December 9th, 2015

krazy koati

Take along your goody sack

Repeatedly when we visited Michigan's Adventure over the summer we wondered what are they growing so many pumpkins for? It wasn't all that many pumpkins, just a modest patch maybe thirty feet by thirty feet. But it was more pumpkins than Michigan's Adventure needed, since they don't sell pumpkin stuff and aren't open for Halloween. We speculated they might want something for Cedar Point, or other parks with late-September or October events, but wouldn't they be able to get enough pumpkins closer to Sandusky, Ohio, than is Muskegon, Michigan?

When we, finally, walked in to Cedar Point for Halloweekend we discovered how crazily many pumpkins they needed. The park had gone pumpkin-mad. There are a lot of little islands of green, grass and trees and such, in the midst of pathways. These were covered with pumpkins and other small gourds. It overwhelmed the normal look of the park, and made it more powerfully Halloween than it had been in past years' Halloweekends.

Cedar Point's corporate overlords are run today by a former Disney executive. The current CEO is someone with an eye towards making the places more attractive, more aesthetically balanced experiences. This has inspired a number of improvements to the park's appearance. That the park should go all-out in pumpkins is obviously compatible with this. It's still stunning.

We were impressed further that there weren't just pumpkins decorating green areas of the park, but there were also jack-o-lanterns. Dozens of jack-o-lanterns. Hundreds of jack-o-lanterns. I couldn't swear there were thousands, but I would not swear there were not. They were decorated by the sides of rides, such as Top Thrill Dragster. They were in sections of green space not just covered in gourds. They were even set up into sculptures, including jack-o-lantern serpents stretching out a dozen feet or more.

Later we would be disillusioned to discover that the jack-o-lanterns at least are styrofoam cutouts. They'd have to be, really. There's no way to put out hundreds of pumpkins for three days a week for seven weekends and have any survivors, and there's no sensible use of park staff to put out and take in hundreds of pumpkins and keep them in storage somehow from Sunday night through Friday afternoon. But there's always a deflating moment when you find that something astounding is done in some more practical way.

Another bit of amusing experience is they had a little tent with singing pumpkins inside. They weren't animatronic. We knew that because we'd seen the booth, I think, during a gap in the rain during Roller Soaker Appreciation Night. It's a couple (plastic) pumpkins with faces projected on as a light show. They sing. We had seen this the first time while the projector was crashed, so we saw them as pumpkins suffering a Blue Screen of Death. The show is a better one this way, as the pumpkins sing traditional style songs like the theme to Ghostbusters or somehow not the Monster Mash --- a song I don't think I heard this year, really --- with their faces thus moving. It would be more fun with real faces, but this does allow them to do a lot more expressive, and detailed, face-acting. It's fun, and kids gathered around and all that. It's just that real things are always more impressive.

And of course we went riding stuff, naturally. We did get another ride on Rougarou, which was a little less head-bangy given we were more ready for it. Also perhaps because we were wearing thicker jackets and hats which could take the impacts from the restraints.

The Blue Streak roller coaster wasn't quite alone, although the other rides which had been near it --- the Calypso and a motor car ride --- were ripped out for new ValRavn construction. Calypso was repainted and renamed Tiki Twirl. The motor car ride is just gone. Right now, this leaves Blue Streak off as a lone ride on its branch from the main midway. But there was a halloween event there. It was some kind of Egyptian Mummy-themed kids attraction. Since Cedar Point has a Peanuts license, this featured Linus wrapped up in his blanket like a mummy. I'm not sure the details of all the attraction but it involves mountains of soap bubble foam.

We got some pinball in also. The Casino was open and warm, and relatively wind-free. The machines were in tolerable shape. We also looked at some of the coin-operated games that aren't pinball games. Very few of them work at all, and we realized at least one of them had a duplicate in the Town Hall Museum which also doesn't work. They're great looking at, but it's a shame that they're never working.

It was a short evening, not long enough. But that's a Friday Halloweekends night. We got back to the Hotel Breakers and prowled around, examining all the new decor. And then back to the room, better-kept than the ones we had always taken in the past, with a bright rainbow bedsheet and wall posters of Millennium Force, to turn up the room temperature and sleep.

Trivia: The British government cancelled the East India Company's monopoly of trade in 1813, and its right to trade altogether in 1833. Source: The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge.

Currently Reading: Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Sean Howe.

PS: Reading the Comics, December 5, 2015: Awkward Break Edition, since I had to run one of these that's shorter than I really like.