austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

And mess around at the park all day

If you look at Waldameer Park's location, literally on Lake Erie in the triangle of Pennsylvania, and consider any sensible route to the middle of Michigan, you realize that the path of course takes you right past Cedar Point, in Sandusky. Why not chop up a day of driving by just popping into the park, where we have season passes, for a couple hours and have the thrill of just happening to be going past such a thrill park and being able to just pop in for it?

The only reasonable objection would be that bunny_hugger didn't have her season pass on her. Cedar Point hadn't been one of the parks we planned to visit when we set out, so she hadn't figured on needing to bring it, and when I proposed we add it she worried that she'd suffer the indignity of having to pay for a replacement season pass or, worse, a full day ticket to a park she had a season pass and which she had not lost. I said we'll just go in to Guest Services together to try to reason with them --- I have a higher tolerance for restating my position while customer service people restate theirs than my wife has --- and I'll wear my new Leap-the-Dips T-shirt while she wore her new Ravine Flyer II T-shirt so the park would know just what sorts of people they were dealing with here.

It is always tempting to say parking is a madhouse, but it was a busy day at the park. The parking attendants seemed to be waving us past the main lot and into the water park's lots, which they only use for overflow on the busiest days. This wouldn't be bad, if we didn't have to go to Guest Services, which is of course in the front of the park. So after driving around back, we drove back to the front of the park (work with me on this, please), and asked the guy waving cars around if we had to park in the water park lots. He said sure, we could if we wanted. This being my normal state of confusion, I suggested to bunny_hugger that I drop her off here, and then park, and I'd go through Cedar Point and meet her at Guest Services. I was picturing myself entering in the water park/hotel entrance to the park, striding through the whole of the park, getting my hand stamped, and exiting out the front, which would be kind of great. She agreed, partly because she had to go to the bathroom.

After letting her out, the traffic guy came up to me and said, you know, I could park in the water park's lots, but I didn't have to, and if I found a space in the main lot that was fine. Great! So I poked around and found there was a spot, only 33 rows or whatever from the gate, and went ... well, to the bathroom myself, first, and then to Guest Services in the hopes of joining battle.

There was no battle. bunny_hugger had gone to them and explained she didn't have her pass with them, and they pulled up a comp ticket, and that was that. We entered the park with about one-trillionth the fuss we might have expected.

It was a hugely crowded day, none of the walking-on to GateKeeper or other rides we'd enjoyed in June. No matter. This was a perfectly free trip for us --- we just had the incremental extra cost of gas from the Ohio Turnpike to the Point to spend --- so we were happy to wander around looking at things. We even spent a good half-hour eating Cheese on a Stick and watching the seagulls on the beach outside GateKeeper, and feeling pretty great that we were at Cedar Point and felt fine just watching the seagulls.

We would go on some rides --- the racing coaster Gemini, our longest ride of the day and maybe the trip; Iron Dragon, who didn't suspect we'd been on its steel rival just the day before; Blue Streak, the 49-year-old granddaddy of Cedar Point's current roller coasters; the Cedar Downs racing derby, which terrified me briefly when I thought its randomization mechanism, moving the horses in one row forward or back, was disabled --- but really what we did was take in the park. I think we spent the most time in the Town Hall Museum, Cedar Point's one concession to its actually respectable age, looking at the artifacts and souvenirs of all this stuff which used to be at Cedar Point: hardware and tools and old Official Boy Scouts First Aid Kits, dioramas showing the plans for rides that have since been built and torn down, surviving newspaper coupons from a century ago, photographs of their 1920s-era coaster row, inspection charts of the park from 1935, and on.

There were a handful of penny arcade machines which in the past worked. bunny_hugger and I dropped a couple nickels in a hand-cranked horse-racing machine on one of our past trips, for example. But now they were all out of order. We don't know whether that's a failure to keep up with repairs or a decision to just put a ``Display Only'' sign and preserve the machinery is a mystery. As are the exact ages of some machines, Display Only, which promise colorable art of ``popular'' comic strips like Bringing Up Father, The Yellow Kid, or Mandrake the Magician. Yes, I cherry-picked those; they also have such kids-favorites as Blondie, Little Orphan Annie, Li'l [ Non-Orphan ] Abner, Dick Tracy, and Nancy.

We had some system shock, returning to Cedar Point after all the small and cheaper parks we'd been through. I think we spent more in either of our two snacky meals --- Cheese on a Stick with soda, and then Garlic-and-Parmesean Fries with soda --- than we did on whole days of eating in the warm airs of Pennsylvania. We also bought an official Cedar Point photographer's picture of us, as a capstone to this whole venture.

Also a guy offered to take our photo, outside the midway carousel. He didn't realize I'd left my camera in burst mode --- in fact, high-speed burst mode, to get some roller coaster photos --- and held the button down, so we got (literally) 39 photos of us in very subtly changing poses as I ried to tell him, it's in burst mode, he doesn't need to hold the button down. If I ever need to make a goofy animated gif of myself, that'll be the source material.

We left pretty near sunset, about five hours into the two-or-three-hour drop-in we meant to take. I looked back and happened to see there was this gorgeous sunset behind the roller coasters going on, and that made for a spectacular image on which to set out.

And so, three and something hours later, we got home.

Trivia: In 1785, Pennsylvania agreed to cede its claims on (most) land between the 42nd and 43rd parallels (reaching north past Albany), in exchange for New York ceding its claims on land beyond the westernmost longitude of Lake Ontario, giving Pennsylvania the triangle on lake Erie. Source: How The States Got Their Shapes, Mark Stein.

Currently Reading: Americanos: Latin America's Struggle For Independence, John Charles Chasteen.

Tags: pennsylvania parks trip
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