austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

We never appreciated what we had

I've mentioned a few times the arguable nature of Roller Coaster Appreciation Night's plan to run all seventeen roller coasters. Here's the arguable part of this: up until Roller Coaster Appreciation Night was announced, Cedar Point had sixteen roller coasters. To declare Valravn their eighteenth roller coaster, the park announced that Pipe Scream, their new ride for 2014, was a roller coaster. This caught everyone by surprise.

The thing is, Pipe Scream is ... well, it's a fun ride. But is it a roller coaster? It seems to defy some important roller coaster property but I can't say just what. For the ride you and up to thirty-five other people sit facing the center. The platform rotates around a vertical axis, while swinging along a curvy W-shaped track. There's no elements of this that can't be found on things that are inarguably roller coasters, but somehow the whole thing ... just doesn't quite feel right, to me. It's a classification problem and those are usually unresolvable. (For what it's worth, the Roller Coaster Database does not list Pipe Scream as a roller coaster, although they might be open to a discussion about the point.)

What is sure, though, is that when Pipe Scream was put in, Cedar Point didn't bill it as a roller coaster. They did bill the ride at one of its sister parks as a roller coaster there, though. And if they've decided, on reflection, that Pipe Scream is a roller coaster then who are we to say that's just a silly marketing stunt to make Valravn their eighteenth?

It doesn't matter, since on Roller Coaster Appreciation Night the Pipe Scream wasn't running. Many of the roller coasters weren't running. It's almost surely because of the rain. Even mild winds will knock a ride like Top Thrill Dragster --- which takes people up to 400 feet high --- out of service and these were strong, gusty winds. And even a mild rain becomes terrible if your train is running into it at great speed, and Top Thrill Dragster reaches speeds of up to 120 miles per hour. Air is pretty nasty blasting into your face at 120 miles per hour. Rain would tear skin off.

So it was obvious that wouldn't run until and unless the weather collaborated. Millennium Force, which reaches three hundred feet up, was also out of the question until the wind and rain let up. But there are also some rides that don't operate in the rain and for non-obvious reasons. The Cedar Creek Mine Ride, for example, is a mere 48 feet high and reaches the modest speed of 42 miles per hour. That should be safe from the wind and rain. But, apparently, when the track is wet the train will bottom out and get stuck, which is not going to help passenger throughput. Similarly, Gemini, at 118 feet tall and 60 miles per hour, doesn't handle wet tracks well. If it was ever running on Roller Coaster Appreciation Night, we missed it.

I'm not positive how many roller coasters that Cedar Point had were operating, or were running at all at some point during Roller Coaster Appreciation Night. If we were hardcore riding fanatics this would surely have been maddening. But we appreciate atmosphere in a park, and the atmosphere of Cedar Point, dark and rainy and with almost everything closed, and with a crowd so thin that if you gathered everyone into a single room it would still be sparse, was a wonderful and novel atmosphere.

One side point about roller coasters. At the end of 2014, the roller coaster Mantis was declared abolished, as it was reconfigured to have a different kind of train. Instead of being a stand-up roller coaster, one in which literally stand, in a harness, for the ride, it would become a regular seated roller coaster. (It would be a ``floorless'', so your feet dangle in the air, but you're sitting through this.) The new ride, if it is new, they named Rougarou, for a werewolf-like creature from Cajun legend.

So now, Rougarou did not get a single full season as the New Roller Coaster before its successor was announced. (If you grant Rougarou as a new roller coaster. The Roller Coaster Database considers it basically a renaming of Mantis.) And now, it didn't even get to be the debatably new roller coaster of 2015, as Pipe Scream stole its partial share of the season. It all feels somehow unfair to Rougarou.

Trivia: Britain's ``cheap trains act'' of 1844 required each railway to run at least one train per day in each direction, with provisions for third-class passengers at a rate of 1d per mile. Third-class carriages need not be run on Sunday, though first- and second-class could. Source: The Age of Paradox: A Biography of England, 1841 - 1851, John W Dodds.

Currently Reading: Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate, Diego Gambetta.

PS: The Set Tour, Part 8: Balls, Only Made Harder, through the power of mathematics. Or mathematics blogging.

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