austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Clouds of mystery pouring confusion on the ground

So we always get to mid-June and realize we haven't been to Cedar Point yet and that's crazy. June's the best park-going time, since it hasn't got crazy crowds and it usually isn't blisteringly hot. We had plans to set out one Friday, but the forecast of a high chance of thunderstorms made us put it off to Sunday. Sunday we drove in to heavy cloud cover, interrupted with heavier cloud cover. As we got to the park the upper halves of most of the roller coasters were lost in the clouds.

We had just arrived and gotten Parmesean fries and were getting pop. We have the unlimited-drinks plan and it turns out the first time you use it, you're given the option: a souvenir cup or just disposable wax-paper cups? Your choice then locks you in all season. Thing is the souvenir cup is nice but then you have to lug it around all day. All season. Anyway we were getting our drinks when the skies really opened up. I watched, feeling for the poor souls on MaXair, the giant spinning pendulum ride. A ride in the rain sounds like it ought to be whimsical fun, and it can be, if it's made your roller coaster's brakes not be quite the spoilsports. But it can also be sharp cold stabs of pain hitting your face at 50 miles per hour. Probably closer to that for them.

We waited much of the rain out at the drinks stand, or in the Casino where we found even fewer pinball machines working. And then made our way to the back of the park, hoping to catch the French Revue at Lusty Lil's; indoor shows seemed like the best bet. We made it to one, a nice bit of dancing music comedy built on you know how many European ethnicities there are that someone might not realize were not, technically speaking, French, such as Italian or Irish or Spanish?

As we were inside the rains receded enough that we could get to our key interest: Steel Vengeance. This is the roller coaster made out of the bones of Mean Streak. It had just opened in May, then shut quickly as some braking issue was manifest. It was back up to running two trains (theoretically it could run three), and they had let people line up while waiting for the official OK from the weather. We joined the queue just as they reopened the ride and thought ourselves fortunate: we had outlasted an hours-long crowd-shrinking rain and now could go to the choice ride of the season.

So the miscalculation was that yes, maybe nearly everyone was chased out of the park by the weather. The people remaining were waiting for Steel Vengeance. Thus we waited for hours, in a slow-moving line that at least did let us see how much they'd done to tidy up the roller coaster's infield, and to redesign the whole of the ride. And we got the time to read and savor reading and re-consider all the posters they put up that explain the characters they've made for their Old West themed area; the cast list is getting surprisingly big even without the three Japanese Roleplaying Game characters who are the Steel Vengeance roller coaster-chans.

Still, we did get our ride. And it is, ah, yeah. Wow. It's a really good roller coaster. We hate to lose Mean Streak and a true wooden roller coaster for it. But they did make a great ride from it. It's got many of Mean Streak's older tricks, including a particularly choice view and a long stretch of ride that's within the support columns of the ride itself. But it does add about fifty feet of height, ten miles per hour of maximum speed, barrel rolls, and a lot of good solid lateral movement. Well, there's a ride video on Cedar Point's site there; you can get some idea of its style.

So this might have topped our rain-to-rides experience of Roller Coaster Appreciation Night. Also threatened to set a new low in our rides-per-visit record. But with the onset of evening things started to improve. The weather had kept much of the park empty and while Maverick still gathered an hourlong line, nothing else that interested us did. ValRavn, the drop coaster, was even a walk-on, the first time we'd seen it that empty. And we were able to close the night out on the Cedar Downs racing carousel and the Kiddie Kingdom carousel, making for a fairly satisfying night after all.

As we left the park it started to rain again. I went out by the Chaussy, the old, tiny road that used to be the park's access before the building of the Causeway in the 50s. This was maybe unwise, since it was raining heavily enough and foggy enough that the road was hard to see. And it started us off going in the wrong direction for home. But, owners of the McMansions built along the Chaussy have been complaining about park traffic along there. There's rumors that it might be closed to non-resident traffic. Who knows how many more times we'll be able to ride it?

(Yes, yes, what did the residents think when they moved into a house next to an amusement park? But given the park's growing popularity, and the way the season's been growing, I can understand if they feel that what had once been an occasional inconvenient traffic jam was now their lives every weekend from September through early november, and that they wanted to be able to go to and from work and the grocery story and all that in under fifty minutes sometimes.)

Trivia: From the 1650s the Russian government controlled the trade of rhubarb imported from China and exported to Western Europe. Source: Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution, Lisa Jardine.

Currently Reading: A Short History of Machine Tools, L T C Rolt.


PS: A bit more of Casino Pier That Used To Be.

SAM_6051.jpg

Closer photograph of the former Stillwalk Manor gargoyle, somewhere you can see its chain collar.


SAM_6054.jpg

Safety sign from the Wild Mouse that survived the storm all right despite apparently having been mis-printed to begin with.


SAM_6055.jpg

One of the three-faced cars used for the Stillwalk Manor dark ride. At a quick glance you only notice the one face.


Tags: casino pier, cedar point, fifth anniversary trip
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