bunny_hugger and I had, for Sunday, tickets including early admission to Cedar Point, so that we could go in an hour before the proper opening time. There wasn't much chance we would use it. On Sunday the park opens on something like normal summer operating hours, and the chance of our getting up to enter the park by nine or ten am or whatever it would be was ... not optimistic. We're not morning people. We were doing pretty well to get up in time for check-out, which we took seriously and rather literally since the park and hotel would be closed for the week.
My camera is a reasonably old model, something around eight years in my possession at this point. I like it, certainly, and am used to it. And it recently went from being a two-megapixel camera to a three-megapixel camera when I read the sticker on front and saw that it actually as a three-megapixel camera all this time; I had the idea it was two. But, it does go through batteries relatively swiftly, and as its internal battery holding settings between battery changes has died, changing the batteries requires I re-enter things like data and time and ISO preferences. After we packed up bunny_hugger's car, I found my batteries were dead and needed to change them, and somehow, the replacement batteries I'd brought were not in good shape either. I started fiddling around to try a different set and then decided, well, why not do without the camera this day? After all, I don't have to photograph everything to prove I was there. I could just be there, instead.
bunny_hugger approved, and even had a Kinks song to touch on this theme. For that matter, she had two Kinks songs touching on this theme. With a sense of being mildly unclad, then, we went in to the park for a last and highly photogenic day with just ourselves to be there.
It was not as impossibly crowded a day as Saturday had been, but what could be? The park was pleasantly busy, fun. We ate at the Midway Market again --- this time there was a wait to get in, for some reason, giving us time to notice the broken globe intended to hide the security camera staring down at the cashier's --- where they had not just a pizza buffet this time but also a variety of hamburger and carved-meat and such as well as pasta, so, we had just enough salad to feel like we weren't loading up on pizza and loaded up on pizza. We sat by the window, bunny_hugger catching a view of the Midway Carousel, and me catching a view of bunny_hugger seeing the Midway Carousel.
Our big target for the day was to catch the Halloweekend parade, a march through the park along a line we thought we had identified --- why else would there be this long yellow line threading through the park --- at, I believe it was, 3:00. Even given our start and our lunch, we had a good portion of an hour before the start; what to do?
Disaster Transport's queue sign claimed there was a 3/4-hour wait to ride this. That seemed relatively high, but, it was a busy weekend, and if it wasn't more than 45 minutes, and how could it be, then that would give us the chance to ride something that's probably sadly going away soon, and still leave us the chance to scout out a good parade-viewing spot.
The 3/4-hour wait was overstated, although we did have the chance to look at the remains of what had once been a fairly elaborate story-setting background. The ride's story was, in its current livery, something about loading up supplies for a remote space outpost which needed them, and your ride on the roller coaster is the transport of these supplies. The ride queue therefore is a bunch of Industrial Sci-Fi Movie props, including an overhead conveyor belt carrying supplies which was still technically in motion. bunny_hugger said it used to move pretty swiftly. It creeps along now, although that does't mean it's necessarily less realistic. Nearly everything has been painted with the fluorescent-brilliant paint to associate with indoor miniature golf, but, it doesn't necessarily have to be realistic anymore, does it?
I don't think we actually waited more than about twenty minutes, not long enough to be tired of waiting. To our considerable surprise when they loaded us in, they didn't check seat belts --- there weren't even seat belts --- and for that matter they didn't check that the lap bars were down. The lap bars closed on their own, but still, if I felt like I got away with something riding Corkscrew without the seat belt on, going on a roller coaster without someone grabbing the lap bar and feeling that it was in place was really risqué.
Disaster Transport is a ``bobsled'' style roller coaster; that is, it doesn't run on a fixed track but rather can move within a cylindrical tube. This gives it a certain free-moving feel that I like as being different. Also, while the ride was (in its original incarnation) an outdoors ride, it's now entirely enclosed, and nearly all of the lights and special effects have been turned off, or burned out, or just been forgotten. The result is that it's almost perfectly literally a dark ride. There's no sense of where you are, or how it's going to move next, beyond what feeling you get from knowing it feels like the track is straightening out or banking or such. And since the feel of a bobsled is different from that of a car locked on the rails, it's a really strange, exotic feeling.
My point is, it's an unpredictable and fun ride, and even if there's no way of figuring out what the track is supposed to show you --- the few lit props are seen so fleetingly there's not much making sense of them --- that doesn't really hurt it. It's a little, neglected gem. It's doomed. It's been neglected for years, and the park's newest ride is almost right outside it, a suggestion that this is an area going to be built up in the coming years.
In scouting out spots for parade-watching we had one thing on our side: we knew the parade route. Besides the brochure map we had identified the yellow line it went along. The disadvantage: we didn't know if the parade started at the front of the park and went back, or the back and went front. Whichever way we went, we'd see the parade, but there'd be some lag time before the start, obviously. We picked a spot near where Corkscrew goes over the midway, on the grounds that the best spot to be would have to be under the roller coaster track. And it wasn't a bad spot, either, although there were only a few runs of the roller coaster before it came to a temporary stop.
But the parade did start from about our end, and they had fair reason to stop running the roller coaster while it passed through. Some of the floats were tall enough that I wouldn't be comfortable with the clearance. Still, think how awesome it would be to be riding the roller coaster, upside-down, as the parade passes underneath. Yeah.
The parade opened with what looked like a local high school marching band, as is only reasonable. I couldn't help noticing one of the flag-bearers had not just lost her step, which I trust is a normal part of the marching process, but was not particularly interested in catching back up again. Here, again, I understand just holding the flag upright while waiting for the rest of the flag-bearers to get to a move you can resume from, but she wasn't having any of it. bunny_hugger supposed it might have been a result of ``well, you tried out, but couldn't get a part playing, so here, you get to twirl a flag''. I find this interpretation credible.
The main bulk of the parade --- with as you might expect, the variety of floats, some of monsters, some of Peanuts characters, some free-roving monsters, a couple floats of little kids dressed in their own costumes or who'd won some kind of makeup contest event earlier in the afternoon, some people in motorized vehicles dressed up to look like witches' cauldrons or pumpkins --- is accompanied by an aggressively repetitive tune with lyrics that I never really quite got a hold of despite its 4,000 repetitions while in earshot. The essence of it amounts to, it's Halloweekend, and Cedar Point, and monster ghost stuff, and Peanuts characters. The refrain is based on one of the Twilight Zone's iconic suspense-music cues, followed by its dahditdahdah dahditdahdah sting, then a repetition of the Twilight Zone suspense beat, then the Psycho stabbing-music sting, feeding into the Thriller refrain's catch.
I had to wonder, and did, about whether this song which is designed to feed into itself for arbitrarily long replays, had any particular starting or ending point. It must start at some line, after all. When does the infinite loop get stopped? I don't know, but I imagine it's burned into the head of the musical director for the Cedar Point Halloweekend parade. Another interesting logistical point is the music is played from multiple radio vans, but without an obvious discontinuity between vans. Is it being broadcast on local radio? If not, well, how do they keep the synchronization so good for so long?
I'm very fortunate that bunny_hugger likes a person who can watch a perfectly fun parade and come out wondering about its organization.
Besides having fun we had a little, call it a chore, to do. bunny_hugger's father wanted to get a pastel sketch of us together, for the inscrutable reasons of father-ness. I was glad to go for it; I think it's the first time I've been amusement-park-sketched. Or even sketched, come to think of it; the experience of sitting still for a fair time trying not to move much was relatively new. But I was able to sit there and watch bunny_hugger, so it was a perfectly pleasant experience and I could've gone on for longer. She had the next turn, and I got to stand and watch her through her sketching.
We took a little time to wander through the museum, with icons of Cedar Point history and the remains of a General Store. One of the things we noticed was a long set of plaques they've received, some from legislatures, some from amusement-related organizations, and that made me think of the awards given in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, although the video game mostly gives out awards for Tidiest Park and Best Food and such. Cedar Point gets awards for things like Jungle Larry Worked Here For Decades. They also had pictures of the park, past and distant past. One of them was a picture of a small roller coaster which was later moved to Seaside Heights (and demolished about a decade ago), although, it turns out there's not any evidence besides that one picture that this ride was ever at Cedar Point, and it's not clear when it was in Ohio or where in the park it was, if it was.
There are a couple of carousel mounts, including one legendarily haunted, on display. The docent at the Merry-Go-Round Museum warned that we'd be heartbroken to see what shape it was in, but, it didn't seem to be in bad shape there. Maybe you have to be an expert to be dissatisfied.
There's a few ancient mechanical arcade games there, and on impulse I tried putting a dime into one of the hand-cranked horse racing games. To our great and delighted surprise, it worked. We were able to crank the horses around the oval track and play just as if it were the 1920s. I put dimes into the machines again before we left, giving a free race to delight the next inquisitive seven-year-old who came by. (Although I suppose that seven-year-old would feel very ripped off on trying again. Well, at least the kid got one free race each.)
As on Saturday we took in one of the shows. On Saturday we had gone to a magic-and-dancing show, which presented a series of straightforward magic tricks, such as sawing a man in half, or that cabinet which is cut into four pieces and scrambled to produce a living woman, interrupted by one guy with a top hat on a rickety table doing stunts which go systematically wrong. The framing gimmick of it, I believe, was to evoke the idea of a vaudeville-style show, with the alternation of relatively big stunts using much of the stage and then little one-acts done entirely in front of the curtain (the 'incompetent' magician). In the full-stage bits large video screen played bits of mad-monster movies (I think one of the 1930s Frankenstein films, but I'm not sure) to start with, and it moved on to other scenes associated with mad science or horror or science fiction in the later stunts. I'm sorry to be a little vague about this, but, you know, no mater how many times I see the bit where they put mannequin parts in a quarter-box, and stack them, I still don't get how they put the actual living person in the tower for the big reveal. I'm sure it's easy to find on the Internet; I just want to figure it out myself.
Anyway. Sunday's show was a little similar in that it was presenting magic with some surrounding backstory. But this one --- called ``Doctor Cleaver In The Clink'' --- had as its frame basic sketch comedy. The premise here is Doctor Cleaver and his Igor are in prison, and there's this magic box they've got, and here comes the new guard and she's hot and looking for the magic box. Add in a mix of jokes, some engagingly corny in their age, some kind of risque (but no less aged; one of them mentioned Lorena Bobbitt; college freshmen this year may not know who that is since she was scandal-famous before they were born, raising the question of how old this script is, although the promotional material suggested it was a new show), and some endearingly local (speaking of a desolated place where no one would ever be found as, ``oh, on Disaster Transport?''), and you have an actually pretty elaborate surrounding for one magic trick. (Putting a person in the box, putting swords through, person vanishes, is not sword-riddled.)
Although I appreciate comedy performances, particularly when it's that kind that gleefully embraces that it's doing a silly or even schlocky bit, I'd have to give the edge, show-wise, to the Saturday show. Just on the grounds of how much magic is in the performance, that came out far ahead in number of tricks performed, and while the ``Doctor Cleaver'' performers had more to do, not to mention got to act --- Saturday's was a mute performance, or near enough --- it felt more padded. To me, at least.
Still, we liked them both, and we really meant to take in more shows; we just kept missing the chances for them.
All day Saturday, the Magnum XL-200 --- at one time record-holder for height and speed --- was closed. We could see it stuck on the tracks from our hotel room. That can't have helped the crowds, since Magnum takes a lot of people. That isn't to say people weren't lined up for it; I trust they were speculating that whatever the problems were would be fixed sooner than it would be to go through the line for Maverick or another name-brand roller coaster. It didn't work that way, but I understand their giving it a try.
The start of the day Sunday, too, it was still closed. Combined with Iron Dragon being closed this didn't bode well for passenger traffic in general. However, we did catch that Magnum re-opened, and had not too horribly long a ride. This would be the longest line we waited on, not counting that for Cheese on A Stick, but it also gave us a beautiful view of the park from two hundred feet up, and a great ride. Also, on the ride queue, there were various notes about what life was like in the strange distant days of 1989 when the ride opened. The comparison which struck me as odd was that as the ride was being constructed, Nintendo's engineers were hard at work on the GameBoy. It seemed like a peculiar choice of comparison. Unfortunately the ride camera stand was closed, so we couldn't see what a screaming loon I looked like at the photo moment.
This ride also meant we managed something pretty impressive, considering the crowds of the weekend. We had managed to ride all the non-kiddie roller coasters in the park, with the exceptions of Mean Streak (closed for the season), Iron Dragon (closed for repairs), Top Thrill Dragster (a Kingda Ka-like up-and-down ride with way too long a line for a ten-second ride), and Wicked Twister (another where you just go up and down spikes). That's pretty impressive. And, of course, we enjoyed multiple rides on Gemini, and on the wonderful old wooden Blue Streak, so, we were pretty well sated there.
Then, too, we got to what had been Cedar Point's new ride for 2010, and a ride she had missed up to this trip. Shoot The Rapids, a log flume, had brought log fluming back to the park after a decade-plus hiatus, and it has two good-sized drops. And even though it was mid-October, and getting into the evening (when, among other things, the Planet Snoopy area closes for an hour to re-open as Carn-Evil, which, just think about that one), they let us on. The ride promised you would get wet, which, at the ambient temperatures, maybe wasn't the best possible of all alternatives. On the other hand, when would we have a better chance?
Not later in the day, for certain. As we boarded --- with another couple in front, so we weren't going to take the brunt of the two splashdowns --- the ride attendants mentioned that this was the last ride, not just for the day, but for the season. We've closed out many places, and even some rides before, but not a season. How cool was that?
It's a nice log flume, through the kind of traditional mining-camp scenery, with a number of little waterfalls and trickles to make sure you get wet even if you aren't directly hit by the splashdown. I'm glad I'd worn my hoodie and bundled up; it protected me against the worst of the water, largely. Awesome as it is to close out the season for the ride, I think this is one to appreciate more in July.
We would spend a few more hours walking around, enjoying the gathering dark, bunny_hugger sharing stories of how she had been to the park at different times in her life, and how it meant different things then. I offered some of my experiences, although the only real park I went to much as a kid was Great Adventure, and then I had a long time far enough from anything worth going to, so I couldn't offer much in trade.
Our final ride for the night would be at the Midway Carousel, just shy of a century old now. It had become for her a traditional closing-the-park ride, and that felt like a most fitting way to close the weekend. We set off back for the car after that.
Well, we did divert a little, to get a bag of kettle corn from dangerously near the steampunk area. But then we set off back for the car.
Well, we did divert a little more, to get some manner of S'more crepes. They're sweet and warm, but I think the kettle corn preferable.
The park was still alive, and brilliantly lit, and active, as we drove off the long way back to bunny_hugger's home.
Trivia: Warren G Harding had intended to take an extended tour of the Alaska Territory during the summers of 1921 and 1922, both tours called off on short notice. (He finally made the tour in 1923, and on returning from it died.) Source: The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought The Harding White House And Tried To Steal The Country, Laton McCartney.
Currently Reading: Alvarez: Adventures Of A Physicist, Luis Alvarez.