bearing with me during this monstrously long post. All that’s left to say is…
…KEEP IT UP, DAVID!